January 20, 2018
Council Member Supernaw
Council Member Gonzalez
Council Member Pearce
Council Member Price
Council Member Mungo
Council Member Andrews
Council Member Uranga
Council Member Austin
Council Member Richardson
Dear Mayor and Council Members,
If the proposed Land Use Element Plan (LUE) is passed by the Long Beach City Council, funds from the State’s Cap and Trade auctions will be available to fund the building of high density housing developments on the east side and north side of the city and may be used to move low and moderate income populations, many of whom are minorities, away from the more valuable downtown/coastal area of the city. This could result in the gentrification of our city.
NOTE: I use the term high density deliberately because even though the Planning Development Department says “technically” most of what they’re proposing is not high density, it is high density to most people.
The downtown/coastal area of Long Beach may become even more valuable if the west side of the breakwater is removed to return waves and surfing to the west side of the Long Beach coastline.
There are three major strategies, with many additional supportive strategies, which may enable this to happen.
The first major strategy is to create a Transformative Climate Community Program zone (TCC). These zones were enabled by Assembly Bill 2722 which was passed in 2016. The requirements of these zones include that they shouldn’t exceed a five square mile size, need to be contiguous and located in one city, and must contain specified percentages of different levels of disadvantaged/low income communities as determined by CalEnviroScreen 3.0.
See the CalEnviroScreen 3.0 maps at https://oehha.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=4560cfbce7c745c299b2d0cbb07044f5
TCC is based on the environmental justice concept which surmises that lower income people are less likely to be able to handle the adverse effects of pollution and therefore must be protected by the government and live in areas with less pollution. Since the areas of Long Beach which have multiple sources of pollution (i.e. the Harbor, the 710 freeway, and oil refineries) are also the more valuable areas of the city and have a large population of low and moderate income people, in our city, environmental justice could mean these populations should be moved out of the more valuable areas of the city in order to protect the people from pollutants which they are unable to do for themselves. The common term used for this type of relocation of populations is gentrification.
Long Beach has been identified as one of the cities with an area which meets the requirements for funding from TCC (Page B-1) on the following link:
SB 732 (passed in 2008) created the California Strategic Growth Council (SGC), which administers TCC along with other expenditures of cap and trade funds, to increase the availability of affordable housing, among other things, and encourage sustainable land use.
Many people will be enticed to move from the downtown/coastal areas because of brand new apartments with lower rents possible because the developers have received taxpayer funds and cap and trade funds (cap and trade is ultimately paid by taxpayers aka consumers) to help finance the building of these complexes. I believe the traffic circle area will be included in this TCC zone but can’t confirm this. Long Beach has decided to withhold records from me which may include that information. The traffic circle area is important because per state law, in order to demolish or convert housing occupied by low and moderate income people living in the coastal zone, replacement housing must be provided within three miles of the coastal zone.
The traffic circle area, which has massive increases in housing density in the proposed LUE, falls easily within that distance. “Stack and pack” housing in the traffic circle area may be used for fulfilling a legal condition required in order to relocate low and moderate income people from the coastal area. These developments may also be used to relocate this community from other parts of Los Angeles County. The government code specifies that replacement housing must be located in the county and doesn’t specify it needs to be within the same city. This type of relocation is commonly called “gentrification.” In the downtown and central areas of Long Beach, real estate investors have been buying rental properties occupied by minority and low income families and raising rents to force some families to move. These investors could be waiting for this money making opportunity.
NO TCC grant money may be used to provide parking.
When Amy Bodek, AICP, Director, Long Beach Development Services, emphatically stated at the August 2017 Planning Commission meeting that the proposed LUE would be on the Agenda of the City Council meeting on October 13, 2017 regardless of whether it was approved by the Planning Commission, that suggested there was some type of unnamed deadline. That deadline may have been the TCC deadlines which were October 18, 2017, November 30, 2017, and December 6, 2017. The LUE needed to be passed in order for Long Beach to qualify for the TCC innovation grants.
Mayor Garcia has been aware of TCC since at least September 8, 2016 when he wrote a letter addressed to Governor Brown in support of AB 2722 (Burke) and TCC. In the letter, Mayor Garcia wrote: “Long Beach looks forward to partnering with the State and our local community on initiatives and benefits afforded through AB 2722.”
