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Breaking News

Gigi Fast Elk Bannister Readies Charter Amendment To Protect LB Park Land; Could Be Put On Ballot By Council Or With Petition Signatures

Would forbid using LB park land for non park purposes without 2/3 vote of the people

(March 8, 2002) -- In a political escalation of efforts to prevent City Hall from taking more LB park land for non-park purposes, has learned park protection advocate Gigi Fast Elk Bannister is preparing a Charter Amendment that -- if put on the ballot and approved by voters -- would prevent City Hall from taking further LB park land for non park purposes without approval by a 2/3 vote of the people.

The measure, a draft of which was obtained by, is tentatively titled the "Long Beach Park and Beach Preservation Act of 2002" and provides in part:

"[N]o portion of any park land and/or portion of ocean facing beach in the City of Long Beach...owned or operated by the City of Long Beach shall be sold, leased, exchanged or otherwise transferred or disposed of unless authorized by affirmative vote of the City Council and a two thirds (2/3) majority of the electors voting on such proposition at a general or special election at which the proposition is submitted.

No sports complex, road. golf course, driving range, building, or pay-to-play facility consisting of more than one story or exceeding 1500 square feet in floor area may be built or added to any portion of any park or any or hereafter owned or operated by the City of Long Beach unless authorized by an affirmative vote of the majority of the city council and a two thirds (2/3) majority of the electors voting on such a proposition at a general or special election at which the proposition is submitted..."

Ms. Bannister told she intends to make this an election issue, pressing Council incumbents to send the measure to the Charter Amendment Committee before the April election with an up or down vote before the June runoff election.

"If incumbents want our votes to protect them, we want their votes to let the public protect parks. No more delays and excuses." Ms. Bannister added, "We expect this issue will resonate in the Mayoral race, as well as the 3d and 5th district Council races."

The development comes after 7th district Councilman Ray Grabinski (making second Mayoral bid) and 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell (seeking second term) both stopped short of advancing a Charter Amendment that would protect LB park land from non park use by future Councils.

Over a year ago, Mr. Grabinski offered a counter proposal to a Charter Amendment that he called "parks in perpetuity" but it didn't actually protect parks in perpetuity because it wasn't legally binding on future Councils. Grabinski's plan gave the public more opportunities to object but left Councilmembers with the power to decide.

In contrast, Ms. Bannister's park and beach protection Charter Amendment would be legally binding on future Councils and would give the public the power to decide. To become law, it would require a vote of the public and could be placed on the ballot by five Councilmembers or over 25,000 petition signatures.

During an August, 2000 Council meeting, Councilman Grabinski told park protection advocate Ann Cantrell that a charter amendment "wasn't going to happen" at that time. Meanwhile, City Hall proceeded with its plan to take roughly 2.0 acres of Scherer Park to expand a NLB police facility, producing contentious Council meetings at which Grabinski opposed and voted against City Hall's plan to take Scherer Park land (which the rest of the Council approved).

After the bruising Scherer Park vote, 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell, whose ELB district has the most park land and arguably the most at stake, vowed not to see similar votes repeated. She agendized, but then withdrew, Council discussion of some type of protection against non-recreational uses in parks but left details vague.

As previously reported by, during a televised 5th district Council candidate forum, Councilwoman Kell was less than definite when asked about a park protective Charter Amendment:

"We may be looking at a Charter Amendment when it comes to parks in perpetuity, and I do believe that we will possibly be doing that parks in perpetuity Charter change in that the voters would want us, I believe, to say that we would not put any non-recreational usage in any of the parks in the city," she said

Earlier in the broadcast, 5th district challenger and LB gas bill rebate supporter John Donaldson said plainly that if elected he would introduce a Charter Amendment "to protect our parks, and our parks really need protecting from our city [City Hall]."

The park protection Charter Amendment could also become an issue in the 3d Council district, where incumbent Councilman Frank Colonna is being challenged by ECO-link chair Diana Mann. Ms. Mann opposed taking Scherer park land; Colonna voted in favor of it.


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