Councilmember Jeannine Pearce’s proposal to streamline the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) process, making it more accessible for neighborhoods and affordable for businesses, was passed unanimously by the Long Beach City Council.
The agenda item was co-sponsored by councilmembers Lena Gonzalez, Al Austin and Stacy Mungo.
“After talking with business owners both on and off the campaign trail, it became clear that we are working with a piecemeal process that has red tape and inconsistencies,” said Pearce in a statement. “I believe government should work to be transparent and streamlined. This step will allow us to start from scratch, see what other cities have done, and establish a process that protects neighborhoods while also encouraging businesses to grow.”
CUPs ensure that residents have a say in the types of businesses that operate in their neighborhoods, but the permit can cost up to $10,000 with a lengthy, complicated process and no refund if rejected.
The agenda item directs the city manager to work with the city attorney, the Economic Development Commission and the Planning Commission to review and make recommendations on the following:
- Uses which require a CUP
- Efforts to make the CUP process more cost effective
- Streamlining the public noticing process related to CUPs
- Expediting CUP modifications for existing businesses
- Creating a simplified CUP process for existing businesses opening another
- location (or extending hours)
The process also requires that all owners and tenants within a 750-foot radius be notified by mail, which results in up to 2,000 notices being sent on behalf of a downtown business. An estimated 40 percent of these notifications get returned or are never delivered, according to the release.
“We should be looking into ways to reach the public more effectively while also reducing costs,” said Pearce in a statement.
Local business owners, as well as the Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA) and the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce came out to speak and show support for the agenda item, according to Pearce.
“The cost of the CUP application with the added policy that the money is non-refundable if the CUP is rejected almost blocked us from pursuing the business in Long Beach,” wrote Jim Ritson and Sophia Sandoval, owners of 4th Street Vine, in a letter to the City Council.
The discussion will be presented to the Economic Development Commission and Planning Commission and will also be discussed at a Small Business Roundtable hosted by Pearce, Austin, Gonzalez and Mungo where local businesses can provide their own recommendations for how to improve the CUP process.