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    Sept. 13 Special Council Meeting OK's QW Bay Tidelands Swap

  • Vote is 8-1, Grabinski dissenting. We post transcript excerpts

  • Highly charged testimony by activists opposing City Hall, Council actions; some LB establishment figures support swap, some business leaders split

  • Councilwoman Lowenthal asks about city liability if land swap not approved; read complete answers of City Att'y Shannon and City Mgr. Taboada

  • Activists allege Brown Act violations; City Att'y Shannon gives public denial and explanatory response

    Further breaking: California Earth Corps retains att'y Jan Chatten-Brown re State Lands Comm'n matters involving tidelands swap

  • (Sept. 16, 2001) -- At a special September 13 meeting called on 24 hours notice (after cancellation of the Sept. 11 Council meeting due to that day's east coast terror bombing), the LB City Council voted 8-1 (Yes: B. Lowenthal, Baker (made motion), Colonna (second), Carroll, Kell, Richardson-Batts, Webb, Shultz. No: Grabinski) to approve a proposed QW Bay tidelands designation exchange scheduled to come before the State Lands Commission for possible approval on Monday Sept. 17.

    We present extended transcript excerpts (unofficial, prepared by us) and a hypertext index for reader convenience, below.

    The Council vote came after intense public testimony surrounding the proposed tidelands swap and LB City Hall's actions. A number of LB establishment figures, not usually seen at City Council meetings, came to the podium to urge approval of the swap and defend the project.

    Testimony among some LB business leaders was split. As previously reported by, on September 7 Downtown LB Associates' (DLBA) Board voted (3-1, 4 abstentions, 3 absent) to oppose locating a movie theater in the tidelands. DLBA board member and Pine Avenue businessman John Morris (Mum's restaurant) conveyed DLBA's position and, in his personal capacity, delivered further criticism.

    Testifying in support of the tidelands swap were representatives of the LB Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, the LB Area Chamber of Commerce and LB Convention Center management. Also testifying in support were LB figures Jim Gray, Warren Iliff and Phil Infelise.

    The Council vote followed roughly two and half hours of public testimony and included some significant Council, City Attorney, City Auditor and City staff statements. (Transcript excerpts below)

    A significant colloquy ensued when Councilmember Bonnie Lowenthal asked what the city's liability would be if the land swap is not approved. City Attorney Robert Shannon and City Manager Henry Taboada answered:

    City Attorney Robert Shannon: Madam Mayor, Councilwoman Lowenthal. Just that fact, just the fact that the land swap would not be approved, would not cause the city to incur any liability, not in and of itself, no.

    Councilwoman Lowenthal: So if this Council chose to vote against the land swap, then DDR could continue with the development?

    City Attorney Shannon: That is our position, yes.

    City Manager Taboada: Councilwoman, that is the legal position. The operational position is that we worked hard to unencumber ourselves from what would have been, I think, an arduous disengagement with DDR should they fail, or should the city elect to terminate the agreement with DDR. They in fact in proposing the extension of this development agreement [approved by 6-1 Council vote in February, 2001] with DDR, gave us a disengagement strategy that really limits the city's liability.

    My concern is that anything that would prevent the project from going forward on an operational basis, that is, that the lender would find that title was clouded as a result of not having this issue resolved, or that lessees on the project would not go forward with their leases if they thought that title was cleared on this project, that I think might cause some problems for us in the future.

    I would want to avoid those kinds of issues and have the ability for this project to either go forward as is envisioned in the extension granted to DDR or to terminate that agreement when they fail to break ground within the required time line that is in this current agreement.

    One or the other is, I think, a finite conclusion to this particular issue. I think the issue of the State Lands Commission approval, while not required legally, does in fact present some issues for us with the developer and ones that I would care not to have to work through.

    Meanwhile, has learned that California Earth Corps, an opponent of the proposed tidelands exchange, has retained environmental and land use attorney Jan Chatten-Brown to handle legal issues surrounding State Lands Commission matters in the swap.

    Ms. Chatten-Brown told she believes environmental (CEQA) review is required.

    "Right now they're declaring it exempt and we disagree with that. We're going to try and persuade the State Lands Commission to take a different approach," Ms. Chatten-Brown told She added there may other issues to be addressed but declined to discuss specifics at this time.

    The tidelands exchange could help facilitate the City Hall-approved retail and entertainment complex by removing tidelands designation from four commercial uses about which two State Lands Commissioners (Lt. Gov. Bustamante and State Controller Connell) voiced concerns at their April, 2001 meeting.

    City Hall's chosen developer for the 18 acre retail and entertainment complex, Developers Diversified Realty (DDR), is not a party to the transaction.

    The State Lands Commission does not have permit authority over the QW Bay project. The CA Coastal Commission has project permit authority and it has previously granted the QW Bay project a coastal permit. The coastal permit is conditioned on consistency with state tidelands grants, which Coastal Commission staff (citing LB City Attorney and Lands Commission staff representations) deemed satisfied.

    City Manager Taboada stressed to the Council at its August 28 meeting that the project has all necessary legal entitlements.

    Developer DDR also says it has legal entitlement to proceed. A spokesperson for the firm has previously told that any disagreement involving City Hall and the State Lands Commission is a matter for City Hall to resolve.

    In an August, 2001 letter to the City Council, posted verbatim on, DDR said is moving forward with the project. To view the letter, click (while on line) on DDR Aug. 14, 2001 letter to Councilmembers.

    In February, 2001, the City Council voted (6-1, Grabinski dissenting) to approve a 15 month extension to meet certain deadlines by DDR as part of an amended development and disposition agreement.

    Readers can scroll through the article or use the following hypertext index to jump to specific sections:

    September 13, 2001 Council meeting transcript excerpts follow. They are not official, but were prepared by us (a laborious, time consuming process). Not all speakers are indicated and not all statements by those who spoke are included; ellipses indicate deletions.

    [Begin text]

    Mayor Beverly O'Neill [reason for Special meeting]

    ...This matter was originally agendized for the Sept. 11 meeting which was cancelled due to the events that afflicted our nation that day. This week is the only opportunity for a full and open discussion of the land exchange agreement in advance of Monday's [Sept. 17] State Lands Commission meeting in Sacramento.

    It would not be appropriate to present something to the State Lands Committee [sic] that did not reflect the direction of the Council...

    Some have questioned the appropriateness of this special meeting, given the somber mood of the city and the nation. If there were another way to address this issue, I assure you we would have opted for it. But as the President himself has said "the nation must go on with the nation's business."

    The Congress is back is session. The state legislature has met virtually continuously since Wednesday. So addressing this issue of local importance is not inconsistent with the behavior of other bodies of state and national government...

    City Manager Henry Taboada [basis for proposed Council action]

    [ note: On September 7, the City Manager publicly filed a four page memorandum on the proposed tidelands exchange for the Sept. 11 Council meeting. We have posted the memo in pdf form at: City Mgr. memorandum re proposed tidelands exchange.]

    ...The exchange agreement before you represents the culmination of several months of intensive discussion between our staff and the staff of the State Lands Commission.

    As you will recall, the basis for the proposed action before you was discussed with the City Council in open session on August 28, 2001. Please be reminded that the agreement provides that as part of an escrow, the City as trustee will convey to the state interest in 3.05 acres of land in the Queensway Bay project area...The State Lands Commission would then terminate the public trust interest in the 3.05 acre portions of the Queensway Bay project and reconvey it back to the City.

    The City will convey to the state its interest in four parcels comprising 9.89 acres [L.A. river parcels]...The Commission would then enter into a 49 year lease-back to the City of the L.A. river parcels to be used for tidelands trust purposes.

    With regard to the lease back of the river parcels, it is important to note that State Lands staff have agreed that they will proceed to secure speedy approval by the state legislature for the reconveyance of title to the river parcels back to the city. In the interim, the ground lease will serve to reassign effective control of the properties back to the city.

    With respect to the land values assigned, the City's appraisal work was conducted under contract by Ronald P. Laurain, ASA, SRPA, an independent and respected local appraiser. Mr. Laurain has been under contract with the City of Long Beach and its Redevelopment Agency since 1973 and has conducted numerous appraisal services of a broad range of properties. He also provides professional appraisal services for the federal and state governments, as well as for the County of Los Angeles and numerous other municipalities in Southern California.

