January 2017 Monthly Meeting Minutes

The January 11, 2017 meeting was called to order by Maureen Neeley, President, at 7:00 p.m.

Attendance

Maureen introduced the board members and special guests: Councilwoman Suzie Price, her Chief of Staff, Jack Cunningham, East Division PD Commander Liz Griffin, Eric Widstrand, City Traffic Engineer, and Meredith Reynolds, Park Development Officer.

Meeting Attendance – approximately 60

Meeting Sponsor

Maureen introduced Alex & Matt Maltezos, Long Beach residents and owners of Mattalou Shoe Boutique located on Ximeno just south of 4th St. Alex encouraged everyone to visit noting that she carries shoes for both men and women that are stylish, comfortable, and affordable. In addition, she supports local jewelry and other craft artists. Thank you to Alex and Matt for sponsoring our meeting! http://mattalou.com/

Special Recognition

Maureen presented Jack Cunningham with a card and gift from the BHCA Board celebrating the arrival of his son Max on December 27, 2016.

Special Guest Discussions

Maureen provided an overview of the meeting agenda with Suzie Price and other guests. Maureen asked the Councilwoman to address plans for infrastructure improvements, progress on noise issues, plans for the Pacific Electric right-of-way (PERoW), crime trends in the Heights, status of the development at 2nd and PCH, as well as any other issues of importance to our community.

Councilwoman Price

Councilwoman Price emphasized that she works very closely with City staff, as a team, to resolve issues and problems in her district. She called on Meredith Reynolds to review the status of the PERoW.

Meredith refers to this project as the “Red Car Greenway” so don’t be surprised if that terminology shows up in discussions and materials. She shared the following:

  • The project is expected to get underway and be completed in 2017
  • This is the only undeveloped park space in the 3rd district
  • Funds for the project come from various sources including from a “matching fund” grant; some funds from Measure A were allocated to this project
  • Monies will not be sufficient to do everything included in the plans; the project will be completed in phases as monies become available
  • The first phase will include entrances at both Park and Ximeno, electrical and irrigation infrastructure, a walking path the entire length, trees, signs, and some vegetation. Final decisions on other amenities such as lights, boulders etc will depend on how the bids come in relative to projected cost vs. available funds
  • Bids should go out the end of February, beginning of March; construction will be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder; approval of the bid should go to City Council in April
  • Construction should start in May and end in September
  • Once completed, the PERoW will be closed for 90 days to allow for vegetation and trees to become established
  • Anticipate opening to the public in December
  • Plans for the park can be found and viewed at our website using this link -- http://mybelmontheights.org/index.cfm/whats-happening/city-projects/pacific-electric-right-of-way-greening-project/

Questions from audience about PERoW

What is happening to the Loma section? Answer: At present there is no funding available.

One resident voiced concerns that the Greenbelt section just north of 7th St was not “up to snuff”; in other words, more money will be spent on the Belmont Heights section. Answer: Councilwoman Price reviewed the history of that portion (part of the Termino Ave drain project; because of that, the County was obligated to restore the park space to pre-construction state). She assured the group that the Greenbelt Heights Association was very involved in the restoration plans and that residents in the area are very happy with the outcome.

Is the Colorado Lagoon project tied to the PERoW? Answer: No. The Lagoon project is separate and scheduled for completion mid-March. Plant selection for the PERoW was made to complement those in the Lagoon; so called “up-stream” plants.

Councilwoman Price – Other Issues

Medical Marijuana

  • The City has spent $2M trying to shut down illegal operations
  • Councilwoman Price continues to have many concerns regarding this issue, particularly youth access to marijuana and the potential impacts on adolescent brain development
  • She noted that THC concentration in marijuana has increased significantly over the years: in the 1970’s concentration was 3 – 5%; today it’s 30 to 40%
  • There has been scant research on the effects of CDD (the medical component of marijuana)
  • In Colorado, 33% of drivers stopped at checkpoints have marijuana in their system to the level of impairment
  • On January 17, 2017 she is sponsoring a Council agenda item to include education and outreach in guidelines for implementing the law regarding legalization of marijuana. Her focus includes: warnings of potential side effects with use of the drug; how to control and monitor youth access, and what to do about impaired driving
  • Those interested in the agenda item can access the City’s website for more information

Infrastructure Improvements

Animal Care Services

  • Major improvements have taken place in both the number of cats and dogs impounded and euthanized; approximately 1,100 fewer cats and dogs were impounded and approximately 700 fewer were euthanized

Parking Inventory in Belmont Heights

  • Parking inventory (not a study) will start in 2017. Funding of $20,000 for the study came from CD3. Data gathering will take place over 1 year (2 seasons) and will include the area from Ocean/Livingston, east to Ximeno or Prospect, north to 7th and west to Redondo. With the data, Public Works will put together an inventory of available parking.
  • Councilwoman noted an increase in parking impacts in BH; stated the neighborhood is “underparked”.

