Sunday, December 4, 2011

Evaluating the Downtown Long Beach Plan

2nd + PCH isn't the only big urban planning story in Long Beach these days. There's also the proposed Downtown Plan. The Plan would allow for taller buildings and more density in a 725 acre (293 hectare) area. The Press Telegram has been covering the major steps in the approval process, including the latest one where the City Planning Commission voted 5-1 to certify the Plan's Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and recommend that the City Council adopt the Plan. The Press Telegram's coverage has featured the concerns of affordable housing advocates who fear that the new rules will pave the way for more gentrification and displacement of Downtown's low-income residents.

To tell you the truth, I haven't made up my mind on this issue yet. I generally support the idea of a denser downtown, especially since it is already a place with good transit service, mixed land uses that give people walking opportunities, and ever-improving bike infrastructure. On the other hand, I also fear unbridled gentrification in the absence of some strategy to avoid the displacement of folks with lower incomes.

So since I don't have a strong opinion on this yet I thought I'd just share some resources in case people want to dig into this further themselves:

Link to the Downtown Plan EIR
Link to the Planning Commission's Website (video of the meeting may be available later)
Downtown Long Beach Associates article in favor
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (has criticized the plan over the affordable housing issue)

If you have an opinion on this I'd be glad to hear it in the comments section.

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