    Mr. Laurain and the Commission's staff appraiser have reached agreement on the values shown on the chart now displayed. [See Manager's memo, linked above, page 2]

    The assigned land values as agreed to by the city and state appraisers indicate that the L.A. river parcels have a fair market value $1 million higher than the value assigned to the Queensway Bay parcel. This satisfies the requisite State Lands Commission finding that the lands being acquired by the state are of equal or greater value than the lands to be conveyed.

    Let me hasten to add that if the ultimate result of this transaction was to be the city's relinquishment of ownership and control of the river properties to the state, I would have insisted that the relative values be equal or at least comparable. However, as noted above, since the purpose of this conveyance is only to permit the state to provide the tidelands designation, followed by its immediate reassignment back to the city use and control, the differential in value is of less concern.

    I believe that State Lands Commission own staff report provides a proper perspective on this transaction where it notes, and I quote, "The Queensway Bay parcels have been rendered useless for commerce, navigation and fisheries and the L.A. river parcels may be used more effectively for public trust purposes than the Queensway Bay parcels."

    Their staff report goes on to note, "The three acres of the Queensway Bay parcels are relatively small in area when compared to the thousands of acres of filled and unfilled trust lands held by the city, and the L.A. river parcels have greater public trust value than the Queensway Bay parcels." [Transcriber note: Verbal speaking makes exact end of quote uncertain; suggest checking SLC report to confirm quotation end]. Accordingly, "the staff believes that the facts support the proposed exchange is consistent with the public trust needs in the area."...

    Councilman Ray Grabinski (motion)

    ...Madam Mayor, I have a motion to make before we hear the audience...[H]ow we conduct business is far more important than the business that we conduct...On this document [from the Mayor's office] it says that due to the tragic events inflicted on our nation that day, the special meeting is really the only opportunity for a full and open discussion of the land exchange agreement in advance of Monday's State Lands Commission [meeting].

    I will share with you that I received no less than 20 documents today that I would have to go over, not sitting at this meeting, but sitting before this meeting, to at least come up to speed with what's going on...

    ...It would be inappropriate for us to walk from a vigil [held at 4:30 Sept 13 before the special Council meeting] that reminds us of the dangers of terrorism and to come back here and in our own way move something forward that we're saying cannot be done any other day.

    ...Tomorrow is a national day of mourning. I think our picking this time, or even tomorrow, would be inappropriate. I called Paul Thayer [State Lands Comm'n Exec Dir.] today, it's the first time I've talked to anybody from the State Lands Commission, I think everybody knows how I feel about the Queensway Bay issue. He told me that there were several different options that could be afforded us.

    One of them could be that they move forward on Monday with whatever their decision might be, with the caveat that the City of Long Beach will take up this issue when we have time and when it's appropriate for us to take it up.

    ...I'm making a motion that we lay this issue over until next Tuesday [Sept. 18] because no matter how it turns out, we will be extremely criticized for moving forward at a very sensitive time...

    [The motion died for lack of a second].

    Councilmember Laura Richardson-Batts

    ...Mr. Taboada, could you please explain why it is, in your opinion, that we need to make this decision today? I believe that you shared with me, and I think other Councilmembers about a conversation that you've had with someone with the Lands Commission.

    City Manager Henry Taboada

    ...I also had a conversation yesterday and today with Mr. Paul Thayer, Executive Director of State Lands. And I posed to him yesterday the possibility of bringing this before the Commission on Monday without formal Council approval, and would that in fact be acceptable to the Commission.

    He told me then that he could not guarantee that the Commission would be receptive to that but that he would poll the Commission and get back to me. I had a conversation with Mr. Thayer this morning and he advised me that his overture to the Commission about such a tactic as going without Council approval was not warmly or even kindly received by the Commissioners. Based on that, I think that we have more than satisfied our efforts to try and do this any other way...

    [Councilman Dennis Carroll then suggested the possibility of taking public testimony and then rendering "an advisory opinion," postponing the balance of the hearing until Tuesday. He asked the City Manager for his opinion of this. Mr. Taboada indicated his view that if the city went before the State Lands Commission without formal Council approval, "we could come back without a decision on behalf of the Commission, or even a rejection of our proposal, just based on the fact that I didn't have that approval. That is not something that I am willing to risk at this time..."]

    Mayor O'Neill [re need for public discussion & Council voted action]

    I would just like to add that even though our City Manager, Mr. Taboada, felt that going to the State Lands [Commission] without having this meeting initially, I did not agree. I felt we needed to have some consensus from the Council.

    We've had many of you in this room [members of the public] say, who gave you the right? Tonight we need a meeting, or sometime we need a meeting before we go to the State Lands so that there is a discussion by the Council, so that there is a vote, as to whether this is to proceed.

    Councilman Grabinski (re Auditor)

    ...Has the City Auditor gone over the financials of this project yet, and if he hasn't, could we at least find out how much he knows about it? Because there's a very significant part of this, it's a taking away of restrictions on land that could increase the value...

    City Auditor Gary Burroughs

    While I have not looked at this new proposal, I visited with Mr. Henry Taboada this afternoon, in fact not more than probably an hour ago, about what may be the issues or the elements of this proposal included.

    All I can really say is that the City Manager reported that there was essentially no economic impact, this was purely a land swap and no money involved. And I was a few minutes ago handed a copy of the transmittal letter [City Mgr's written report] to the CIty Council, so I've not had much time...

    Mayor O'Neill: Did you get this when the Council got it?

    Auditor Burroughs: No ma'am.

    Mayor O'Neill: You didn't get the [agenda] packet?

    Auditor Burroughs: I got a packet but it didn't have this. All I got was a piece of paper that said they had a meeting here at 5:15 p.m.

    City Manager Taboada (interjecting): Madam Mayor, with all due respect to the question that's been asked, this Council letter was made public and circulated to all people who receive agenda packets last Thursday in anticipation of a meeting this past Tuesday [Sept. 11].

    Further, I fully explored and discussed these items with you several weeks ago in open session, in front of this Council and the public, and went through all of the same material that is covered here in this particular report.

    Second, in executive [closed] session on two occasions, I have discussed the concepts and the methodology for arriving at these negotiations and I believe that they have been fully explored and that there has been full disclosure with regard to what the concept is of these particular transactions.

    Further, on the Queensway Bay parcels themselves, when we talk about increasing land value, the fact is that the Queensway Bay parcels today are in the tidelands trust and are therefore not for sale. By taking off the trust designations on those particular parcels, if at a future date a future Council had a desire to sell those pieces of real estate, it has the option at the fair market value at the time that that transaction would take place. Now given that there's a project that's going to go in there on a lease basis, that really is not on the table. But if we're talking about value, that is in fact an enhancement of the value of those Queensway Bay project parcels which are now not available for sale, only for lease.

    With regard to the L.A. river parcels, those are slated for uses as recreation, open space and wetlands restoration, and the value there is really consistent with the uses that are intended for those particular parcels and in fact guarantee that those parcels will only be used for those purposes in the future. So as far as relative land values are concerned, this is taken into account as part of this transaction.

    Councilman Grabinski

    ...This is exactly why I want us to consider not taking action today, because what you just heard is a rationale for why we don't need to hear the City Auditor's opinion on this...

    ...The key point here is, this city, when we had people doing consulting work for us, we were misled into thinking how many people could fit into the Aquarium. 2.1 million could not fit. 1.6 could. We based a lot of things on that information, and part of the reason the public in this city elects a full time Auditor is so that we can use that full time Auditor and his experience to help make our decisions...

    Now I don't have any question about who did that land value analysis. What I am saying is I wasn't here yesterday when the question came up about this meeting and I would have said no yesterday, because I felt we didn't have enough time and quite frankly I still think it's inappropriate...

    After hearing that the one person who gets paid whether some of the deals that we do is good for the city is not up to speed on this, I think it also proves the point that we're moving forward at a pace that could be bad for us, bad for the City of Long Beach, in making good decisions.

    I think had we disclosed all of this months ago, we'd have had a different situation. This is the first full meeting the public in this town will have on this land swap situation...

    Councilman Jerry Shultz

    I don't think that us having this meeting tonight is any more disrespectful than myself going back to work today...We can pay our respects in the proper way, but we still have the business of government, not just here in Long Beach, the state of California and our federal government. As our President made clear yesterday, the business of government must go on.

    And I strongly suspect that even had this incident not occurred, this tragedy in New York, most of you still would not want this hearing tonight for other reasons. That's why I strongly support, we need to do it, we need to do it now.

    Public Testimony

    Jim Gray

    ...Tonight I'm wearing the Chief Financial Officer's hat of the [LB Area] Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Convention and Visitors Bureau polled their board today on just the issue that's before you, that is the and swap.

