Long Beach, CA
Perhaps it’s “The Long Beach Way” ? Propose a controversial mega-sized airport remodel or a city-wide our-way-or-the-highway Land Use Element (LUE) rezoning effort and watch Long Beach residents organize to put the brakes on an overreaching downtown bureaucracy. Hold raucous public meetings, compromise, then sit back and reap the accolades and awards for an award winning “boutique airport” or now the Southern California Association of Governments Efficient and Sustainable Land Use Award.
Last week the Southern California Association of Governments (SGAG) announced that the final product of the City of Long Beach’s Land Use Element won one of the regional planning agency’s six 2020 sustainability awards. With the COVID 19 pandemic canceling SCAG’s traditional formal ceremony, the announcement of Long Beach’s Efficient and Sustainable Land Use Award came in the form of a tweet and an announcement on the SCAG website.
In 2017, SCAG also awarded Long Beach with a Sustainability Award in the category of Integrated Planningfor the Long Beach Midtown Specific Plan.
The SCAG website includes a short video with low-level city planners addressing some of the LUE highlights of focusing mostly on public transportation corridors and density. Yes, historic B.C. planning: Before COVID.
The SCAG website information about the Long Beach award:
“After more than 10 years of effort and more than 170 community engagement opportunities, an update to the City of Long Beach’s General Plan Land Use Element (LUE) was adopted by the City Council on December 3, 2019. Building upon the City’s award-winning Mobility Element, the updated LUE promotes infill, transit-oriented development, and a better jobs-housing balance through a strategy of encouraging mixed-use density near transit nodes and along transit corridors, in alignment with the RTP/SCS. The update aims to guide Long Beach to a more sustainable future, improve mobility choices, expand transit access reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality. In addition to accommodating the City’s population and employment projections through the horizon year of 2040, the plan creates sufficient housing opportunity to address the City’s existing housing need due to overcrowding. The LUE advances several goals and policies for addressing equity in access to housing, jobs, community resources, and open space, while creating more opportunities for active living, improved urban design, sustainability, and overall quality of life for all.”
That “10 years of effort” and “170 community meetings” came down to the last six months and the final community meetings which drew thousands of mostly angry citizens. In the end, as a mayoral and council elections approached, the Land Use Element scope and density was scaled back like the “super sized” airport plans.
In the LUE fall out, the poster child of one of the worst communication debacles in Long Beach history Development Services Director Amy Bodek took a position with L.A. County in downtown Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Bodek’s foil in the LUE war Council Of Neighborhoods Organization (CONO) Executive Director Robert Fox went on to be a founding member of the Long Beach Reform Coalition and the first place winner in the Long Beach Second District City Council race primary.
Perhaps another example of “The Long Beach Way” ?