May 8, 2013

And the winner is......

On Tuesday, May 14, the City is fixin to FINALLY select a contractor team responsible for updating the Southeast Area Development Improvement Plan (SEADIP).

Nearly a year ago (May 2012), the City was awarded a $929,000 grant from the Strategic Growth Council of the California Department of Conservation for said plan update. In early 2013, the City solicited bids from contractor teams interested in taking on this project.

After review of the submitted bids and interviews of the various teams, the City is recommending selection of The Planning Center/DC&E. Further, the City has identified up to $299,000 in “matching funds” from the Development Services Fund (SR137) to pay for the preparation of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that will ultimately need to be prepared for this exercise. All told, the proposed contract amount would be $1,228,000. 

Good luck, The Planning Center.

Immediately following selection of the contractor team, there is another Council agenda item which merits discussion. However, that will be the subject of my next post. Stay tuned.....
 

August 15, 2012

Colorado Lagoon Re-Opening Celebration!

The Colorado Lagoon will be opening again soon! Check out the below flier and celebrate with the Friends of Colorado Lagoon!


May 21, 2012

The Shoppes at 2nd and PCH

As has been widely reported, an application to raze the aging Seaport Marina Hotel at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Second Street and construct a retail complex in its place was recently submitted by Seaport Marina, LLC.

The new Project - the shoppes at 2nd and PCH - was described in the application as comprising, "172,000 square feet of first floor retail; 107,000 square feet of second floor retail; 28,000 square feet of second floor office; and a 3-story enclosed parking structure."

Based on the site plans, however, it looks like parking would be available from two structures: a 3-story parking ramp with rooftop parking (offering 1,020 spaces), and a 2-story parking ramp with rooftop parking (offering 330 spaces). Code for a project of this scope would require 1,274 spaces, and this project exceeds that by 76 spaces (parking information and calculations were contained on the site plan; I did not derive this information).

The Project would provide 3.23 acres of open space (30%), and would maintain a 20-foot setback from all streets. It's hard to tell from the elevation sections if the 35-foot height restriction is maintained. If a few building tops exceed it, it isn't by much.

Landscaping is intended to include a "wetlands plant palette" (seaside daisy, pacific coast iris and river birch, amongst others), a "Marina planting palette," (deer grass, flax and Mexican fan palms, amongst others), and a "retail street planting palette" (flax, agava and tree aloe, amongst others). The landscaping includes numerous "wetlands hedges" wherein plants are grown vertically on a "planting screen."

The ground and upper level floor plans are provided below (clicking on the image will open it up in a larger window). As you can see from the ground level plan, Apple has been identified as a tenant in the retail "pod" fronting PCH, in the space closest to Second Street (the Apple logo was also superimposed on a building shown on the "enlarged east elevation" schematic). Based on the upper level plan, it would seem as though this project iteration also includes a Coastal Science Center - which can be found adjacent to the 3-story parking structure.




May 8, 2012

LCWA Meeting, May 9

The next meeting of the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority (LCWA) will be held on Wednesday, May 9 at 3:30 at the Long Beach Yacht Club (6201 Appian Way) in the Skipper's Cove Conference Room.

The agenda and related board report can be found by clicking here.

A few items of note:
  • Agenda item 8: Consideration of resolution authorizing the Executive Officer to enter into negotiations and accept a lease agreement of the OTD parcel. [Editors note: the OTD parcel is the 5-ish acre parcel on the corner of Second Street and Studebaker Road.]
  • Agenda item 10: Closed Session....Consideration of a resolution for possible acquisition of the Los Cerritos Wetlands Steam-shovel Slough in the City of Long Beach (146.71 acres).  [Editors note: The slough parcel is generally bounded by Studebaker and Second Street...and is an absolutely gorgeous wetlands parcel]
  • Agenda item 11: Closed Session...Consideration of a resolution for possible acquisition of the Long Beach Marketplace Marsh in the City of Long Beach (33.77 acres). [Editors note: The Marketplace Marsh is the land swap parcel]

April 24, 2012

Next Wetlands Restoration Plan Workshop Scheduled

The next workshop to discuss the Conceptual Restoration Plan (CRP) for the Los Cerritos Wetlands has been scheduled for Thursday, May 10 from 6:30 to 8 pm. The workshop will be held at the Seal Beach Senior Center at 707 Electric Avenue in Seal Beach.

Per the distributed press release, "the workshop will begin with welcoming remarks. Following will be an update of the CRP's progress that will include a brief presentation of some of the opportunities and constraints of the CRP. The evening will conclude with a workshop activity that builds upon the community's values as identified at the previous two workshops and begins the work of developing restoration alternatives for the Los Cerritos Wetlands."

So there ya go....attend and learn!

March 28, 2012

FOCL Awarded Major Grant Funding!

Great news! The good folks over at Friends of Colorado Lagoon (FOCL) have pulled together yet again and secured major funding for restoration of habitat at the uber-degraded, soon to be restored, Colorado Lagoon!

On March 26, a handful of dedicated FOCLers trekked over to Bellflower and watched as the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy (RMC) Board of Governors unanimously voted to approve FOCL's application for a $500,000 competitive grant (see? Told ya it was major funding!). Per the distributed press release, "the awarded funding comes from Proposition 84 and will be used to support a community-based effort to re-vegetate the intertidal and upland habitat of the Colorado Lagoon's Western Arm, as well as the installation of public trails and interpretive signage."

Those interested in participating in this project should contact FOCL's education program. To find out more about FOCL, click here to check out their website.

Way to go FOCL! Keep up the good work.

February 27, 2012

Conceptual Restoration Plan Meeting

On Thursday, March 8, the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority (LCWA) will be holding a public workshop meeting to discuss the Conceptual Restoration Plan (CRP) of the Los Cerritos Wetlands.

