Council Votes 9-0 To Direct Staff To Work With Proponents Of Gondola Between DTLB and QM To Develop Project Feasibility Study For Future Council Consideration; Mayor, Councilmembers And "The Wave" Project Proponents Repeatedly Describe Gondola As Transportation Project 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.
(March 13, 2019, 1:05 p.m.) -- As carried LIVE on, the City Council voted 9-0 at its March 12 meeting to direct city staff to work with proponents of a Gondola between downtown LB and "Queen Mary Island" to work with Urban Commons (Queen Mary Island lessee/developer) and other unnamed stakeholders to develop a feasibility report on the project for future Council consideration.

The Gondola, dubbed the "Wave" by its proponents (retired LB Harbor Commissioner Alex Bellehumeur (Statewide Development) and Clay Standidge (Muni Fed) -- were joined by Mayor Garcia and multiple Councilmembers in describing the proposal as a transportation/mobility project.

In response to questioning by Councilman Al Austin, Assistant City Mgr. Tom Modica indicated that Queen Mary Island lessee Urban Commons is currently putting together its development proposal and as part of its master development is examining all possibilities for getting people to the site (as part of CEQA process.) Mr. Modica indicated city staff is looking at using some transportation dollars "in a very low amount" [for the feasibility study] but staff hasn't made that determination yet.

Asked by Councilman Austin if Tidelands funds could be used for the feasibility study; Assistant City Manager Modica indicated funds could possibly come from Prop A transit funds or from Tidelands funds and at this point it was a small amount. Mr. Modica added that if the Gondola develops into a full project -- and stressed that it would be an Urban Commons project and not a City project -- the City would then look for grants and Metro in larger dollar amounts to support it. When Councilman Austin underscored that point, Mr. Modica added: "I would not imagine that we would ask for General Fund for this."

Later in the meeting, Mr. Modica indicated that with Council approval to pursue a feasibility study, city staff will work with Urban Commons which would "help identify some of the stakeholders...and then start talking about what the cost could be, whether there's appetite for investing and then I would imagine provide a report [and] we'll let you know what we would recommend for a City contribution and if there was one and how we would pay for that."

Mayor Garcia said he's long supported the Gondola concept, saying "it isn't just an innovative project, it's a transit project" and at the proper time he's prepared to bring the LB Gondola to the Metro board.

In an agendizing memo, Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce, joined by Councilmembers Lena Gonzalez, Suzie Price and Rex Richardson asked city management to:

1. Request City Manager to work with Urban Commons, The Wave team and other key stakeholders to determine the cost of a Feasibility Study pertaining to the development of a Gondola System connecting Downtown Long Beach with Queen Mary Island.

2. Request the City Manager to work with Urban Commons to identify key stakeholders to ·create a multiparty partnership to conduct an initial Feasibility Study pertaining to the development of a potential gondola system connecting Downtown and Queen Mary, and identify potential public and private funding sources to begin the initial feasibility study.

In their memo's narrative, the Councilmembers wrote:

[Scroll down for further.]

[Agendizing memo text] As Long Beach's Downtown continues to grow with new developments for housing, business, and entertainment, more mobility solutions are needed. One possible solution is a gondola system to transport residents and visitors from Downtown Long Beach to Queen Mary Island.

Urban Commons is working on the concept of a gondola system as part of their development project. Secondly, they are seeking to work with several potential partners to assist with a portion of the costs required for an initial study.

This request asks for Urban Commons to identify potential partners such as any interested properties, the City, the DLBA, LB Transit, Metro, developers and others to partner and assist with the commission of the initial study.


It is anticipated this request will have a fiscal impact, but is unknown at the time. This action should include staff reviewing implementation options and associated costs. Any potential public participation in this project will be identified by the City Manager.



Amnesia File
The possibility of an aerial tram was discussed in conceptual terms during the term of the Queen Mary's now-former leaseholder "Save the Queen" but stalled with that firm's default/bankruptcy.

In early 2016, retired LB Harbor Commissioner Alex Bellehumeur (1990-1996), owner of State-wide Developers, Inc. and (now in his 80s') a perennially spry developer and inventor, delivered a presentation on the aerial tram concept titled "The Wave" to the advisory (now former) Queen Mary Land Development Task Force. In that presentation, Mr. Bellehumeur offered Power Point slides indicating the potential involvement of Doppelmayr (a leading manufacturer of cable cars, ropeways, ski lifts and the like) that described "The Wave" as an aerial tram connection from areas such as the Convention Center to the Queen Mary.

One of the 2016 PPT slides indicated that "although Project Feasibility does not depend on the new development of the Queen Mary site, it will provide the developer of the acreage a transportation system that will serve up to 4500 visitors per hour, with no bottlenecks, and assist in their raising capital privately, institutionally, and through State and Federal grants."


At a Sept. 14, 2018 breakfast meeting of the Long Beach Commercial Real Estate Council, Clay Sandidge, President/CEO of Muni-Fed Energy, delivered a presentation on the concept of an aerial tramway -- "The Wave" -- to better connect downtown Long Beach with the city's waterfront. covered the 2018 event with extended VIDEO below:

The 2018 event description stated

[Event description text ] ...A proposed implementation of an aerial tram (or alternative solution) to connect the downtown to the waterfront has the potential to:

  • Create and enhance vitality
  • Demonstrate the City’s commitment to the area to promote CRE investment
  • Provide additional transportation capacity for potential future CRE investment

Many urban areas have successfully implemented cable-driven medium- to high-capacity transit systems, including the Portland Aerial Tram (pictured), the Las Vegas CityCenter cable-driven people mover project and the Roosevelt Island gondolas in New York City. A similar system has also recently been studied for San Diego’s waterfront. Renewed interest in developing the waterfront and Queen Mary has highlighted the need for improved transit and urban design. The proposed tram project would be a catalyst for development and increased tourism, and as such, enjoys the support of the business community in Long Beach, particularly among property owners within the study area. In addition, the Downtown Business Association and the Chamber of Commerce have demonstrated their consistent support.

Both residents and tourists alike will be newly drawn to the study area, providing an estimated 500,000 annual trips induced by the tram. These additional trips can be broken down into three types: 1) resident work trips; 2) non-work trips for shopping, personal business and recreation; and 3) tourist and visitor trips. Such demand can easily be served by a tram system. Tram capacity ranges from 600-5,000 passengers per hour per direction - roughly equivalent to the capacity of a 2-lane highway.




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