Details / Perspective

Compare City Hall's Social Network Claims Re Proposed LUE With This Add'l Information is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(Nov. 21, 2017, 8:30 a.m.) -- At late afternoon Monday Nov. 20, the City of Long Beach began using social networks to disseminate what it calls [its term] "breakdowns of the revisions" made by city staff to staff's proposed Land Use Element maps. A City Hall release said that from Monday Nov. 20 through Wednesday Nov. 22, it would do so "through a series of posts on the City's Facebook and NextDoor accounts.

In the public interest, provides the following additional information...and invites our readers to share our information with their own Facebook and NextDoor contacts.

[Scroll down for further.]

City of LB social network notes
These new maps are an update from maps released in August 2017.Savvy residents don't measure City Hall's latest-proposed density increases compared to density increases that city staff recently proposed. Residents rightfully measure City proposed density increases compared to the neighborhood quality of life they have now. Throughout the process, city staff has continuously proposed density increases in varying amounts in various parts of the city in various map versions (May 2015, August 2016 (draft LUE), February 4, 2017 (sought Planning Comm'n voted approval but held April study session to discuss shifting more density to ELB), June 15, 2017 (Planning Comm'n study session disclosed major ELB-density increase maps), August 17, 2017 (Planning Comm'n action pushed back by grassroots residents' uprising.)

Staff's most recent November 10, 2017 maps -- which has made easily accessible on a special page linked in a special banner atop our front page -- simply propose to reduce or modify density increases that city staff previously sought. The MAyor and City Council now face the largest LB citywide public uprising in the past quarter five of nine Council incumbents and the Mayor now seek re-election.

City staff attempted to wrap up the LUE process before LB's April 2018 citywide elections for Mayor and a majority of Council incumbents. Staff scheduled its proposed LUE, density increase maps and a draft "program" EIR for Planning Comm'n voted recommendations on Feb. 4, 2017. This could have led to final Council enactment by mid-2017. It didn't happen because Wrigley residents objected, derailing the LUE timeline and resulting in city staff proposing additional density for ELB. At the Aug. 17 Planning Commission meeting, Development Services Dir. Amy Bodek (to her credit) candidly acknowledged that the LUE and maps were already scheduled (by an individual(s) she didn't name) for the Oct. 3 City Council meeting (regardless of what the Planning Commission voted to recommend.) [The Mayor's office generally oversees scheduling agenda items for future Council meetings.] An Council majority and the Mayor now face a citywide uprising as they seek reelection in April 2018...and challengers have now surfaced in Council districts 3 and 5.

The new maps reflect a reduction in density of 686 acres through height-reduction and modified land-use designations.The Nov. 10 maps don't reduce density. They increase density beyond what it is now. They propose higher building heights in addition to "mixed uses" (commercial below, residential above) in areas where it currently isn't allowed. See them yourself. Red areas are commercial; purple areas are "mixed uses." See Low resoltion or High resolution Nov. 10 maps. And by applying statutory "density bonuses" and newly enacted SB 35 -- that staff hasn't seriously discussed in the LUE context -- ultimately allowable building heights may in some cases exceed story levels shown on the maps (further below.)
44 percent of the City’s land is comprised of single-family neighborhoods, which will see no changes under the revised maps.City staff states that its LUE "Founding and Contemporary Neighborhood" Placetype (large residential areas in yellow on LUE maps) can allow from seven dwelling units per acre to eighteen dwelling units per acre. Seven dwelling units per acre is LB's current standard single family residential density much of LB (including ELB) but eighteen dwelling units per acre is greater density than the controversial "Riverwalk" townhouse development on the former Will J. Reid scout park site west of LB Blvd. along the L.A. River. In our view, that wide density range is a de facto open door inviting current or future Councils to allow developers greater densities in some residential neighborhoods areas than most LB single family home residential density currently allows.

We acknowledge (and have repeatedly reported) that Christopher Koontz, City Hall's Advance Planning Officer, has told us that 18 dwelling units per acre is the absolute maximum in the Founding and Contemporary Neighborhoods PlaceType and adds that the "vast, vast, vast [reiterates it three times for emphasis] majority of existing single family neighborhoods will remain as they are today...In the event new land comes available, such as a school or church closing, and it is developed as single family, the land use element would guide that future development. These could be traditional single family homes, traditional homes on small lot, row homes or duplexes. They would not include 'condos' as those are typically understood because this placetype is not intended to include stacked or 'multifamily' buildings." We also acknowledge that the City Council could use zoning (the next step after the LUE is adopted) to protect neighborhoods, but unfortunately the opposite is also true. It would be foolhardy for residents to rely on LB City Hall's protection (even with a simultaneously approved "Urban Design Element" reciting certain standards) given the City's record of promoting increased density in this proceeding and its history of enabling damaging developer desired "crackerbox multi-unit" density that created long term problems for a number of previously stable residential areas.

In addition, SB 35 (enacted by Sacramento in 2017 without opposition by the City of Long Beach) invites developers to bypass LB enacted approval standards. SB 35 (full text here) states in pertinent part: "A development proponent may submit an application for a development that is subject to the streamlined, ministerial [clerk type] approval process provided by subdivision (b) and not subject to a conditional use permit if the development satisfies" a number of "objective planning standards" [lengthy definition omitted] "if the density proposed is compliant with the maximum density allowed within that land use designation, notwithstanding any specified maximum unit allocation that may result in fewer units of housing being permitted." It continues: "In the event that objective zoning, general plan, or design review standards are mutually inconsistent, a development shall be deemed consistent with the objective zoning standards pursuant to this subdivision if the development is consistent with the standards set forth in the general plan." Density increases proposed in the LUE -- when coupled with SB 35, plus other recently enacted Sac'to housing bills (including SB 166 and SB 167) plus existing statutory "density bonuses" -- create a perfect storm that could make it even harder to prevent developer-sought increased building heights and density.

Unfortunately, LB residents have good reason to be skeptical of City Hall assurances that city officials will protect their interests. City staff didn't opposed SB 35 and didn't publicly mention SB 35 until after residents brought it up and reported it. City staff didn't discuss SB 35's impacts as it advanced and became law. Now that it's been enacted, city staff has tried (at October "Town Hall" meetings) to downplay its significance.'s sources tell us that the City Attorney and city staff are now belatedly scrambling to compose a memo that will try to downplay SB 35's effects (similar to the way a City Attorney memo tried to downplay the risks of allowing staff-recommended international operations at LB Airport.)

Approximately 6 percent of the City would be planned for neighborhood-scale mixed-use projects along corridors, which combine retail and office uses with housing opportunities.The City admits it derived its "6%" figure by excluding Port, Airport and park acreage but fails to acknowledge that the LUE's proposed density increases will affect neighborhoods and areas beyond project-enabled properties, creating traffic, parking impacts and other impacts for taxpayers and residents beyond.
2 percent of the City would be planned for Transit Oriented Development along rail transit corridors.SB 35 states in part: "Notwithstanding any other law, a local government, whether or not it has adopted an ordinance governing parking requirements in multifamily developments, shall not impose parking standards for a streamlined development that was approved pursuant to this section in any of the following instances:
(A) The development is located within one-half mile of public transit.
(B) The development is located within an architecturally and historically significant historic district.
(C) When on-street parking permits are required but not offered to the occupants of the development.
(D) When there is a car share vehicle located within one block of the development.
(2) If the development does not fall within any of the categories described in paragraph (1), the local government shall not impose parking requirements for streamlined developments approved pursuant to this section that exceed one parking space per unit." invites our readers to share this story with their Facebook and NextDoor contacts. Further updates to follow.







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