|(Sept. 10, 2017, 6:55 p.m.) -- Actions advancing in Long Beach and Sacramento that could enable developer-desired density were a hot topic at a Saturday (Sept. 9) community meeting at Ballast Point in SE LB with Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell (D, Long Beach-San Pedro) and 3rd dist. Councilwoman Suzie Price.
Among the issues that came up were:
[Scroll down for further.]
Assemblyman O'Donnell reiterated his opposition (announced two days earlier) to SB 35 (details here), calling it "not good for Long Beach, not good for the state of California, because state law would override your local community, your local city's ability to plan itself and that's going to allow for a lot more density...I'm a big advocate of stopping that bill and I hope you will be too," (drawing applause.) Assemblyman O'Donnell added, "Sacramento should not be planning your city. Your cities should be planning your cities."
Councilwoman Price said she agrees "completely with Assemblyman O'Donnell's regarding the state mandating density on a city. I think the city needs to decide what works for the particular city at that location, given the traffic conditions and environmental sensitivities in the area."
To LBREPORT.com's knowledge, LB Mayor Robert Garcia hasn't publicly opposed or otherwise stated his position on SB 35. During an August 31 "Ask Me Anything" hour on Twitter, Garcia didn't respond when a resident asked him for his position on SB 35. As of 6:00 p.m. Sept. 10, the Mayor's City Hall office hasn't responded to LBREPORT.com emails on Sept. 3 and Sept. 5 asking if during the multiple months SB 35 has been pending if Mayor Garcia has publicly opposed SB 35 as written or unless amended.
SB 35 passed the state Senate in June (25-12) with "yes" votes by LB state Senators Ricardo Lara (D, LB-Huntington Park) as well as Janet Nguyen (R, SE LB-West OC); it has thus far had the support of Sacramento's Democrat-majority legislative leadership and requires only 41 Assembly votes with 54 seats held by Dems. (In other words, SB 35 could safely garner a Dem majority and pass the Assembly despite Assemblyman O'Donnell's "no" vote.)
Earlier this year, the City Council approved a 2017 "state legislative agenda" with verbiage reciting that the City will oppose measures detrimental to local control including on land use matters. The city of LB's Manager of Government Affairs, Diana Tang, tells LBREPORT.com that City remains officially neutral on SB 35, but is "working with the author on amendments, consistent with the City's state legislative agenda as it relates to local control."
SB 35 is now coming to a possible vote within the next few days with a Sept. 15 deadline for passage this year. SB 35's full text can be viewed is at this link. Numbered pages 11-23 show how, with few exceptions, SB 35 would effectively end most LB City Hall decision making, current public input and local parking requirements.
As previously reported by LBREPORT.com, the City of LB's Director of Development Services, Amy Bodek, has confirmed that the City of Long Beach would be subject to SB 35's mandates at this time.
At the O'Donnell-Price meeting, residents pressed for further on the density issues. A fifth district woman asked how close SB 35 was to passage, and Assemblyman O'Donnell acknowledged it is very close to passing (producing audience groans.) O'Donnell advised residents to call Sen. Nguyen [a Republican who voted "yes" on the measure in June, but will have a chance to vote against SB 35 if it passes the Assembly and returns for concurrence in the Senate] and Governor Brown's office [who's publicly urged the legislature to enact the type of measures included in SB 35.]
The 5th district resident pressed for further on the density locally. "[W]here are we on our Council, individually each Council person seems to say 'oh no, those density maps are terrible; I'm definitely against it' and yet we seem to be stuck in neutral. This should already be a done deal. They should already be not passing. Nobody wants those high density maps. Everyone's against it and yet they still seem to be stuck in neutral at the local level" (audience shouts, yes.)
Councilwoman Price reiterated that she agrees completely with Assemblyman O'Donnell's position on SB 35. "I do not want the state imposing mandates on us that we have no control over," she said...and segued to responding to the 5th district resident's question regarding City Hall staff's proposed density increase maps. That led to a pointed exchange with (what we presume to be) a Third district constituent:
Councilwoman Price: ...I'm not opposed to density as a blanket rule. I think there are places and opportunities for increased housing and density that make sense, and I think there are areas where they don't make sense. For example, in downtown there are some areas where it absolutely makes sense to have increased density. In Belmont Shore, there may be areas where it makes no sense at all. I have seen the proposed of the 3rd district. I have some concerns regarding where the proposed density is there, but those maps came about after a lot of discussion with my community and with me personally with the Development Services team to talk about what I would be comfortable with and what I wouldn't be comfortable with.
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