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"Lite-A-Line" From Pike Seeks Permit to Move Game To 2500 LB Blvd.

All photos on this page by Diana Lejins

Lite-A-Line Pike Bldg. (March 12, 2001) The last operating entity from LB's Pike amusement area, the "Lite-A-Line" game, wants city permission to relocate to 2500 Long Beach Blvd.

Use of the new site, a former market just south of Willow St., requires a Conditional Use Permit. The item is agendized for action by the Planning Commission at its March 15 meeting which begins at 1:30 p.m. in the City Council chamber.

City staff is recommending that the Planning Commission approve the new site with conditions. has posted salient portions of the Planning Department's staff report (including details and proposed conditions) at City staff report re "Lite-A-Line".

"Lite-A-Line" has operated from a historic Looff building on the ghostly Pike site although the surrounding amusement area was demolished years ago for plans that never materialized...until now.

Recently, the City Council approved construction of 538 apartment units and 25,000 sq. ft. of commercial uses on the former Pike site and construction will reportedly commence shortly.

Lite-A-Line Roof

Previously approved plans call for the Looff building's classic roof to be incorporated into a Visitors Center on the new Pike area development. The remainder of the "Lite-A-Line" building will meet the same fate as its former neighbors, the Cyclone Racer and Laff in the Dark; it will be destroyed.

The pictures you are viewing on this web page by photo journalist Diana Lejins are among the last of the current site.

The game

Lite-A-Line Game

City staff's materials include a textual description of the Lite-A-Line game provided by the applicant. The applicant's description states in part:

"Looff's Lite-A-Line is a unique, Bingo style skill pinball game. Each player competes with each other at one of sixty-four individual tables that are all linked together. The game is played by propelling a metal ball with a plunger onto the playing field that contains a grid of twenty-five holes that correspond to a backboard with twenty-five holes. The object is to sink the ball in a sequence that lights up a line of lights on the backboard. The first player to accomplish this is the winner.

"While not required by any govenment body, our rules have always been that each player must be 21 years of age. Typically, each customer provides his name and address for the privilege of receiving three games for the price of one any day he participates. This provides a friendly situation where we know our customers by name and they know us by name. Because our customers are not anonymous they are accountable for their actions. This provides a Private Club atmosphere where friends come to relax and enjoy a quiet day or evening of amusement."

The applicant

The applicant listed on the proposal is Mr. Daniel Cartagena. Mr. Cartagena told he is representing Lite-A-Line's owner as a development and land use consultant and has no ownership interest in Lite-A-Line or the property. [It is common for the named applicant to be a lawyer or non-lawyer representative.]

Mr. Cartagena was formerly a member of the Mayor nominated/Council approved Planning Commission. He is now a member of the Mayor-nominated/Council approved Redevelopment Agency Board.

The site at 2500 Long Beach Blvd. is within the Central LB Redevelopment Project Area. Mr. Cartagena told the applicant is not seeking any financial assistance from the Redevelopment Agency; the site just happens to be within the Redevelopment Agency's Central Project Area.

Mr. Cartagena indicated his consultant role is basically to provide guidance on procedures in dealing with discretionary permits (which is what a C.U.P. is). has also confirmed that the LB real estate firm of T.F. Merrick Co. is handling purchase of the property at 2500 Long Beach Blvd. on behalf of Lite-A-Line owner, Mr. Mike Cincola. Ms. Leslie Munger, likewise a former member of the Planning Commission, is a partner in the Merrick firm. reports the involvements of past and present City Hall officials as matters of public interest, not to imply or suggest any impropriety.

The LB City Council has the power to enact laws regulating actions of former city officials in matters before the city but has not done so. (A state "revolving door" law, which applies only to state officials, bars past elected state officials from seeking employment or contracts for one year.)

The application, the site & proposed rule waiver

2500 LB Blvd.
2500 Long Beach Blvd. site

The applicant proposes to move the 64 "Lite-A-Line" machines to a building at 2500 Long Beach Blvd. The applicant originally proposed to use the entire building for "Lite-A-Line" and a penny arcade, but that proposal has been scaled back, eliminating the penny arcade and converting part of the building for additional parking (25 parking spaces will be provided on site).

City staff says the applicant proposes "to improve the building facade with new molding at the parapet, new stucco, new paint, and a new glas storefront. Unattractive old signs including an existing non-conforming pole sign will be removed, and the existing "Looffs" sign will be reinstalled..."

Staff adds that no alcoholic beverages will be served, security cameras will be used, a floor manager will monitor all operations including the parking lot area, and the applicant intends to remodel the building with a new glass storefront, new molding at the parapet, the removal of non-confirming signs" which will "significantly improve the stretscape of this section of Long Beach Boulevard."

In order to grant the Conditional Use Permit, the Planning Commission must find that approval is in compliance with the special conditions or specific conditional uses listed in LB's Municipal Code. Section 21.52.203 of LB's Municipal Code applies to "all arcade uses" and specifies in pertinent part that the site shall not be located within 500 feet of a residential district or a public school except in the CB or CT zones.

The site at 2500 Long Beach Blvd. is within 500 feet of a residential district. City staff recommends that the Planning Commission waive this rule for "Lite-A-Line" on the following ground:

The intent of this condition is to prevent such a use from locating too close to residences where minors may be attracted to arcade games. As the proposed establishment has rules that each player must be 21 years of age to play, a waiver of this condition is justified.

Two other requirements of the Municipal Code are incorporated as conditions (and are part of city staff's report which we've placed on line.)

Support and opposition

Wrigley Association President Jill Hill told that the Wrigley Association Board voted to support the project after hearing a presentation at their January Board meeting that included Mr. Cartagena and Mr. Cincola (Lite-A-Line owner).

Ms. Hill said the item did not come to a general membership meeting because it seemed there was a need to address it urgently and other speakers had been pre-scheduled. She added that in addition to strong Board support (9-2), she believes Lite-A-Line "will be a great improvement for that area and the building, if they re-facade the building the way they say they're going to, it will be a nice addition to the whole area..."

City staff's report also indicates that the Central [Redevelopment] Project Area Committee (PAC) voted at its March 1, 2001 meeting to support the latest proposal and Redevelopment Agency staff reviewed the proposed relocation and had no objection to it

Opponents include Willow Partners, the developer and owner of the soon-to-be-completed Skechers USA Shoe Store and Rite Aid Drug store (2550 LB Blvd. and 300 E. Willow St. (SE corner of LB and Willow.) It also owns the building leased to the Best Buy Shoe Store at 400 E. Willow St.

Willow Partners' General Partner John. B. Necarsulmer filed written objections to the original, larger proposal that stated in part:

We have worked for five years to improve this important node of the PD29 area and we are certain that if you approve the Lite-A-Line at a location just 100 feet south of us, it would be wrong.

Although the proposal has been downsized, Mr. Necarsulmer confirmed to that his objections remain, especially parking. Mr. Necarsulmer said that in his view, with over 60 Line A Line machines and 35 employees, the 25 parking spaces are not sufficient to meet real demand.

[The LB zoning code computes minimum parking by applying a fixed formula: 4/1000 of the gross building floor area. Under this formula, 22 spaces are required, 25 are being proposed.]

Mr. Necarsulmer's written filing added:

Lite-A-Line belongs in an amusement area such as Shoreline Village, Pine Street [sic] or the Balboa Fun Zone, but not in an area that is just beginning to succeed as a general shopping area.

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