This meeting will include an update of the CRP's progress, and will also include a presentation of baseline data collected thus far. The evening will conclude with a workshop activity designed to incorporate the public's feedback on the restoration site's baseline conditions.

The public is strongly encouraged to attend. Meeting details follow:

When: Thursday, March 8th from 6:30pm - 8:00pm.
Where: Aquarium of the Pacific located at 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802 (Parking in the nearby parking structure will be validated free of charge)

January 31, 2012

A new year! A new SEADIP?

Much to my delight, there is an item on the February 7 City Council agenda which pertains to a comprehensive SEADIP update. As indicated in the City-provided memo, “The SEADIP update should proceed immediately, according to an aggressive timeline that ensures maximum input from community and environmental groups, landowners and the general public. Also input from the California Coastal Commission should be sought throughout the process.”

This is good news.

Updating SEADIP is so very, very important. We need to be taking a big picture look at potential solutions to the traffic problems through the area. By alleviating some of the traffic impacts, we can plan for parcel redevelopment that fosters sensible growth and doesn’t just exacerbate an already bad traffic situation. Further, we can plan to develop the area in a way that compliments, not compromises, eventual wetlands restoration.

These are all good things, right? I think so, anyway.

I also think this is a prime opportunity for landowners and environmentalists to work together and see this through to completion…..much like how SEADIP was created some 30-odd years ago. It was a stakeholder driven process then and it should be a stakeholder driven process now.

In this vein and in the effort of full disclosure, I will share that I was aware that this exercise was “in the works,” as I was contacted by Lyon Communities subsequent to City Council rejection of the Second + PCH Project late last year. We had ongoing, and productive, discussions about the importance of moving forward with a comprehensive master plan for the area, and the general steps that should be taken to get this accomplished. I shared with them my concerns of a subverted public process at the expense of a hurried product, at the same time being acutely aware that this needs to be done expediently.

As with everything, the devil will be in the details….details we will see once this process begins. And begin it must. That’s why I’m very supportive of initiating this exercise. Beginning the SEADIP revision process is vital.

If you agree with me that updating SEADIP is a crucial exercise that must commence immediately, please attend the February 7 City Council meeting and voice your support for Agenda Item 16. Links to the agenda item and location details follow:

The memo accompanying the agenda item can be found here. The City Council meeting will be held in Council chambers (333 W. Ocean, Long Beach), beginning at 5 p.m.

Can't make it to the meeting but want to offer support anyway? Email or call your Councilmember!

December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

I've had more than a few people ask me why I haven't blogged about the Council's majority decision to deny the Second + PCH Project. In short, I "unplugged." I'll post some thoughts soon.

In the meantime, happy holidays.

December 7, 2011

Second + PCH Hearing Scheduled - December 20

Thanks to LBReport.com for publishing the Second + PCH Project hearing notice, which you can see here.

The hearing is scheduled for December 20 at 5 p.m. over at City Hall  (333 W. Ocean Blvd.). The staff report is expected to be available around December 12.

As most people are either out of town, are entertaining visiting family or are otherwise consumed with holiday preparation and festivities, my exceedingly strong opinion is that holding this very, very important hearing just days away from Christmas is an action indicative of an agency unconcerned with trying to effectively incorporate public participation into the decision making process. How very dismaying.

November 30, 2011

The PERFECT Holiday Gift

Don't know what to get that special someone for the holidays?

How about making a donation to the Egrets Not Regrets Scholarship Fund? As you can read about here, I established the scholarship to provide financial assistance to undergraduate students pursuing environmental studies at the California State University Long Beach who have also demonstrated a willingness to give back to their community. The award would help fund a student's senior year of study.

Not only is your gift fully tax deductible, the donation process couldn't be easier! You can donate directly through the University by clicking here, or you can write a check accordingly:

Payable to: CSULB Foundation
Under check memo: Acct #09516800 - ES&P Scholarship

Mail to: CSULB Foundation
6300 State University Drive, Suite #332
Long Beach, CA 90815

Attention: Gift Processing

November 13, 2011

Boondoggle Explained

As posted previously, the Second + PCH Project will be up for approval at the November 17 Planning Commission meeting. City staff is recommending approval of the Site Plan Review, Tentative Tract Map, Standards Variance, and Local Coastal Development Permit.

There’s a whole lot wrong with this. 

First, as stated in Exhibit D, page 5 of the recently released Planning Commission staff report, “pursuant to [City code], the City shall not approve a Coastal Development Permit unless positive findings are made consistent with the criteria set forth in the Local Coastal Development Permit regulations." Got it. Criteria number 1 of these regulations states, "the proposed development conforms with the certified Local Coastal Program (LCP)..." Okay. So to be consistent with City code, the City must be able to say that, yes, the Project is consistent with the certified LCP. Got it. However, the City's response to this (Exhibit D, page 6, paragraph 3) is, "...the proposed development conforms to the recommended LCP text amendment."

The City seems to think that “certified LCP” and “recommended LCP text amendment” are equal and interchangeable terms. They are not; they are two separate concepts. The City makes (non legally binding) recommendations to the Coastal Commission, and it is the responsibility of the latter to change, or “certify,” the amendments to the LCP. Unless and until the Coastal Commission certifies the proposed LCP amendment revisions, the currently certified LCP is still in play. In this case, the currently certified LCP restricts building height to 35 feet and prohibits residential. The Project is not consistent with the certified LCP, and the City shouldn’t be making a positive finding that it is. Yet that is exactly what they are fixin to do. Not good.

Further, since the City can't change the zoning (rather, they make non binding recommendations as to how the zoning should be changed), what they will have practically done is approve a Project that is inconsistent with the current zoning, and then not then change the zoning to address this inconsistency. That isn't good either.

If, following approval by the City Council, someone sues to challenge the adequacy of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), these issues can be folded, quite effectively, into the litigation. Defending the adequacy of the EIR will be challenging enough without adding all of this nonsense into mix. 

