Is the Proposed Land Use Element Plan a Decoy

Are the necessary measures to unleash the destructive intent of SB 35, and that of accompanying bills, already in place in the Housing Element Plan?

Senate Bill 35 states in Section 3 (a) (5) (B): In the event that objective zoning, general plan, or design review standards are mutually inconsistent, a development shall be deemed consistent with the objective zoning standards pursuant to this subdivision if the development is consistent with the standards set forth in the general plan.

That makes the General Plan determinant.

The Housing Element, and the Land Use Element, are both parts of the General Plan.

As a Charter City, Long Beach does not need to have the General Plan and zoning regulations agree.

The already in place Long Beach Housing Element states: “In keeping with the principles and policies established in the City’s 2010 Strategic Plan and Land Use Element of the General Plan, new high-density residential and mixed use development is to be focused in key locations, allowing for the preservation of existing and stable neighborhoods. Appropriate and feasible housing densities are allowed, with appropriate development standards and design guidelines, along transit corridors, in the downtown and greater downtown areas, and in close proximity to major employment and activity centers.” Page 123

To see the transit corridors designated through the entirety of Long Beach, look at the PlaceType and Height Maps in the Land Use Element Plan.

There were many inaccurate statements made regarding SB 35 at the last Whaley Park outreach meeting on October 4, 2017.

Stated at the meeting: “It applies only to affordable housing projects.” The bill does not say that. The bill says “a site that is zoned for …  or has a general plan designation that allows residential use or a mix of residential and nonresidential uses…” The bill also states: (1) The development is a multifamily housing development that contains two or more residential units.”

“Affordable housing” is defined in the bill as housing affordable to families making under 80% of the area’s median income. Most apartment buildings are directed at that market.

At that outreach meeting, it was stated that these developments “cannot be located in any area where there is currently housing” and that these “[following] requirements are going to significantly limit the types of property subject to this legislation.” Not true.  Only locations which are currently “affordable housing”  and/or rental unit sites are restricted from the streamlined permit process.

From the meeting, the contention that the developments would be limited due to the cost of requiring union wages, otherwise known as prevailing wages, is not accurate. First, one of the reasons the bill does not require any parking is because that significantly lowers the cost of construction potentially offsetting the increased cost of union wages, if applicable. Second, there are multiple government sources of funding for these projects which include federal tax subsidies, state grants, and local incentives which make these developments highly profitable.  Third, SB 35 clearly states a “public work” is not required to be built by union workers and “affordable housing” is a public work and as noted above, many apartment buildings are built to that market. In addition, if the development includes a percentage of public works, construction of the “affordable housing” units aka “public works” does not need to be done by union workers.

SB 35 states:  Section 3 (a) (8) (A) Certified to the locality that either of the following is true, as applicable:(i) The entirety of the development is a public work for purposes of Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 1720) of Part 7 of Division 2 of the Labor Code. (ii) If the development is not in its entirety a public work, that all construction workers employed in the execution of the development will be paid at least the general prevailing rate [meaning union workers]… If the development is subject to this subparagraph, then for those portions of the development that are not a public work all of the following shall apply: …

With SB 35, either one of two conditions apply: 1) it’s a public works, or 2) prevailing wages are paid for the portion of construction which is NOT public works. That’s a big change from existing law.

Another inaccuracy from the previous outreach meeting to address is the misconception that cities will be able to contest construction of these developments. From SB 35 Section 3 (b) (1) If a local government determines that a development submitted pursuant to this section is in conflict with any of the objective planning standards specified in subdivision (a), it shall provide the development proponent written documentation of which standard or standards the development conflicts with, and an explanation for the reason or reasons the development conflicts with that standard or standards, as follows: …

A city may only object to a development because of the objective criteria in the bill and not subjective criteria such as traffic or parking conditions. There are rigid guidelines over what can be contested, in what time frame, how to contest, and there are penalties if the city contests something which is not an objective standard listed in the bill.

Once a permit is issued it becomes an “entitlement” so it can’t be revoked.

“Under the doctrine of vested rights, if a property owner has received a permit from a public agency to do something, such as a building permit or use permit, and then incurs substantial costs in reliance of that permit, then the property owner has the right to rely on that permit regardless of changes in the public agency’s land use regulations.”

