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SE LB Property (Acquired By City Hall In Swap For Public Service Yard) Is Roughly 64% Wetlands, About 1/3 Is Developed/Disturbed Uplands, Says Formal Delineation Study Done For Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority

Heather Altman's breaks this story

(May 8, 2011, updated 7:30 p.m.) -- A formal delineation study of roughly 33 acres of SE LB property along 2nd St. between Studebaker Rd. and Shopkeeper Rd. -- whose surface rights LB City Hall acquired in a controversial swap with a Tom Dean-related LLC for developable industrial property (Public Service Yard) -- indicates that the SE LB parcel has roughly 21 acres (approx. 64%) of wetlands.

The study concludes that about a third of the area, dubbed the "Marketplace Marsh" by wetlands proponents, consists of developed/disturbed uplands and other non-wetlands land.

Portion of 33 acre parcel ("Marketplace Marsh"). photo

Heather Altman's broke this story earlier today (May 8) by reporting that the delineation study is agendized for discussion at the next meeting of the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority (LCWA) on May 11 and describing its conclusions. [Kudos, Ms. Altman; you scooped everybody.]

UPDATE: Reached for comment via email early Sunday evening (May 8), LCWA chair/LB Councilman Gary DeLong emailed:

"When the City first began considering obtaining the 33 acre Marketplace Marsh property, Mr. Dean estimated that based on his knowledge of previous studies of the property approximately 2/3 of the land was 'Wetlands' and 1/3 was 'Developable.' Accordingly, I am very pleased to learn that the delineation study has supported the original estimates." [end update].

Image source: AECOM delineation study, May 11 LCWA agenda item 6

Image source: AECOM delineation study, May 11 LCWA agenda item 6

Image source: AECOM delineation study, May 11 LCWA agenda item 6

Image source: AECOM delineation study, May 11 LCWA agenda item 6

AECOM's delineation study was produced under contract with LCWA, a government entity that LB City Hall hopes will ultimately purchase the surface rights that LB City Council majorities voted to acquire.

In an agendizing memo presenting the delineation study to LCWA's Governing Board, interim Executive Director Joan Cardellino writes:

AECOM has prepared a Jurisdictional Delineation Report (JDR) for the City of Long Beach Marketplace Marsh parcel located at the southeast corner of 2nd Street/Westminster Avenue and Shopkeeper Road in Long Beach, California. The JDR will help the LCWA in identifying funds to acquire the Marketplace Marsh from the City of Long Beach. The JDR will also help with the development of the conceptual restoration plan and with obtaining regulatory permits during the implementation phase.

The JDR summarizes the latest guidance and methodology employed in conducting formal delineations for jurisdictional waters of the U.S. and State of California (state), and describes the results of the fieldwork that occurred within the Marketplace Marsh...

Approximately 21.80 acres of potential jurisdictional waters (wetlands) of the U.S. and State have been formally delineated at the Marketplace Marsh...Of these approximately 21.80 acres of delineated aquatic features, approximately 19.90 acres are potential jurisdictional waters of the U.S. These approximately 19.90 acres of potential jurisdictional waters of the U.S. are composed of vegetated wetlands (in the form of southern brackish marsh [12.39 acres], southern coastal saltmarsh [6.00 acres], mulefat scrub [1.27 acres], and southern willow scrub [0.24 acre]). The southern coastal salt marsh is composed of two components or salt marsh zones: middle coastal salt marsh (1.51 acres) and high coastal salt marsh (4.49 acres).

Approximately 1.90 acres of potential jurisdictional waters of the state exclusively have been formally delineated within the Marketplace Marsh, and are composed of constructed earthen basin bank/disturbed wetlands (1.75 acres) and mulefat scrub (0.15 acre).

The agendized item doesn't include any recommended action. [We presume there will be discussion among the JCWA Boardmembers as well as public comment.]

The LCWA is governed by a four-person governing board. Its website listed members are: Long Beach Councilman Gary DeLong (chair, appointed by City of LB); Seal Beach Councilman David Sloan (appointed by City of Seal Beach); Sam Schuchat (vice chair, appointed by State Coastal Conservancy). [updated text] Although the LCWA website indicates a vacancy for the member appointed by Governing Board of Rivers & Mtns. Conservancy, we believe that's a website error; the position has been held for some time by LB Councilman Patrick O'Donnell [and he told us that hasn't changed when we asked him about it]. [end updated text]

The Dean-related LLC, which swapped the surface rights to the 33 acre parcel, retained mineral rights to the land from which it continues to pump oil and refused to let the City of LB conduct a delineation study on the property (showing how much actually was wetlands) prior to closing.

In August 2009, a Council majority approved the transaction on a 5-4 vote [Yes: S. Lowenthal, DeLong, O'Donnell, Andrews Lerch; No: Garcia, Schipske, Reyes Uranga, Gabelich]. In May 2010, a larger Council majority approved minor finalizing adjustments prior to close on a 6-2 vote [Yes: Lowenthal, DeLong, O'Donnell, Andrews, Reyes Uranga, Lerch; No: Schipske, Gabelich; Absent for entire meeting: Garcia]. The transaction closed in June 2010.

Roughly six months later, the Dean-related LLC sold the Public Service Yard property it acquired in the City Hall swap (developable industrial zoned property along the east bank of L.A. river from Anaheim St. north to nearly PCH) to a private firm for a price and future planned uses not publicly discussed. [In March 2011, Mr. Dean and his business partner Jeff Berger perished along with commercial real estate broker Mark Bixby in a small plane crash at LB Airport.]

The LCWA governing board upcoming meeting is scheduled for May 11, 2011 at 3:15 at the LB Yacht Club. The delineation study is agenda item 6.

Developing. Further to follow on

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