Secondly, page 4-5 of the City's October 12 Planning Commission staff report states, “the Coastal Commission will not approve a Coastal Development Permit for any project that conflicts with existing LCP standards. Only after the Coastal Commission approves the LCP amendment will it consider any Coastal Development Permit approval requests for a project that is consistent with the amended standards….. the applicant requests for [approvals] would therefore be postponed until after the LCP/SEADIP amendment process has been completed.” YES, that’s exactly right! The previous City staff report hit the nail on the head: delay project approvals until the LCP amendment process is finished as the Coastal Commission cannot approve the requested permit until after the amendment process concludes.

However, though the LCP amendment process is FAR from complete, the City is now recommending immediate approval of the Coastal Development Permit, with City Council approval tentatively scheduled for December 20. Huh? How did the City go from knowing the proper process a month ago to doing a complete 180 and totally losing the plot a short time later? The City doesn't provide a rationale as to why they have entirely flip flopped their position. This is especially concerning since this new-found path does nothing more than put approval of the Coastal Development Permit in serious jeopardy at the Coastal Commission. 

None of this makes much sense. There are some serious, substantial issues here that need to get dealt with, and it would seem as though the City's desired approach in recommending immediate approval is to "kick the can down the road." Why? Why approve a permit if it won't get upheld by the subsequent decision making body? And why set the legal wheels in motion giving anyone who sues such powerful ammunition? Why? The November 17 Planning Commission hearing should be delayed until there is some resolution to the fairly substantial problems present with approving the project in this fashion.

November 12, 2011

Boondoggle Scheduled....and Merry Christmas!

The Second + PCH Project is going for approval of their entitlement package at next Thursday's November 17th Planning Commission meeting (5 p.m. at City Hall). You can download the staff report (recommending approval of the project), by clicking here.

I, of course, have some serious concerns (and strong thoughts) related to this, and I'll have more on that later. I'm still in the process of digesting the staff report.

However, they did make mention that should the Planning Commission approve the Project, the City Council is tentatively scheduled to hear the matter at the December 20th meeting. That's right....5 days before Christmas they are planning to decide on this Project. How very public participation inducing!

In any event, stay tuned!

November 3, 2011

Environmental Trifecta!

If you have any sort of environmental curiosity and are fixin for something to do, Thursday, November 10 leaves you with many options.

In no particular order (except for the fact that yours truly is speaking at the BSRA meeting, therefore I think that's the hippest place to be, unless you are a heckler, then see options 2 and 3 below):
  1. Both sides of the Second + PCH development will be speaking at the Belmont Shore Residents Association (BSRA) meeting at 6 p.m. at the Bayshore Library (195 Bayshore Ave.). Panelists are developer, David Malmuth, and local activist/Shore resident, Heather Altman (that's me!).
  2. The first public meeting (of six) to discuss the conceptual restoration plan of the Los Cerritos Wetlands will be held at the Seal Beach Senior Center (707 Electric Ave.) from 6:30 - 8:00. Representatives from the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority, Moffit & Nichol, and their subcontractors will be on hand to discuss the process moving forward and to get public feedback. For more information see www.lcwetlands.org.
  3. Mike Evans, founder of the Tree of Life Nursery and native plant guru, will be speaking at the Groundwater Treatment Plant (2950 Redondo....corner of Redondo and Spring) beginning at 6:30. Evans' presentation to discuss the benefits of native plants is sponsored by Greater Long Beach and the Long Beach Water Department. For more information see www.greaterlongbeach.com.
Where to go, where to go?!?

October 24, 2011

Go Native!

On Thursday, November 10 at 6:30pm in the auditorium of the City's Groundwater Treatment Plant, Mike Evans will be extolling the benefits of replacing your front lawn with native vegetation. Read more about it on Greater Long Beach.

October 9, 2011

The Light at the End of the Tunnel Appears to be a Train...

As first reported by LBReport, the Second + PCH staff report is available. You can download the staff report and associated exhibits by clicking here.

Quite frankly, this is just a hot mess. Now, to be sure, I have some wickedly strong thoughts on the matter, but my opinions aren’t nearly as relevant as the contents of this staff report, and the implications of a “yes vote” by the Planning Commission, and subsequently by the City Council.

Where does one begin when there is just so much wrong? I guess I’ll start with the bait and switch.

Though the amendment appears to be specific to Subarea 17 of SEADIP, page 2 of the staff report states that, “development on this project site should reflect the following considerations:

1) The need to redevelop and upgrade the project site
2) Compatibility with surrounding properties
3) Adoption of land use and development standards that would be appropriate for other nearby sites.”

I’m sorry, come again? The City wants development on this site to reflect “…land use and development standards that would be appropriate for other nearby sites?” And, no, that's not a typo, because City staff reiterated this position on page 3 of the staff report, "these amendments would also set standards that could be applicable to other nearby properties for future improvement proposals."

So though the City and the applicant have spent YEARS telling the public that the requested land use and design standards wouldn’t have any “spill over” effects on adjacent parcels, 6 days before the Project is scheduled to be approved by the Planning Commission, the City states that their ultimate intent is to adopt standards which would be appropriate elsewhere. Got it. Rhetorical question for 3rd District Councilman Gary DeLong, the development team and others: still think this Project won’t set a precedent for the area?

Secondly, the City established a “bifurcated” approval process which was not assumed in the Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report (RDEIR). By that, City staff is recommending approval of the LCP/SEADIP amendment now, with subsequent certification by the California Coastal Commission (CCC). Only after the CCC certifies the LCP/SEADIP amendment can the requested Site Plan Review, Tentative Subdivision Map, Standards Variance and Local Coastal Development Permit approvals transpire. In the meantime, the developer twists in the wind for as long as it takes for the CCC to sort through this quagmire. These approvals are continued to a date uncertain.