SB 35 also increases the time frame before construction needs to be started once a permit is issued.

And the Density Bonus Law can make a development zoned for five stories become a seven story building. There’s a sliding scale for percentage increase depending on how much of the building contains “affordable housing” and the bonus is always rounded up to the next higher number.

Please share your thoughts and comments.

Janet West

Summary of Proposed L.B. Land Use Plan in Combination with SB 35


The City of Long Beach is currently considering a new Land Use Plan. This plan will re-zone many areas throughout our city.

This plan will:

  1. Allow mixed use and residential high- density buildings with sub-standard parking requirements. The building heights can be adjusted upwards above the maximum zoning height regulations by implementing the current State Density Bonus which allows a 35% increase.
  2. Allow zoning at neighborhood edges, transitions, and key intersections to be increased by 2.5 times from 7 units per acre to 18 housing units per acre.

The new Land Use Plan, and Senate Bill 35, will each change our city irreparably. Combined, they are high density and mayhem on steroids.

SB 35 takes away local control over permitting for new buildings and over parking requirements. This Bill eliminates Conditional Use Permits and Public Hearings.

Senate Bill 35:

  • Allows ZERO parking requirements if a development is located within one half mile of a bus stop (which is 98% of Long Beach)
  • Dictates permits be issued by a STREAMLINED process if the municipality has not met Regional Housing Needs Assessment goals. These are unrealistic numbers set by the unelected Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG). By design, these goals cannot be met and most cities, if not all, have not met them. Long Beach has not met these goals and will be subject to this STREAMLINED process.
  • Once a permit is issued, it cannot be revoked as Huntington Beach found out when the citizens elected new council members and tried to reign in the overbuilding along the Beach Street corridor
  • Once a permit is issued, it basically doesn’t expire
  • Allows developers to use the municipalities General Plan as a basis to obtain permits for high density multi-family buildings even if the zoning will not allow it

SB 35 was updated on August 29, 2017 to add: “(B) In the event that objective zoning, general plan, or design review standards are mutually inconsistent, a development shall be deemed consistent with the objective zoning standards pursuant to this subdivision if the development is consistent with the standards set forth in the general plan.”

Following are quotes from the Long Beach proposed Land Use Plan (part of the General Plan) which will be used by developers to obtain streamlined permits from Sacramento for high density buildings which will destroy our neighborhoods.

“LU   Policy   11-4:   Allow new high-density residential growth to occur within Multi-Family neighborhoods in a manner that is context-sensitive and compatible to surrounding uses and buildings and provides a range of housing types and options that meets the needs of Long Beach residents.” Page 118

NOTE:  It says Multi-Family neighborhoods. ALL neighborhoods are Multi-Family. It says allow high-density WITHIN. Context-sensitive and compatible have no concrete meanings. It says a range of housing types and options which will include high density.

“The Transit-Oriented Development PlaceType allows for an increase in residential density and commercial intensity around each Blue Line station. This PlaceType may be expanded to serve future transit systems.” page 114

NOTE:  SCAG has designated other areas of the city as future transit corridors such as Bellflower Blvd. These are FUTURE transit systems and developers will use this SCAG designation to justify increased height and density along those corridors.

“Long Beach is fundamentally a city of neighborhoods. This Land Use Plan provides the framework for protecting and enhancing low-density residential neighborhoods. These neighborhoods will be diverse, safe, healthy and sustainable places, with a mix of residential building types and connected streets that facilitate walking, biking and transit. From our historic and founding neighborhoods to more contemporary ones, Long Beach endeavors to preserve and enhance our neighborhoods for generations to come.” page 116

NOTE: This paragraph starts out appearing to be about low-density residential neighborhoods but it’s misleading. It says protecting (the next sentence says safe so that would seem to be the context of protecting) and enhancing but it doesn’t say keeping or preserving our low-density residential neighborhoods. The word diverse could imply there should be residents of all income levels. It says with a “mix of residential housing type.” The last sentence says preserving but it doesn’t say preserving our low-density neighborhoods.

