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LB Activists React As Second Theater Chain Pulls Out of QW Bay, Throwing Current Plan Into Doubt

(October 16, 2000). LB activists, whose criticism of current Queensway Bay plans went unheeded by LB officialdom, reacted strongly as word spread that a second theater chain troubled by bankruptcy has now pulled out of the development.

City officials quoted in other media indicated the project might have to be redesigned or scaled back. Groundbreaking, already repeatedly delayed, has reportedly been postponed.

In response to developments and at our request, Diana Mann (Chair, ECO-link) and Traci Wilson-Kleekamp (President, Concerned Parents and Teachers of Long Beach) provided their opinions by e-mail. We've posted pertinent portions below. (Our opinions are in an editorial posted at: QWB Editorial)

Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp:

I think the real problem with the Queensway Bay project is the notion that the city has a thriving tourism industry. The high turnover on Pine Avenue and [the Convention and Visitors Bureau's inaccurate] hotel bookings...make my point. High business turnover and declining hotel bookings equals a lagging tourism market.

However, if we want to create vibrant tourism industry (and I think we should be focused on education and tourism) we need to offer the resident and visitors something unique and exciting. Sorry but movie theaters and Wal-Mart don't meet the criteria... and the proof will be that the proposed Plaza will be nothing better than what they just tore down.. a passe' suburban complex.

...[T]his was a repeated lesson for City Hall. One theater bit the dust cause the market is crumbling -- so they signed up another one...So you know that saying.. Pete and Repeat went swimming and Pete drowned -- who was left? Repeat!

That's exactly how City Hall operates. They must all have their heads buried deep in the sand to not read the business pages or follow the stock market --- which has been full of warnings about the theater industry. City staff must have lovely tea parties everyday and never consider searching the internet for information -- they simply take the city manager's word as gold.

Because of the rapidly changing technology industry which gives us many other options for interactive media, films and the like -- I do not see movie theaters making a come back any time soon. DVD, cable access, the internet has already changed consumer's habits about movies. I see it moving forward with even more options, not backwards with large screens.

I will continue to call for reform and urge my friends to do the same. I also believe it is time to call for an end of the Henry Taboada regime...Just like with the 911/ECOC project City Hall attempted to mislead the public by saying that QWB was viable project..and diverted so many resources to this "dream" that our city's infrastructure has been neglected.

It is outrageous that so much money has been spent on this project and we have nothing to show for it.

I will environmental friends, a development which brings back the BEACH -- our city's most precious resource. If City Hall is willing to work with us and listen... it could be the most valuable investment our leadership has made in decades to fulfill their promise of creating a truly revitalized city.

Ms. Mann:

If this project would have been built, the taxpayers would be subsidizing it today. It is not the role of government to make business decisions. Private business should buy private land and use their own money to build projects.

We have to stop paving the way for Big Box Retail. Malls are on the way out, being replaced by cute and quaint downtowns. If they really did a factual economic study, they would find that the downtown beach area does not support a mall as well as the mall they have planned for the Downtown Plaza.

The lesson should be, if you have a beautiful place, people want to live there. If people love where they live, shop owners will want to be there too. We should never give away public park land.

We will propose two plans soon. One is a water garden and the other is underground shops with a garden on top...I have already sent City Hall a "Long Beach Garden by The Sea" Plan. The environmental community...wants open space.

The proper role of government is to provide parks. The Long Beach government wants to give parks away to developers. Queensway Bay is public land. It should be a shoreline nature park. We must insist that any developer that has donated money to a Council candidate may not vote on a project that benefits that developer. Government giveaways to private businesses is unfair, unethical and makes for bad decisions.

City Hall has lost much credibility. They failed to listen to the public, they failed to listen to the Plaza Coalition...[they failed to listen to] the public on the utility tax cut, and [they supported] the CVB [Convention and Vsitors Bureau].

Foolish building to subsidize developers just has to stop.

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