Certification of an LCP amendment is an arduous, time-consuming exercise that involves a lot of “back and forth” between the requesting City and the CCC. It is not a quick and dirty process, well, dirty maybe, but certainly not quick. And, of course, ultimately the Second + PCH Project would need to conform to whatever provisions are present in the newly certified LCP. For example, once the LCP is certified, the contents of the Project site plan will need to be revised to be consistent with the provisions of that new LCP. As the City stated, they can’t issue an entitlement package for a project that is inconsistent with a certified LCP, so if the applicant doesn’t revise their application package, a consistency issue exists as the site plan, etc. that are currently in play, just won’t work. These revisions take time; time the developers don’t have given the confines of the timeline established in the RDEIR.

The RDEIR assumed that the Project would break ground in early 2013, construction would conclude in 30 months and the Project doors would open in late 2015. This hardly seems to be a viable timeline given all of the very, very, very time-consuming steps ahead. And if it’s not viable, any analysis which relied on 2015 as the Project opening year must be redone (i.e. traffic impact assessment, etc), and “stepped out” to whenever the Project is likely to break ground, which in this case appears to be rather uncertain, especially given that City staff doesn’t even know when the entitlement package will be ready for approval.

So as it stands now, the City is stating that they don’t know when the Project will ultimately be approved but it is going to break ground in 2013. Is it going to pull a Hitchcock and break ground without permits? I don’t think so.

It would seem that as the City is recommending certification of the FEIR, therein stating with certainty that the EIR is adequate and the assumed timelines/analysis are accurate, they surely know when the entitlement package will be approved - it has to happen before early 2013. However, if the City can’t state when the entitlements will be approved, then they can’t state with certainty that the EIR and its conclusions are accurate. Right?

Because what happens in the very likely scenario that the applicant doesn't have permits "in hand" in time for the Project to break ground in early 2013 (the primary assumption in the presumably certified FEIR)? What happens if the applicant seeks approval of their entitlement package in, say, summer 2013? What environmental analysis document would be relied upon? The one in which the timelines and analysis would be stale and incomplete? Good luck with that.

Should the applicant not have their entitlement package "in hand" consistent with the timeframes assumed in the (presumably) certified FEIR, prior to approval of the requested entitlement package, a Supplemental EIR should be produced and circulated for public review and comment. The Planning Commission should add this as a stipulation of approval.

And does anyone think that the CCC is going to get all warm and fuzzy when it sees the City’s recommendation to allow building heights to 150 feet when the area currently prohibits buildings above 35 feet? A slam dunk, it is not. And when if the CCC has any changes to the City's recommended amendment, the CCC-revised matter goes back for review/approval to the Long Beach Planning Commission and City Council. Then back to the CCC for a vote. Round and round and round we go.

Further, the City has made no secret of the fact that they’d like for these standards to be applied elsewhere throughout SEADIP (see pages 2 and 3 of the staff report), so it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the CCC opted to look at this comprehensively, given that master planning is the bedrock of the CCC planning process (thank you, California Coastal Commission).

And what if the CCC asks the City how they engaged the public on the issue of an LCP amendment? The City’s only justifiable response would be that it let the public know the specifics of the requested amendment 6 days before it was up for a vote. That should play well. I’m sure it will go even better when the City tells the short staffed CCC that they need the LCP revision fast tracked, given that the City has a currently non-conforming project waiting in the wings and that Project is assumed to be breaking ground in early 2013.

Oh tangled web.

But let’s assume the City’s LCP amendment recommendation holds as it is written (I don’t for a second believe it will, but humor me). Has anyone bothered to think about what the Project site would look like and if it is even feasible to build in this manner?

They are allowing for a 150 foot building, though that is only permitted on 30% of the building footprint, and that is only allowable if the average building height, spread out over the whole parcel, doesn’t exceed 55 feet. How short do the other buildings have to be to accommodate this, presumably, thin little spire of a tower? And we mustn’t forget that the site needs to maintain 30% open space, and parking structures and the like can’t be used when calculating the average building height. What would a project designed to these specifications look like? No one knows, at least not publicly.

Since the details of this amendment are coming out in the 11th hour, all the public can do is wonder. This is exactly why the amendment language should have been in the RDEIR, and made available for public scrutiny and comment! That it wasn’t simply flies in the face of CEQA.

And then there’s CEQA.

One of the quirky little things about CEQA is that it establishes times lines. For example, certification of the Final EIR (ultimately by the City Council) starts a clock. Aggrieved parties have a certain number of days to file a lawsuit, or the statute of limitations expires. Say someone sues. The applicant and landowner would be identified as a Real Party in Interest in the litigation. So Mr. Malmuth and the Lins would be defending (and funding) a lawsuit for a project that they don’t even have entitlements to build. Ouch. Unless, of course, they didn't sign an indemnity agreement, in which case the Long Beach taxpayers are on the hook for this debacle.

And make no mistake, the EIR isn’t exactly adequate. But that is a post for another day.

Oh yeah, almost forgot, the staff report is internally inconsistent with respect to the City staff's recommended building height: page 4 reflects that staff is recommending building heights not to exceed 120 feet, yet the amendment (Exhibit E, page 5) states that the recommended building heights are not to exceed 150 feet. For purposes of the above post, I assumed that the amendment language was correct.

October 4, 2011

Second + PCH Final EIR Recommends Approval of Alternative 4

Page RTC-7 of the Second + PCH Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) states that, "City staff are recommending approval of Alternative 4 (Reduced Intensity Alternative B), which would limit onsite building height to 6 stories."

