Election Campaign Notebook / Perspective

In Dueling Releases, Campaigns For 5th District Incumbent Mungo and Challenger Dines Avoid Mentioning Proposal For LB Airport Customs Facility / Int'l Operations But Both Say They Oppose Increased Density; Compare Their Records 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.
(October 28, 2017) -- In dueling press releases within 24 hours of each other, 5th district Council incumbent Stacy Mungo and her sole announced challenger to date, former LB Harbor Commissioner (and April 2017 contributor to Mayor Garcia's re-election campaign) Rich Dines both avoided mentioning the polarizing proposal that sought to allow a federal customs facility at LB Airport (enabling international passenger and cargo operations that couldn't be limited to proponent JetBlue.) The controversy spanned nearly two years from Feb. 2015 to January 2017.

In contrast, both the Mungo and Dines campaign releases said their respective candidates oppose increased 5th district density. compares their release words and their records on both issues below.

[Scroll down for further.]

LB Airport customs facility / international airport operations

Mr. Dines
. can find no record at this point of Mr. Dines having taken part in public meetings, testifying at Council meetings, or otherwise taking a public position on the issue while it was ongoing.

Councilwoman Mungo

Mar. 3, 2015: Councilwoman Mungo voted "no" on a motion to wait until 4th dist. voters elected a Councilman to fill the vacancy created when their Council rep sought and won election to the Sac'to Assembly and the new Councilmember had been seated for at least 60 days, before management would seek Council direction on JetBlue's request for a customs facility. Councilmembers Austin and Uranga agendized an item to delay action on the management request until 90 days after the 4th dist. voters had elected a Council representative. In response to residents who'd come to the Council meeting carrying signs supporting the Austin-Uranga agendized item, Councilwoman Mungo said that in her view, bringing the agenda item was "pandering to this crowd." Later in the Council discussion, she asserted that she effectively represents the 4th district in the same way as do all other Councilmembers who vote on citywide-impacting items. Councilwoman Mungo added that she also regularly gets yogurt at a 4th district business. The motion carried over Mungo's voted objection.

July 7, 2015: Councilwoman Mungo made the motion (carried 6-3, Austin, Uranga and Supernaw dissenting) that authorized conducting a "feasibility study" to determine the feasibility, financial or otherwise, of a federal inspection (customs) facility at LB Airport. After multiple residents testified to the importance of their home values and neighborhood quality of life, Councilwoman Mungo stated: "I want all of you to stay in the homes you're in, but quite frankly if you moved, the city would actually increase its property tax revenue. Because of Prop 13 and your protections, we are not making a decision to get rid of you or move you and..." Councilwoman Mungo's words triggered audible audience displeasure, to which she responded: "I'm a budget director and I just have to tell you the facts." As the audience reaction grew, Mayor Garcia intervened and effectively invited Mungo not to say more: "You're all done, Councilwoman?" the Mayor asked, to which Councilwoman Mungo replied "sure." To hear an audio clip of this exchange, click here. The full motion made by Councilwoman Mungo (seconded by now-exited Councilwoman Lowenthal) authorized city management to proceed with work necessary to determine the feasibility, financial or otherwise, of a Federal Inspection Service (FIS) facility. It also directed that the study include at least two "community meetings" including communities and neighborhoods most impacted by the potential facility; a forecast of additional general aviation flights, including corporate and personal jets, that would use the facility; a risk assessment of potential threats to the airport noise control ordinance, and a plan to "mitigate" impacted neighborhoods and schools from environmental and health impacts should the airport noise control ordinance become invalidated; a study on additional security risks associated with international flights.) It directed that any decision regarding the FIS facility come back to City Council but didn't set a date.

Dec. 6, 2016: Councilwoman Mungo made a substitute-substitute motion, seconded by Price, that scheduled a Dec. 13 non-voting "study session" on the "feasibility study" (a proposal originally agendized for Council approval by Councilman Uranga) but additionally authorized city staff to immediately work with JetBlue and airport interests/stakeholders on items that are prerequisites to approve a customs facility / international flights (an action not proposed on the Dec. 6 agenda that was awaiting future Council action on Dec. 13) AND scheduled a decision-making vote for Jan. 24 that wasn't on any written agenda.

Dec. 13, 2016: At the non-voting study session that her motion scheduled, Councilwoman Mungo asked no questions and made no statements.

Jan. 23, 2017: The night before the decisional Council vote, Councilwoman Mungo held a public meeting at LB Airport at which many residents were strongly opposed. Some attendees described Councilwoman Mungo as at times as emotional. At the time scheduled for the meeting to end, Councilwoman Mungo exited and later attended what has learned was a meeting with Councilwoman Suzie Price and Mayor Robert Garcia.

