Mayor Garcia Holding
|(Feb. 2, 2018, 9:05 p.m.) -- LBREPORT.com has learned that the office of Mayor Robert Garcia (who didn't attend October Town Hall meetings that drew some of the largest crowds in recent LB history, mainly opposed to city staff's density-increasing Land Use Element/LUE) is scheduling a series of private, invitation-only "Roundtables" with small numbers of hand-picked community members to discuss the LUE as issue approaches a
LBREPORT.com has learned that Mayor Garcia's office has invited 5th district incumbent Stacy Mungo (seeking re-election against three ballot opponents in April) to attend one of one of the invitation-only "Roundtables" in the 5th district. LBREPORT.com has learned that invitees are told that fewer than a dozen community members will attend and additional persons and the media won't be present.
The private, invitation-only event in the 5th district is scheduled for Saturday
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LBREPORT.com has learned that the Mayor's office is scheduling similar invitation-only Roundtables on the LUE in other Council districts.
LBREPORT.com has also learned that at least some of the events are being arranged with the assistance of Robert Fox, who declined to file paperwork to run for Mayor after meeting with Mayor Garcia hours before the filing deadline.
On January 12 at 6:31 p.m., Mr. Fox sent a mass email indicating that later that night, the Mayor would announce "Roundtable meetings" in each Council district [Fox email text] "so that we can actually alter the maps ourselves and create a new General Plan. Staff will not be in charge but will be present to WRITE DOWN and RECORD [emphasis in original] all recommendations for alteration. We will have a new General Plan designed by the people."
Mr. Fox's email added: "You all will have a place at this table in your council district."
At 7:40 p.m., Mayor Garcia's office released a statement in which Garcia stated in pertinent part that he and Mr. Fox "are working together to host a series of Mayoral Land Use Roundtables in the weeks ahead" but didn't provide further details.
At 8:18 p.m., Mr. Fox sent a mass email he titled "Correction in my email to you. Please read" in which he stated that "We are not making a new general plan.. we are adjusting the LUE which has been in the works for years. The Roundtable meetings are meant to give input, make adjustments and alterations. There is so much in the LUE which we do not have the right to throw out, like the environmental clauses, etc. So we are going to participate as we wished in the process to create an LUE which is acceptable to the citizenry of Long Beach. This is a great time to share our thoughts and shared opinions about elements within the plan."
On March 6, the Council is scheduled to discuss the LUE density increase maps as most recently revised (following intense public pushback over density.) A Council majority could vote to advance the maps into the EIR process (with additional public hearings before likely Council enactment in a few months), tweak them, or make other revisions that decrease or increase density, or receive and file the maps and the draft LUE with directions to city staff to take a number of alternative actions.
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 suggest 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. (LBREPORT.com 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 LBREPORT.com did along with grassroots community advocates.).
In late August, LBREPORT.com 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. LBREPORT.com 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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