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Activists Including Norm Ryan Hold "Heart Breaking" Ceremony Over Pike Project While Mayor & City Manager Cheer Governor's OK of Pike Facilitating "Land Swap" (State Lands Exchange Agreement)

(May 22, 2002) -- Like a tale of two cities, it was either the best of times or the worst of times.

Outside City Hall, accompanied by sorrowful bagpipes, grassroots LB activists including Mayoral candidate Norm Ryan gathered for what was termed a "heartbreaking" ceremony, alternately mourning and ridiculing officialdom's support for the Pike at Rainbow Harbor project. (Last week, city officials joined developer DDR for a ceremony marking the imminent start of construction).

Meanwhile, inside City Hall, fax machines sent press releases cheering word that Gov. Gray Davis had signed a final document effectively ratifying the State Lands Commission "land swap" last fall. (The "land swap" removed state tidelands designation from certain commercial footprints in the project area in exchange for the state receiving land from the City of LB along the L.A. river that will now carry tidelands designation.)

Downstairs in the Council Chamber, Mayor Beverly O'Neill (who had been momentarily absent from the chair) returned to explain the reason for her temporary disappearance:

"I just received a call from the Governor's office, and the Governor's office has informed us that the Governor signed the bill that came from the State Lands [Commission]...this is the final step in the development of Queensway Bay and the process...And so that just happened this afternoon and I just got a telephone call, so I wanted to let you know where I was."

The Mayor's news was met by eerie silence. Many in the audience had come for an agenda item concerning alley and infrastructure repairs...and some believe City personnel and resources were previously shifted away from neighborhood tasks to handle aspects of QW Bay project.

As the saying goes, where one stands often depends on where one sits.

Two weeks ago (in a ruling posted verbatim on, a Sacramento Superior Court judge upheld the legality of actions by the State Lands Commission and City of LB actions in connection with the "land swap."

The Governor's approval was expected, although some activists hoped he might not ratify the land swap. However, the Governor put his signature on the process as City Hall had hoped.

Activists have now shifted their focus to State Lands Commissioner Kathleen Connell, urging her to hold a hearing in LB on the project.

Meanwhile, media outlets were sent a City Hall press release quoting Mayor O'Neill as follows:

"This is a momentous occasion. It will be a pleasure to watch the Pike at Rainbow Harbor unfold during the development stage. I anticipate seeing both residents and visitors enjoying the Pike at Rainbow Harbor when it opens in 2003. Carnival Cruises, which will be taking its place next to the Queen Mary shortly, the Queen Mary, the Aquarium of the Pacific, Shoreline Village, the Long Beach Convention Center, Pine Ave. and CityPlace -- all will be connected by the Pike at Rainbow Harbor. No other community in Southern California can offer the combination of venues that will be located on our waterfront once the Pike is complete."

City Manager Henry Taboada was quoted as saying:

"Mayor Beverly O'Neill and members of the City Council are to be praised for their continued support of the Pike at Rainbow Harbor. Now that all of the approvals are in place, the City will proceed immediately to a close-of-escrow on the ground lease that will allow DDR to begin construction of the long-awaited 370,000 square foot development. Today is a truly significant day for Long Beach."

Outside City Hall, opinions were 180 degrees reversed:

Diana Mann

...This is a very, very, very sad moment...Governor Davis has signed the [document approving the land swap that facilitates] the Queensway Bay project. So here we are. Are we going to fight? Are we going to go away? Are we going to shrink back?

And I don't know about you guys, but I'm not going away...
...There's a very famous speech that Winston Churchill made, and his speech was, "Never, never, never give up."

Norm Ryan

I want you to know that basically, if you read in the Press-Telegram today, they said the people out here would be environmentalists. Well, I'm not ashamed to be an environmentalist. However, I'd also like you to understand that this is also a taxpayer issue.

And here is a bill. It's a bill that the people I'm running against are afraid to hand you, but it's a bill they're handing you nonetheless and then turning around and running.

This a bill for $73 million. This is what you and your children -- you, if you live long enough -- will have to pay in order to facilitate this pipedream, the Pike, Queensway Bay, whatever you want to call it.