    And the land swap was significantly supported by the majority of the board of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. [Yes, 17; No, 1; Abstain, 1, Absent, 4 Info provided Sept. 14 per Exec Dir. Steve Goodling].

    On a personal note, I think that it is a very well structured transaction. The property we're giving up is going to be used the same way it was planned by the city, and ultimately will come back to it. And no matter what the total final configuration of Queensway Bay looks like, having the ability to move ahead on these parcels without some of the restrictions, I think is going to be very positive for the city in the long run.

    Phil Infelise

    ...I was former chairman of the Queensway Bay project [advisory committee] and it surprises me to hear some of the comments I'm hearing today. They were a lot different than the comments that were made to me by individuals as I was chairing that particular committee.

    ...The Queensway Bay project should have been built four years ago. A lot of things came into its way. I still believe it's a viable project. I still believe that it will bring to the city of Long Beach what we envisioned that it would bring four or five years ago.

    It must be built. We can't leave that land fallow the way it is right now. We had a park there. It did no good. We must have something there that will be a benefit to the city and to the Aquarium...

    ...I believe that this land swap is something that is necessary. We're not losing anything as our City Manager tells us, as a matter of fact, I think we will eventually gain. This project must go ahead and I'm all for the land swap.

    Ann Dennison

    For several reasons, I'm beyond angry that you've called for this special meeting...

    ...[T]he many people who are so opposed to the [developer] DDR plan for our public property are not your enemies. We just represent the thousands of your Long Beach constituents who love our city and want it to be a special place for us and visitors to enjoy...

    ...Week after week we have tried to explain all the legal reasons why the present Queensway Bay plan is a bad idea. Now I'd like to give the common sense ideas about why it should be dumped. Using our ocean front property for a movie theater and a mall type, large stores doesn't make sense. Who will pay for parking to sit in a darkened building when there would be a beautiful view of the waterfront we're so blessed with to see movies they can see anywhere else?...

    ... Please don't destroy the potential we so fortunately have for making the Queensway Bay area a very special place for us and visitors to enjoy. Please dump, pull the plug, on the DDR plan. This so-called land swap would not only not benefit the public but it would take away precious waterfront possibilities.

    Gary Shelton

    ...We're not hiding behind the shield of a national tragedy by saying we don't want this meeting. We wanted this meeting to happen a long time ago, and I was offended by that thought...

    ...We were told the land swap is equitable. Dirt for nine or six dollars a square foot? Who believes the parcels are equitable?...

    ...We were told the Council, right or wrong, must support the project and then, that if the Council doesn't, there would be litigation. Well, we don't know why there is a downside to that.

    ...This will not separate the objectionable movie theaters out of the tidelands. That's like, if you have a forest, and you make a clearing in the forest and you build a house there, is the house still in the forest? Please, don't support this item.

    Bry Myown

    ...I have never spoken here as an opponent of Queensway Bay. I've called my Council office, we've agreed to disagree, and I'm grateful to my Councilmember for having made the motion, when I made the request in the afternoon of August 28 for an open and public meeting, to have made the motion to do just that, and thank you Vice Mayor Baker.

    However, I want to remind you all that when your agenda for August 28 was prepared, you were scheduled to go to the State Lands Commission hearing that had been scheduled for August 29. And what you had scheduled was a closed session in the afternoon and a receive and file report with no action to be taken that night, which we had asked for one week previously...

    So I'm distressed to hear that tonight it is suddenly important under these circumstances to have a full and open conversation that I believe we could have had for four months. I believe we could have had a full and open conversation by agendizing issues under closed session so the public would know what they were about.

    And when I raised the allegation of a Brown Act violation, the City Attorney told you all that it was proper to discuss real estate transactions and call it litigation. I believe that is his way of saying that the communication is privileged and that he does not want us to have a full and open public conversation.

    He subsequently told the press that he remembered it had happened 92 days before his conversation. I believe that is his way of saying that this extends beyond the statute of limitations and he does not want me to have a full and open public conversation.

    Nevertheless, Mr. Taboada has again told you tonight that on two occasions, he has discussed the concept and methodology in executive session for arriving at all of these numbers. That sounds like a real estate transaction to me, and I believe you therefore have a third option, in light of the controversy and the questions, and that would be to ask the State Lands Commission to postpone their hearing while we can really have a full and open public conversation.

    Now the funny thing is, whenever I've talked to any of you and any of your offices about this, what I have been told is, but if we don't approve this immediately, don't you think DDR will sue over the entitlements? I don't know where you got that idea because in the relevant time frame, you have only had two closed sessions talking about anticipated litigation, one on June 5 that discussed two matters, one on July 10 that discussed one matter.

    Mr. Shannon has told the press that those involved only threats from the State Lands Commission and [Earth Corps chairman] Don May. I am sure that if the State Lands Commission agrees to postpone this matter, they will not sue the city. Mr. May is in the audience, I believe his only threat was what he might do if this matter is approved. I am sure Mr. May will come down and tell you that if you postpone this, he also will not sue the city.

    So again, I question the conversations you had on the basis of anticipated litigation.

    Returning to business as usual is something I appreciate...Tonight's meeting is not business as usual. Business as usual would be going on with our regularly scheduled meeting next Tuesday night. This is an extraordinary measure you are taking. Please do not tell the world that business as usual in Long Beach is at all cost, cramming a real estate deal down peoples' throats.

    City Attorney Robert Shannon [responds to comments re closed sessions]

    Excuse me Madam Mayor, I am prepared to respond to the allegations relative to the closed session at the appropriate time. This is probably not the appropriate time.

    But I do want to emphasize one thing. We have always consistently taken the position that there could be no approval of this agreement unless there was public comment and an open meeting where the vote was openly taken, and that's exactly what's happening here tonight.

    We have always taken that position. We took that position on the afternoon of August 28, if you'll recall, when I emphasized and repeated that no action could be taken that day because there was no agendized item.

    By that I meant very simply -- and this is consistent, we have never changed our opinion -- there can be no agreement unless there is public comment and thereafter public discussion by the City Council and a public vote.

    Carol McCafferty

    I moved downtown 15 years ago because I wanted to live in a historic district and downtown was the only one, and it's been an E ticket ride. I had no idea the attitude that this city has toward downtown.

    In creating Queensway Bay, you eliminated downtown's beach. No surfer would tell you that it was a good beach; it has no waves. But it was wet and at that time it was clean and the children who lived downtown did go down there...

    We have had no mitigation of that. There is no pool in the downtown area, and yet we've got a pool over in Belmont Shore right next to the beach, and they've still got their beach.

    Then we get Chavez Park, and we're told that the part between the freeway [median] will be part of the park as soon as they can get a bridge put in, because we don't allow our children to play on the freeway, and we're going to have volleyball courts, soccer fields and tennis courts...

    Now, you're going to trade it off and we're going to get picnic tables and a hiking trail...

    John Deats

    ...I had a relative that served on that committee chaired by Mr. Infelese. He told me recently that this project has morphed into something he no longer recognizes and were that project presented to him today, he would be totally opposed to it.

    As to the land value, I think there's an absolute scam going on here. I think this is like somebody expecting to trade a 15 year old Yugo for a bright, shiny, brand new Corvette. The fly in the ointment here is the appraisal at $22 per square foot on page two of that document [City Manager's report].

    Rob Webb, my Councilman, you should know that land in Bixby Knolls...are selling for between $23 and $30 a square foot...

    This thing has got to be off by a factor of somewhere between times-two and times-ten. That's like saying that the property that underlies my house, a stone's throw from the 405 freeway, is worth more than a property that underlies a house on the gold coast or the peninsula. It's bogus.

    I'm also upset about the timing, not because of the timing of this meeting, but about this body's headlong rush to approve this. I think you're at least eight years ahead of yourself because of the condition of the 710 freeway.

    This project cannot succeed. The best analogy I can use would be something involving the Aquarium. The Aquarium is like having stepped on a piece of glass on the beach and you've cut your foot pretty good. You're bleeding pretty good. But instead of suturing the foot, you want to sever the femoral artery to take the pressure off the bleeding of the foot.

    You're going to hemorrhage more red ink during the time the 710 freeway is not widened, it's unbelievable. I think you're just compounding your losses here.

    And I think that appraisal, I'm no property appraisal expert nor I am a commercial real estate broker...[but] that property is way undervalued on the Queensway Bay site.

