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Hear It: Downtown LB Alliance Executive Committee Hears Presentation On Its Hired-Report That Contends LB Needs Thousands More Housing Units Than City Staff LUE Calculates, Calls "Problematic" Revised Draft Land Use Maps With Reduced Density Increases, Votes To Consider Taking Advocacy Position(s) In Advance of Mar. 6 Council Meeting On Revised Land Use Element Maps is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(Feb. 2, 2018, 11:45 a.m.) -- With a March 6 City Council vote approaching on draft Land Use Element (LUE) density increase maps, the Executive Committee of the Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA) voted on Feb. 1 to consider taking "an advocacy position" on the coming Council action based on a report prepared by a hired firm on LB's "future housing needs."

At a Feb.1 morning meeting at DLBA HQ (open to the public under the Brown Act), the DLBA"s Executive Committee heard a presentation by representatives of its hired firm, Beacon Economics, summarizing a Power-Point-style bullet-pointed draft document it produced that contends Long Beach needs thousands more housing units by 2040 than city staff's draft LUE indicates, says city staff's LUE would leave LB with a "continuing housing crisis," calls "problematic" Jan. 18, 2018 released draft land use maps, urges public-limiting CEQA changes and commends state legislation incentivizing [in some cases mandating] local housing/land use actions in SB 35 (enacted in 2017 without City of LB opposition) and SB 827 and SB 828 (introduced Jan. 3, 2018.) photo

[Scroll down for further.]

In prefacing the presentation, DLBA President/CEO Kraig Kojian said DLBA's Executive Committee had been very engaged in the housing study over the past year and half leading up to the affordable housing policy that the City Council has considered and leading up to the LUE being considered Mar. 6. [Ed. note: The LUE doesn't specifically address "affordable housing."] "We felt very strongly based on our strategic plan relative to housing development, residential development in our downtown, that we needed comparable data not only based on what the City has provided but also other bits of information that were being shared within different channels in the community, so we felt very stringent on getting this information to us in order to be able to utilize from an advocacy position," Mr. Kojian said. [DLBA minutes of its Dec. 2017 meeting indicate approval of a cost of up to $80,000 to produce the report.)

DBLA Executive Committee chair Ryan Altoon indicated the Downtown Development Corporation DDC [a 501(c)(3) non-profit with the legal ability to address citywide issues despite its downtown-centric name] was used because DLBA (a 501(c)(6)) has certain boundaries and a downtown focus while "many of our stakeholders" [he didn't name] were concerned "about some of the housing policies that might be promoted here, not just concerning downtown but affecting [the city] citywide." Mr. Altoon said the "Downtown Development Corporation" is an economic development corporation that is managed to look at the impact on jobs, on commerce, on housing and the relationships between those things and how they come together" used the DDC was used for these purposes [in connection with the report] because "in fact it's what the DDC is for." He said "we felt it incumbent upon us to find a means and methods to get that data back to us so that the general population, really as a good faith gesture, could analyze the data on their own, make their own decisions on these things" with its information at hand.



The draft report is dated Jan. 15 with a title page indicating it was prepared for the Downtown Development Corporation (not DLBA.)

The next day on Jan. 16 -- with no city staff public disclosure or discussion by the Mayor or Councilmembers of the DDC's or DLBA's activities regarding LUE and housing density issues, the City Council voted 9-0 to authorize a city staff recommended Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) [text not attached] with the "Downtown Development Corporation" to solicit donations, pursue grants and reimburse the city for "unbudgeted budgeted programs and services" that advance unspecified "economic development goals" coordinated with written approval by city management. [The Downtown Development Corporation can eventually re-brand itself without a downtown-centric name.] ( coverage here.)

At the Feb. 1 DLBA Executive Committee meeting, DLBA-hired Beacon Economics Exec. Dir of Research, Dr. Robert Kleinhenz, delivered a summary of his firm's draft "Economic Analysis of Future Housing Needs in the City of Long Beach." The PPT-style document projects out to 2040 (as does city staff's LUE) but applies what its authors call employment trends, a methodology not used by the regional Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) (which sets the official Regional Housing Needs Assessment or RHNA) or by LB city officials in applying the RHNA numbers.

Among those present were Linda Tatum, Planning Bureau Manager for the City of Long Beach. Near the conclusion of the presentation, Ms. Tatum made brief comments (as a meeting attendee, not a scheduled presenter), noting that Sacramento legislation (current and pending) does impose or propose a number of housing-related mandates on cities that reduce local control, indicated some residents opposed what she called rational building height increases (and cited three story buildings with mixed uses that she said the public opposes when proposed but likes when built), said some residents refused to accept facts. Ms. Tatum asked what other cities had done about this, and didn't challenge the hired-firm's numerical contentions about the LUE or otherwise defend city staff's LUE numbers. (Hear audio exchange below.)

Ms. Tatum listens as Dr. Kleinhenz (from DLBA-hired Beacon Economics) presents a summary of his firm's report. photo


In response to a comment by another meeting attendee who said LB has 61% renters, said she lives in district 3 and lamented that individuals she called "NIMBYs" had stifled a 2nd/PCH development she said included a residential component (Seaport Marina hotel site), Dr. Kleinhenz said he "may be out of order" in raising the issue of rent control but stated: "This is not the way the ensure that housing stays affordable because it stifles new construction and then the units that are under rent controls are, you know, they usually suffer from deferred maintenance, from any number of things that make the quality of those units, it degrades the quality of those units so I know that's another battle to be fought, but there's a lot to be said about the downsides of rent control..."

