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The "Elephant" (Lot) In The Room: How Does Downtown Public Property City of Long Beach Said Was "Unavailable" For Public Pool Become Available For Private Major League Ball Club? 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.
(Mar. 19, 2019, 8:20 a.m.) -- Taxpayer-owned City of Long Beach property next to the Convention Center, locally known as the "Elephant Lot" because circuses once used it, has now become central to discussions/negotiations involving City officials regarding possible relocation of the CA Angels of Anaheim to Long Beach. recaps below some recent actions involving the publicly-owned land.

  • June 16, 2016: the City of Long Beach completes a legally required public circulation period for a City-proferred Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that tells LB taxpayers, City Councilmembers and ultimately a reviewing court that the "Elephant Lot" is unavailable for a publicly accessible pool/aquatic center and justifies building the structure, at added taxpayer cost, on seismically challenged sand in sea-level rise-impacted Belmont Shore.

    June 24, 2016: LB Mayor Robert Garcia Tweets filmmaker George Lucas suggesting that the Elephant Lot might make a good site for the filmaker's museum. Mr. Lucas chooses an L.A. site instead.

  • May 17, 2017: The City Council overrules public appeals and votes 6-2 (Uranga and Gonzalez dissenting, Pearce absent but says she would have voted "no") to certify (approve) the EIR that describes the "Elephant Lot" as unavailable:

    [Belmont Pool EIR text] ..The site was considered because of its location in the Downtown area and proximity to existing public use areas, such as the LBCC, the Long Beach Arena and the Aquarium of the Pacific. However, Jehovah's Witness currently leases this parking lot site to accommodate parking demands during the annual convention at the LBCC. The lease expires in 2030 and requires 3,000 parking spaces in two different lots, currently the "Elephant Lot" provides over half of these parking spaces (1,915 spaces)...[A]ny loss of parking for Jehovah's Witness or the LBCC would require additional mitigation. Special events, such as the annual Grand Prix of Long Beach, also use the parking lot for events and staging. This alternative site would not represent the highest and best land use for the area adjacent to the convention center, which should be reserved for convention or hotel uses...[The EIR cited a number of other reasons, then stated] For the reasons stated above, the "Elephant Lot" site was rejected as a potential alternative site and was not considered further.(Source: EIR Chapter 5, p. 5-6 and 5-7)

  • July 17, 2018: Ruling on a challenge to the EIR by LB's grassroots Citizens About Responsible Planning (CARP), Superior Court Judge James Chalfont concludes that the City-proferred EIR -- in which the City said the Elephant Lot was unavailable -- satisified minimum legal requirements. Citing previous court rulings that upheld the authority of decision-making City Councils to approve projects that meet minimum legal standards even if, in the opinion of challengers, they aren't optimal or wise, Judge Chalfont notes that the EIR says the City considered alternative locations for the pool, including the "Elephant Lot." (The ruling effectively invites the City to advance the pool project to the CA Coastal Commission.)



  • August 28, 2018: Mayor Garcia (who has no approval power) tells the public (which hasn't been asked) to expect intense development along what was once LB's downtown beach but is now a "waterfront" with no beach. At an event he describes as "Building A Better Long Beach," Garcia signals his support for more intense development south of Ocean Blvd., including the "Elephant Lot." He says a "visioning" process will take place for the Downtown Shoreline Planned Development area PD-6 [Power Point slide text] "creating a new Specific Plan for this area" and signals that he plans to steer the public conversation by indicating a "task force" [whose members he'll likely choose] will discuss [Power Point slide text] a "long term development plan to strengthen existing uses and promote new uses that enhance the shoreline."


    Feb. 25, 2019: The City of Long Beach issues a carefully written statement that effectively indicates the Elephant Lot has been the subject of discussions invovling publicly unidentified City of Long Beach officials over an unidentified time period related to the CA Angels possibly relocating from Anaheim to Long Beach for a speculated stadium someone will pay to build on the Elephant Lot.



    March 12, 2019: A publicly agendized closed session of the City Council is scheduled March 12, 2019 at 3 p.m. citing the Brown Act exception to open meetings to conduct discussion with city management on "price and terms" for "lease and/or purchase" of the Elephant Lot. [UPDATE: Mar. 19, 8:26 a.m.: Kevin Lee, City of LB Public Affairs Officer emails "The Closed Session related to the ongoing conversations with the Angels regarding a potential sports venue in downtown Long Beach." [end UPDATE] The agendized item lists an LLC and not the Angels as the party with whom negotiations are taking place. raises Brown (open meetings) Act issues on the agendized item at this link.


    Support really independent news in Long Beach. No one in our ownership or operations has ties to incumbent Long Beach officials, development interests, other special interests or stands to benefit from City development decisions or holds an appointed position on any City Commission, Committee or Task Force on whose policies we report. is reader and advertiser supported. Help keep 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) or your choice of a modest monthly sum helps keep us online.

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