“Proposed improvements include: establishing commercial and retail uses on the periphery of neighborhoods or in commercial hubs to better serve residents; integrating public facilities and open spaces into neighborhoods; providing convenient transit connections and walkable environments; and incorporating a variety of design enhancements and sustainable practices.” Page 116

NOTE: What are these public facilities they want to integrate into neighborhoods? What sustainable practices? That opens up the door to a lot of unwelcome development.

“Policies provide for an equitable distribution of housing types for all income groups throughout the City, thus avoiding concentrations of below-market-rate housing in underserved and low-income neighborhoods.” Page 117

NOTE:  Sacramento wants low income housing throughout middle and upper class neighborhoods, presumably just not in the politicians neighborhoods.

“LU Policy  12-1: Promote an equitable distribution of housing types for all income and various cultural groups throughout the City; avoid creating concentrations of below-market-rate housing in underserved and low-income neighborhoods.” Page 118

NOTE:  Same as above.

The above quotes are from only five pages. There are items peppered throughout this 185-page proposed plan that the developers will be able to use to justify building high density. There is no way to surgically remove all of them.

We must destroy, not alter, this update to the Long Beach Land Use Plan before the council members who are up for re-election and Mayor Garcia’s re-elections in April of 2018. If it’s still a viable plan after the election, we won’t be able to hold them accountable and we lose.

We need to destroy SB 35. Are there any other Assembly Members who can be convinced to oppose it in addition to O’Donnell? There’s not much time left. The legislative session ends on 9/15 so the vote will take place before then.


Attend all the City Council meetings and stay until the end if you can. Bring a book, your knitting, or crossword puzzles and show them that you’re going to outlast their boring, outlandishly long meetings. Speak during public comments. Hold up signs and pass out flyers.

Pack the City Council meeting on 9/17/17 to oppose SEASP.

Contact your city council member and the mayor and ask them to pass a city resolution to oppose SB 35.

Let’s get a flyer delivered to as many houses as we can. We need to keep a master list of where they’ve been delivered.

Support each other. If all the neighborhoods stick together, we’ll have a lot more impact.

Get as many people out to the community meetings and the city council meetings as possible to voice their opposition.

Write Letters to the Editor to all our local newspapers. They have not reported truthfully on the full impact of this proposed Land Use Plan in combination with SB 35.

Make signs and hand out flyers whenever a city official has a public meeting.


1) Tuesday night at the L.B. City Council meeting, I asked the city to pass a resolution which opposes SB 35. Please contact your city council member to make this request. Daryl Supernaw’s contact information is (562)570-4444. Stacy Mungo’s contact information is (562)570-5555.

Contact information for the other council member is at:

2) I would like to organize a group to hold signs and hand out flyers at the Concert sponsored by Representative Patrick O’Donnell on Friday. We need to hold him accountable and ask him to vote NO on Senate Bill 35 which will take away all local control over what developments are built and the ability to include parking requirements. The final vote on SB 35, which is the Assembly vote, will take place before Sept. 15th when the legislative session ends. I’ll make some signs which say “Vote No on SB 35” “STOP High Density in Our Neighborhoods” “Ask O’Donnell to Vote NO on SB 35” “Protect Our Neighborhoods from High Density” “NO High Density With Zero Parking”. Can anyone help hold signs and hand out flyers which I’ll provide? My cell phone # is (562)290-9364

Friday September 8th
At the Concert in the Park
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm
Marine Stadium Park
5255 East Paoli Way
Community Coffee
Saturday September 9th
10:30 am to 11:30 am
110 North Marina Drive

Community Meetings – Attend and voice your opposition to high density with no parking requirements

It’s vitally important that we attend these meetings and voice our opposition to the proposed new Land Use Maps.  SAVE OUR NEIGHBORHOODS!

Citywide workshops:
In addition, residents can obtain more information about the plan, or comment and give feedback
Here are two planned events from Long Beach State Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell:
Friday September 8th
At the Concert in the Park
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm
Marine Stadium Park
5255 East Paoli Way
Community Coffee
Saturday September 9th
10:30 am to 11:30 am
110 North Marina Drive


Statement by Amy Bodek about State Bill 35 from Planning Commission Meeting 8/17/17

PLANNING COMMISSIONER: If it [SB 35] does pass, will that affect any actions put into our Master Plan?

AMY BODEK LONG BEACH AICP, DIRECTOR: I first want to say thank you to the woman who raised it because I think that’s incredibly important that citizens understand the regulations that we are forced to confront and the history pattern. Cities are are not dealing with the housing crises as they’re supposed to. Because of that, the legislature has continued to constrain over the years the cities’ abilities to regulate housing in particular because there are many cities who are not as forthcoming and embracing change in density. So as a counter reaction to local agencies who have over, and I’m talking about the last 30 years, refused to comply with housing requirements, the state has continually forced local jurisdictions hands and you can see that in our accessory dwelling unit regulations that have come down from the state. We as a city … SB 35 is going to be a similar issue if it is in fact adopted. I think it will be very difficult for us from all zoning perspectives, less so from a general plan perspective because our general plan has been carefully thought out about where the density is going and not throwing density willy nilly in single family residential neighborhoods. We are trying to focus them on areas of change and certainly commercial corridors and linking them to transit. But we are very concerned about activities at the STATE LEVEL AND HOW THEY INTEND TO TAKE AWAY ANY LOCAL CONTROL and SB 35 is a perfect example of that because THEY WILL ABSOLUTELY TAKE AWAY THE LOCAL CONTROL AND WE WILL NOT HAVE THE ABILITY TO HAVE PUBLIC HEARINGS ON RESIDENTIAL PROJECTS IF SB 35 PROCEEDS. And so there are implications we don’t know how to consider those implications because that law is not far enough along for us to know whether amendments are going to be proposed and accepted by the state legislature but until that happens we cannot specifically say what those impacts are but I absolutely applaud this constituent who brought it up. I think it’s fabulous and frankly critical for there to be an understanding of why this state does this and how that ties our hands locally.

PLANNING COMMISSIONER: So basically a lot of the things we’ve had to consider, the state wins.

AMY BODEK LONG BEACH AICP, DIRECTOR: Similar to affordable housing within a 1/4 mile of transit has special requirements and we are not able to increase those parking requirements even if they are below our Midtown Plan. We are tied.

4:16:40 – 4:22:00

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Planning Commission Meeting 8/17/17

The Good:

The Planning Commission paid attention and heard Long Beach resident’s concerns about the proposed re-zoning of Long Beach neighborhoods. The Commission didn’t approve the proposal and voted 4 – 1 to send it back to staff for more public outreach.

Long Beach Development Services Director, Amy Bode, acknowledged that Senate Bill 35 will, if passed, eliminate the city’s ability to be involved with future developments.

Long Beach communities were energized, engaged, and organizing.

The Bad:

The “Staff” tried to change the wording in the amendment, at least twice, which had already been specified by Commissioner Andy Perez, and seconded by Commissioner Templin.

The “Staff” has decided that their proposed Land Use document will be forwarded to the City Council for consideration at the October 3 City Council meeting regardless of the lack of the Planning Commission’s approval.

“I’m telling you that I am taking it to city council October 3 with or without your recommendations on the land use maps itself,” Development Services Director Amy Bodek told the commission.

The Ugly:

The political fall out from this new high density re-zoning proposal if the City Council continues to push it.

UPDATE: Mayor Garcia has said the plan will not be considered at the October 3rd City Council meeting, as Amy Bodek had dictated, but instead the Planning Commission’s recommendation will be followed. My conclusion from this is that Mayor Garcia is indeed intending to run for the State Senator seat which will be vacated when Ricardo Lara becomes State Insurance Commissioner after the November 2018 election.