Second and PCH – Marina Hotel Complex

  • Development plans for the site are going through the environmental process
  • The proposed development conforms to current zoning regulations
  • It is anticipated that high-end retail will occupy the space; Whole Foods has committed to an anchor position; other potential retailers include Anthropolgie, Sur la Table, Lemonade
  • In the general SEASP area, each parcel has a maximum “build out” and if the owner chooses not to build out to maximum, those rights are not transferrable to another parcel

3rd and Redondo – 7-Eleven

  • This project is in the 2nd District and that Councilwoman will lead the dialogue; Councilwoman Price is working closely with the District because of concerns in her district about the project.
  • The area is allotted 4 liquor licenses; 8 exist
  • Two meetings are scheduled to sort through the issues:
  1. January 18 @ 7 pm at Horace Mann Elementary Auditorium – with Council staff and residents
  2. January 26 @ 5:30 pm at Horace Mann Elementary Auditorium – with Council staff, neighbors and the developer

Comments/Questions from Audience about this development

One resident commented on a LA County Study that found that high-density areas had an increase in crime concomitant with an increase in liquor licenses. The resident provided a copy of the study to the Councilwoman.

The same resident provided a copy of a petition with several hundred valid signatures opposing the development. Councilwoman Price indicated that she is not as much influenced by petitions with signatures as she is by community members actually getting involved and coming to meetings.

Homeless Count in Long Beach

  • Councilwoman Price asked for volunteers to help with this year’s homeless count on January 26. Please contact her office if interested.

Eric Widstrand – Traffic Engineer:

  • Encouraged residents to take a copy of the brochure he brought summarizing what the department is doing in 2017
  • Follow-up study to the Broadway “road diet” indicates that traffic speeds are slower (he did not have a specific number), traffic volumes are down 5 to 10%, and more pedestrians are crossing Broadway. Approximately 10,000 to 15,000 cars use Broadway daily

Questions from Audience

With the reduction of traffic on Broadway, are drivers using other neighborhood streets? Answer: Eric did not know but thought the questions deserves study

Resident mentioned that cars don’t stop at the stop signs at the intersection of Broadway and Park. Answer: He will look into the issue

Question about bike safety on Broadway. Answer: The department is reviewing and in the process of approving the bike master plans. Additional bike lanes are planned for the west end of Broadway.

The City intends bike blvds/lanes to be an “8 to 80” network: in other words, safe for ages 8 to 80.

Question about the status of the 6th St Bike Blvd. Answer: The project is out for bid with plans to start construction by mid-year and completion by the end of 2017. The project will minimize changes to red curbs so as to maintain as many parking spaces as possible. NOTE: The BHCA has copies of the specs for this construction, if anyone would like to see them.

Question about the new LED street lights being excessively bright and bothersome. Answer: The Council office has received many complaints. Residents can contact the City re concerns:  Here is the contact for the city staff handing LED lighting: Keith Hoey at 562-570-6586; Keith.ho[email protected]

Commander Griffin – Crime

  • 2016 saw a slight decrease in property crimes from 2015 (although 2015 saw a big increase so the reduction is relative)
  • With the new CA guidelines, criminals will spend more time in jail so we may see a reduction in crime because of that
  • Theft from cars continues to be a problem because doors are not locked and valuable are visible
  • “Fobs” (used to electronically break into cars) have not been found in Long Beach; therefore this method of breaking into a car is not a valid concern in our community
  • When placing a call to the PD, you can ask for a call back to find out the status of your complaint
  • “CopLogic” is an on-line system that the department has begun using; the system can be used to file reports
  • East Division PD is the largest in the City
  • In spite of Measure A funds for police hiring, there will be fewer police on the streets this year because of retirements and attrition; training of new police is a 2 year process

Question from Audience

What role does the PD play in determining whether or not businesses are granted liquor licenses? Answer: The PD only provides facts regarding crime stats in the area. They do not weigh-in on the wisdom of granting a particular location a license.

Business Meeting

Board Elections

Elections will take place in the first quarter of 2017. Let us know if you have an interest in serving on the Board. Contact Maureen at [email protected]

PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL BHCA PRODUCTS ARE ON SALE: 25% OFF!! T-SHIRTS, SWEATSHIRTS, AND TOTES……

Upcoming BHCA Monthly Meetings

February 8: Rachael Rifkin on the historic Brown’s Court Apartments and Early Belmont Heights founders

March 8:  Annual BHCA planning meeting.  Help set priorities and form the agenda for the coming year.

April 12:   Congressman Alan Lowenthal will talk about what’s happening in Washington and how it affects us locally (waiting confirmation: check BHCA website calendar)

Other Neighborhood Events

Belmont Heights Book Club.  Meetings on February 19, March 19 and April 9. 15. 

February 23:  Long Beach Heritage Preservation Awards.  Award will be given to the Miner Smith Project.  Queen Mary at 6pm. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.lbheritage.org/index.php/awards/preservation-awards 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 PM.

Some Images from the evening -- 

Maureen, Alex & Councilwoman Price
Jack Cunningham
 
Respectfully submitted,
Dianne Sundstrom, Secretary
January 16, 2016
 
Members enjoying the refreshments and food

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