In 2017-2018, I raised the city to fight the Land Use Element (LUE). It has been suggested that I fought the LUE because I “opposed low-income housing.” Actually, I was fighting for low-income housing as the LUE would have gentrified entire sections of our City and expel our low and very low-income residents. (Do you see all the high-rise structures Downtown?) No affordable housing in any of them. (They paid fees instead of provided
the “required” low-income housing) Gentrification has dispersed our people and made Long Beach unaffordable for working-class people. I fought against that.
Three years ago, Corliss Lee brought the Land Use Element up for discussion at CONO, The Council of Neighborhood Organizations. The majority of our associations were surprised. Without notice the Development Department wanted the City Council to change the zoning throughout the entire City, declaring it was mandated by State Law. I got involved. Turns out there was no mandate, and the City just lied to get their way. Southern California Association of Governments wanted to increase density throughout southern California. If you didn’t go along with them, you lost your state grant money (Turns out that wasn’t very much money at all in the long run) Had the LUE been successful the way it was written it would have created housing for 400,000 people. We simply don’t have the infrastructure for that kind of population.
We organized and fought back. Originally, we just wanted the facts. What was this about really? We had to dig deep and do a lot of research, no thanks to the City that tried to thwart our efforts in every way. Eventually, even with the shifting of colors on the Place Type Maps, we got the sense of what was being proposed. The Mayor agreed with me to keep the unlimited height and the construction of his new luxury projects in the Downtown Sector. The plan was to raise the zoning heights in Alamitos Beach,
North Alamitos Beach, Washington Neighborhood, and all zones adjacent to Downtown so that developers ( who were giving tons of money to the Mayor’s officeholder account) could continue their gentrification of old Long Beach.
At the Whaley Park meeting I made my most direct assault against the LUE. I stated that I was firmly opposed to 7 stories being designated in Alamitos Beach and adjacent Neighborhoods as well as 5 stories on Broadway, 4th Street, 7th Street, and 10th Street, as such zoning would become profitable for developers. Long Beach is the cheapest land on the California Coast from Bodega Bay to the Mexican Border. This is prime oceanfront land. If you zone ABNA to a profitable height, then and especially now in an economic downturn, people will sell their land to developers. They move on, but the people who were living (renting) there will be expelled. This would create the most massive exodus of working people from the City in its history. I opposed the LUE to protect our working people from evictions due to gentrification. I opposed the Land Use Element without first updating the Traffic Element and doing a Parking Study.
For the record, Low Income Housing was not mentioned in the LUE, (ask Linda Tatum of the Development Department… she said that over and over again) We were not allowed to even mention low-income housing during the debate as it was irrelevant. A side note was that we influenced all Districts of the City except the 2nd District. Jeannine Pearce mistakenly thought high rise development would somehow create low-income housing. That was a false narrative from the start. We tried to inform and educate her at the Round Table meeting but to no avail.
My position is and always will be to preserve the low and moderate-income housing we have. NO NET LOSS is the new phrase in City Council. I spoke that over 2 years ago. I will never support new development unless they replace the exact amount of affordable housing they destroyed.
Unfortunately in our Development Department, developers can pay fines, or put money in a fund for affordable housing rather than keeping that agreement. Somehow that money disappears without any affordable housing being built. This is the shell game we have played for the past decade or so. Sounds great on paper, but never is realized.
The LUE was a template to make a paradise for developers, (with no parking required ). Parking is expensive to build. What a dream. We saved what we could but were not successful throughout the city. Rex Richardson listened and adjusted the plan in the North. Al
Austin did so in the 8th. The rest of the Council Districts listened and adjusted except the 2nd District that was simply uneducated or ill-informed. The truth is, building market-rate housing will never help low-income residents it will only make adjacent rentals more expensive.