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Parking Revolt -- With Legal Teeth -- In Alamitos Beach, Brushes Back City Hall On Developer-Friendly Thin Parking Req'ts In Council's 2012 "Downtown Plan"

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(Nov. 9, 2015, 10:20 a.m.) -- Just hours before a Nov. 5 scheduled Planning Commission hearing on an appeal filed by Alamitos Beach residents regarding a City Hall-supported downtown highrise at Ocean/Alamitos, the City issued the following unusual notice:

"The Applicant for 101 Alamitos project (PC 11/5 Meeting Agenda Item 15-067PL) has requested for a two-week postponement of the Planning Commission's consideration of their proposed project to allow additional time for community outreach/input. A continuance will be requested for November 19, 2015."

What City Hall's statement doesn't mention is that a number of Alamitos Beach residents have retained a Beverly Hills law firm, from which the City received a no-nonsense letter two days before the hearing. To read it, click here.

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The residents have also created a website -- -- which (despite a photo of Belmont Shore) takes aim at parking issues in the Downtown and Alamitos Beach. Its text is clear, action-oriented...and at its root confronts the 2012 City Council action that created a developer-friendly, density-enabling "Downtown Plan." In January 2012, the Council voted 7-2 (Gabelich and Neal dissenting) for actions that now enable developers to create increased density while providing less parking for their projects and curtailing environmental impact review of individual developments.



[ text] Why new Downtown developments will add hundreds of cars to our street parking:

The Downtown Plan championed by our own City Councilperson Suja Lowenthal in 2012 lowered the downtown parking requirements to a level that's much lower than the rest of the city. All new developments built downtown now only require 1 parking space per unit regardless of the size of the unit (even the 1,900 square foot units in the townhomes only require one parking space). They no longer need to include parking for the first 6,000 square feet of commercial/retail spaces plus there are more parking exemptions for retail space. The requirement for guest parking is still 1 space for every 4 units. The result will be that many more people would be driving around looking for parking.

Coming to Alamitos Beach: less parking

This would have a ripple effect far into Alamitos Beach because people cannot park west of here (meters), south (ocean), and do not want to park very far north (safety reasons). This problem will occur everywhere a new building is built downtown. Some of these buildings take away existing parking lots. Aside from the Downtown Plan allowing buildings without adequate parking, the City has also increased the number of metered or 2 hour zones for businesses (taking more parking away from residences) and will continue to do so into Alamitos Beach...

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This isn't the first time that downtown-adjacent neighborhoods were negatively impacted by City Hall promoted density. In the late 1970s/early 1980s, Council actions (applauded by LB's civic establishment) upzoned single-family residential areas and invited multi-unit apartments (now derided as "crackerboxes.") The action was opposed by neighborhood residents at the time and ultimately brought political consequences. In 1992, 2nd Council district voters tossed out a long-time incumbent (backed by LB's establishment), in large part for his role in enabling developer-friendly density that brought negative neighborhood impacts. Voters elected a political novice, Alan Lowenthal, who had a straightforward message; money and insiders shouldn't decide elections and developer-driven density had to stop.



In mid-2006, Alan Lowenthal's now-former daughter-in-law, Suja Lowenthal, was elected to the 2nd district Council seat and has since publicly bristled at any comparisons between "crackerbox" density of the 1980s and the downtown density she has championed since taking office. The new downtown density is upscale, not cheap, and part of a carefully-considered, integrated, unified vision for the future of downtown, Suja Lowenthal and other downtown density supporters have argued.

Three candidates have surfaced to date in seeking to succeed the exiting (term-limited) Suja Lowenthal in an April 2016 election (with possible June 2016 runoff.) Whether any of them will raise the issue of currently allowed density, dissent from the incumbent's position and support amending aspects of the 2012 "Downtown Plan" will be seen in the coming months.

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