    Gigi Fast Elk Porter

    Here I am, yet again, telling you to stop taking our parks...

    ...You answer to us, ladies and gentlemen, not the other way around. And until and unless you get that in your heads before you make decisions like this and stop alluding to that you know what we're already going to say, because you don't, you have the obligation if we say it a million times to listen, but you refuse, and you make up your minds before you get behind the rail...

    ...And I don't know what else to do. That's why this city gets sued, and it's wrong. None of us want to be here today...

    Do you know how hard it is for us to be here?...Don't make these decisions in haste, and if we are angry, so be it. Listen to us.

    John Donaldson

    I want to speak to you as a businessman and then as a citizen. First as a businessman, I cannot believe that two of this city's bankers have come up here and said what they said. I don't believe that they would invest their own money the way that they're encouraging you to invest yours...

    And I can't believe either one of them would believe this nine million visitors figure. We all know that that just can't happen.

    We are going to anchor one end of Pine Ave. with WalMart. We are going to anchor the other end of Pine Avenue by "Towne Center by the Sea." [Towne Center is large shopping center in ELB on Carson St. near the 605 freeway]. What you've got is almost a duplication of what's up on Carson, and it is average, just average by any city standards and we're going to take the best property in our city and build another average project, with paid parking. Now I want to know who's going to come. It just doesn't seem to me, I don't think anybody in my district, [Councilmember] Jackie Kell, is going to come. I think we're getting pretty P.O.'d about this city spending our money the way that you're spending it and we'll never see a return on it...

    That's just not good business and you are elected to make good business decisions.

    Now I want to talk about this as a citizen. The foundation of government has to be trying to do what's right and doing it in an open dialogue with the citizens...You're relying upon the city management and what they whisper in your ear. And consistently for the last year that I have been watching, those have been bad decisions...

    Ted Matthew

    ...This project must go on. I came to Long Beach in 1958 and I watched Pine Avenue die...I sincerely believe that this project will enhance Pine Avenue. I sincerely believe it'll bring in new people that will go to the Aquarium and go to the new project and they'll find their way up to Pine Ave. at the same time and they'll be getting customers that they've never had before...

    Now I know there is a lot people against this project. It seems like it's the same people that are against everything in Long Beach, and I don't want to mention any names 'cause I don't know any of 'em and personally don't want to know any of 'em...They want to save the Naval Base, which was a couple of coke piles down there and they wanted to make a museum out of it or a park and I don't know where they were going to get the kids to come there. They'd probably bus 'em in from Los Angeles and San Pedro 'cause nobody from Long Beach would go there...

    ...The Council is elected to make difficult decisions. This is a difficult decision. This project has been going on for years. Am I upset about the setbacks? You bet I'm upset. Am I upset about losing the IMAX theater? You bet I'm upset about it. But do I think that possibly later on we can probably get another IMAX theater in there, or something else to subsidize it? You bet I believe we can do it. And I think it's the Council's duty to go forward with this project...

    Joan Greenwood

    I am a boardmember for Friends of the Los Angeles River. I am opposed to the proposed exchange agreement and urge you to request that the City Manager find a better solution for incorporation into the project Environmental Impact Report...

    ...Clearly, the properties being exchanged are not of equal value. In addition, the properties that are located near the Los Angeles river are already part of the Cesar Chavez Park, according to information published by the [LB] Parks and Recreation Dept.

    However my major objection is that mitigation alternatives should be presented and discussed as part of the project Environmental Impact Report, which has not yet been issued. This is surprising since because the process for doing a project EIR takes approximately 18 months, at least 15 to 18 months.

    The existence of the Queensway Bay Master Plan and EIR does not absolve this city from its obligation to prepare a project EIR...

    Damond Rice

    I'm Vice President of Government Affairs for the LB Area Chamber of Commerce. I'm here this evening to provide the Chamber's support for the City of LB's proposed land exchange with the State Lands Commission.

    The retail and entertainment component of the Queensway Bay project is an integral part of the continued revitalization of what is to become one of California's more unique downtown areas. The completion of the Queenway Bay project is important not only for downtown, but for the city as a whole, providing entertainment and services to be used by tourists and residents alike.

    The Chamber believes this proposal will boost this project over one of its final hurdles, moving us toward a groundbreaking. Further, the proposed land swap would make available open space along the Los Angeles river in exchange for what is now a parking lot, long slated for commercial development.

    The Chamber urges the City Council to approve the land exchange this evening.

    Traci Wilson-Kleekamp

    ...On August 10, I made a Public Records request [to the city], I asked for correspondence between the city and the State Lands Commission about the Queensway Bay project and the land swap. I received a letter back saying that you did not have any information [apart from some reports from DDR]

    I did receive today [a response to] a Public Records request, the same one that I sent to your offices I sent to the State Lands Commission, and they did respond. And luckily, by the grace of God I don't know how it happened, it came by UPS today.

    One of things that's in the packet that I'm concerned about in relationship to this land swap is related to Cesar Chavez Park and I did fax some documents to [Councilwoman] Bonnie [Lowenthal] and to Councilman Grabinski also.

    One of these that concerns me is dated August 15, 2001 from [LB Parks & Rec Director] Phil Hester to [City Mgr's Asst.] Vince Coughlin. "We realize that the Cesar E. Chavez Park Master Plan which was adopted in 1996 does not comply with all the situations of the tidelands trust. At that time, no one contemplated the exchange of the parcels owned by Southern California Edison and the adjoining city owned parcels into the tidelands trust. If the exchange is enacted, then the Master Plan will be amended to remove the soccer, football field, tennis courts and volleyball courts. The remaining planned uses will be walking, jogging, bicycle trail and picnic areas."

    This wasn't in the [City Manager's] backup report I don't think.

    In another letter dated June 15, 2001, to Vince Coughlin from [State Lands Comm'n Exec. Dir] Paul Thayer, to facilitate the resolution of this issue further, it talks about exacting a piece of property as discussed at your meeting of August 2 -- I'm not aware of any meeting of August 2 that the public was invited to -- "any proposed uses for the Edison and adjoining parcels must be consistent with public trust. This does not include soccer, football fields, tennis courts"...

    The other thing I was concerned about is a letter July 10 from [Deputy City Atty] Jim McCabe to [City Mgr] Henry Taboada, we were talking about the appraisal of the property, it says "I've been informed by Mary Howe of the State Lands Commission that Paul Thayer has concluded that the city is $525,000 short of providing equal value in a potential statutory land swap relating to Queensway Bay." And wouldn't you know it, your independent contractor makes you come out a million dollars over.

    So, since I'm running out of time, and I received a lot of documents today, I would think that there are quite a number of things to talk about that were not in your backup report that I think warrant another meeting.

    Ann Cantrell

    ...The map that you have in your [agenda] packet does not show the same thing that the map from the State Lands Commission shows, which is that the whole wetlands area by the Shoemaker bridge, the 6th St. bridge, belongs to the railroad.

    And when I asked Paul Thayer about this, I said is this part of the land swap? He said no. I said well, how are they going to make a wetlands with just one little area where the water can come in? All the rest belongs to the railroad...His answer well, that's up to the city to acquire that land, maybe the railroad will give it to them.

    I also asked about the part of Cesar Chavez Park which most of us think of as the freeway median, since there's no public access to this, I asked Paul Thayer does this affect the appraisal value of this median. He said yeah, we've been having a lot of trouble with our state appraiser, convincing him that this is going to be an equal swap.

    I said how are they going to get access? Well, that's for the city to do. They can either put a bridge across there or they can move the freeway.

    Now it doesn't matter whether the public trust allows volleyball, soccer or whatever out here. This is not going to be accessible, and if it were accessible, do you want children playing in the middle of the freeway, with all that pollution that's going on?

    Another thing I want to reiterate is the spot zoning that you're doing with these areas that you're taking from the Queensway Bay area. It says in here that it's useless.

    It can be used for a park...which makes a lot more sense to me than another movie theater that's going to take business away from Pine Avenue...

    The former plan also planned to enlarge Shoreline Village instead of putting all of this retail in the last bit of open space between Shoreline Village and Aquarium.

    I would beg you to please, I think it's in your power to ask the State Lands Commission, to take this off of their agenda for Monday, so that there can be a better study of all that's going on.

    Don May

    Representing California Earth Corps., and first let it be said that we're not changing our position. For the last ten years we have been making it clear that an entertainment use is not a permissible land use under public trust doctrine. Didn't go for Disney Sea, won't go for this, and we've consistently said that at least for the last decade.