Jan. 24, 2017: Councilwoman Mungo made a motion, seconded by Councilwoman Price, to "receive and file" -- take no action at that time -- on city management's request for Council approval to proceed with a number of actions prerequisite to allowing a federal customs facility at LB Airport. Councilwoman Mungo's motion came before public testimony began, catching much of the audience by surprise. Following public testimony, the Council approved Councilwoman Mungo's motion 8-1 (Andrews dissenting), effectively instructing city management not to pursue the matter further. Few noticed that Mungo didn't seek a "no" vote on the customs facility; her "receive and file" motion stopped the proposal's advance but theoretically lets those who voted to "receive and file" subsequently revisit the issue in the future (although no Council incumbent has publicly stated his/her desire to do so.) In a mass emailing after the Council meeting, Councilwoman Mungo didn't cite quality of life and property value issues raised by many residents as the reason for her motion. Instead, she explained her action as follows: "This [a customs facility] is an investment the City would make if it felt it were in the best interests of the Airport financially, after taking into consideration a full review of the associated issues, and in this case, the financial investment the City would make in this endeavor does not outweigh the potential benefits. The potential economic impacts to the region, and more importantly to the Airport itself, do not justify the investment. The Airport is one of the City's biggest economic drivers, and we need to ensure it is financially sound. Our Airport is functioning well today, and the City should not proceed with a new project while we have so many other important priorities."



Land Use Element / Proposed Increased Density

Their respective press releases said:

Dines campaign [Oct. 26, 2017] "...Our Police and Fire Departments are underfunded and spread extremely thin, our streets and parks are in desperate need of repair, we greatly need to rebuild our infrastructure, our neighborhoods are in need of preservation instead of increased density and universal urbanization, and our taxes are amongst the highest in the entire state..."

Mungo campaign [Oct. 27, 2017] [In speaking to supporters at an Oct. 13 campaign fundraiser], Councilmember Mungo listed improving and preserving the character of 5th District neighborhoods as her top priority, including more money for street and sidewalk repairs and taking a stand against increased density for the area...'I'm running for improve our roads and sidewalks, to protect the low-density character of our neighborhoods...'"


Their records:

Mr. Dines Attended the Oct. 4, Oct. 14 and Oct. 18 "Town Halls" on land use density increases. At the Oct. 4 event at ELB's Whaley Park, Mr. Dines sat in the front row of seats alongside retired Harbor Commissioner/retired Vice Mayor/3rd dist. Councilman Doug Drummond and used the high visibility opportunity to blast proposals to increase ELB density: "I don't support any mixed development in the 5th district...We don't need our City of Long Beach to be one big downtown." Mr. Dines also took an implicit swipe at Councilwoman Mungo's record on SB 35 without mentioning Mungo by name (who is a member of the Council's "State Legislation Committee.") "I don't know why the Committee did not bring an opposition to this bill," Mr. Dines said.

Councilwoman Mungo: April 24, 2017: During Q & A at a community meeting organized by her office, Councilwoman Mungo offered inaccurate comments and tried to disparage accurate information on the advancing Land Use Element and proposed density increases provided by Plaza-area constituent Corliss Lee. ( coverage with audio here.) [Ms. Lee, who first active in civic events to oppose changing LB into an international facility, has gone on to form the grassroots Eastside Voice, a neighborhood group spanning the 5th and 4th Council districts and currently focused on density and the proposed Land Use Element.]

June 9, 2017: On a Friday at 10:00 a.m. (at time when many people were at work), Councilwoman Mungo's office held an outdoor "pop up" event at Wardlow Park at which City Development Services staff presented what Mungo's office titled a "Development 101 Community Workshop." Councilwoman Mungo's monthly (May 24) "Neighborly News" email dispatch described the outdoor event as "Do you have questions about home improvement permitting requirements? Would you like to discuss property maintenance or code enforcement issues? Are you interested in the City's General Plan Land Use Element, which is the road map to the City's future?" Among those present at the June 9 event was Christopher Koontz, the city's primary policy staffer overseeing the Land Use Element re-write, who fielded questions and heard comments from residents who'd learned of the proposed Land Use Element changes. Councilwoman Mungo wasn't present at the event.

June 10, 2017 In a mass emailing she titled "For the Record: Councilwoman Mungo Provides You with the Facts," Councilwomam Mungo wrote that within certain parameters "I believe the updated General Plan will be able to attract exciting new businesses and jobs to the Fifth District without altering the small community feel that we all treasure. The future is likely to include more home delivery and less demand for physical locations for shopping, and this means we need to evaluate what would make sense for our neighborhoods should the trend of online sales continue to rise and more retailers vacate their existing locations."

