(Sept. 9, 2001) -- With over half its eleven voting board members absent or abstaining, the Board of Directors of Downtown Long Beach Associations (DLBA) has voted to approve (on a 3-1 vote, with 4 abstentions and 3 absences) an advisory resolution that DLBA opposes building a movie theater on the tidelands.
DLBA's board vote on the resolution (motion by Nick Edwards, second by John Morris) was as follows:
In favor: 3 (John Morris, Jim Brophy, Nick Edwards)
Against: 1 (Joe Heath)
Abstain: 4 (Jane Netherton, Cory Kristoff, Kim Johnson, Diane Arnold)
Absent: 3 (Henry Walker, Mike Peterson, Melanie Fallon)
DLBA, a non-profit group operating on behalf of property owners and tenants of a downtown business improvement district, does not have legal authority over the QW Bay project. However, its members include a number of prominent LB establishment figures.
Approval of the DLBA Board resolution means DLBA's position will be presented the Sept. 11 Council meeting when Councilmembers are scheduled to vote on a proposed tidelands designation exchange involving chunks of the QW Bay retail and entertainment project.
The tidelands designation exchange, or "swap" as it's been termed, could help facilitate (but is not a permit requirement for) the City Hall-desired QW Bay retail and entertainment project. The proposed swap would remove tidelands trust designation from four commercial footprints (totaling roughly 3 acres), including a movie theater, in the tidelands in exchange for placing tidelands trust designation on roughly 10 acres of city owned property west of Cesar Chavez Park (part of which is currently a freeway median) and along the east bank of the L.A. river surrounding the Shoemaker bridge.
In April, 2001, two of the three members of the State Lands Commission (Lt. Gov. Bustamante and State Controller Connell) expressed uneasiness with putting movie theaters in the tidelands. The Commissioners took no voted action on the matter but urged State Lands staff and City staff to devise an arrangement that, the Commissioners indicated, might avoid setting precedents with movie theaters on tidelands and provide greater benefits to the public. Tidelands exchanges have been done in other contexts elsewhere.
As previously reported by LBReport.com, the proposed QW Bay tidelands exchange negotiated between Lands Commission and City Hall staff resulted. On Sept. 11, the proposed tidelands designation swap will be brought to the City Council, where Councilmembers could vote on the matter.
As previously reported on LBReport.com, City Manager Henry Taboada presented an overview of the issue at the August 28 meeting and promised a city staff response to public criticism leveled at that meeting. (For details, see LBReport.com: Aug. 28 Council meeting).
The proposed tidelands exchange is set to reach the State Lands Commission on September 17 (after being postponed from a previously scheduled August 29 meeting). However, 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.
City Hall's chosen developer for the 18 acre retail and entertainment project, Developers Diversified Realty (DDR), is not a party to the proposed tidelands trust exchange. The firm likewise says it has legal entitlement to proceed. DDR has previously told LBReport.com that any disagreement involving City Hall and the State Lands Commission is for City Hall to resolve.
In an August, 2001 letter to the City Council, posted verbatim on LBReport.com, 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 a crucial February 13, 2001 Council meeting detailed (with extended transcript excerpts) on LBReport.com, the City Council voted (6-1, details below) to approve a 15 month extension to meet certain deadlines by DDR as part of an amended development and disposition agreement.
The Council's vote effectively approved proceeding with the project by giving DDR a 15-month extension of a deadline for meeting predisposition requirements in return for which City Hall accepted certain additional commitments from the developer.
A series of six motions made by Vice Mayor Baker carried 6-1 (Yes: Baker, Colonna, Carroll, Kell, Richardson-Batts, Webb. No: Grabinski. Shultz absent. 1st district seat open pending special election).
Details, including transcript excerpts, can be viewed at Feb. 13, 2001 Council meeting.