    One of the things that your City Manager did point out was that if public trust doctrine was allowed to be lifted from that parcel, it could then be sold. That's the fundamental reason that we're opposed to land swaps generically, is because the first requirement is that you not alienate title. And nothing alienates title from the permanent title by the citizens of California like selling it.

    That's why, first of all, we think that there's a fundamental generic problem with land swaps. It certainly is much more difficult, it certainly is more problematic, than expanding public trust doctrine.

    That's why that's referred exclusively to the legislature to do that...

    Let me point out again, as the City Manager says it's a land swap. It's not really a land swap, what it is is a swap in land use. And that really changes things, obviously, under CEQA. This is, as the staff report points out, covered by CEQA. I would say beyond that that it does require an Environmental Impact Report. That's what's supposed to be in front of you so that you can make those decisions...

    ...Unlike the Camden Property, which was a legitimate land swap...this is not that case, and I urge you to do the math...That shows that the Camden Property was looked at at $3,361,111 per acre. Also, if you look at what this intended use is as wetland, that's $34,000 an acre. We're off by a factor of 10 both comin' and goin'. And just use $605,000 for .18 acres obviously multiplies out. That means if you add that up, we should get 334 acres of wetland for that swap.

    It's not equitable, it's not legal...

    Warren Iliff

    [President of LB Aquarium]. I can't really talk to the legal issues or the economics of land values, but we are very, very supportive of your proceeding with the Queensway Bay project. We think you've done a wonderful job all the way along in this process.

    I had very little to do with the original plans for the Aquarium. I think that they were incredibly far sighted and we have an Aquarium that I think our citizens and our volunteers certainly and all of our employees are very proud of...

    I think that what you did with the Rainbow Harbor is fabulous. People that decry that we don't have, talk about parks and how wonderful it is to have parks, which I certainly agree with, but I never hear anybody say anything about how beautiful Rainbow Harbor is, and how beautiful the park is that surrounds Rainbow Harbor, and how beautiful the lighthouse is. And I think we're very, very fortunate to have that amenity next to the Aquarium.

    I think that the support you've given to the Aquarium when it has had the financial stress that it's had has been exemplary. I mean, you've not wavered, you've taken risks, obviously the Aquarium was a risk to begin with, but it's a risk that, I think all of you...deserve credit for having taken that risk and done something that's exemplary and has led the city to the next level of how it can develop.

    Even back to the Pine Avenue developments, they truly are wonderful, and you should all be very proud of that...

    ...Let me say this, the Aquarium isn't perfect, and we're doing lots of things to make it even better...And I think Queensway Bay is an example that needs more work. We need to make it as good as we can possibly make it, and I think all of you agree with that.

    But we need to proceed. But we need to think positively, we need to have creativity. There are things we could do in Queensway Bay that will make it a wonderful, wonderful project and I'd urge you to not only continue but don't lessen in your efforts to make it as good as it possibly can be, and we at the Aquarium thank you very much for the tremendous support you've given us.

    Diana Mann

    I chair an organization in Long Beach called ECO-link, which is a coalition of environmental organizations...

    ...After listening to some very intelligent, articulate people with some facts that need to be considered, I think it would be pretty frightening if you go ahead and pass this without all those considerations...

    Margaret Brewer

    ...This City Council and the Mayor entrusted me enough to appoint me to the Marine Advisory Commission some years ago. I was also trusted enough to serve on the Queensway Bay Citizens Advisory Committee, which Mr. Infelise chaired, and I trust all of you the same way you trusted me.

    Let me tell you that that Committee approved the plan that is the same plan that's before us now...We worked very very hard to come up with a plan that does not look like a mall.

    It is a plan that features open spaces. It is a plan that features pedestrian walkways. It is a plan that was carefully looked at from the perspective of how can we do small public festivals, how can we do art shows, how can we do music things in the center of this wonderful project.

    And it was planned to have all of the amenities and all the infrastructure that we need to do that. This plan gives us an opportunity to put something truly unique and exciting. I suggest to you that this is not an extension of "Towne Centers" in Long Beach that seem to be cropping up all over the place. That's not what this is. This is something very, very different, very special, very unique, designed to serve not only our visitors but also the residents, to bring all of us in.

    I suggest it doesn't matter whether any of us think we need another movie theater in downtown or not. It's a moot point. The key tenants who we do need to ensure that our visitors and our residents can have lots of activities and lots of reasons to attend this particular destination, they all insist on a movie theater. Without it they won't come, so there will be a movie theater. It's not a question of debate any more. It has to be in order for this project to come to fruition.

    And I suggest that it must come to fruition. We've been working on it for so many years, and people who absolutely want to leave it as open grass area keep stalling it. We need to move it forward. It needs to happen. Our downtown needs it. Our city needs it. Tourism, trade, technology, and the residents, we all need it, and I'm trusting you to make the right decision.

    Skip Blas

    Madam Mayor, members of the Council. I was not going to speak tonight. Far greater people, who are much more learned and much more articulate on this issue have spoken and will speak tonight.

    However, I have witnessed something tonight that compels me to speak out to you, our elected body. Tonight I witnessed Councilman Grabinski make a motion. In addition to the timing of this meeting, what seemed to be overlooked was the fact that he referred to the service of documents to this Council, to this body, in addition to documents that have been served to this Council by members of the public.

    From first blush, this appears to be very relevant information, and yet no one, no one of you, opted to even second the motion.

    It is with shock and surprise that I witnessed this event, and such action can only demonstrate your willingness to rubber-stamp an opinion on an extremely complex issue...

    This action, or inaction, by the Council does not demonstrate a good corporate body entrusted with the fiscal responsibility of this business...This inaction only demonstrates, and can only be perceived by the citizenry, that this body is shirking its responsibility. Ladies and gentlemen, I as a voter am deeply disappointed in your conduct. I am especially disappointed by the conduct of my own Councilperson.

    Colette Marie McLaughlin

    ...Doing the right thing is done in the don't deceive your constituents...Doing the right thing, you do not harm others...Doing the right thing never needs an excuse, and you send our City Attorney making excuses after embarrassing excuses that gets caught having to make excuses about his excuses.

    Finally, doing the right thing you take responsibility. It's not done in the dark...and I commend Councilmember Grabinski...

    Bruce Monroe

    ...I'm the spokesperson for the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club has as a mission to explore, enjoy and to protect wild places. And when we were formed 100 years ago there was a beach at Long Beach and there was a quality of life in that beach town that was very much to be protected and it was protected for a time.

    ...[T]here's been over 2,000 coastal mitigation projects like this land swap...What number of those swaps have been successful in terms of restoring and conserving and preserving the natural resource. Is the land healthier, is it cleaner, is public health better in those areas, is property values better or worse?

    And the answer is that 17% of those land swaps have succeeded, and the bad news is that 83% of those, in retrospect, after 20 years of study, have not met their objectives, the projects are not successful, the quality of life is not improved, the economics are not better...

    ...Why are you pursuing a project that, while it might be commercially valuable in the short term and it might help the Aquarium which we want to help, we're asking you to take a century long perspective that the Sierra Club has, and look at the fact that 90% of your beaches and parks and coastal wetlands are gone, forever destroyed and can't be restored, and the remaining 10% is being squandered in stupid projects.

    David Gordon

    ...I am the General Manager of the Long Beach Convention Center. I am for the land swap presented by the City Council. I think it's imperative that we move forward with the development of the Queensway Bay.

    I think it's important that we finish what we start. We've been promising our clients at the Convention Center the development of Queensway Bay for several years. This will provide critical mass for the Queensway Bay and give those attending events at the Convention Center along with their families, retail, dining and entertainment to enhance their experience in our community...

    With the development of Queensway Bay, the Aquarium, the Queen Mary, Shoreline Village, the expanded Convention Center and Pine Ave., we'll be able to present meeting planners with a complete package to entice them to come to Long Beach.

    John Morris

    ...I have a business at 144 Pine Ave, Mum's Restaurant, which has been there since February of 1988...I'm going to wear two hats...

    I am on the Executive Board of DLBA [Downtown Long Beach Associates]. The DLBA's position is they don't agree with the use of the tidelands site, using movie theaters on the tidelands site. That is their position.

    Now, John Morris' [personal] position, which has been this way from day one, you've been using numbers of nine million people that you're going to attract to the Queensway Bay. That is about as bogus as you can get. Those numbers are full of it.