But the "parameters" Mungo quoted were basically consistent with or paraphrased from city staff's verbiage in its then-proposed Land Use Element's commercial and "mixed use" densities in the 5th district. At that time, these included allowing up to three story buildings at the Spring St./Palo Verde "Plaza" commercial quadrants and the Bellflower/Spring SE quadrant commercial center in addition to allowing three stories in smaller commercial nodes along Los Coyotes Diagonal north of Spring St.("Pavilions" center) and north and south of Wardlow Rd. (purple in map below.) At the smaller commercial centers city staff also proposed to allow some residential uses (such as "mixed use" developments.)

Staff also proposed to classify ELB's surrounding residential neighborhoods in a "placetype" that would allow from 7 dwelling units per acre [LB's traditional single family residential neighborhood density] to up to 18 dwelling units per acre. City of Long Beach Advance Planning Officer, Christopher Koontz told that 18 dwelling units per acre is the absolute maximum within the placetype and streesed that the "vast, vast, vast [reiterates it three times for emphasis] majority of existing single family neighborhoods will remain as they are today." He added: "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'" and cites the accompanying proposed Urban Design Element which shows the different types of single family and duplex residences that could be developed in the future (see pp. 49-51 of the PDF, numbered pages 41-43.) reports this in detail at this link.

June 13, 2017: At a City Council study session on staff's then-proposed Land Use Element changes, Councilwoman Mungo engaged in a colloquy with city staff that didn't oppose staff's then-proposed Land Use Element changes and density increases.

June 15, 2017: A little over 48 hours later at a Planning Commission study session, city staff reveals revised land use density increase maps proposing higher commercial and mixed use heights and density than in its previous maps for parts of the 5th (and 4th) Council district(s). reports city staff's increased proposed ELB densities in detail in detail at this link. Word spreads via and reaches the revitalized grassroots Council of Neighborhood Organizations (CONO) in which 5th district resident Corliss Lee is an active participant.

Aug. 17, 2017: City staff agendizes its revised maps proposing increased ELB density for LB Planning Commission consideration and voted recommendations. 29 public speakers from parts of Long Beach spanning Wrigley to ELB (many responding to a call to action by CONO, amplified by the 4th district blog published by Los Altos area neighborhood group leader Joe Mello) show up and blast staff's newly revised maps and allege a lack of sufficient public outreach. The Planning Commission votes 4-1 to recommend additional public input before bringing the maps to the Council, but city staff indicates that it plans to bring the maps to the Council on Oct. 3 because the item is already scheduled for Council discussion on that date. Anger erupts on social networks...and on Aug. 18, Mayor Garcia publicly urges city management to conduct additional public outreach before bringing the maps to the Council.

Sept. 16, 2017 At a front lawn neighborhood meeting organized by grassroots Density Watch, Councilwoman Mungo shows up (says she was invited by a neighborhood resident) and accuses organizers of disseminating inaccurate information. Mungo declines to answer a resident's question asking what she thinks of changes proposed by city staff to LB's land uses and accompanying density increase maps, stating that the City Attorney told her she couldn't do so without losing her vote when the issue comes to the City Council. Councilwoman Mungo's information was inaccurate; she and other Councilmembers are free to speak about proposed Land Use Element changes. coverage here. Councilwoman Mungo also tells the crowd: "The Land Use Plan doesn't change zoning. Zoning's the next step. This does not change zoning." Her statement is true but omits relevant information: city staff's proposed Land Use Element shows the close relationship between staff's proposed land use changes, related policies and zoning. coverage at this link

Sept. 17, 2017: An overflow crowd attends the inaugural meeting of the grassroots Eastside Voice organized by 5th district resident Corliss Lee and held at the El Dorado Branch library. Councilwoman Mungo doesn't attend.

Oct. 3, 2017: In her emailed Neighborly News newsletter, Councilwoman Mungo tells recipients: "I want to be clear, I have NOT and will NOT support the planning commission's proposed maps. I will NOT support increasing density in the 5th District, and I will continue to work hard and protect the character of our residential neighborhoods."

Oct. 4, 2017: Councilwoman Mungo has her staff sets up a "pop up" booth outside the Whaley Park "Town Hall" style meeting on the Land Use Element. It displays a sign stating: "Councilwoman Mungo's Position on Density: Regarding the General Plan Update & Land Use Element: I will NOT support increased density in the 5th district. I will NOT support the Planning Commission's proposed maps. Let's work together to protect the character of our residential neighborhoods." Councilwoman Mungo also attends the event, meets with residents.




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