Project components of this alternative are as follows (RDEIR p.V-4):
  • 215 Residential Units (a 33% reduction)
  • 125,000 s.f. Commercial/Retail (a 35% reduction)
  • 100 room hotel (same as proposed action)
  • 4,368 s.f. hotel restaurant (same as proposed action)
  • 20,000 s.f. restaurant (1,092 s.f. less than proposed action)
  • 4,175 s.f. science center (same as proposed action)
  • 3,510 s.f. meeting space (same as proposed action)
  • no theater (the proposed action included a 99-seat theater)
  • 219,134 s.f. open space (same as proposed action, Note: this number is inflated as it includes "open space" that should not be counted under SEADIP)
  • 82 feet maximum height* (a 68 ft. reduction from proposed action)
The asterisk (*) after the height bullet point above was provided because, in the FEIR (p. RTC-34), City Staff included the following information regarding their recommended building height  (clicking on the image will open it in a larger window):


It should be noted that Planning Staff has not released the Planning Commission staff report. This information is expected to be available on Friday, October 7. The Second + PCH Project will be heard by the Planning Commission on Wednesday, October 12 in Council Chambers.

September 29, 2011

Second + PCH at Planning Commission Wednesday, October 12 + FIER Available

[Updated to reflect that the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) is now available]

The City has just distributed a notice stating that the proposed Second + PCH Project will be heard before the Planning Commission on Wednesday, October 12 at 5 p.m. down at City Hall.

To establish "aggrieved" status (leading to a right to appeal), you must present oral or written testimony at this hearing; otherwise, you may not appeal this project.

The FEIR is available for download here.

September 15, 2011

Second + PCH Before Planning Commission, October 6?

LBReport breaks that, at today's 3rd district council meeting, Councilmember Gary DeLong informed the audience that the Second + PCH Project is expected to be heard at the Thursday, October 6 Planning Commission meeting.

The Project's Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) has not been posted on the City's website.

August 11, 2011

Executive Director Announces Retirement

Peter Douglas, the California Coastal Commission’s longest-serving Executive Director, opened yesterday's CCC meeting with an announcement that he will be taking a medical leave of absence, effective immediately, and that he will be retiring from his position in November 2011. An official announcement has been posted on the CCC's website and can be found here.

Charles Lester, Senior Deputy Director of the CCC's North Central Coast District Office, will serve as acting Executive Director until a successor has been chosen.

August 5, 2011

Celebrate!

The public is invited to join the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority (LCWA) and its partners on Wednesday, August 10 at 11:00 am. to celebrate the protection of 100 acres at the Los Cerritos Wetlands by the recent acquisition of the former Hellman Ranch property. See flyer below for more details (clicking on the image will open it up in a larger window).


July 12, 2011

Second + PCH + Planning Commission + Nonsense

Kudos to Bill Pearl at LBReport for getting to the murky bottom of the whole will-there-or-won't-there be a Planning Commission hearing regarding the Second + PCH Project on August 18.

You can read his editorial here and the City's response here.

Though the City has stated that the hearing date is not yet set, the development team website and facebook page still trumpet the manufactured hearing date, insisting that attendance on the 18th is vital.

July 11, 2011

Acoustic Tidal Artwalk


Friends of Colorado Lagoon (FOCL) is proud to present the 3rd annual Acoustic Tidal Artwalk to be held on Saturday, July 16 from noon to 10 p.m. Created and directed by Some Things Creative, this free event will be a special evening celebrating art, music, nature, education and the Long Beach community.

Situated on the sand of the Colorado Lagoon in Long Beach, this natural venue offers visitors a unique experience. The public is invited to take off their shoes, dig their feet in the sand and stroll along the tide line, while viewing beautiful displays of visual art and listening to the melodies of local bands and musicians.

Music will kick off promptly at 5 p.m. with tunes from The Clouds, Squarefish, Slushbox, Doze guyz, Program Love and John Kray.

Featured artists include Timothy Dunham, Rick Frausto, Shane Bowman, Amy Tanaka, and Keith Vogt.

While relaxing in the grassy area, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in the Viento Tea Room sponsored by Viento Y Agua Coffeehouse.

Check it out!

July 7, 2011

Restore Hetch Hetchy Valley Fundraiser


This Saturday, July 9 from 1 - 8 p.m. there will be a fundraiser to restore Hetch Hetchy Valley. The fundraiser will be held at the Sunset Beach Community Center (13th Street & North Pacific, Sunset Beach, 90742).

The event will feature an afternoon filled with music, friends, food and fun....all for a great cause! Live music will be performed by The Shake Down, The Road Kill Kings, Jim Quealy, Ghost Shirt Empire and more!

For more information click here.

Unable to attend, but want to donate anyway? You can do so by clicking here.

July 1, 2011

Second + PCH Before Planning Commission?

Displaying just how very well connected they are, the Second + PCH development team has scooped everyone - the media, the City, etc - and announced via an email today that the Second + PCH project will apparently be before the Planning Commission on August 18.

Though the Final EIR will need to have been finalized prior to the Planning Commission meeting, the email from the Second + PCH development team to their email database didn't mention when that would be publicly available.

I'm in the process of trying to cobble together information about this and will post it as it becomes (publicly) available.

June 14, 2011

Green Drinks

No, it's not St. Patrick's Day....it's Long Beach's enviros congregating for some good drinks and good cheer this Wednesday, June 15, from 6 - 8 p.m. at District Wine on Broadway and Linden. So mosey on over.

May 11, 2011

ENR Scholarship Fund

So the Cal State system is likely going to raise college tuition. AGAIN! This really irks me. It also reminds me why I started the Egrets Not Regrets Scholarship Fund - a tuition award for CSULB Environmental Science and Policy students.

You can read more about the ENR Scholarship Fund here.

Please consider making a donation. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

May 8, 2011

Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority Meeting This Week

At the December 9, 2010 meeting of the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority (LCWA), the governing board unanimously voted to award AECOM a contract to conduct a jurisdictional wetlands delineation of the Marketplace Marsh parcel. This approximately 33 acre parcel, located at the southeast corner of Second St and Shopkeeper Road in Long Beach, was "swapped" to the City of Long Beach from private ownership in exchange for approximately 11 acres of a then-City owned Public Service Yard. 