Long Beach has decided to withhold records in regard to TCC. I received a reply from the Long Beach City Attorney’s office on June 20, 2018, with this stated reason for withholding records: “The emails in question are employee emails that contain dialogue, impressions, and opinions that illustrate the deliberative process that led to how and why certain decisions were made regarding the TCC Program. Withholding these emails from disclosure outweighs the public’s interest in disclosure because disclosing these emails would have a chilling effect on employee email communications. Employees would refrain from having candid discussions via email regarding important topics which would make internal communications more inefficientand impact future negotiations regarding the TCC Program and other grant opportunities.”
That same “deliberative process” will likely be used for round two and future rounds of the TCC Innovative Grant Applications. I believe the public has the right to these records in sufficient time to understand and disseminate the records prior to the City Council voting on the proposed Land Use Element Plan (LUE) on March 6, 2018 as this LUE will enable future TCC grant approvals. TCC Innovation Grants are for large amounts of money and are likely to change the city in crucial and permanent ways allowing gentrification. The grant award Long Beach may have been anticipating applying for was $35 million.
This reply from the City Attorney’s office on the withheld records had a “chilling” effect on me, to borrow that phrase from the letter. A copy of the letter is provided for your perusal.
The second major strategy created the funding mechanism. Assembly Bill 1550 (passed in 2016) increased the percent of Cap and Trade funds used for projects located in disadvantaged communities from 10 to 25 percent and added another 10 percent to benefit low income households or communities. These funds can be used to build housing developments. There are also many additional funding sources available to pay for building these housing developments.
Look at the interactive map for AB 1550: https://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/capandtrade/auctionproceeds/communityinvestments.htm
The third major strategy is the passage of multiple housing bills by Sacramento politicians and the housing bills which are in the pipeline. SB 35, which was passed last year, allows multi-family housing developments, under standard conditions, to be built without local approval (no public hearings and most likely no environmental reviews) and with zero parking if located within ½ mile of public transit (which is virtually all of Long Beach). Not having to provide parking makes these developments much cheaper to build and obviously will create a nightmare for the surrounding neighborhoods.
There are many additional housing bills which have various implications. There were 14 additional housing bills passed last year, many housing bills passed in years prior to 2017, and already three more housing bills put on the docket the first week of this year.
One of the 2018 bills, SB 827 proposes to eliminate single family house zoning in areas ¼ mile from a major public transit route (Southern California Association of Governments [SCAG] planning anticipates that this category will be greatly increased) and ½ mile of a rail line (i.e. the Blue Line) and imposing minimum height requirements in those zones.
Another bill on the docket for this year, SB 828, proposes that the responsibility for determining and policing RHNA goals will be taken away from the Council of Governments (COG) and given to a California State Department. The COG members are not directly elected by the citizens but at least they are locally elected mayors and council members who presumably have an interest in local issues. And perhaps this is how the Long Beach RHNA numbers will be increased from 7,048 (our official SCAG number) to 28,000 which Christopher Koontz has stated is already the goal of the Long Beach Development Department.
Christopher Koontz, Advanced Planner: “Based on our estimate we may not be able to hit the 28,000 number that’s listed in your staff report,” Advanced Planner Christopher Koontz told the commission. “But that is the goal, and what is in front of you [the proposed LUE] is an important step forward toward that goal.”-Long Beach Press Telegram, December 12, 2017.
I’m wondering if the “powers that be” who are pushing this agenda want to get as many permits issued before the results of the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau show that all the population projections used to justify the remaking of our city, county, and state have been way over inflated. And buildings are very long term and close to permanent.
Baked into the already passed housing legislation are laws which will make it virtually impossible to return to our current zoning if the new LUE is passed. Another law makes it virtually impossible for a city to oppose a proposed development because there will be a costly lawsuit that the city will lose.
When this LUE issue first came up, I said it was ideology, money, or power, or any combination of the three. I now believe it’s money, fueled by ideology, with the by-product of power.
Please vote carefully. Your legacy is at stake as well as the future of our city. Don’t be the people whose vote destroys our beautiful city, enables gentrification, and results in the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer.