Why were huge density increases approved in the Traffic Circle Area?

I’m very concerned about the approved upzonings to the traffic circle area. I believe that area could be pivotal to future city, county, and state political plans in two different ways.

1) Per state law, if housing for low or moderate income residents is demolished in the coastal area, replacement housing must be provided within three miles of the coastal zone. The traffic circle falls well within that distance. Moderate income is defined as making up to 120% of the area’s median income. That sounds like pretty generous guidelines to me and could cover a lot of people (for instance most retired people because the criteria is income and not net worth) who would need to be provided replacement housing. It also covers the county so housing could be demolished up the coast, for example Wilmington and San Pedro, and high density developments in our traffic circle area could be used for replacement housing. I’ve copied relevant codes here:


  1. (a) In addition to the requirements of Article 10.6 (commencing with Section 65580), the provisions and requirements of this section shall apply within the coastal zone as defined and delineated in Division 20 (commencing with Section 30000) of the Public Resources Code. Each respective local government shall comply with the requirements of this section in that portion of its jurisdiction which is located within the coastal zone.(b) The conversion or demolition of existing residential dwelling units occupied by persons and families of low or moderate income, as defined in Section 50093 of the Health and Safety Code, shall not be authorized unless provision has been made for the replacement of those dwelling units with units for persons and families of low or moderate income. Replacement dwelling units shall be located within the same city or county as the dwelling units proposed to be converted or demolished. The replacement dwelling units shall be located on the site of the converted or demolished structure or elsewhere within the coastal zone if feasible, or, if location on the site or elsewhere within the coastal zone is not feasible, they shall be located within three miles of the coastal zone.
    HSC Code 50093

    “Persons and families of low or moderate income” means persons and families whose income does not exceed 120 percent of area median income, adjusted for family size by the department in accordance with adjustment factors adopted and amended from time to time by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development pursuant to Section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937.


2)  I’m concerned that the Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) proposed project area will include the traffic circle area. TCC is a new state program which will receive cap and trade auction money so every time there’s an auction, there’s more money for TCC. There are two types of grants – planning and innovation. Innovation grants are the big money grants. I put in a records request on the TCC program and from the records I received it’s evident Long Beach was working on applying for an innovation grant. However, Long Beach has withheld some of the records. Included in the records withheld may be further information on the five square mile zone they were planning, and may plan in the future, for the grant area. Following is the requirement for what the zone must include:


At least fifty-one (51) percent of the geographic area of the proposed Project Area must overlap with Census Tracts within the top 5 percent of disadvantaged communities, per CalEnviroScreen 3.0.18  The remaining fortynine (49) percent or less of the geographic area of the proposed Project Area must overlap either with a disadvantaged community (top 25 percent CalEnviroScreen 3.0) or a low-income community as defined by AB 1550. Applicants may propose a Project Area boundary that does not align with Census Tract boundaries.
For the second part of the requirements (the remaining 49 percent of the area) the traffic circle area south of PCH could be included in that because the census tract’s western boundary is Redondo and there is a designated low-income area which has its eastern boundary at Loma Ave., a few blocks east of Redondo. So the traffic circle census tract does overlap with a low-income community and therefore the tract can be included in the TCC zone if the rest of the proposed zone, whatever it might be, meets the rest of the requirements. I’m not sure about the traffic circle area north of PCH because I haven’t located maps exacting enough and the tract boundaries are unusual. I don’t know what was considered for the proposed TCC zone because the city of Long Beach has decided to withhold records. From what I’ve read in the guidelines and I saw a mention of it in the records I did receive, there is no required shape; it just can’t exceed five square miles and it must be contiguous and in one city.

I asked the City Attorney for the reason for why they withheld records and the responding letter is at the end of this blog entry. I don’t think the reason they’ve provided is adequate or legal from what I’ve researched, although I’m not an attorney.

A new LUE is needed to qualify for the TCC innovation grant and the deadlines for applying were all in November and December 2017 and it’s possible Amy Bodek’s unusual determination to get the LUE on the October 3, 2017 city council meeting may have been because of this. By the way, TCC does include funding for building housing developments and there’s a lot of money available in addition to these grants from other sources. It’s important to keep in mind that Long Beach missed the first round of TCC innovation grants because of not passing the LUE but there will be future rounds.

Perhaps the plan is to get money from TCC to fund building high density housing developments for low and moderate income people in order to complete the gentrification of the coastal area of Los Angeles County and central Long Beach and/or wherever the TCC project area may be located. Just a possibility but why is the city withholding informative records?