Continue reading

City Council Meeting August 15, 2017

Agenda item #20 on the consent calendar is to approve Federal Grant money. This is the link to the two page memo which supports this item:

From the linked material:

“Earlier this year, OEA (Office of Economic Adjustment) notified Pacific Gateway that the City would receive additional funding of $1,512,023 to continue and expand the project.  For this new round of grant funds, Pacific Gateway will work with various businesses to assess their economic competitiveness, conduct asset mapping, and support the City’s modified Planning and Zoning documents. Pacific Gateway will also contract with the following project partners to assist with completion of deliverables:” (the chart won’t copy and paste)  The two companies listed on the chart are SJM Consulting for a contract amount of $565,000 and Dudek Consulting for a contract amount of $560,000.
The project description is that it addresses the economic and workforce impact of the C-17 plant closure.
The way it’s worded, the city didn’t request the money. Why did OEA contact Pacific Gateway directly? Consent calendar items are supposed to be routine, non-controversial items that don’t need discussion. Why is this item not listed on the business calendar for discussion? Very suspicious.
Why is the City of Long Beach approving the Federal Government giving the City of Long Beach what appears to be unsolicited money to be handed over to Pacific Gateway to “… and support the City’s modified Planning and Zoning documents” by contracting with two additional businesses?
It’s up to the citizens of Long Beach to either support or oppose the modified Planning and Zoning documents – not the businesses they’re proposing to contract with.
I will be there on Tuesday to make comments about this item. This is the link to the agenda:
By the way, for those who are following this blog, my absence for the last couple of weeks was because my husband was in the hospital. He’s doing better now.

Senate Bill 35

SB 35 is complex but essentially will encourage the building of high density housing which will have no parking requirements. The bill requires the building to contain two or more housing units. If the building contains ten or more units, then 10% must be affordable housing units which is defined in the bill as housing affordable to families making 80% or less of the area’s median income.  The streamlined permitting process allowed in this bill will bypasses all city guidance by eliminating public hearings and conditional use permits.

The State of California encourages all future housing as multi family housing which includes affordable housing throughout the building and built throughout neighborhoods of all income levels.

Although most cities have announced they’re in compliance with Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), that doesn’t exempt them from this streamlined process because the “permits issued” criteria is used, which most cities have not met, and not the “goals” criteria.

Funding for construction may come from federal taxpayer credits for affordable housing which the developers sell to the banks for cash. There is also state money to help finance these projects.

I see three things in the bill that are very concerning.

1) From the bill: “(4) The development satisfies both of the following: (A) Is located in a locality that the department has determined is subject to this subparagraph on the basis that the number of units that have been issued building permits is less than the locality’s share of the regional housing needs, by income category, for that reporting period. A locality shall remain eligible under this subparagraph until the department’s determination for the next reporting period. A locality shall be subject to this subparagraph if it has not submitted an annual housing element report to the department pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 65400 for at least two consecutive years before the development submitted an application for approval under this section. (B) …

In the Long Beach “Blue Print for Economic Development” it says: “RHNA is not a production requirement, it is a production goal.” I have heard Christopher Koontz, Advance Planning Officer say that Long Beach is in compliance with RHNA. SB 35 states that a locality will be subject to streamlined processing based on the number of permits issued in each income category and according to the 2016 Annual Housing Element Progress Report, our city is not close to meeting that criteria.

2) Basically, there is no expiration date once the developers get these streamlined permits and there is no way to stop the completion of the project once the permit is issued. And once the permit is issued, as Huntington Beach found out, there is no way to revoke the permit.

3) There are no parking requirements if one of four conditions is met. Two of these conditions are: a) the development is within one half mile of a bus stop or b) there is a car share vehicle within one block. If the first condition is not met, the developer only needs to put in a zip car type vehicle, which pays for itself, in order for there to be no parking requirements. For the developer, construction costs are significantly reduced by not having to excavate to provide parking.

Federal taxpayer credits will be used to pay for the construction of these buildings because some of the units will be affordable housing. The developers can sell these taxpayer credits to the banks for cash and then use that cash to fund the construction. (see below) In the state of California there is also a density bonus which is granted when the building includes affordable housing. This allows additional stories to be added to the zoning standard.

UPDATE:  SB 35 was updated on August 29, 2017 to include: (B) In the event that objective zoning, general plan, or design review standards are mutually inconsistent, a development shall be deemed consistent with the objective zoning standards pursuant to this subdivision if the development is consistent with the standards set forth in the general plan.

In other words, the developers can now take verbiage from The General Plan, which is supposed to look decades into the future, to justify developments even if the appropriate  zoning is not in place.

