2016. 10 General Plan Update - Land Use in the Heights - Changes Considered

Status of Land Use Element (LUE)/General Plan Update - October 2017

Proposed Plan
Last fall we published an article on the impacts of the City’s proposed update to the General Plan, or Land Use Element (LUE), on Belmont Heights (BH). To summarize, BH is described in the LUE as a “stable, well-maintained” and “very desirable” community. The number one land use strategy for our area is to maintain what is here. With that said, the plan did include some changes that could impact the neighborhood: Heights along both 4th and Broadway (Redondo to alley between Grand and Mira Mar) were raised to three stories; the intersection of Redondo and 7th, considered a transit hub, was raised to four stories (other parts of Redondo remained at three stories).

The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) Comments
The report was released Sept 2016 and the BHCA submitted comments and concerns in Nov 2016. Our concerns centered primarily on assuring appropriate transitioning from higher density, commercial corridors to our single family and historic neighborhoods. As well, we requested the City review certain buildings for historic designation/protection. The BHCA letter to the Planning Department outlining our concerns can be viewed here.

Planning Commission (PC) Reviews
In February 2017 the City released the Final EIR.  As a result of community input, the PC requested that the city planning staff revise the LUE in a way that would more equitably distribute height and density throughout the City. At a subsequent PC meeting they requested more community stakeholder engagement; those meetings were scheduled through the end of October. A summary of the BHCA concerns and the City's responses can be found here.

Revised Plan
The PC request to revise height/density resulted in a revision to the plan that increases the height along 7th St between Redondo and Park to four stories, with carve-outs of 3 stories adjacent to the Belmont Heights Historic District. Current height maps can be viewed here.

Full reports and documents can be found on the City's Planning Department website

We have more work to do reviewing the revised plan; and we want to hear your opinions and comments. Please send them to [email protected] 

Background of LUE/General Plan Update - October 2016
General Plan Update
By Steve Johnson and Dianne Sundstrom
October, 2016

            One of a city’s primary responsibilities is to regulate the use of the land within its borders. The importance of land use policy is rooted in the direct effect it has on the city’s economic development, transportation, design, and historic preservation.

            Consequently, the City of Long Beach’s draft General Plan 2035 includes a detailed Land Use Element. This land use document reflects a significant shift in how the City conceptualizes zoning. Previously, specific uses (residential, commercial, or industrial) were assigned to specific areas within the City. The City will now take a “mixed use” approach to zoning. The new land use Plan sets out fourteen “PlaceTypes”, each with a specified set of allowed uses. The City believes that the mixed use approach provides flexibility in promoting Long Beach’s economic growth, livability, and diversity. In particular, it predicts mixed use will encourage walking, biking, and the use of public transportation.

            To further support a pedestrian friendly cityscape, the City will be using FAR (Floor-Area Ratio) as the measure of non-residential intensity. The belief is the FAR approach will result in developments that are irregular in form with more open space, not simply square boxes built to the edge of the sidewalk.

The following diagram illustrates the FAR concept:

 

Long Beach has 70 resident defined neighborhoods. For the purpose of land use, the city has consolidated these into nine “Community Plan Areas” (CPAs). Belmont Heights (BH) is part of the Southeast CPA and is described as “stable, well-maintained…” and “very desirable.” The number one land use strategy for our area is to maintain what is here.

            The primary PlaceType for BH is “Founding and Contemporary Neighborhood”, with BH being more founding than contemporary. Our secondary, but possibly more significant, PlaceType is “Neighborhood-Serving Centers and Corridors-Low and Moderate.” This PlaceType is significant because it includes the BH sections of 7th Street, the Redondo corridor (7th to Broadway), 4th Street (Redondo to Ximeno), and Broadway east to Mira Mar. The building height along 4th and Broadway has been raised to three stories; the effects of this change would seem to be mitigated by the commitment to using FAR to measure intensity. Also, 4th Street is classified at the “Low” level of the PlaceType in terms of use, with Redondo and Broadway classified as “Moderate.”

The following map shows the planned heights:

            The Redondo and Broadway corridors, however, are on the City’s list of “Major Areas of Change.” Redondo made the list for two reasons: it is an “important north-south transit connector” and it “has long suffered from inconsistent development patterns that undermine its critical transit function.” Across the City, these “stressed corridors”, with the hodgepodge of development along them, are seen as ripe for meeting the City’s goal of becoming more walking, biking, and public transit friendly by having more residential (and businesses that support residential) within a 15-minute walk of public transit. The intersection of Redondo and 7th is considered a transit hub and building heights there have been raised to four stories (other parts of Redondo are three stories). Also, since “properties fronting the corridor have insufficient parcel depth” for appropriate development, the Redondo corridor’s PlaceType is being extended one block (on either side of the corridor) to “allow appropriate infill.”

The following image illustrates a “neighborhood serving center and corridor-low”:

            Broadway (east to Mira Mar) is also considered a transit oriented, moderate use, neighborhood serving corridor. The Plan calls for “carefully planned” development that minimizes impacts and complements surrounding development.

            The General Plan update is warranted and the City’s intentions commendable. It is the implementation that bears watching. In general, it appears there will be little change in land use within our neighborhood. It is the edges, in particular Redondo and Broadway, as well as 4th Street, that we should attend to.

            What Next? Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report are due by November 1. The Planning Commission will review and make a recommendation to the City Council. The Council will conduct a public hearing and render a decision. 

All Plan documents can be found at: http://www.lbds.info/planning/advance_planning/lb_2030/documents.asp 

Land Use Element of the General Plan

Draft Environmental Impact Report

Do you have comments? Send them to [email protected]

 

            

Sign Up!

Subscribe to our email announcements.

Join Us!

Support the association by paying annual dues.

Participate!

Attend our meetings, join a committee, volunteer for a project.

Shop!

Inventory Closeout Sale!