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 which will show that all the state’s 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.


RE: Public Records Request Reference Number: C000481-012318

In response to your request for public records received on 1/23/2018 11:48:44 PM, tracked as PRA # C000481-012318, the City of Long Beach has produced the appropriate responsive records.

PRA Request # C000481-012318 is now closed.

The City is withholding some documents pursuant to Ca. Govt. Code § 6254(a) Drafts, notes, or memoranda.

———————————————————————————————————————-Response from City Attorney re Records Request-page-001




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.



This is Jaw Dropping

Most of what I heard on the webinar from this link I basically already knew but this made my jaw drop:

  CHRIS GANNON:  “We’re encouraging maps to be made by jurisdictions that essentially paint the areas that are below the significant thresholds, say green [which must be from the CalEnviroScreen 3.0 map]             and make these go zones for development. These areas we presume are less than significant for transportation…”

At 38:30 on the this link:  https://www.sacog.org/post/updates-ceqa-guidelines-sb-743

A middle class neighborhood can never be other than green because the criteria is Pollution Burdens TIMES Population Characteristics. It’s set up so that Population Characteristics will always be zero in a middle class neighborhood (or extremely low) and since it’s multiplied and not added, a middle class neighborhood will never score out of the green zone.

Sacramento wants to push these high density developments in middle class neighborhoods. Local control is virtually gone with SB 35, other housing bills already passed, and more proposed.

In the past, a CEQA (environmental) review was required for any new Land Use Plan or development. Sacramento is putting in new guidelines to push high density forward. They have also allocated funds from cap and trade to pay for these developments. Many, many other policies too.

New CEQA (environmental) guidelines were put out a couple of months ago. Loss of Service (LOS) will no longer be used as the criteria for the transportation study and will be replaced by Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT). Cities may start using the new guidelines immediately upon the state’s adoption which will be very soon, perhaps March or April of 2018; total statewide compliance must be by 1/1/2020. The transportation impact is deemed to be less than significant if the development is located near transit, or near planned transit, as it is presumed to lower VMT. If it’s within 1/2 mile of transit the guidelines recommend not to even do a transportation study. There are many planned high quality transit corridors in the SCAG Report (there’s also a story on LBReport  about LB Transit adding bus service http://www.lbreport.com/news/jan18/busplan.htm) and according to the Technical Advisory, planned transit not even in place yet also means CEQA can be streamlined, meaning not done. It is pre-determined that housing developments located close to transit will reduce VMT.

We are being attacked from every direction!

Janet West


CEQA Review Changes to Accommodate High Density Developments

Senate Bill 743 (Steinberg, 2013) required changes to the transportation impacts evaluated by CEQA reviews. Governor Brown’s administration is now re-writing these guidelines. I believe they waited until now in order that the new housing bills would be in place first. Previous CEQA evaluations looked at “loss of service” (LOS) issues such as traffic congestion at intersections. The new CEQA guidelines will evaluate “vehicle miles traveled” (VMT) instead of LOS.

All high density developments will pass the VMT criteria as long as they are along a current or planned “high quality transit corridor.”  SCAG has many of these corridors “planned.” Their belief is that building high density mixed use infill developments along high quality transit corridors will reduce VMT and help to reach carbon reduction goals.

In addition, in the plan I quoted and linked below, it says “Because location within the region is the most important determinant of VMT, in some cases, streamlining CEQA review of projects in travel efficient locations may be the most effective means of reducing VMT.” I’m assuming streamlining means no CEQA review is necessary.

I don’t believe these guidelines are finalized yet but they’re well on their way.

From the Report (link at end):


This technical advisory is one in a series of advisories provided by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) as a service to professional planners, land use officials, and CEQA practitioners.  OPR issues technical guidance on issues that broadly affect the practice of land use planning and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (Pub. Resources Code, § 21000 et seq.).  The purpose of this document is to provide advice and recommendations, which agencies and other entities may use at their discretion.  This document should not be construed as legal advice.
Senate Bill 743 (Steinberg, 2013) required changes to the guidelines implementing CEQA (CEQA Guidelines) (Cal. Code Regs., Title 14, Div. 6, Ch. 3, § 15000 et seq.) regarding the analysis of transportation impacts.  OPR has proposed changes to the CEQA Guidelines that identify vehicle miles traveled (VMT) as the most appropriate metric to evaluate a project’s transportation impacts. The proposed changes also provide that the analysis of certain transportation projects must address the potential for induced travel.  Once the California Natural Resources Agency adopts these changes to the CEQA Guidelines, automobile delay, as measured by “level of service” and other similar metrics, generally will no longer constitute a significant environmental effect under CEQA.    Page 1

