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    Planning Comm'n OK's Douglas Park Project, Sends It To Council

    Douglas Park, 5/4/04

    (October 7, 2004) -- At its October 7 meeting, LB's Planning Commission (Mayor nominated, Council approved) voted unanimously to approve and send to the City Council Boeing Realty's Douglas Park mixed use development.

    The Planning Commission vote was unanimous. The project now heads to the City Council, which has the last word on approving the project.

    The City Council has agendized a study session (no vote scheduled but open to the public) on the project on October 12 at 3:00 p.m. A Council vote on the project could come as early as November.

    Boeing Realty has reworked and renamed its original "PacifiCenter" proposal to redevelop the former Douglas Aircraft plant site. Now called Douglas Park (to reflect the site's aircraft legacy), the number of residential units were reduced from as many as 3,800 to 1,400 residential units max. Single family homes were increased and apartments decreased...and multifamily homes along Carson St. were also reduced in height and moved further from existing homes.

    Douglas Park also includes more park land -- 11 acres open space.

    The project has the support of the leadership of the LB Area Chamber of Commerce...but the inclusion of housing has continued to draw fire from a number of residents in the Lakewood Country Club/Lakewood Village area and some LB airport businesses and private pilots. A City Hall appointed (Mayor nominated, Council approved) "Airport Advisory Commission" has also voted to recommend to the Council that housing not be included in the project.

    Residents of the Lakewood Country Club and Lakewood Village areas object to building residential units close to LB Airport, citing safety, noise and terrorism concerns. They've previously urged Boeing to pursue a commercial project similar to developments next to Van Nuys Airport, in the City of Carson and the former North American plant site in Downey.

    However Boeing Realty and the LB Area Chamber of Commerce say the integration of housing with commercial and mixed use elements is a positive element...and one of the development's strongest points. On, Boeing Realty says its plan "responds to many of...Long Beach’s long-term goals, including the creation of new high quality jobs, providing new homes in an area that suffers from a housing shortage, adding parks and new recreational opportunities, improving mobility through traffic solutions addressing the need for additional school capacity and providing funding for affordable housing."

    In announcing LB Chamber backing for the Douglas Park plan in March 2004, Chamber President/CEO Randy Gordon said, "Long Beach needs high-quality, high paying jobs, which PacifiCenter would deliver while revitalizing a community asset that is currently contributing very little to the community...We were also impressed by Boeing’s eagerness to find solutions that contribute to the community, as they have done with schools and traffic."

    Leaders of the LB Airport Association also continue to oppose including residential units as part of the Douglas Park project. In testimony to the Airport Advisory Commission, Kevin McAchren reiterated that he and his group remain firmly opposed to building housing close to the airport.

    Boeing Realty says on that "multiple regulatory agencies provided guidance for land use surrounding the airports including -- the FAA, LA County Airport Land Use Commission, Caltrans, Department of Health Services and the City of Long Beach. Our plan responds to the guidance of each of these agencies by placing sensitive land uses in the least impacted areas of the site. In addition, owners will sign an acknowledgement covenant as well as an avigation easement relinquishing their right to bring a cause of action for airport noise."

    Meanwhile, a recent opinion piece by Sound-Off commentator Gary DeLong raised several issues in connection with Douglas Park...including maximizing the financial/revenue potential for the city.

    "Although the housing portion of the [Douglas Park] plan will probably lose money for the City (the cost of providing services exceeds the tax revenue), the commercial portion is expected to generate $1.3 million to $3.8 million annually after all facilities are built and occupied...If 160 acres will generate $1.3 million to $3.8 million annually, then 261 acres of commercial/industrial could generate $2.1 million to $6.2 million annually," Mr. DeLong wrote.

    Mr. DeLong's commentary drew email responses (unscientific sample) of over 85% urging the Council to "improve the project by eliminating the housing."

    In a May 4, 2004 presentation, Boeing Realty said its commitment for Douglas Park was to "create a new neighborhood that captures the feel and flavor of LB's distinctive and attractive older neighborhoods."Douglas Park, 5/4/04

    Douglas Park, 5/4/04
    Company officials displayed plans showing neighborhood-styled streets lined with single family homes, some townhouse units and a smaller number of luxury apartments.

    "Douglas Plan" calls for 3.3 million square feet of commercial development, including 200,000 sq. ft of retail uses, a 400-room hotel, 11 acres of parkland and up to 1,400 homes.

    Commercial district.Douglas Park, 5/4/04

    One of the residential areas.Douglas Park, 5/4/04

    Douglas Park, 5/4/04
    Retail district.

    The 3d model, viewed from the south, looking north.Douglas Park, 5/4/04

    Douglas Park, 5/4/04
    The 3d model, viewed from Carson St. looking south.

    Boeing Realty maintains a web site for its Douglas Plan project at (Caveat: it's douglaspark.ORG, not .com).

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