Because in the end, you're going to have a parking structure that you're on the hook for. And why are we going to have a parking structure? To accommodate the 9 million people that are going to come every year...except that now that we've reduced the size of Queensway Bay.

Is it 9 million now? 7 million? Well pick a number. They do. [laughter]

So let's say it's less than what it is, which is what it would be. Is there going to be sufficient sales tax revenue to pay for this parking structure? You all know the answer. No, there won't be.

And if there won't be, then who has to pay the bill? You do. Everybody say it again. Who has to pay the bill?

Crowd: We do.

Ryan: And what do we are we going to get for it?

Crowd: Nothing.

Ryan: And what do the developers get?

Crowd: [Mix of answers]

Ryan: ...When we started doing the debates for the Mayor's race, I think I was the first person that suggested maybe we want to do a park, recreational use, something other than what they're planning there. And by the end of the debates, I had almost every single person up there, including the Mayor, suggesting that maybe a recreational use would be best. Until she did so well in the [April primary election] and now she has no fear in telling you that she is happy that's it's going to be what it is.

"Pinch me," she said. Well, you know what? Pinch me, because I want to wake up from this nightmare. [laughter, applause]

All I can say is that I've been consistent...This is a great example of the duplicity of City Hall. They said one thing to get elected, and then once they got those votes, they went ahead and did whatever they wanted to do or whatever their special interest supporters wanted them to do.

And I hope that when I'm Mayor, we will...actually have a reason to have a funeral, to have a bagpiper play "Dark Island" for the Queensway Bay project.

Bry Myown

Last summer, the City of LB...[approved the land swap] deal secretly, and when we caught them with their pants down, they found at the last minute that they had to do things openly in the aftermath of Sept. 11. And I think all of you know that this was a very painful time for us. And under extraordinary circumstances, a handful of us drove to Sacramento.

We saw this land swap approved, but the one saving hope was that the State Lands Commission unanimously placed several conditions on the project.

They said they could not phase it. The construction is now being phased and the RDA documents acknowledge that it is being built in phases. They said that nothing could change from the conceptual plans and the tenancies that were in place. We learned last week that all of this had changed. They also said that the local agreements and the leasing must be in place by May 31...

And they gave us their assurances that if any of these conditions were violated, they would extinguish the land swap and they would bring everything back for a new hearing before the State Lands Commission...

[The City Manager is] doing whatever he wants to. He's doing it with the blessing of the City Council. He's doing it with the blessing of Governor Gray Davis. And they're doing this because...they have no respect for the California coastline and they have no respect for the people of California.

What's most significant to me about this is that in order to approve the land transfer, the State Lands Commission had to make a finding that the land in question was no longer suitable for the purposes that the State Lands Commission controls. In other words, the coastline is held in sovereign trust so that people can use the beach and so it's available for commerce, navigation and fisheries.

And once they [the City] paved it over, which they charged you $30 million to do, and failed to build the park that they promised, guess what: it became useless for the purpose of coastline and that's why it's now being turned into [this] development.

The City of Long Beach keeps demonstrating that if you blight something badly enough, it's profitable to rebuild for whatever your developer friends want to do. And I don't want to let them do that to our coast. This is not over.

Ann Cantrell

...We still have one more chance. Even though the Governor has signed this, the State Lands Commission are the ones that are in charge of the tidelands trust. And last September, several of us went to Sacramento and heard Kathleen Connell, who is one of the State Lands Commissioners, she is also the [state] Controller, but she told the city and told DDR that if they were allowed to go ahead with this Queensway Bay project, there could be no changes. Everything had to be the way it was in September.

We have not seen the site plans, or we don't even know who the lessees are who DDR has supposedly obtained for this project, but at the groundbreaking last week, they said there is no longer a bookstore, there is no longer a day spa, there is now going to be 16 or more restaurants and there's going to be a game arcade. This is definitely a change in the condition.

Also the size has been changed. There's supposed to be 70,000 sq. feet less than there was last September. They've even changed the name. It's no longer the Queensway Bay project, it is the Pike at Rainbow Harbor.

For all these reasons, we are asking Kathleen Connell to have another hearing here in Long Beach on this project...We've got to let the Governor, the State Lands Commission, everybody know there's lots of people in Long Beach that are opposed to this...We aren't giving up yet.

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