Council Votes 8-0 To Exempt Revised Roofless Belmont Beach Aquatic Center From Further CEQA Review; City Staff Says Project Meets Coastal Comm'n Recommended Actions; Opponents Say It Doesn't, Seek Revised EIR And Support Alternative Sites.
(July 14, 2021 1:45 p.m.) -- On July 13, the City Council voted 8-0 (Austin absent) to approve zoning changes and declare a downsized (now-roofless version moved slightly inland) Belmont Beach Aquatics Center exempt from further review under the CA Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). T
The Council's approval of the revised project -- at a still unacknowleged city managhement revised cost -- now faces final review by Coastal Commissioners themselves before they grant the project a permit. On Feb. 11, 2021 (after a nearly seven hour hearing) , Coastal Commissioners gave the project tentative approval on a 10-1 vote but declined to give City Hall the permit it sought until the City addressed a number of Coastal Commission concerns.
City staff, supported by Mayor Garcia and Councilwoman Suzie Price, say the revised project does so. Project opponents say it still doesn't.
Long time Aquatics supporters (including Lucy Johnson and Debby McCormick) urged Council approval, describing their personal and family connections, as well as LB Olympics sports history connected with the now-demolished (on seismic grounds) Belmont Plaza pool (not directly addressing the agendized item: a proposed exemption for the revised project from revised CEQA review.) Supporters said the SE LB project would serve residents citywide and bring visitors and revenue. One speaker accused opponents of frivolous legal delays...although City Manager Tom Modica said at the Coastal Commission's Feb. 2021 hearing on the original version of the pool that issues raised by opponents and Coastal Commission staff had helped produce a better project.
As a result and perhaps also for cost issues, city staff downsized the project, added some family friendly elements and moved the now-roofless outdoor project a bit inland from the shore...with an updated cost estimate not yet acknowledged by city management.
[Scroll down for further.]
Citizens About Responsible Planning (CARP) urges a different pool location, criticized the City's attempt to exempt the revised project from further CEQA review, seeks revised CEQA review to match the revised project, and challenged city staff's claims that the revised project now meets the Coastal Commission's recommendations. In testimony submitted to the Mayor, Councilmembers and the City Clerk, Ann Cantrell, Board Member Citizens About Responsible Planning (CARP) and the Sierra Club Los Cerritos Wetlands Task Force, wrote and reiterated in her podium statement:
...You are being asked to approve the finding that the project is exempt from CEQA/CA Environmental Quality Act. This pool has no roof. Without a new EIR, there is no knowing the effects of noise, light and energy use. What will the increased maintenance costs be? Will blowing sand clog the filtering system and the very expensive moveable floor? Can the pool be kept clean and free of bird poop? Will the disabled and elderly use an outside pool? There has been no traffic study since Ocean was narrowed to one lane in each direction. There is no plan for special event parking.
CARP member Joe Weinstein, PhD was more blunt:,
We oppose the present BBAC project, because its specifics are fatally ill-conceived, owing to an utterly irresponsible choice of project site. Choice of this site for the former indoor pool maybe was OK in the 1960s, because few folks then foresaw threats from quake faults, liquefaction, tsunamis – and sea-level-rise. Now, 2020s, with all these threats known, the deliberate choice of this site, versus others available in Long Beach, is LUNATIC:
Opponents note that on April 1, 2021, Coastal Commission staff sent the City a Notice of Intent to Issue Permit itemizing needed steps before the Coastal Commission will grant the Belmont Beach & Aquatic Center (BBAC) a Coastal Development Permit. LBREPORT.com publishes it in full here. The City Council now-offered response will be the subject of an upcoming Coastal Commission hearing on whether to grant the project a permit. That decision rests with Coastal Commissioners themselves, none of whom are elected and all of whom were appointed by various levels of the state legislature's leadership or the Governor.
Following public testimony, Councilman Roberto Uranga (recently reappointed to the Commission in a closed door session by the state Senate Rules committee chaired by state Senate president pro tem Toni Atkins (D, San Diego)) said the SE LB pool location promotes equity and accused opponents of favoring "segregation" by urging pools elsewhere instead of SE LB.
Project opponent Anna Christensen (who'd previously testified from the podium) hollered out from audience in opposition, and her audience audio was cut off by someone, leaving her exact words unheard outside the Council Chamber. Building the project along the coast (site of seismically challenged Belmont Plaza pool built in 1968 before Coastal Act) has let City Hall avoid tapping General Fund money thus far. City management's most recent publicly stated cost estimate (about $82-$85 million) is over two years old and management has acknowledged that using $60 million in Tidelands funds still leaves project short of needed funding by at least $20-$25 million if not more. That sum, and possibly more, will have to come from sources currently unidentified in an amount currently unknown when management brings it to the Council for a recorded Council vote.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Recommend LBREPORT.com to your Facebook friends:
Follow LBReport.com with:
Contact us: mail@LBReport.com