CSULB Students Might Have Access to Affordable Housing in DTLB

Photo by Katie Rispoli.

For far too long, Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) was relegated to annals of “commuter school,” that space that was often frowned upon by higher academic institutions and wealthy, privileged students because it didn’t give that “true” college experienced.

Of course, undergraduate and graduate student housing is more complicated than that. It’s not just about finding the space but garnering the funds—in a system that had seen one of the worst bouts of economic depression ever experienced in the state of California—and making those spaces genuinely affordable.

Which is why some CSULB students may find a home in DTLB should the city agree to sell a prime parcel on the northeast corner of Broadway and Long Beach Blvd. to developers for $7.8M. Formerly part of the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) dissolved by Governor Jerry Brown in 2012, the property is amongst many throughout the city being pawned off onto to private property developers through the City’s Long Range Property Management Program (LRPMP).

Come this Tuesday, the Long Beach City Council will consider an agreement with a proposal that is an echo of the long-lost Art Exchange development: 141 affordable units for graduate students enrolled in the fine arts program, a mezzanine level student art gallery, and creative office spaces.

As of right now, the average cost of sharing a tiny dorm room on campus with someone costs a student a staggering $1,333.75 a month. Mind you, this includes some food on some level but for students—many of which are marginalized, low-income students since that CSU system caters to that population—but still creates a cost.

Former graduate student Shannon Couey, who achieved her bachelors and masters in English at CSULB and will ship off to Texas this year to obtain her doctorate, noted that living on campus was incompatible with her income (even with loans and grants).

“I was able to get a lease for a full-sized, two-bedroom apartment split with a friend for $1,295 a month,” Couey said. “We qualified for lowered electricity bills, our water was paid, and internet through a cable company was $30 a month. Even with food, I saved significantly and I was able to transit to school for free rather than paying for a parking pass.”

The developer also has plans for an adjacent parcel (at the southeast corner Long Beach Blvd. and 3rd) that includes a 21-story residential high rise complete with 11,459 square-feet of commercial space on the bottom floor. If approved, the developer would connect the projects by creating “paseos and courtyards joined by a new restaurant and retail market in the historic Acres of Books building.”

The $154M project would be funded through a joint venture with Ratkovich Properties LLC (the guys behind the Edison Lofts at 1st and Long Beach Blvd.), Urbana LLC and The Owl Companies.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 19 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.