Any project that includes in its geographic bounds a portion of an existing or planned Transit Priority Area (i.e., the project is within a ½ mile of an existing or planned [SCAG has these planned] major transit stop or an existing stop along a high quality transit corridor) may employ VMT as its primary metric of transportation impact for the entire project.  (See Pub. Resources Code, § 21099, subds. (a)(7), (b)(1).)
…Therefore, lead agencies may perform a multimodal impact analysis that incorporates the technical approaches and mitigation strategies that are best suited to the unique land use/transportation circumstances and specific facility types they are evaluating.   pages 4 and 5

In other words, vehicle efficiency and better fuels are necessary, but insufficient, to address the greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation system.  Land use patterns and transportation options must also change to support reductions in vehicle travel/VMT.

· New land use projects alone will not sufficiently reduce per-capita VMT to achieve those targets, nor are they expected to be the sole source of VMT reduction.

· Interactions between land use projects, and also between land use and transportation projects, existing and future, together affect VMT.

  • Because location within the region is the most important determinant of VMT, in some cases, streamlining CEQA review of projects in travel efficient locations may be the most effective means of reducing VMT.

First, as described above, Section 21099 states that the criteria for determining significance must “promote the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”  page 7 and 8

Furthermore, At the State level, a number of important policies are being developed.  Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 743 (Steinberg, 2013), which called for an update to the metric of transportation impact in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). That update to the CEQA Guidelines is currently underway.  Employing VMT as the metric of transportation impact statewide will help ensure GHG reductions planned under SB 375 will be achieved through on-the-ground development, and will also play an important role in creating the additional GHG reductions needed beyond SB 375 across the State.” (Id. at p. 112.)

…The CEQA Guidelines are being updated to focus the analysis of transportation impacts on VMT.  page 9

Residential and office projects that locate in areas with low VMT, and that incorporate similar features (i.e., density, mix of uses, transit accessibility), will tend to exhibit similarly low VMT. page 10

Presumption of Less Than Significant Impact Near Transit Stations

Proposed 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 stop7 or an existing stop along a high quality transit corridor8 will have a less-than-significant impact on VMT.

8 Pub. Resources Code, § 21155 (“For purposes of this section, a high-quality transit corridor means a corridor with fixed route bus service with service intervals no longer than 15 minutes during peak commute hours.”).   page 11

  1. Recommendations Regarding Land Use PlansAs with projects, agencies should analyze VMT outcomes of land use plans over the full area over which the plan may substantively affect travel patterns, including beyond the boundary of the plan or jurisdiction’s geography.  Analysis of specific plans may employ the same thresholds described above for projects.  A general plan, area plan, or community plan may have a significant impact on transportation if it is not consistent with the relevant RTP-SCS.   page 15

When evaluating impacts to multimodal transportation networks, lead agencies generally should not treat the addition of new transit users as an adverse impact.  An infill 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.  page 15 and 16

                                    Transit and Active Transportation Projects

Transit and active transportation projects generally reduce VMT and therefore are presumed to cause a less-than-significant impact on transportation.  This presumption may apply to all passenger rail projects, bus and bus rapid transit projects, and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects.  Streamlining transit and active transportation projects aligns with each of the three statutory goals contained in SB 743 by reducing GHG emissions, increasing multimodal transportation networks, and facilitating mixed use development.  page 19

Potential measures to reduce vehicle miles traveled include, but are not limited to:

· Improve or increase access to transit. · Increase access to common goods and services, such as groceries, schools, and daycare. · Incorporate affordable housing into the project. · Incorporate neighborhood electric vehicle network. · Orient the project toward transit, bicycle and pedestrian facilities. · Improve pedestrian or bicycle networks, or transit service. · Provide traffic calming. · Provide bicycle parking. · Limit or eliminate parking supply. · Unbundle parking costs. · Provide parking or roadway pricing or cash-out programs. · Implement or provide access to a commute reduction program. · Provide car-sharing, bike sharing, and ride-sharing programs. · Provide transit passes. · Shifting single occupancy vehicle trips to carpooling or vanpooling, for example providing ridematching services. · Providing telework options. · Providing incentives or subsidies that increase the use of modes other than single-occupancy vehicle. · Providing on-site amenities at places of work, such as priority parking for carpools and vanpools, secure bike parking, and showers and locker rooms. · Providing employee transportation coordinators at employment sites. · Providing a guaranteed ride home service to users of non-auto modes.   page 22 and 23



Letter to the Mayor and Council Members of Long Beach

January 20, 2018

Mayor Garcia
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:

Read about TCC at:  http://sgc.ca.gov/resource%20files/10242017-TCC_FINAL_GUIDELINES_10_23_17.pdf

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.”

