The Long Beach City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to deny an appeal from a citizens group fighting a 35-story development planned as part of the Shoreline Gateway project, giving the building another nudge toward finalization; however, the group pledged to fight on.
Long Beach Citizens for Fair Development, the community group that filed the challenge to the project, did so on the grounds that the requested change in scope necessitated a new environmental impact report (EIR) instead of the addendum approved by the city’s planning commission last month.
The project, which consists of two towers—the east tower being the largest and the tower at the center of the challenge—was originally scaled to include 221 residential units and over 6,300 square feet of retail and restaurant space. The addendum granted by the planning commission okayed an increase to 315 residential units and an additional 344 square feet of retail/restaurant space.
Warren Blesofsky, the man who filed the challenge, claimed that the project was not eligible for an addendum to its EIR because the changes made to the project represented new significant impacts not outlined in the EIR, which was carried out for a project with a smaller footprint at the time.
“Let’s just think about that logically for a moment—if you have 220 some units and now you have 315 units, an increase of over 40 percent,” Blesofsky said. “I think it would be logical even for a child to understand that this will have significant impact on traffic, parking, ingress and egress to the building.”
Blesofsky, who also works for the Long Beach-based real estate investment firm Linden River Capital, vowed to continue the fight against the project in court, noting the city has shown a track record of only listening to litigation.
The city maintains that all laws and regulations were followed in granting the addendum to the original EIR for the project.
However, Tuesday’s vote comes on the same day that the city attorney’s office announced the city had settled three separate lawsuits with another community group (Long Beach Transportation and Parking Solutions) that challenged three recent land sales by the city.
The group’s concern was that the former redevelopment agency parcels currently used as parking lots but sold to residential developers would negatively impact an already parking impacted part of the city. As part of the settlement, the city will fund parking studies in downtown and Alamitos Beach, and will also deposit a percentage of the land sales into a parking solution implementation fund.
The 35-story tower, if completed, will become the city’s largest tower and will include a five-level subterranean parking garage that will include 458 parking spaces for residents and visitors.
Mayor Robert Garcia, who reminisced about attending some of the earliest meetings for the project since the Shoreline Gateway Master Plan was first approved in 2007, said the city needed more housing of all kinds, but especially for those looking to work in Long Beach and struggling to find a home in a city with small vacancy rates.
“One of the things I hear all the time from the engineers at Virgin Galactic and the people who are moving in over at Douglas Park is how difficult it is for them to find homes or apartments in Long Beach,” Garcia said. “This is going to provide another opportunity.”