    ...David Gordon just...said you know, we should finish what we started, which we started in 1994. Well guess what, I started my project in 1986, and we're still waiting for all the elements that are needed to support the core of the downtown that were started back in 1986, that we've been promised and promised and promised...

    [W]hat you're building on that tidelands site is not the "wow" that when Mr. [Alan] Lowenthal sat in the seat where Mr. Baker is today, they promised us a "wow."...

    Your priorities are screwed up...Why are we doing what we're doing? We need the critical mass to support what we started back in 1988. We're not against development. We want the right development.

    The Queensway Bay as it is today does not have any "wow" whatsoever.

    Bryan Mann

    ...I'm the president of the West End Community Association. I'm here today representing the Board of Directors of the West End Community Association which in fact represents a majority of the downtown residential area...

    ...We are in full support of the DLBA regarding their decision to vote against DDR's movie theater plans at Queensway Bay and the lack of creativity, especially with the current problems with the movie industry today.

    Secondly, with this development going in, this would essentially take away from Pine Avenue...which has stood firm as a major downtown attraction for convention attendees and tourism.

    ...WECA would like to let you know that we no longer support the current project. We have great concerns and you should too...We need to rethink things and see what the community not only wants but what the community needs, and a movie theater and more restaurants is not one of those needs.

    Doug Kortoff

    ...I live in Seal Beach...You are heading for a potential train wreck and you should be ashamed for doing what you're doing as usual.

    You had two years of planning supposedly with all kinds of public meetings and those people didn't even think about the fact that this was protected by tidelands trust. They didn't even consider it. That's supposed to be planning? Who contributed to that? They didn't even see that it was supposed to be tidelands trust.

    Now this is just a bad idea. If this goes through, this mechanism can be used elsewhere, so it's not going to go through. There's going to be massive opposition. Whatever it takes, we're going to fight it. Everybody's going to fight it. You're not going to go. It's a stupid idea.

    The only thing that saved Huntington Beach, as I talked with a reporter today, was the fact that they had tidelands trust on their beach and they were not able to go forward with a stupid project like this, with staff to staff, just the same sort of thing...

    We will battle this tooth and nail. The only people that support this project are those who have crashed Long Beach and caused us to have the current train wreck. When you destroyed the downtown to build that stupid mall, you didn't support the small businesses and you went through all the redevelopment money and all the tidelands trust by destroying our existing downtown.

    We heard testimony here that the downtown was dying in 1958. That's not true. Long Beach was a beacon of where everybody used to come because it had a beach and it had entertainment and it was lively. Now, it's dead, and it's getting deader...

    Anybody who votes for this project not only should be ashamed of themselves, you should be taken to task...

    Faith Palermo

    ...On behalf of Washington Square Neighborhood Association, we're opposing this project...

    Dan Pressburg

    ...What is the hurry? This land swap involves the 6th St. wetlands parcel...[O]n August 21, Mr. Taboada assured you it would be a park whether or not Queensway Bay happened or whether or not the land swap happened.

    So we don't gain any new park, and the state doesn't get any new park from this land swap. The land swap also involves a park that is nothing more than a letter of intention from the city.

    The grant funding hasn't been approved. The CH2M Hill feasibility study is not due until April. In order to work as described, the city still has to figure out how to purchase and remediate the Union Pacific parcel that separates the 6th St. wetlands. The remainder of the land support is a freeway median. You don't have the money to move the traffic lanes...

    And all this time, the city has been telling the 1st district Cesar Chavez Park is 23 acres. It includes 10 acres of freeway median. Today, we learned the 1st district children will lose their soccer and tennis and volleyball.

    ...Please ask the State Lands Commission to postpone this...

    Council consideration

    Vice Mayor Dan Baker

    [Baker asks City Manager to discuss financing of the QW Bay]

    City Manager Taboada: ...Regarding the development project now currently undertaken by DDR, we have a project where we are leasing to DDR approximately 18 acres of land on which they will build a $100+ million project, approximately 500,000 square feet of development.

    And the city is obligated as part of that project to do the public improvements...that includes a parking structure, a 2600 car parking structure, and other parking lots and other public improvements, and those will be financed on the basis of $43 million Mello-Roos bond.

    Now that bond is to be paid for from the proceeds of the project, and again much like the Aquarium, the city is backing it financially but is not obligated to make the debt service on that particular project.

    The only investment that the city has in the rest of the project is that we will forego rent from the project for approximately 14 years until the return on investment is made by the developer and at that point they begin paying rent and the city starts to realize direct revenue.

    Indirectly, we'll receive sales tax revenue and, if a hotel is built, transient occupancy tax, and other indirect revenues from the total development of the project...

    Vice Mayor Baker: ...There have been tremendous, heartfelt and very interesting comments made by the public tonight, mostly dealing with the issue of whether Queensway Bay should proceed or not. Of course, that is not the issue before us this evening but it's certainly what a lot of the discussion has centered on. Please outline for me the contractual obligation of the city and what we can or cannot do as it relates to going forward with the Queensway Bay project, and if you feel the [City] Attorney should answer that...

    City Manager Taboada: Well, I would attempt to answer that based on the issue of entitlements and I've said repeatedly that the project is fully entitled. We believe that to be true, legally and operationally.

    The reason that we're even having this discussion with regard to the State Lands Commission and the land swap has to do with the fact that when we applied for the Coastal Permit from the Coastal Commission, a citizen raised the issue of whether or not the uses contemplated by the project met the state [tidelands] trust requirements.

    And the Coastal Commisison did in fact issue the permit and simply referred the matter to the State Lands Commission. The State Lands Commission took up the issue and held public meetings here in Long Beach, did a report to their Commission indicating that the uses contemplated in the project were in fact consistent with tidelands uses.

    The report was then presented to the Commission, and the Commission had difficulty with some of the uses, not so much because I think of what was contemplated for Long Beach but perhaps on a statewide basis there were other communities that were contemplating projects that were similar but not identical to the Long Beach project.

    And therefore they decided as a Commission to not approve or disapprove the staff recommendation but deferred it and in the interim, we were asked by the State Lands Commission to attempt to mitigate the objectionable uses, and that's their term not mine, that were contemplated for the project.

    And therefore the birth of the land swap as a means of entitling the project from the state's point of view and allowing us to proceed with the project unencumbered with any cloud on its title.

    Our position always has been that the land swap was not legally required, but because we have a long standing relationship with state tidelands, and because we need to continue that relationship with regard to the public trust, the oil operations and other issues that we have with them from time to time, that it was in our best interest to attempt to come to a successful and negotiated conclusion that would allow them to make a decision and not compromise their position on state trust uses.

    That's why we find ourselves in this position. As far as we're concerned, the project is fully entitled and we have no reason not to go forward with it.

    Vice Mayor Baker: Very good, thank you Mr. Taboada. Now let me hone in on the issue of the land swap, which is the only agenda item this evening...And now as it relates to this proposed land swap, we are proposing to move certain parcels of the property which is now a cement parking lot...

    City Manager Taboada: That's correct.

    Vice Mayor Baker: ...which is currently under the public trust...

    City Manager Taboada: Correct.

    Vice Mayor Baker: ...and taking that out of the public trust and putting a new set of parcels under greater public protection from development or different types of use in the future.

    City Manager Taboada: That's correct.

    Vice Mayor Baker: To me, that is, and correct me if I'm wrong, that is the only issue before us this evening.

    City Manager Taboada: That's correct.

    Vice Mayor Baker: Do we take that public protection and move it from what is now protected, and exchange it for a different set of parcels and give that protection to those parcels?

    City Manager Taboada: That's correct.

    Vice Mayor Baker: And the parcels that we're theoretically removing the protection from right now, years ago it was a beach, it was wonderful, we are not there right now. Right now it's a cement parking lot...

    City Manager Taboada: That's correct.

    Vice Mayor Baker: top. In the future, the proposed parcels that will go under public protection, briefly summarize what those parcels are.

    City Manager Taboada: Those are the parcels along the L.A. river bed which are contemplated for open space park land and wetlands restoration.

    Vice Mayor Baker: Aside from, totally separate from the issue of whether or not what's proposed to be built, and I know there's tremendous disagreement and dissent on that issue, the issue before us is should we protect, give greater protection to an area of green space, and I know part of this proposed wetlands we authorized a million dollars a couple of weeks back...

    City Manager Taboada: That was for a grant application.

    Vice Mayor Baker: Right, grant application. Or, leave that protection on what is currently a black top parking lot. To me, that's a very simple decison to make and I am fully supportive of moving forward with this proposed land swap to grant that greater protection to green space and what may be wetlands in the future.

