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    Councilman DeLong Seeks To Advance "Southeast Area Development & Improvement Plan" To Planning Comm'n; Local Enviro Groups Urge Council Delay Citing Process and Substance

    (June 3, 2007) -- 3rd district Councilman Gary DeLong has agendized a June 5 City Council item seeking to send proposed changes to LB's "Southeast Area Development & Improvement Plan" (SEADIP) -- a master plan for developable land and preservation wetlands in SE LB -- to City Hall's Planning Commission for study and recommended amendments to the current 20+ year old SEADIP.

    The proposed changes, drafted in closed door meetings by an advisory committee (selected by Councilman DeLong) which worked with city staff, include bike routes and environmentally resonant items in addition to more development. The plans drew mixed reviews when unveiled at community meetings in April and May for "public input" (14 regularly scheduled 3rd district neighborhood group meetings, two SEADIP specific meetings at Lowell Elementary). In April, City Hall's Planning Commission received a public presentation on the proposal, which Councilman DeLong now calls a "Draft Concept Plan."

    Two major environmental groups critical of the product and the process are publicly urging the Council not to advance the plan on June 5.

    In a written release, the Long Beach Sierra Club and the Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust call the plan "hasty" and "unrepresentative of the entire city"...with the LB Sierra Club adding that it has "serious reservations" about the plan.

    "We are concerned both with the process that created this Draft Concept Plan as well as some of the elements we see in it," said Brenda Rogers, Vice Chair of the Long Beach Sierra Club group in a release. "It is shocking to us that none of the environmental groups that have been working so hard and for so long to preserve some of the last remaining wetlands in Southern California were represented on the committee that developed this plan."

    The Sierra Clubs says the original 1977 SEADIP plan was developed by a task force composed of 3rd district residents, environmental groups, development interests and city residents at large...and Sierra Club Vice Chair Rogers charged "That process has been subverted in the development of these amendments...Weíre not taking a position on the plan itself, because we donít have enough information. However, we have serious reservations with parts of the plan that seem to allow for significant additional development in areas that are now wetlands or wetlands adjacent."

    In the release, Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust board member Adrea Stoker said her group was opposed to any development on wetlands property and no member of the trust participated in the SEADIP review, despite requests to be represented. She called on the City Council "to defer action on these revisions until environmental groups and residents from the other eight council districts can review and provide input on the plan."

    The Sierra Clubís Rogers said the community briefing meetings on the plan were all held in the 3rd Council District, although the "shore area and the wetlands in particular, are a legacy for all the people; not just those who can see them from their windows." She added, "There was considerable opposition to the increase in homes, traffic and commercial development this plan proposes from the people who attended the meetings. As people learn more about the plan, they donít like what they see."

    In an agendizing memo, Councilman DeLong says, "The primary purpose of the community meetings was to gather community opinions and feedback on the Draft Concept Plan. The committee has heard comments from community members and the Planning Commission, and modified the Plan in response to concerns."

    SEADIP June 5/07 memo attachmentBut the agendizing memo doesn't describe what those "modifications" are and aren't...and an attached pdf map (right) isn't much help.

    The Draft Concept Plan (apparently prior to any modifications) is posted on Councilman DeLong's 3rd district Council web site.

    Revising the SEADIP is ultimately a growth and development impacting policy decision...because City Hall could cite Council-approved revisions to the SEADIP to counter future opposition to proposed developments. At present, developers seek ad hoc variances and waivers by contending the current SEADIP is outdated...with each proposed development potentially triggering opposition and entitlement hurdles.

    One current example is a proposed mixed-use development by Lennar at the SW corner of PCH/2nd St...however Councilman DeLong made clear during his successful 2006 election campaign that he doesn't support a moratorium on new SE area development pending a new SEADIP. Others have called for exactly that...including former 3rd district Councilman Doug Drummond.

    As with other major policy items, a City Council majority (not the Planning Commission or one Councilman's advisory committee) will ultimately decide changes to the SEADIP. In some other cities, voters displeased with developer-propelled projects have used ballot initiatives to control growth, enacting check-and-balance mechanisms to protect against unrestrained Council development approval.

    Meanwhile, on the evening before the SEADIP item reaches the Council, LB residents riled by Councilman DeLong's October 2006 supportive vote for the Studebaker/Loynes ("Home Depot") development have scheduled a June 4 fundraiser at Club Ripples (5101 E. Ocean Blvd.). A flier indicates proceeds will support of the Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust, the University Park Neighborhood Ass'n and the Stop Home Depot Coalition...which have appealed the approval in court and are readying a separate appeal to the Coastal Commission.

    "Your participation will help fight encroaching development and traffic that threaten the wetlands restoration and our quality of life," say the flier, advising there's a $25 tax deductible entry fee at the door and inviting larger contributions in person or by mail (citing the Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust web site at

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