At the June 13th Special Long Beach City Council Study Session (video link posted below) Long Beach Advance Planning Officer Christopher Koontz answered that question. It’s at the 22:00 mark on the video.
COUNCIL MEMBER SUZIE PRICE: Why is it that we look to established cities in talking about increasing density as opposed to establishing cities in areas where there is currently no development or there is ample amount of land?
ADVANCE PLANNING OFFICER CHRISTOPHER KOONTZ: Sure that’s an excellent question council member. So state planning law has really evolved considerably over the last ten years and it’s very much driven by greenhouse gas emissions and when you develop a new city on vacant land or you expand on vacant land, and we do see that activity still happening in the far reaches of the inland empire and Kern County to the north of us here but the reason that’s not as desirable under California law is that new development by definition because it’s outside of established centers the amount of driving that those future residents are going to do to employment centers but also to the basic services is going to be considerably more than if they’re located within existing cities with access to existing infrastructure and existing goods and services and we have much work left to do but our emissions are per capita emissions in a place like Long Beach are orders of magnitude less than in places that are now cities but were not too long ago built as new development places like Valencia out in the northern part of L.A. County. So that’s the driving force I think that the legislators have in mind when they made these changes and then from the staff table we don’t get to make those decisions. We’re just trying to implement those state mandates here at the local level. http://longbeach.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=12&clip_id=9191
The Long Beach City Council is currently considering a new Land Use Plan. This plan will re-zone many East Long Beach areas for up to five stories, including all four corners of the intersection of Bellflower Blvd. and Stearns Ave.
The plan will:
1. Allow up to five story mixed use, high density buildings which will include low income housing and sub-standard parking requirements.
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.
As we all know, high density causes a multitude of problems including:
1. Slower and more congested traffic
2. Low parking availability which spirals out into adjoining neighborhoods
3. A strain on services such as fire, police, and schools
4. Increased demand on water, energy, and disposal (sewage/trash) resources
5. Increased stress on individual families and businesses
6. Lower property values.
As demonstrated in the draft Southeast Area Specific Plan (SEASP), the Long Beach City Council has empowered developers to provide sub-standard parking availability for these new buildings (see below for sections of this plan). SEASP covers the area from the Seal Beach border to the south side of Cal State Long Beach (CSULB).
Per state law, after the Land Use Plan is put into place, Complete Streets policies will be implemented. The Complete Streets Bill (AB 1358) calls for equal access for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. This includes bulb outs, curb extensions, narrower traffic
lanes, raised crosswalks, shorter blocks, more stop signs and/or traffic signals, and less traffic lanes. This whole program is called, believe it or not, “a road diet.”
A classic road diet will take a road with two lanes in each direction and change it into a road with only one lane in each direction and a central turning lane. Why? To add bicycle lanes and wider sidewalks. Take a short drive up to Orange Avenue between Del Amo and Artesia on trash day to see how detrimental this plan has been to that neighborhood.
A man who owns a duplex with a small business in front stated at the Long Beach City
Council meeting on June 20, 2017 that the road diet reduced his parking places from
four to one. He said, “You have ruined my quality of life.”
The Complete Streets program labels one of its components “traffic calming,” which means slowing down traffic. The goal of Complete Streets is to provide less parking and slower, more congested traffic, in order to force us out of our cars. When enacted, it will cause more stress for drivers, families, and businesses.
1) Check this blog weekly. I will post an update at least weekly. Since the City Council agenda is posted either Thursday or in the late afternoon on Friday, I suggest you check every weekend.
2) Inform all of our neighbors. Please adopt a block where you will distribute flyers. I will provide the flyers or you can make copies from the flyer you have for distribution. If you can do this, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can keep a list of streets which have been notified.
3) Notify your city council member (Daryl Supernaw email@example.com 562-570-4444) and Mayor Garcia (Mayor@longbeach.gov 562- 570-6801) that you are opposed to this plan and re-zoning.
4) Make public comments at our City Council meetings; even if it’s only one sentence to say you oppose these actions. I believe the City Council meets the first three Tuesdays of the month but sometimes meets on four Tuesdays.
5) Make public comments at the Planning Commission meetings. The Planning Commission meets the first and third Thursday of each month. If you don’t speak up, this plan will progress through the Planning Commission and it will then go to the Long Beach City Council for approval.
6) Submit editorials and letters to our local newspapers.
7) Inform, inform, inform! I have read and heard so many times that the public is not aware of adverse city council actions until after the effects were felt. A recent example is the changes made to Orange Avenue. That will not happen with this!
We either become informed and active or we can say goodbye to our neighborhoods as we now know them.
Your neighbor and concerned citizen,
More to follow on the new Senate Bill 35 Bill which is a game changer! I’m still putting together the puzzle pieces. This bill may end most local oversight on new multi family housing developments. It will also eliminate all parking requirements for the new developments if they are located within one half mile of a bus stop (almost all of Long Beach fits that category) or have a shared vehicle (i.e. Zip Car which pays for itself) within one block.
JUNE 15, 2017 PLANNING COMMISSION MEMORANDUM
SUBJECT: GENERAL PLAN LAND USE ELEMENT AND URBAN DESIGN ELEMENT Pages 12 and 13 are the relevant part for our neighborhood
FROM PROPOSED SEASP (LONG BEACH SOUTH EAST SPECIFIC PLAN)
p. 99 Using this technique, mixed-use development may be eligible for reduced parking requirements to ensure that the sites are not over-parked. Shared parking tests of potential development within the Specific Plan area have indicated that, depending on the proposed mix of uses, a reduction of somewhere between 15–20 percent can be achieved.
p. 99 Reduced parking requirements for shared parking may be applied to new developments that are mixed-use in nature, as described above. Additional parking
reductions can be submitted for consideration to the City of Long Beach if a development proposes Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies that would reduce vehicle parking demand in the area. These strategies include bicycle parking (which is required for all development in the SEASP area, see Chapter 5, Development Standards),
financial participation in a proposed circulator system, subsidized bus passes for employees, or any other strategy that could reduce the need for a vehicle to be parked at the project site.
p. 89 . The goal is to provide mobility options for all modes of travel to the SEASP area by calming traffic [THAT MEANS SLOWING DOWN TRAFFIC] on key roadways and providing facilities that enhance the bicycle and pedestrian experience.