    And having heard that, I am going to make the motion to authorize the City Manager to execute the exchange agreement.

    Councilman Colonna: Second.

    Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal

    ...I have several questions that were brought up to me this afternoon in a telephone call from Bry Myown, and that is about the Master Plan that is approved for Cesar Chavez Park. My understanding is, it seems that the Master Plan that was adopted was for the 13 acres of the park and not for the entirety of the area which includes portions that would be swapped with the cement parking lot...So my concern is, which part of the Master Plan was adopted, what does it cover and as somebody, I think Dan Pressburg brought up, the issue of eliminating the usage of tennis and volleyball...

    City Manager Taboada: ...[I]t's contemplated in the Master Plan that there will be variations and if a certain parcel is not suitable, say, for a soccer field, it is suitable elsewhere within the project.

    Councilwoman Lowenthal: My question is, is there a Master Plan that was adopted by the Recreation Commission covering this entire area and therefore would require public input if there was a change? And I don't know how much change one considers to be a substantial change.

    ...Phil Hester, Dir. of LB Parks, Recreation & Marine: ...When the Master Plan work started on Cesar Chavez, there was a committee, a task force that was appointed, that went through the process of looking at the total area. As you know, the primary area of interest was the area between the east side of the 710 freeway and Golden, there was about 13 acres there. Whenever the task force started looking at the whole Master Plan area, they looked at a number of areas adjacent to Edison School, a lot of areas that were not owned by the city at that particular time, with the concept of looking long term as to what the city would like to be able to do with the park and some of the surrounding areas.

    What we ended up with was really two Master Plans, one was an ultimate master plan that looked at the broad area and incorporated some of the area in the center area, and it talked about moving the freeway, the 710 freeway, to be able to create a contiguous piece for the total park...That was what was called the ultimate plan, and incorporated a lot of the area again that wasn't city owned or city controlled at that particular time. And that plan, along with what was called the interim plan, which was to address just the 13 acres and any of the land that's city owned, was approved by the Recreation Commission also...

    Councilwoman Lowenthal: ...[S]o there's no chance then that the Recreation Commission could come back and say you violated the trust that we put in you when we adopted this overall Master Plan?

    Parks Dir. Hester: When the presentation was presented to the Recreation Commission, they were fully aware that there were parts of this particular project that were not under city control at that particular time, and the discussion was, is that at some point and time we would have to come back and make some adjustments to the Master Plan...

    Councilwoman Lowenthal: Thank you, and may I continue Mayor? I'd like to know what our liability would be as a city if the land swap is not approved?

    City Attorney Robert Shannon: Madam Mayor, Councilwoman Lowenthal. Just that fact, just the fact that the land swap would not be approved, would not cause the city to incur any liability, not in and of itself, no.

    Councilwoman Lowenthal: So if this Council chose to vote against the land swap, then DDR could continue with the development?

    City Attorney Shannon: That is our position, yes.

    City Manager Taboada: Councilwoman, that is the legal position. The operational position is that we worked hard to unencumber ourselves from what would have been, I think, an arduous disengagement with DDR should they fail, or should the city elect to terminate the agreement with DDR. They in fact in proposing the extension of this development agreement [approved by Council vote, 6-1, in February, 2001] with DDR, gave us a disengagement strategy that really limits the city's liability.

    My concern is that anything that would prevent the project from going forward on an operational basis, that is, that the lender would find that title was clouded as a result of not having this issue resolved, or that lessees on the project would not go forward with their leases if they thought that title was cleared on this project, that I think might cause some problems for us in the future.

    I would want to avoid those kinds of issues and have the ability for this project to either go forward as is envisioned in the extension granted to DDR or to terminate that agreement when they fail to break ground within the required time line that is in this current agreement.

    One or the other is, I think, a finite conclusion to this particular issue. I think the issue of the State Lands Commission approval, while not required legally, does in fact present some issues for us with the developer and ones that I would care not to have to work through.

    Councilwoman Lowenthal: ...Why hasn't there been a project EIR, the one that [Joan Greenwood] said would be 18 months to complete?

    City Manager Taboada: I'll ask the City Attorney to respond to that because I don't think an EIR is required under this situation.

    ...Deputy City Attorney James McCabe: Honorable City Council, Madam Mayor, Councilwoman Lowenthal. It's our position that this transaction, not involving a development or construction but a mere change in the status of land, is not within the ambit of the requirements of an EIR.

    Councilwoman Laura Richardson-Batts

    ...[W]hen I listened to everything, what it sounds like is I haven't heard, besides what Mr. Pressburg mentioned and what Councilmember Lowenthal just followed up on...I haven't heard a whole lot of complaints about the action that we're proposing to take tonight [approving the land swap], I haven't heard a lot of complaints about that.

    What I have heard is a lot of complaints about the way that we did it. And I want to say to you that I am also disappointed.

    I don't think that the way that this was brought to the public or to the Council was in the best way. I do understand however, that given the time when all this occurred was soon after elections and all sorts of things that unfortunately do cloud on decisions, short time frames that people were working within.

    I do understand how it happened, but I think in the future, it would be far better if we get the Commission who says we have a problem with your proposal, I do believe in the future it would have been better to come back before the Council, come back before the public, and say these are the options available to us, this is what we would like to do.

    And I think your concern about that process has been clearly heard. It has been expressed to the City Manager and everyone who was involved and that's why we are here tonight, is because the people who are involved did not want to go forward, and that's what the Mayor alluded to earlier this evening. They did not want to go forward without everyone understanding what the steps were we were planning on taking on Monday [Sept. 17 at the State Lands Commission].

    So even though maybe it wasn't done the best way several months ago, there is now an opportunity, and what we're trying do to is to have an open, frank discussion about what it is that we're looking to support or to bring forward to the [State Lands] Commission on Monday.

    And my commitment to you is that I will continue to work that future decisions that we make are made. are brought before the public, that the Council has a clear understanding of what these options are, and we have an opportunity to say yea or nay before what I feel we're already kind of stuck out there.

    There's already been a discussion of doing this, at this point, for us to kind of back out I really don't see as a viable option...

    The second thing is I've heard a lot of comments about why now, why now, oh this is still pending and we can do it up until March and so on. The reason why I'm doing it now, and I'm supporting to move forward on a decision today, is I do not want to give any opportunity for DDR to throw in our face that we have failed to provide them with clear entitlements, clear direction, to move forward on their plan, to use that as an excuse for us to be here 12 months later, 24 months later, still talking about this project.

    I want them to have an opportunity to perform and my commitment to you tonight is within 12 months of us signing that DDA [development and disposition agreement], if those things that we talked about have not been achieved, I will wholeheartedly support us having a vote from this Council to start again, to address the issues that people have talked about, of the Queensway Bay project that originally was supposed to happen, and to get more on track.

    But since I've been on this Council, unfortunately I haven't had an opportunity to get us to that point. Since I've been on this Council, a vote has already been taken to work with the developer to continue forward in a project.

    The only opportunity we had in the last 12 months that I recall is that when the developer was not performing, we had an opportunity to say OK, you failed to perform; if you don't perform, we're going to go and we're going work with someone else; we were threatened to be sued, numerous things occurred, and we came up with the final thing: OK, you have 12 months. If within 12 months you've failed to perform, then we have an opportunity number 1 to get all the entitlements, number 2 we have an opportunity to work with another developer and number 3, you promise not to sue us so we can move on with someone else.

    And so that's why we're here....I am not, and I think a lot of people are not, thrilled with the current plan of the Queensway Bay. I don't see the "wow", and I don't see the direct connection with Pine Ave. And I hope, I just hope, we have an opportunity to make that right.

    But at this point, given the current DDA that we have in place, I don't see an opportunity that we have to do differently than what we're doing tonight...

    Councilmember Rob Webb

    ...I think I also agree with some of the comments that were made by Mr. John Deats, one of my constituents, regarding the cost of land and the comments regarding the 710 freeway and issues that we need to address...

    However, that's not the situation before us...We interacted with the developer, and what obligations we have as a city to fulfill obligations we moved in with the developer are something we need to honor even if we maybe have misgivings about that as we move forward.

    ...This is the first opportunity that I have seen Mr. Infelise here, who has been involved with the Queensway Bay Advisory Commission, since the inception of my ever hearing of a Queensway Bay...Can I ask Phil to just give his to what you see the current plan of Queensway Bay that sits before us today, and maybe you can address any "wow" that you see here...