Link to letter:  http://www.longbeach.gov/globalassets/city-manager/media-library/documents/government-affairs/position-letters—state/2015—2016/support-for-ab_2722-9.7.16_2.0/

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.



Janet West











Another Puzzle Piece

What I’m discovering backs up my belief that this City’s LUE action is taken hand in hand with Sacramento and the recently passed Housing Bills.

One of the pieces of the puzzle I’ve found is that one of the housing bills recently passed provides financing from Cap and Trade funds to build low income housing developments in specified areas. Low and behold, some of the proposed re-zoning coincides with those same specified areas. Some of these are obvious choices but others are more brazen selections.

Assembly Bill 1550 (Gomez, Chapter 369, Statutes of 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. The bill directs:

  • A minimum of 25 percent of the proceeds be invested in projects that are located within and benefiting individuals living in disadvantaged communities;
  • An additional minimum of 5 percent be invested in projects that are located within and benefiting individuals living in low-income communities or benefiting low-income households statewide; and
  • An additional minimum of 5 percent that are located within and benefiting individuals living in low-income communities, or benefiting low-income households, that are within a ½ mile of a disadvantaged community.

Look at the map on the following link. Put a Long Beach zip code in the search and then you can move the map around to see the whole city. Keep in mind, some areas are not showing up as one of the categories on the map because they’re not yet zoned for residential or mixed use. Both the areas around the traffic circle and the Towne Center (both remain on the proposed LUE to be rezoned) fall into the second and third funding category from the above list. And there are other areas of the city with similar circumstances.


Let’s ask Council Member Stacy Mungo AGAIN how safe the Towne Center is from being built into density housing developments! They want to rezone it for mixed use six story which with the Density Bonus Law can end up being nine stories. It’s within the ½ mile of a disadvantaged community and it’s within a low income area so funding is available from cap and trade money to build low income housing developments. There’s a reason why they haven’t changed that proposed zoning back to commercial. And there’s a reason why AB 2208 was passed to put it on the list of “land suitable for residential development” which results in putting it on the list of inventory to use to meet Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) goals. Done deal. They have something in mind for that property. Perhaps that empty field and maybe move the gas station out which takes up a lot of area.

And we can’t use the term high density (oh no!) because even though to us, the stakeholders, that’s how we would label it, the Planning and Development Department tells us what they are proposing “technically” is not high density but instead medium density. We don’t want to be labeled misinformed NIMBY’s, do we?!

And now I know why Christopher Koontz (AICP, Advance Planning Officer) threw a panicked look at Amy Bodek (AICP, Director) during the December 11th Planning Commission meeting when the Commissioner requested that the properties around the inner rim of the traffic circle be kept commercial zoning. At the time, I thought it was because of the reduction in available space for increased density (I’m not going to be called a misinformed NIMBY [STAMP FOOT]) housing developments, which was part of it, but now I realize it was because that’s a lot of the area where the Cap and Trade funds can be used.

More to come!

Is This the True Intent of the New LUE?

Fifteen new housing bills have been passed by Sacramento this year and signed by Governor Brown as have been various other housing bills within the last couple of years and more housing bills are pending for approval in the next legislative session. The housing bills passed this year go into effect on January 1, 2018. If the proposed LUE is approved, it will create residentially zoned areas throughout the city where developers can build increased density buildings and under certain conditions, with no parking. SB 35 allows for streamlined permits and once permits are issued, the developments can’t be stopped. The combination of these new bills along with a new LUE will drastically change the future livability of Long Beach.

Per state law, to move low to moderate income level residents in order to convert or demolish housing located in the coastal zone, alternative housing must be provided. Per state law, the location of this alternative housing must be in the coastal zone or three miles from the coastal zone, basically from the coast to four miles inland. One of the most noticeable aspects of the proposed LUE is the major increased density located in the vicinity of the traffic circle. The traffic circle is comfortably within that four mile distance.

