Can the Upzonings Be Reversed?

The laws of the State of California will not allow any city to reduce density so once it’s passed, there’s no going back.  The “No-net-loss-in zoning density law” which limits downzonings and density reductions (Section 65863) ensures that we will not be able to decrease density in the future.

After the LUE is passed, the Development Department will likely include the increased density in the housing goals. Per Senate Bill 35 a housing report must be completed by April 1 (government code 65400). The Development Department will likely include these new increased dense housing numbers from the LUE in the report. It’s important to keep in mind that the Development Department has been the driving force behind these density increases. The salaries of that department’s personnel come out of an account funded by developer fees. Are they more concerned about the citizens of Long Beach or the developers who fund their salaries?

The city will be unable to reduce any density levels  because of the threat of, and likelihood of, being sued and losing an extremely expensive lawsuit due to a new law passed by the state effective January 1, 2018. . Once this density increase is included in the Long Beach General Plan, which the LUE is part of, if the city tries to limit or reduce the density of the housing mix, per SB 167 (government code 65589.5) the city will be open to extremely expensive litigation, which the city will lose.

The City’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) goals will likely be dramatically increased by Senate Bill 828. The increased building of density to meet these increased goals can’t be opposed or it will be subject to the above mentioned costly, unwinnable lawsuits. In addition, the City of Long Beach has done its own housing assessment which resulted in much higher housing goals and the Development Department has stated they are using these much higher housing numbers as their goals.


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


Doing an environmental review will not stop or delay the approval of the LUE and instead will likely help the LUE to be approved. Because of changes to California State Law (based on a previously passed Bill) which will be finalized in March 2018, it is likely that the CEQA (the environmental review) will be based on Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) instead of the criteria used in the past, Level of Service (LOS). The new CEQA  guidelines state that locating density housing within ½ mile of a high quality transit corridor (bus routes or rail lines), or a planned high quality transit corridor (Long Beach Transit and the Southern California Area of Governments (SCAG) have many plans for such), will reduce VMT which will reduce GHG (greenhouse gasses) and will eliminate the necessity of a CEQA review so most likely no environmental review will be completed. If it is completed, the transportation portion will likely not analyze traffic congestion, parking, or other factors which will reduce our quality of life and the study will instead have the preconceived conclusion that VMT will be reduced because more people will be traveling by public transportation instead of owning and operating their own private cars..


From the the Technical Advisory on Evaluating Transportation Impacts in CEQA November 2017:  “CEQA Guideline Section 15064.3, subdivision (b)(1), states that lead agencies generally should presume that certain projects (including residential, retail, and office projects, as well as projects that are a mix of these uses) proposed within ½ mile of an existing major transit stop or an existing stop along a high quality transit corridor will have a less-than-significant impact on VMT.” page 11

“An infill [infill means development in an already developed area] development may add riders to transit systems and the additional boarding and alighting may slow transit vehicles, but it also adds destinations, improving proximity and accessibility.  Such development also improves regional vehicle flow by adding less vehicle travel onto the regional network.” pages 15 and 16


There’s a lot of money available to build these dense housing units. There are multiple funding sources but the most alarming is the “cap and trade” auction money that has recently been redirected and dedicated to building these dense housing developments. And “cap and trade” auctions are conducted on a regularly scheduled basis so there will be a continuous stream of funds.

I believe this is being dictated and led by Sacramento politicians. The new laws which have been passed in the last few years, including 15 new housing bills passed in 2017, along with SB 827, SB 828 and who knows how many other housing bills in the process for this year, will take local control away from the cities.

Who are these housing units being built for? The American reproduction rate is not even at a replacement level.

I’m also thinking that 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 are posted which will show that the population projections used to justify the remaking of our city, county, and state have been way over inflated. This push for more housing is based upon State Population Projections which are much higher than U.S. Census Bureau population projections. What I believe to be the most accurate population indicator, LBUSD enrollment (since school funding is based on school attendance) shows a reduction in the number of students at all grade levels.

Buildings are very close to permanent and forever. There are many laws being passed in Sacramento that I disagree with but most can be reversed if and when the voters express their displeasure and vote in new politicians. But for high density infill developments, the politicians have the process in place and these changes will be rapid fire and permanent. Once the permits are issued they can’t be revoked, and once the buildings are built, well, they’re pretty close to permanent and then this high density environment can’t be reversed.

We need to prepare for Round Two of this fight.



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