AECOM has finished the work and prepared a Jurisdictional Delineation Report (JDR), and at the upcoming May 11 LCWA meeting (details below), the voting board will be taking action to accept the JDR and its findings. 

So just how much of that 33 acre Marketplace Marsh parcel is delineated as wetlands? Though you can download the whole LCWA board report here (pages 31-34 of the 74 page report), I'll just jump straight to the punch line: 21.80 acres of potential jurisdictional waters (wetlands) of the U.S. and State have been formally delineated at the Marketplace Marsh.

This information will be used to help the LCWA in identifying funds to acquire the Marketplace Marsh from the City of Long Beach. The JDR will also help with the development of the conceptual restoration plan.

And speaking of the conceptual restoration plan….at the aforementioned December 9 LCWA meeting, the LCWA board also voted to authorize the hiring of a consultant or consultant team to develop a Site Restoration and Recreational Improvements Conceptual Plan for 200 acres of the Los Cerritos Wetlands Complex.  

In February 2011, a Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued and three firms – Moffat & Nichol, AECOM and Psomas – bid to conduct the work. Of the three proposals, Moffat & Nichol was ranked as having the strongest proposal, with AECOM second and Psomas, third.  

At the upcoming LCWA meeting, the board will vote to execute a contract with Moffat & Nichol to conduct the work. Congrats and good luck to Moffat & Nichol!

Details of the LCWA meeting follow:
 
Wednesday, May 11 @ 3:15 
Long Beach Yacht Club, 6201 Appian Way

May 5, 2011

Egrets Not Regrets Is Two!

Egrets Not Regrets is officially two years old today! Happy birthday to us!

May 1, 2011

Small Fire on the Wetlands

Small fire out on the Los Cerritos Wetlands this morning. LBReport did a good job breaking this.

April 27, 2011

A Cool Gift Idea

Looking for a super nifty mother's day gift? Check out Gifted Vine! Free shipping on any 2 bottles or more....offer good through May 8.

April 25, 2011

Second + PCH Recirculated Draft EIR Comment Letter

The comment period for the Second + PCH Project Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report (RDEIR) is now closed. Following is the letter I submitted earlier today.

Round and round and round we go.....

Second + PCH Comment Letter Recirculated Draft EIR

April 16, 2011

Naples Improvement Association Meeting - April 20

On Wednesday, April 20, the Naples Improvement Association will be hosting a community meeting wherein the topic will be the proposed Second + PCH Project.

Third District Councilmember Gary DeLong will be hosting a panel of representatives speaking for and against the Project. Questions will be taken from Naples residents in attendance. Yours truly is on the panel.

Details follow:

WHEN: Wednesday, April 20 @ 7 p.m.
WHERE: Naples Elementary School

If you arrive early, you are encouraged to stop by the Naples School Library. The school's book fair is having late hours that day from 5:30-7:00.

April 4, 2011

Blight Makes Right....

Amusing article over on Greater Long Beach entitled, "Blight Makes Right: How-Low-Can-You-Go, Tips for Getting What You Want."

This article is in response to a comment thread which originated here (also on GreaterLongBeach.com).

Check em out!

Second+PCH Study Session - April 7

The Long Beach Planning Commission will be conducting a study session regarding the Second+PCH development Project this Thursday, April 7. The meeting will be held in Council Chambers at City Hall (333 W. Ocean Blvd).

The meeting starts at 5 p.m. and the study session is the last item on the agenda.

The public will have an opportunity to provide comment. The planning commissioners will not be voting on the matter.

March 29, 2011

Podcast Available!

While on my way home from Councilman Gary DeLong's Third District monthly meeting last week, I got a call from Greater Long Beach publisher, Dave Wielenga, asking if I'd do a radio bit with him for KBeach (CSULB's radio program) later that evening. Though I have never "done radio" nor did I have really any time to prepare, I figured I'd give it a whirl.

We were to discuss the Second + PCH Project, as was also the topic at Councilman DeLong's meeting.

A podcast of the interview, dubbed on the fly as "a very special feature named special feature," is available here:

http://kbeach.podbean.com/2011/03/24/special-feature-2nd-and-pch-development-project-with-guest-commentator-dave-wielenga/

Check it out!

March 24, 2011

Second + PCH at 3rd District Council Meeting Today

The Second + PCH development team will be making a presentation at Councilman Gary DeLong's 3rd District Meeting today. Given limited seating at the event and an abundance of interest, the meeting will also be webcast via WebcastLongBeach.com, so those unable to attend can watch online. LBReport.com will also be carrying the live feed (LBReport discloses that they have no ties of any kind to the development).

The meeting starts at 11:45.

March 11, 2011

Commenting on the Second+PCH EIR

The comment period for the revised Second + PCH Project Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) started yesterday, March 10. All comments on the document must be received no later than April 25, 2011. You can download the document here.

Comments can be sent either via email or snail mail, as follows:

Craig Chalfant
Development Services Department
City of Long Beach
333 W. Ocean Blvd., 5th Floor
Long Beach, CA 90802

or

craig.chalfant@longbeach.gov

IMPORTANT TO NOTE:

Comments received on the April 2010 Draft EIR will NOT be responded to in production fo the Final EIR. The currently circulating DEIR states, "...the [original] comments were considered and addressed through revisions to the [currently circulating] EIR where appropriate."

So, should you wish to comment, you should try and do the following:
  1. Go back to your first comments and see if they were adequately addressed in this new DEIR. If they were not, you need to provide the comment again, and also request an explanation as to why the comment was not addressed. 
  2. Review the currently circulating DEIR on its merits (i.e. is the information contained therein adequate). 
  3. If you see information that was in the first EIR that just isn't in the second DEIR, comment on that too, asking for explanation as to why it was removed.