Therefore, I am concerned that one of the underlying intents is to move low and moderate income people from the more valuable land located close to downtown, and close to the coast, to the traffic circle area and into “stack and packs.” Long Beach is currently one of the last cities where affordable housing is located close to the coast. There’s also an ongoing study to explore the possibility of removing the Port breakwater. The downtown and coastal land would become even more valuable if the Port breakwater is removed which will bring back waves and high quality surfing to the area.

Anecdotally, in what could be an indication of these plans, I have a family friend who lives at 8th and Atlantic and whose family has lived there for at least the last fifteen years since we’ve know them. She tells me that some of the apartment buildings in that area have been sold and there are major increases to the rents resulting in many residents moving out. Her rent has increased considerably but is now grandfathered in until all the vacancies in the building are filled. Numerous vacancies have remained due to the high rent amount requested for new tenants so they believe they can remain there for the foreseeable future.

At the August Planning Commission meeting, Amy Bodek, AICP, Director, Long Beach Development Services announced that the LUE would go to the City Council in October regardless of whether the Commission voted to recommend it or not. That seemed to indicate there was some unnamed deadline. I discovered that the deadline to submit an application to The Transformative Climate Community Program (TCC) was November 30. 2017 and I wonder if that was the reason for the rush to get the LUE approved.

TCC is funded by proceeds from the Cap and Trade auctions and was created in Sacramento by AB 2722 from the 2015 – 2016 legislative session. Its mission is to create a zone to transform communities within the most disadvantaged parts of the state as identified by the Cal Environ Screen. Environmental justice belief is that lower economic level families have less ability to cope with the effects of pollution and therefore must be classified at a higher risk level than middle and higher income families. The Cal Environ Screen uses data which includes multiple pollution sources which occur in one area, economic levels, and other data to map out and determine which areas are most at risk. https://oehha.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=4560cfbce7c745c299b2d0cbb07044f5

Long Beach has been identified as one of the cities with an area which will meet the requirements for funding from TCC (Page B-1).


TCC grants are intended to fund planning activities that implement local land use plans adopted within the past five years. TCC funds will be used to support the construction of affordable housing near transit and for low-income households presumably at a greater distance from the pollution produced by the Port, the 710 Freeway, and closely located oil refineries (multiple pollution sources) because of the belief that lower income families have less resources to deal with the pollution.  As outlined in the July 2017 Draft Scoping Guidelines, applicants must define a contiguous project area that is no larger than five- square miles and is within the boundary of a single city and the areas must have a high risk of adverse effects from pollutants. Since inception, there has been a percentage of cap and trade money designated to be spent in disadvantaged communities. That has been changed by AB 1550, passed this year, to some of those funds may be used for disadvantaged communities.

On September 8, 2016, Mayor Garcia 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.”


There are also many funding sources available to build affordable housing in addition to TCC.

Another concerning factor in regard to the proposed LUE is that we’ve been told not to worry if the Towne Center is re-zoned for multi-use and increased density because it’s owned by the City. I always believe bills are passed for a reason and AB 2208, which was passed in 2016, states the airspace above sites owned or leased by a city or county is added to the Housing Element “land suitable for residential development.” Putting it into that category means that it will be evaluated to be placed on the list of available inventory to meet Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) goals. Airspace above refers to the possibility of additional stories being built above the existing stores. Lacking an inventory of city owned land I can’t determine if there are other areas with similar circumstances.

AB 1397 specifies RHNA goals are selected from the category of “land suitable for residential development.” And according to the technique described in Long Beach’s Housing Element, the Towne Center could be placed towards the top of the inventory list. On Page 86 from this report:

“Identifying Sites Suitable for Housing

In identifying the sites available for accommodating the 2014-2021 RHNA, the City began by reviewing and updating the sites inventory compiled for the previous Housing Element (2008-2014). Due to the depressed housing market and associated economic recession, development activities in the City have slowed in recent years. Many of the sites identified in 2008 are still available for development.