    Mr. Infelise: As I see the Queensway Bay plan today, it is no different than the Queensway Bay plan of 1994...The one thing that we tried to design it after was the Baltimore waterfront plan.

    Now if any of you have been to Baltimore, you've seen that Baltimore waterfront, it's no different than what you're going to have here in our parcel.

    Before Baltimore had their waterfront plan, Baltimore was gone in the dumps. Since that water plan was enacted, I wish you could go back and see what happened to Baltimore and the parcels of land downtown, which was really in bad shape.

    A movie theater was something that the committee itself wasn't too happy about, but we were told, time and time again by Oliver McMillan, by the people from New York, by tenants who came before us, that a movie theater was something that they wanted to see, because what a movie theater does, it brings in people to their businesses.

    That's the reason there's a movie theater there. It's not that we wanted to put a movie theater between us and Pine Ave. So actually, the plan has not changed. We went through a lot of ups and downs with it, but the plan itself is the same plan that it was in 1994.

    Unless I don't know of something that they have included, it's the same plan that we've talked about all these years.

    Councilman Jerry Shultz

    One of the speakers tonight made the comment referring to the Towne Center out on Carson [in ELB], that it was just average or just barely average. I recall about a month ago we had a report from the Edwards Theater chain, a nationwide chain, in which this one theater at Towne Center is rated number one within the Edwards chain in the country, number seven among all theater chains in the country.

    And if you've been to Towne Center lately, you'll notice the problem is getting in and out...They're doing a booming business.

    Yet I can recall sitting here years ago, virtually listening to the same people here tonight, giving us the same doomsday arguments, as to why the Carson project would be another boondoggle, why it was not good for Long Beach and why it would not work.

    And yet if you're really honest with yourself and you drive out there and you go to those businesses, you will see you were clearly wrong. Yet we never hear that down here.

    The Queensway project is an important link for the downtown Long Beach area, and if you look at what it was like just a few years ago, before the Aquarium was in, I heard earlier tonight about this marvelous waterfront we used to have. I remember that waterfront. I took my kids down there one time and it was just almost a fully enclosed pond full of scum, dirt and debris, it was filthy.

    You couldn't use it for recreation. You couldn't even fish in there. It was nothing. It was a dump.

    Anything's an improvement over what we've had...And this may not be the exact, perfect project for this city, but it certainly is one that is worthwhile and one that we ought to give our best efforts instead of sitting here year after year delaying, prolonging and arguing about it.

    Now there's one thing I've heard over and over tonight and in past weeks, and that's the statements been made that we have violated the Brown Act.

    I would like to hear from our City Attorney, once and for all, did we or did we not violate the Brown Act, and if we did not, could you please explain for our listeners, why we did not.

    City Attorney Robert Shannon [re charges LB City Hall violated the Brown Act]

    I'd like to take just a few moments to get into this issue because although it is a collateral issue, I think it's an issue of some importance.

    My remarks, of course, are related strictly to the process and not to the policy decision that you're going to make tonight. Obviously, the policy decision is yours to make.

    There were two relevant closed sessions, one on June 5 and one on July 10. Each of those sessions were in full compliance with the Brown Act. Now let me explain.

    First of all, it's important to remember the City Manager always had the inherent authority to negotiate with State Lands staff. In fact, negotiations began immediately after the State Lands meeting in April. This was widely reported in the Press-Telegram and negotiations have been ongoing since that date.

    Second, and I think I alluded to this earlier, it was always contemplated that any final agreement would require City Council approval in open session after public comment. And in fact that's what's before you tonight.

    Now, back to the closed sessions. Each were called in response to the threat of litigation, as authorized by the Brown Act. Now there were numerous reported threats of litigation, and I'm obviously not going to go into all of them, but I want to cite one particular one because I think it's the most relevant.

    It's an article that was written by [Earth Corps chairman] Don May, who I guess has left, and it appeared in the Press-Telegram Sunday May 6, and I'll just quote one statement that he made:

    "If the Commission," meaning the State Lands Commission, "acts to approve theaters, book stores and big box retailers as acceptable port related tidelands uses, their decision will immediately be challenged in court by major interests on all sides." Now that's what Mr. May said on May 6.

    So there's a very, very specific threat of litigation. There's no question about that, and it wasn't just from Mr. May. It was from the environmentalists in general. It's still out there.

    Now, in other words, what was Mr. May saying, what were the environmentalists saying? They were telling the city that if you put a movie theater, a book store or like on tidelands restricted property, you're violating the law and you're going to get sued. That's what he was saying, based to its simplest.

    The closed sessions were called in direct response to those threats, to brief the City Council, and to advise the City Council that a land swap had been considered.

    In essence, we were responding to the threat of litigation by attempting to negotiate the removal of the tidelands restriction from the property and thereby eliminate, or at least decrease, the threat of litigation. In other words, if the restriction were removed, the argument that you can't put theaters on restricted property becomes irrelevant.

    Now, and this is very important, in neither June 5th nor the July 10th meetings were any votes taken nor was any specific agreement acted upon. In fact, no specific agreement was even considered. It hadn't even been formulated. This agreement had not yet been formulated. It was simply a briefing.

    No action was reported because no reportable action was taken pursuant to section 54957.1 of the Government Code.

    Again, no agreement was entered into, no agreement was authorized, that's what you have before you tonight. The Brown Act was fully complied with. Thank you.

    Councilman Ray Grabinski

    ...I thought I heard for the last six or eight months that it didn't matter whether the State Lands Commission gave us any approvals or not. We were in really good shape, we didn't need their approvals.

    And I certainly want everybody to know that right up until about a year ago, I believed that, I based my good judgment on it and I made my decision on it and I supported Queensway Bay...

    ...What's clear to me is that this thing is going to be jammed through by good people who think they're doing the right thing. And it's very interesting for me, 'cause there are some community leaders on this City Council who came from the community and who used to be out there...

    ...What really ends up happening here is that everybody's afraid to get off the train, and at some point you have to get off the train...

    I appreciate what you said about Don May, but Don May isn't the environmentalist. Don May is one of the people who belongs to environmental groups who make sure that public agencies do what they're supposed to do when they're supposed to do it...

    Councilwoman Jackie Kell

    ...Mr. Taboada,...when is the groundbreaking supposed to occur...?...

    Mr. Taboada: ...I have in front of me a communication from the developer that is their expectation that they will break ground on this project by December of this year.

    Councilwoman Kell: By December?

    City Manager Taboada: December of this year.

    Councilwoman Kell: Well, we don't have long to go then, do we?...

    City Auditor Gary Burroughs

    I was asked about this agreement, this land swap, and I was given that and so I have reviewed it and so I thought it would be warranted if I make some comments.

    ...This land swap, it really is a change in use as I understand it...but it's not a pure change in use, this thing does involve a lease, is that correct Henry?

    City Manager Taboada: That's correct.

    City Auditor Burroughs: And what's the term of that lease?

    City Manager Taboada: 49 years.

    City Auditor Burroughs: And what are the payments on the lease?

    City Manager Taboada: We have not negotiated any payments for that lease. The lease is basically put in place to enable us to go to the legislature and reconvey the land back to the city on a fully entitled basis as opposed to on a lease basis.

    City Auditor Burroughs: How certain are we, or how certain are you, that we'll not be economically challenged by that lease?

    City Manager Taboada: I'm not certain what the question is.

    City Auditor Burroughs: Well what if, I understand we start at zero, but what if a year from now, or two years from now, or three years from now, the legislature decides to charge us a lot of money for that lease?

    City Manager Taboada: Well the lease is 49 years and whatever is agreed to at its inception, that'll be the terms of the lease.

    City Auditor Burroughs: So the lease you'll bring back will have no charge?

    City Manager Taboada: That's our understanding, yes.

    City Auditor Burroughs: Well I think that's a key point. As long as it comes back with that lease and with no economic charge to the city, then that would be acceptable...

    The vote

    Mayor O'Neill: The motion is to authorize the City Manager to execute an exchange agreement and all documents necessary to convey to the State Lands Commission five Queensway Bay land parcels and immediately receive them back no longer subject to the tidelands trust, and to convey to the State Lands Commission four land parcels along the Los Angeles river and immediately receive them back on a 49 year lease subject to the tidelands trust...

    The motion carried 8-1. (Yes: B. Lowenthal, Baker, Colonna, Carroll, Kell, Richardson-Batts, Webb, Shultz. No: Grabinski).

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