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    Woodruff Ave. Townhouse Development Controversy Hits LB City Council

    (June 4, 2003) -- Controversy over the density of a proposed townhouse project in the midst of ELB -- but legally situated on an unincorporated L.A. County "island" on the eastside of Woodruff Ave. at Harco St. -- reached the LB City Council on June 3 when the director of the Carson Park Community Group came to the LB City Council meeting and sought assistance from 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell and Mayor Beverly O'Neill.

    Angella Kimball, whose neighborhood group held a May community meeting (previously reported by that drew roughly 275 concerned residents (including ELB constituents), addressed the Council during the period allowed for comment on non-agendized items.

    Although the City of LB -- via a letter from LB Planning and Building Dir. Eugene Zeller to L.A. County officials -- had urged that the project's density be decreased, Ms. Kimball said ELB Councilwoman Kell and Mayor O'Neill had not responded to communications from her...for months.

    Ms. Kimball said that despite the development's site on the County "island," it would affect surrounding ELB neighborhoods and LB infrastructure. We post transcript excerpts below...including the responses of Councilwoman Kell and Mayor O'Neill. (Our transcript is unofficial, prepared by us.)

    Ms. Kimball: ...I've been writing the Council, Mayor O'Neill and Jackie Kell over the course of several months, and I have yet to have any reply, so I am here tonight to bring my concerns, and the concerns of the 5th district forward to the Council and to the Mayor.

    The 5th district residents have grave concerns over a project that is scheduled to be built of 88 townhouses by Anastasi Development. The site is located at 3800 Woodruff Ave., the former location of the Woodruff Community Hospital. It is one block south of Carson St.

    ...This proposed project is completely inconsistent with our character of our single family home communities that surround it. The city's own Director of Planning and Building, Mr. Zeller, is on the record voicing the City of Long Beach's objections to this project [by letter] at the the hearing held in December at the Los Angeles [County] Planning Commission [quoted in Dec. 2002 coverage, link below].

    We need this Council and this Mayor to take action that is consistent with the objections of the city officials. We need Councilwoman Kell to take an active role to protect our community in the 5th district, one that is consistent with her statements of objections to this project.

    Councilwoman Kell, you have stated publicly that 'neighborhoods come first.' Put ours first here in the 5th district.

    Failure to act will hurt the voters and the citizens of the 5th district. The city cannot avoid this issue by pointing a finger at the County because this is simply in the County unincorporated island. The city does have a role and a voice.

    The project impacts Long Beach schools, parks, libraries and infrastructure. The city will be responsible for a substantial portion of the infrastructure support to facilitate this project at a direct cost to the taxpayers of the city of Long Beach.

    This Council and this Mayor must take action to protect the interests of the citizens of the 5th district and citywide...

    Mayor O'Neill: ...We try to answer everything that is sent so I just wanted to let you know that as far as our office is concerned. And if we find that you have tried to get in touch with us and we haven't responded, I will do something about that, but every time I've looked [regarding correspondence from others] I have not found that to be true...

    Councilwoman Kell: I'm glad that you came down here. I have told the surrounding neighbors that we, the city, do not approve of this project. It is County property. I have informed [L.A. County Supervisor] Don Knabe that I object to it. I don't think it should go there. There's too much density, but they don't respond, they have not said that they are going to do anything but build it That's what they've said to us,'s kind of...their bailiwick of authority.

    But they know perfectly well that I oppose it, the neighbors oppose it. But I think what you will have to do, and...we have written up our objections, we have spoken to them about our objections, and they continue to want to proceed with it. And they know how I feel, and if they will soon know how the Mayor feels, but I think what you may have to do is get petitions that go to the County, objecting to it more strongly, going to the County meetings, but I've made my position perfectly clear all along.

    Ms. Kimball: Thank you...We have in excess of 800 signatures on petitions opposing this project as it stands today. We are not against developing this site with residential housing. We are just asking the County and the cities to respect the communities where they intend to put additional housing. The need for housing is great. We fully understand that.

    Mayor O'Neill: Thank you very much.

    Councilwoman Kell: Yes, well I want you to know if it were just a city project, it would not proceed, but it's not.

    Previous coverage:

    May, 2003: Overflow Crowd Packs Carson Park Community Group Meeting, Seeks Less Density In Woodruff Ave. Townhome Development

    Dec. 2002: On ELB's Doorstep: Developer Proposes 88 Condo Units (27 Residential Bldgs. + 1 Rec. Bldg.) At 3780-3800 Woodruff @ Harco In Unincorporated L.A. County Area

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