Whereas I recommend conducting a comparative analysis between the first DEIR and the second DEIR, the City doesn't make this a very easy task. Effective yesterday, the City has removed the first DEIR from the "environmental reports" download area. However, I have electronic copies of the fist DEIR. Should anyone want a copy, since the City isn't making it easily available, I will. You can email me at egretsnotregrets@gmail.com and I will burn it to cd and mail it to you.

Sidenote: writing a strong comment letter will not win you an iPad. Sorry.

March 10, 2011

Second + PCH EIR Released for 45-Day Public Comment

The long awaited revised Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR 2011) for the Second+PCH Project hit the streets today, beginning the 45-day comment period. You can download the DEIR 2011 here.

They have apparently decided not to post the Appendices online and if you want to see them, you've got to traipse down to City Hall. Given that there was a huge inconsistency between the text and appendices in the initial EIR, and that the appendices contain infinitely more detail as to the analysis, this decision is a bit illogical. Further, since the text of the DEIR 2011 references specific pages/figures in the appendices, not having the appendices electronically available really makes commenting difficult.

March 7, 2011

Second + PCH Presenting at 3rd District Monthly Meeting

The Second + PCH development team will be making a presentation at the upcoming 3rd District Neighborhood Association Meeting. Details follow:

When: Thursday, March 24 @ 11:45 a.m.
Where: McKennas on the Bay (190 N. Marina Drive) **Note location change**

If you wish to attend, please RSVP to Julie Maleki (Julie.Maleki@longbeach.gov or 562.570.8756).

I would think that there will be a lot of people attending this meeting, so I would recommend arriving early to procure a seat.

The revised Environmental Impact Report (EIR) should be released sometime this week, and will be available for a 45-day comment period.

March 1, 2011

Offer to CSULB Students

In an effort to help "make the Second + PCH Project happen," the Second + PCH development team is now bribing marketing to CSULB students:

As explained by the publisher of LBPost, Shaun Lumachi, on the Project's facebook page, "Students at CSULB have the chance to help us make second+pch happen. All they have to do is join this [facebook] page and comment on the project. And, as a thank you for your interest, we'll be giving away 5 brand-spanking-new iPad 2's! (Subject to rules and regulations. Limit one per person. iPad 2 not yet available)."

I wonder if all commenters will be considered, or just the ones who comment positively?

February 11, 2011

Loynes, LLC vs. California Coastal Commission

Apparently Sean Hitchcock wasn't particularly pleased with the permit conditions the California Coastal Commission imposed and he has decided to take legal action. That's right, he's suing the Coastal Commission.

From the introduction of the Petition for Writ of Mandate:
  1. This lawsuit seeks a writ of mandate directing Respondent California Coastal Commission to vacate Special Condition Number 1, and its subparts of Coastal Development Permit No. A-5-LOB-10-015 that requires Petitioners and Plaintiffs Loynes, LLC and Sean Hitchcock to, among other things, construct an impermeable cap and seasonal pools on Petitioners' property.
  2. In imposing the condition, the Coastal Comission failed to proceed in the manner required by law. The condition lacks any nexus or rough proportionality with the impacts of the project authorized by the CDP and, therefore, results in a taking of Petitioners' property without compensation in violation of the Constitution of the United States and the State of California. Furthermore the Coastal Commission's decision to impose the Condition was arbitrary and capricious and was not supported by substantial evidence in the record.
Based on my quick review of the most recent Coastal Commission agenda, it seems as though this matter was discussed in closed session on Wednesday.

The petition for writ of mandate is below:
Loynes v CCC Petition for Writ of Mandate

February 2, 2011

The Gifted Vine Wine Company

Okay, it's no secret that I think local graphic artist, Stephanie Mallon, is equally creative and talented....she is the one who came up with this very clever blog name and penned the fantastic egret sketches I continually use to adorn this blog! So clearly she's got skills.

Well. Stephanie has a new venture: The Gifted Vine Wine Company!

Steph has partnered with Harbinger Wine (super yummy, ultra-premium, hand-crafted Washington state wines). Harbinger creates the wine and she creates the labels.

And the cool thing about it is, the labels are you-specific! Want to wish someone a happy birthday? There's a label for that! Valentines Day? Happy Holidays? Thank you? Labels! Labels! Labels! She does custom orders too - just ask.

Anyway, check it out...it's worth a peek: www.giftedvine.com

January 25, 2011

Plastic Bag Ban Town Meeting

Fifth district councilwoman, Gerrie Schipske, is hosting a Plastic Bag Ban Town Meeting on Saturday, January 29 at 10 a.m. The meeting will be held at the Long Beach Water Treatment Plant (2950 Redondo Ave., near Spring St. and Redondo Ave.).

Panelists are: the American Chemists Council, Heal the Bay, Surfrider Foundation, Sierra Club and California Grocers. They will be discussing the effects plastic bags have on the environment, issues and concerns with the prohibition of plastic bags, and options for Long Beach.

For more information, contact the Office of Councilwoman Schipske at 562.570.6932, or district@longbeach.gov

January 19, 2011

Bicycle Master Plan Workshop, January 22

Ten years ago, Long Beach created the first bicycle Master Plan. It has been updated and the City would like your opinion!

The City will be holding community workshops with at least one in each council district. Plus, on Saturdays, they are sponsoring neighborhood bike rides with Charles Gandy, Long Beach's Mobility Coordinator, and fun bike rodeos for the entire family (note: I have no idea what a bike rodeo is).

The first Bicycle Master Plan Community Workshop & Bike Ride will be this Saturday, January 22 at Lowell Elementary (5201 E. Broadway).

The bike ride departs from Lowell and runs from 11:30-1:00 p.m. The Community Workshop runs from 1:00-2:30 p.m.