Dr. Kleinhenz concluded his presentation by recommending that cities and their residents need to "try to set aside, this actually comes straight out of Kraig's mouth I think, set aside emotions for a moment and look at the facts, gain an understanding of what it means to, say, have say 'have increased density', is there increased congestion that's a concern, ask the question, find out what the likelihood is of that. Is there, a lot of people think that they don't like higher density because crime goes with that. That's another thing, we have to take on these perceived views, I'm not going to say myths I'm going to say perceived views, and tackle them head-on. And we're still going to find that there are people who resist, but the best thing that I think we can do is pursue this rationally..."

Dr. Kleinhenz added that, "We need to get the involved parties to agree to a set of facts and work from that point, and I think that the study is a step in that direction. The City report [draft LUE] was a first step, one of many early steps and this is a contribution to that." [See chronology below.]

After the presentation by the DBLA-hired firm, Mr. Kojian said: "It's great to have this information certainly handy and available and certainly...we want to be able to share this information. We'll take some time to review it, study it, and perhaps take a position on certain things leading up to the March 6 City Council meeting." Executive Committee chair Altoon made a motion to add a friendly amendment (which was to approve recommendations as presented or amended) for responsive actions consistent with what Mr. Kojian had said. It passed on a simple voice approval vote (not roll call) with no audible dissents or abstentions. makes available on-demand audio coverage of extended salient portions of the DLBA-hired firm's presentation via the podcast linked below. Ms. Tatum's comments can be heard beginning on our audio clip (below) at 1:02:32 and run to 1:06:42 (we boosted the audio level since she speaks quietly.) Audio edits indicated with a "whoosh" sound.



Relevant chronology / context

Long Beach city staff released its draft "placetype" LUE revision in May 2015. In response to public comments (mainly in 3rd dist. areas), staff made some changes and in Feb. 2017 scheduled the LUE for Planning Commission recommendations to the City Council. At the Feb. 2017 Planning Commission meeting, a number of Wrigley area residents objected to increased density in their area, leading some Planning Commissioners to recommend that city staff allocate increased density to ELB areas, a matter further discussed at an early April Planning Commission study session.

In late April 2017, 5th district resident Corliss Lee tried to alert a public meeting (held by Councilwoman Mungo on other matters) to the advancing LUE issues...only to have Councilwoman Mungo deny LUE facts accurately stated by Ms. Lee. ( coverage here.) (Councilwoman Mungo's response to Ms. Lee was one of the reasons that Ms. Lee organized the grassroots "Eastside Voice" neighborhood group and ultimately enter the April 2018 election seeking to replace Mungo.)

In mid-June 2017 -- two days after a City Council study session at which staff displayed previous maps -- city staff released new revised maps that proposed significantly increased density (higher buildings, mixed uses) in ELB areas, allowed some other contentious density areas to remain and scheduled the maps for an August 2017 Planning Commission meeting for recommendations to the City Council.

At the August 2017 Planning Commission meeting, intense public push-back led some Planning Commission members to recommend increased public input, but city staff revealed that the LUE and draft maps were already scheduled [by someone not disclosed publicly] for October 2017 City Council action regardless of whether the Planning Commission recommended. That further angered residents, leading Mayor Garcia (entering the 2018 election cycle) to call for more unspecified public input. In response, city staff scheduled four "community workshops" that didn't allow Town Hall style testimony, which led to an audience rebellion at the first (Sept. 30) meeting [led by Mr. Fox] and city staff ultimately allowed a Town Hall style format at three meetings in October that drew some of the largest public meeting crowds in recent LB history. None of the Town Hall meetings were attended by Mayor Garcia, and city staff didn't audio or video record them (although did along with grassroots community advocates.).

In late August, also learned and reported that the City of LB failed to oppose SB 35 and a number of Sacramento bills that in various complex ways reduce local land use decision-making authority and public appeals on density-related housing projects. learned and reported that the City of LB took a "neutral" stance (or "watch" position) on SB 35 despite City of LB policy adopted by the Council in the City's 2017 "state legislative agenda" to oppose legislation that weakened local control (including on land use matters.) SB 35 was allowed to advance without City of LB opposition to September 2017 passage with the support of Sac'to Dem leadership. LB area Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell (D, LB-SP) voted "no," while state Senator Janet Nguyen (R, SE LB-OC) and Ricardo Lara (D, LB-Huntington Park) voted "yes" on SB 35.

In response to the Town Hall meeting public push-back, in November 2017 city staff revised its draft land use maps to roll-back some of staff's June 2017 proposed density increases. In December 2017, a large crowd attended a pre-Christmas scheduled Planning Commission meeting at which most public speakers urged the Commission to recommend that the Council "receive and file" the draft LUE. Instead, the Planning Commission recommended map tweaks that reduced some density in some (but not all) areas. On January 18, 2018 city staff released revised maps incorporating the Planning Commission's recommended tweaks, and city staff announced the maps would come to the Council on March. 6.


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