Above: Southeast Area Specific Plan as updated by the City of Long Beach.
Well, it’s taken well over a decade but the City finally updated the 40-year-old Southeast Area Development and Improvement Plan (SEADIP) and now call it the Southeast Area Specific Plan, or SEASP—and my gods, are people angry and misinformed.
The plan was actually far less dense and housing-friendly than plans that have been brought forth before (one which goes all the way back to 2004 when then-3rd District Councilmember Gary DeLong tried to update SEADIP).
In fact, the increase in housing for the plan is rather dismal: from the 4,079 estimated to exit now to 6,663 at buildout. (Former plans had decided to address the housing crisis and build 9,518 units instead—but that was just too much for the fragile NIMBYs.)
People were just… Not happy:
But what was more interesting than those quips was this comment, apparently given by someone with a degree in architecture:
Ms. Blanca, I want to point out a few problems with your assessment.
The height increase—designated in the areas which have already been developed, two areas to be specific—is from three stories to five. Five stories. A skyscraper, as defined by Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, is no shorter than 100 meters. That’s 39 stories, Ms. Blanca. And if you’re referring to the seven-story caveat in the plan, that is for only two parcels of land, the structures have to be hotels, and the structures can’t account for more than 15% of the parcel.
There are no skyscrapers so stop saying there are.
You smell gentrification? Well, that’s actually the distinct stench of misnomering and misinformation.
Gentrification is a wildly complex beast and, for the sake of this conversation, I will whittle it down into a few sentences. Gentrification involves the cultural and physical displacement of marginalized communities through two means: development coming and literally handing them eviction notices because the land has been bought or will be redeveloped; or, on the other hand, the influx of outside investment in a neighborhood which typically had no previous investment causes a skyrocket in rent and then prompts displacement and the inability for those longtime residents to reinvest in their neighborhoods.
The key thing here is the displacement of marginalized communities—of which the marina-in-our-backyard folks of the 3rd District are not. Secondly, wrecking balls are not coming in to blow away your marina like many poor folk have experienced when a 30-story-plus tower is built upon the home of their neighbors and friends who can’t afford to have internet let alone move.
Also, the 3rd District is the most affluent in the entire city.
This is not gentrification so stop saying it is.
There should have been public hearings? There were, Ms. Blanca. In fact, there were fifty of them.
This is not about a lack of public hearings so stop saying it is.
Creating more housing and commercial space, Ms. Blanca, does not “stiffle [sic] economic growth.” What stifles economic growth is actually a lack of housing and density in urban areas, especially when it comes to an urban coastal community, because it prompts the cost of living to skyrocket and caters to a higher and higher part of the economic stratum while dismissing the ability to create affordable housing or increase overall housing supply. When people spend too much money on rent, every other source of the economy loses.
This is not the stifling of our economy so stop saying it is.
Freeway exits and onramps are the responsibility of Caltrans, not municipalities. These potholes that ruin your car? That issue should be taken up with the agency responsible for them, not used as a non-sequitur to make a point about a land use update.
And let’s just say you’re referring to pot holes on the streets for the sake of this conversation. That has to do with the general budget of the entire city/Public Works Departments that maintain streets—not a land use document which dictates how development along and around streets work. Either way, non-sequitur.
In this comment, you also seem to insinuate that money is being “wasted.” Do you want to know what your constant I-Hate-Anything-New-in-My-Neighborhood sentiment cost the other taxpayers in order to do this new plan because you kept shooting down previous ones? $1 million. Yup, SEASP cost us $1M because the other plans kept getting shot down by misinformers like yourself.
This is not about potholes—especially potholes not under the jurisdiction of the City of Long Beach—or wasting money so stop saying it is.
In other words, don’t fuel misinformation about something that has been battled for over a decade and using soundbites you know nothing about—especially gentrification and density—in order to keep your precious little bubble perfect while the future gets screwed. (And with the plan as is? Well, you screwed the future: no one but the wealthy will be able to live there.)