From the PBS Frontline video: “IRS gives billions in tax credits to the states. Then the states award credits to developers who sell them for cash to investors – mostly banks. The developers use the cash to help build apartment buildings and because tax payer money pays for most of it, they can charge the lower rents which are required. ‘The tax credits give us the equity to build the apartment buildings.’ They could not build these buildings without tax credits.”

From the Denver Post: “The tax credits — the largest funding mechanism for income-restricted rental housing nationwide — are designed to subsidize about 70 percent of the cost of building low-income apartments.

The credits work by incentivizing banks, insurance companies and other private-sector investors to help finance affordable rentals in exchange for a dollar-for-dollar reduction in their federal tax liability over 10 years.

Before the election, those investors were often willing to pay $1.10, maybe $1.15 for $1 in tax credits, White said. Since the election, the going rate has fallen to 85 to 90 cents. [Because the developers tax liabilities may go down under the Trump administration]

City Council Meeting July 18th – Agenda Item #33 will take away one traffic lane on Bellflower Blvd. to install protected bike lanes

From the agenda material – item #33:  “This project will eliminate one northbound lane on Bellflower Boulevard between Atherton and Pacific Coast Highway for construction of a Class IV bikeway on Bellflower Boulevard, creating a bikeway separated from vehicular traffic.”
I don’t drive that stretch of Bellflower Blvd. often so I’m not too familiar with traffic patterns. It seems as if it would get pretty congested from CSULB at certain times. Also, they plan on adding a lot more housing units along Bellflower Blvd. in the future so that will also add to congestion. Bellflower Blvd. has been designated by SCAG (Southern California Association of Governments) as a future “High Quality Transit Area.” SCAG is an un-elected government bureaucracy which dictates future development.
Please attend the City Council meeting this Tuesday which starts at 5:00 in City Hall, 333 West Ocean Blvd. in the council chambers. The meeting will start with the Pledge of Allegiance, a presentation, two public meetings, the first ten public comments, and then the agenda items.
The first ten public comments on non-agenda items are toward the beginning of the meeting on a first come, first served basis. Those who want to be one of those ten people line up before the meeting on the steps on the left aisle to fill out a speaker card. In Long Beach, that’s the only time a speaker card needs to be filled out. Comments can be made about each agenda item when it is considered. The rest of the non-agenda public comments can be made at the end of the meeting. Each comment cannot be longer than three minutes.

Most of these meetings are fairly long to incredibly long and I bring a book to read in case I get too bored.

There is free parking in the parking structure for city council meetings. The parking structure is on Broadway just past the police station and Chestnut Ave. The entrance is on the east side of the parking structure. The exit is out of the side onto Chestnut Ave. The police will be at the entrance to city hall and will wand you with a metal detector and look through your bag.
I will be there on Tuesday.

Why are developers so eager to build low income housing?

One of the answers is told in the beginning minutes of this PBS Frontline documentary.

From the video: “IRS gives billions in tax credits to the states. Then the states award credits to developers who sell them for cash to investors – mostly banks. The developers use the cash to help build apartment buildings and because tax payer money pays for most of it, they can charge the lower rents which are required. ‘The tax credits give us the equity to build the apartment buildings,’ stated one of these builders.”

In addition to the tax credits, the state of California gives developers additional incentives to include low income housing in a building. One of these rewards is a density bonus. The density can be increased (i.e. add additional floors to the building) by 35%. I’m not an expert so I’m not sure if there may be other tricks in the law which allows the density to be even higher such as possibly claiming more than one density bonus.

So if the corner of Bellflower and Stearns is re-zoned for five story buildings, when the density bonus for including low income housing is figured in, developers will be able to build seven story buildings. Then the  developers make more money from the rents or sales of the additional units. And what’s not to like for the developers? They’ve used taxpayer money from tax credits.

From the Density Bonus Law in Section 65915:

(f) For the purposes of this chapter, “density bonus” means a density increase over the otherwise maximum allowable gross residential density as of the date of application by the applicant to the city, county, or city and county …

More to come on how SB 35 will (it will pass and be signed into law soon) impact this by eliminating local control of the permitting process, streamlining the process for developers, eliminating all parking requirements and eliminating the expiration on the permit approval for some of these projects.