You are welcome to do just the bike ride or the workshop or both!

For questions, call: 562.570.6667 or email: bikelongbeach@longbeach.gov

January 5, 2011

Hellman Acquisition Closed....and a Community Meeting to Learn About It!

After years of trying and many false starts along the way, the 100 acre Hellman Ranch property is now publicly owned by the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority! Hurray!

This parcel is a key piece of the Los Cerritos Wetlands complex. It is located north of Gum Grove Park, west of Heron Pointe and east of the San Gabriel River.

Folks interested in this key acquisition are encouraged to attend a Neighborhood Meeting (details follow):

When: Thursday, January 13 from 7:00 - 8:30 P.M.
Where: Senior Center at the Mary Wilson Library (707 Electric Avenue, Seal Beach)

For further information, contact:
Mark Persico, AICP, Director of Development Services
562.431.2527 x1313, or, mpersico@ci.seal-beach.ca.us

December 18, 2010

LBReport.com

LBReport.com is on hiatus. The site's publisher has always been very supportive of Egrets Not Regrets and I wish him all the best. I hope this hiatus is temporary.

From the LBReport homepage:

Earlier today, after over ten years of continuous publishing (with pauses only for a death in the family and religious holidays), LBReport.com's publisher has chosen to take a short hiatus.

The precipitating event came suddenly and was unplanned: we found ourselves unable to attend an awards ceremony at which our daughter received an award for academic excellence at her school...because we had to get across town to cover a news event.

Although that was the precipitating incident (and we got that story with video, although we haven't run it), the truth is that a number of factors prompted this hiatus.

One of them, known previously only to our closest friends, was an unpleasant afternoon a few months ago in the emergency room at a local hospital attached to heart monitors and discharged with advice we followed in part and disregarded in part.

Part of the disregarded advice was to slow down. We don't know how to do that. At the same time, we're no longer willing to disregard that advice.

There are other factors as well. We'll discuss them with you in the coming days.

For those who wish us ill: we're not going away.

For those who hope we'll be stronger than before: stay tuned.

December 9, 2010

A Very Good Day!

The 20 or so people in attendance at today's Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority (LCWA) meeting heard some very good news!

The meeting started off with a bang when the LCWA staff announced that all documents have been signed for the Hellman acquisition and escrow will likely close no later than this month.

Additionally, the LCWA unanimously voted to accept a $225,000 grant from the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy for the Phase 2/Hellman restoration.

In a subsequent item, the LCWA unanimously voted to authorize the hiring of a consultant or consultant team to develop a Site Restoration and Recreational Improvements Conceptual Plan for 200 acres of the Los Cerritos Wetlands Complex. The subject lands are the 67 acre Phase 1/Bryant property, the 100 acre Phase 2/Hellman property and the 33 acre City of Long Beach Marketplace Marsh (i.e. land swap) property.

The LCWA will be issuing a Request for Proposals to conduct this work, and the selected team will be responsible for collecting the needed data, producing the Plan and engaging agencies and members of the public throughout the planning process. The total budget for this activity is $450,000—comprised of a previously awarded $225,000 grant for Phase 1 restoration, and the $225,000 grant for Phase 2 restoration as identified above.

In one of the final items in a packed agenda, the LCWA unanimously voted to award AECOM the contract to conduct the wetlands delineation of the Marketplace Marsh property, and Buss-Shelger Associates will conduct the property appraisal. The delineation and appraisal have a $30,000 budget (not to exceed).

The conservation effort is moving in the exact right direction, and I hope that the positive momentum continues! Commissioning the production of this Conceptual Plan is monumental, and its significance cannot be overstated.

I have found that one of the biggest obstacles in this conservation process, from a public perspective, is that people look at the Los Cerritos area and have a difficult time seeing its potential. For many, I recognize that it is hard to look at the area in its degraded state and see anything but a weedy, active oil field. Additionally, it doesn't help that the area has been publicly inaccessible for a very long time and the bits of thriving ecosystem that currently exist are largely out of eyesight.

But with more acreage moving from private ownership into the public domain, with the area opening to the public via guided tours, and with production of a conceptual plan, restoration of the Los Cerritos Wetlands is becoming increasingly more likely. Yes, there are still dominoes to fall, but today marked major progress.

It is still a long and difficult road, and I'm absolutely certain that there will be bumps along the way, but today was an extremely positive stride forward. I am entirely supportive of the actions taken by the LCWA and I encourage the public to participate throughout this restoration process.

December 7, 2010

Much Afoot with the Los Cerritos Wetlands....

Anyone thinking that the conservation effort surrounding the Los Cerritos Wetlands has stalled, or is hopelessly lost, should plan on attending the next Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority (LCWA) meeting!

On Thursday, December 9 at 3:15 in the Seal Beach City Council Chambers (211 8th Street) the LCWA is getting a chance to live up to its mission: to provide for a comprehensive program of acquisition, protection, conservation, restoration and environmental enhancement of the Los Cerritos Wetlands area.

The governing board’s four voting members—Chair Gary Delong (City of Long Beach), Vice Chair Sam Schuchat (State Coastal Conservancy), David Sloan (City of Seal Beach) and Patrick O’Donnell (Rivers and Mountains Conservancy)—will be taking action on several items of extreme significance.

If all the votes fall "correctly," the 100 acre Hellman Ranch purchase will be finalized in a matter of weeks, the land swap parcel will be undergoing an LCWA funded wetlands delineation study and real-estate appraisal, the fate of the 5 acre LCWA owned parcel at the corner of 2nd and Studebaker will soon be determined, and $450k has been acquired to start the conceptual design process for restoration of 200 acres of the woefully degraded Los Cerritos Wetlands.

Exciting stuff!

The meeting agenda can be found here. The corresponding board report can be found here.