News / Perspective
"Save LB City Skyline" Pursues Advocacy, Launches Website
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(May 24, 2005) -- After introducing itself at a recent LB City Council meeting, and putting a homemade sign at Alamitos/Ocean visible to crowds attending LB's recent Gay Pride parade, a new -- and seemingly no-nonsense -- grassroots group is challenging City Hall assumptions about the tolerability of further growth and density to nearby neighborhoods...and the city overall.
Save Long Beach City Skyline has raised threshold questions about development along parts of downtown Ocean Blvd...where City Hall policies have now made the ocean largely invisible from the street while affecting city services citywide.
The group has launched a web site -- savelbcskyline.org -- that declares in part:
...[T]here is great opposition to any development on city-owned property without open and informed dialogue with its entire community. The properties that have ignited this campaign begin at the corner of Ocean Blvd. and Shoreline Drive./Alamitos Ave. to Ocean Blvd. one building east of Atlantic...
[O]f greatest concern, the "Unlimited Building Height" zones within the southwest project district (that would be Ocean Blvd. south to Redondo Ave, north to PCH and east to the 710 fwy, including all Harbor areas) are a significant threat to the aesthetics and preservation of the skyline of this historic city. We must demand a moratorium on "Unlimited Building Height" zones. Would you like 48+ stories in your backyard?
Don't be fooled, future high-rise projects in the entire southwest district are certain. What if, one day, all that you could see of the coast is a wall of hi-risers down Ocean Blvd. and up Alamitos Ave.? It is imperative that the entire community is in the know about these plans.
...We are not afraid to speak on behalf of the citizens who are in opposition. Supporting this cause is all this city has left to protect its Skyline and, yes, we can preserve its history before it's history.
The group's web site cites LB officialdom's words:
...City of Long Beach Local Coastal Program adopted by the City Council on February 12, 1980 and certified by the California Coastal Commission on July 22, 1980...
...This Local Coastal Program was developed largely through the energetic and selfless efforts of a group of citizens representing many organizations concerned about the future of coastal resources (their work is detailed in a later chapter). The result represents one of the most remarkable examples of citizen participation in planning in California"... "A built city is not a clean slate upon which land uses and circulation systems can be drawn and redrawn until the best relationships are achieved. Many accommodations with the existing urban systems must be made, and community lifestyle and special needs recognized"... "It is recognized that certain resource areas in this jurisdiction will require further public attention to ensure such protection and enhancement. Included in this concern are: (c) sensitive coastal resource areas which are suffering some form of deterioration or development pressure"... "This program has as a fundamental imperative the preservation of extant viable neighborhoods and low/moderate cost housing opportunities. Although a modest growth increment will result from the plan, it is not basically a growth plan...all growth is controlled by a restructured set of zone districts and by the imposition of six planned development zones"... "Aside from Shoreline Drive, no other exit from the Long Beach or San Diego Freeways provides access to the beach acceptable to the average driver, since miles of busy surface streets and many traffic signals bar the way... the interchange of the Interstate 405 and 605 Freeways just east of the City could provide acceptable shoreline access via Seventh Street but local traffic problems at Pacific Coast Highway are a formidable barrier to smooth traffic flow"...
page I-15 added 07/06/2004: "The Long Beach General Plan: Those portions of the Open Space and Scenic Routes Elements applicable to the coastal zone"...
page I-16 through I-19 added 05/11/2004: " Goals 1.d) To maintain open vistas of the ocean across public lands...Goals 3.b) To identify and preserve sites of outstanding scenic, historic and cultural significance or recreational potential... 3.f) To encourage the acquisition and development of open spaces for recreational purposes by private organizations, civic groups and public agencies. 3.j) to encourage citizen participation in the identification and preservation of historic and cultural sites... Goals 4.d) To apply zoning, easement regulations, setback ordinances and State open space enabling legislation to prevent land congestion and preserve open living areas... Goals 5.b) To shape and guide development in order to achieve efficient growth and maintain community scale and identify... Goals 7.d) Exerting strict development controls through utilization of the environmental review process"...
p.II-2 Transportation and Access General Policies: "A primary objective is the prevention of traffic intrusion into residential neighborhoods while improving access to the downtown area and the coastline"... "Commuter traffic from Orange County to downtown should be encouraged to utilize a Pacific Coast Highway/Alamitos Avenue corridor. To accomplish this traffic control mechanisms such as limited access turn signals and/or street capacity improvements should be implemented"... "No east-west streets in coastal zone shall be modified by widening or the addition of traffic lanes. Any intended traffic and/or street alterations or changes within this area shall be subject to the same notification, posting and approval procedures presently used by City Planning and Building Department for variances in City ordinances:..."OCEAN BOULEVARD SHOULD BE USED PRIMARILY AS A SCENIC ROUTE AND TO SERVE ONLY AS ACCESS TO THE BEACH AND CONVENTION AREA (DOWNTOWN). IT SHOULD NOT BE SEEN AS AN EAST-WEST CORRIDOR AND EFFORTS TO PROHIBIT THIS SHOULD BE UNDERTAKEN. THERE SHOULD BE NO HEAVY COMMUTER TRAFFIC ON OCEAN BOULEVARD. EVERY EFFORT MUST BE MADE TO PREVENT COMMUTER TRAFFIC FROM INTRUDING ON RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOODS AS WELL, E.G., FIRST, SECOND OR BROADWAY"...
Growth issues continue to recur in LB. In the 1980s, LB City Hall invited increased density in downtown area neighborhoods with "crackerbox" aparments, a policy City Hall now disavows but which continues to have citywide public safety and quality of life impacts.
In the early 1990s, the City Council included plans for grade separations (one street under another to ease congestion) at Ocean/Alamitos (and at the Traffic Circle and the Iron Triange (PCH/7th/Bellflower) in its Transportation Element to LB's General Plan. None of these projects ever materialized for taxpayers (and one at Lakewood/Spring was ignored, then deleted).
In 1994, a Charter Amendment was proposed [by now-LBReport.com publisher Bill Pearl] that would have required City Hall to provide taxpayers with police and firefighter levels in proportion to increased LB population. The measure narrowly missed being put on the ballot on a 4-4 Council vote. City officialdom issued a non-binding "Police Strategic Plan" that included a "Preliminary Staffing Strategy" indicating police increases to FY 2000 (1,023 sworn officers) In FY 2005, even including special post-9/11 non-neighborhood security tasks, LB only budgets roughly 960 officers. The "Strategic Plan" police increases (ultimately decided by the Council) never materialized after 1996. At the same time, Councilmembers approved multiple projects that brought downtown LB increased density.
During LB's recent Gay Pride parade, an entry by LBHUSH2 (an activist airport monitoring and neighborhood advocacy group) -- conspicuously carried signs supporting "Quality of Life." It was met by cheers and applause at it turned the corner at Ocean/Alamitos.
Several years ago, Newport Beach voters, concerned about citywide impacts of continued growth, enacted a legally-binding "Green Light" measure requiring voter approval (not just approval by Councilmembers sometimes backed by developers) for projects that could create major traffic impacts.
The Newport Beach petition-initiated measure was opposed by development interests and some Newport Beach Councilmembers. Voters passed the measure...and removed some resistant Newport Beach Councilmembers from office.
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