The original sites inventory was compiled using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysis, staff knowledge, and field survey. Using the GIS, existing zoning (units/acre) and parcel area were used to calculate the potential maximum housing units allowed per parcel for the entire 50 square mile City. Then the improvement-to-land value ratio for each parcel was calculated by dividing the value of improvements (buildings) by the value of the land (from Los Angeles County Assessor data). For example, a parcel with improvements worth $500,000 and land worth $1 million would have an improvement ratio of 0.5. The lower the improvement ratio, the higher the potential for recycling the parcel into a new development. Then, the list of parcels was sorted by maximum housing units permitted. Only parcels with an improvement ratio of less than 0.6 were included. Parcels with improvement ratios higher than 0.6 were considered less likely to recycle than those with lower improvement ratios. This is a fairly conservative assumption as economic studies typically use a ratio of 1.0 as threshold for recycling feasibility. This analysis identified 120 parcels that could accommodate 12 units or more on each individual parcel (the size of a small garden apartment building). This list was reexamined to verify that the GIS analysis was identifying valid parcels. (A density of at least 30 units/acre is needed to accommodate lower income housing targets.) Staff knowledge of existing uses, aerial photos, and field checks were used to screen properties with near-term development potential.

Staff reviewed the 2008 sites inventory, updated status of specific sites, and re-evaluated potential development based on current trends. To accommodate the 2014-2021 RHNA, additional sites are included in the inventory. Ultimately 31 sites are included in the sites inventory (many with multiple contiguous parcels) as having the potential to accommodate the City’s RHNA (Table 39 Error! Reference source not found.). A detailed list of the properties identified is included in Appendix B.

The City primarily focuses in areas where densities can exceed 30 units per acre. Each site is comprised of multiple contiguous parcels with lot consolidation potential. Among the 31 sites identified (see Table 39), seven are vacant, with the remaining 24 sites being developed with existing but underutilized or marginally viable businesses. The majority of the underutilized sites are currently used as surface parking lots, vacated buildings; others are occupied by small independent businesses. These uses do not represent the highest and best uses for the sites and are not consistent with the City’s vision for these areas. Specifically, Sites 2, 3, 6,13, 19, and 22 are interim surface parking lots under City ownership. Several are vacant lots owned by the City (Sites 12 and 24), and several are vacant lots owned by the LBCIC (Sites 27, 28, and 31). In addition, one vacant lot is owned by Habitat for Humanity.”


Per SB 35, It has not yet been determined by the Department of Housing and Community Development what information will need to be included on the year end housing report. This report must be completed by April 1st and a public meeting must be held to discuss the contents.  I suspect that many of these newly classified residential and mixed use properties could make their way onto the list of “land suitable for residential development” and consequently as land designated to meet RHNA goals. This could be due to the unknown, at this time, requirements of the year end housing report and based upon the wording in SB 35 which says to include in the report “local efforts to remove governmental constraints to the maintenance, improvement, and development of housing pursuant to paragraph (3) of subdivision (c) of Section 65583.” Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) will not release their methodology for how RHNA goals are determined. There are also nebulous new government codes which refer to housing goals and not specifically RHNA housing goals.

A concern is that if these newly re-zoned properties are included on the RHNA list, housing advocates will make demands that developments be built in some of these locations based on “environmental equity” principles which have been included in many areas of state housing laws and another term used in CA government code – “socio-economic equity.” I have asked for a definition of “socio-economic equity” from my state and local legislators. I received a reply from two of them stating they can’t provide a definition and no reply from the third. In addition, one of the housing bills (SB 167) passed this year allows for very generous legal compensation if certain conditions are not followed. There’s no way for me to understand the extent of the possible implications.

City employees and City Councilmembers have stated inaccuracies about many items, particularly about SB 35. At this point in time, a reasonable person may doubt any information they provide. They have not been upfront with the citizens about 15 housing bills passed by Sacramento this year, and previously passed bills, which will be effective and have a major impact on the implementation of the proposed LUE if enacted. In addition, large numbers of stakeholders have no knowledge about any of this. It’s been suggested multiple times that a notice be enclosed in city utility bills to which one response by the city was: “not everyone gets a utility bill” as if notifying most is somehow inferior to not notifying everyone.

With a few tweaks, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the LUE on December 11, 2018 in opposition to the vast majority of 80 public speakers. Approving the proposed LUE will most likely be on the Long Beach City Council’s Agenda sometime in January 2018. In my opinion, I believe there is no chance for it not to be passed. Once it is passed, it will not be possible to go back due to Sacramento housing bills which greatly restrict local control.  Once a permit is approved, streamlined or otherwise, the development can’t be stopped.

The unintended consequences may be vast and are unknown to us, the stakeholders.

I’m asking for an attorney to get involved to help us stop this insanity. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Janet West