Irvine Comes to Long Beach: Agreements After Lawsuit Threat Forces Irvine-Like Development to Become More Irvine-Like

We already lamented the Riverwalk Residential Development Project (Riverwalk) when plans were first announced in April of 2015.

When we first looked at the proposed Riverwalk set for just north of the Virginia Country Club and east of the LA River, we couldn’t help but chuckle: “Are we looking at an Irvine development? Oh, wait, that’s… That’s the 710. And that is the LA River. This is in Long Beach.”

It turns out that parking warrior group Citizens About Responsible Planning (CARP—easy to remember as the fish that no progressive wants in their pond) thought the precise opposite: for this residents group, it wasn’t Irvine enough.

So they sued.

Over this:

 

Riverwalk01

When we say “Irvine in Long Beach,” we mean development that is low-density with excess parking and low chances for its residents to use transit or biking options, along with decreasing overall housing supply. Why? For several reasons:

Let’s have some intellectual honesty here: this isn’t about the environment or “responsible development.” This is about making a place stay the same exact way it is while making more room for cars and less room for people who want a home.

Before getting into actual court, the group eventually pressured the developer to decrease development by 20% and increase parking by 20%—a win that one of their members said wasn’t really a full win because “the sad reality is that the neighborhood is still impacted, less so, but still.”

CARP representing lawyer Jamie Hall of Channel Law Group also added that the decreased development—nixing the third story of all the units—would allow “visitors who go [to the neighboring Dominguez Gap trails] to still be able to enjoy the open space without feeling an entire development encroaching on them.”

Because two stories is just significantly less encroaching than three and more cars using more parking spaces near the wetlands is the precise definition of keeping open space beautiful and green. Gotcha. Hell, even the City is requiring the developer to create a park to the southwest of Del Amo and Oregon Avenue to better connect the Dominguez Gap to even more park space.

So let’s have some intellectual honesty here: this isn’t about the environment or “responsible development.” This is about making a place stay the same exact way it is while making more room for cars and less room for people who want a home.

The previously approved project wasn’t much better: the 10.56 acre project would have had 131 single-family, 2- to 3-story homes with lots ranging from 1,119 sq. ft. to 1,450 sq. ft. (And we’ll remind people to play the theme to Weeds upon entry through the single entrance—yes, single entrance.) The former site of the Will J. Reid Boy Scout Camp with the Scouts having abandoned abandoned it made way for Newport Beach-based Integral Communities to “[remove] of all remaining vegetation, trees, and structures on the site, including an amphitheater, deck, five buildings, two tool sheds, an old mobile home, and a parking lot, after which 30,000-40,000 cubic yards of imported fill would be placed on the site,” according to the draft study.

The worst part? It had been slated for 262 private parking garages for the 131 units along with 40 on-street spots. Now, there will be even further to absolutely never use your bike or feet: that will all increase by 20%. Smaller houses, more garages, less livability.

Let’s get back to that single entrance along Daisy Avenue. The only benefit to it will be the recreational center and pool for the proposed site, giving one the sensation of the best that Irvine tract houses have to offer. And don’t worry, folks: in case of emergency, one more exit will be provided off of Oregon but, unless the world is falling apart, will remain closed. Because we don’t want the outsiders getting inside.

And the HOA has got your back: you will have private access to the LA River (unfortunately without your car due to legal red tape) via a single entrance along the west edge of the development.

All we need now is an Olive Garden and we’re good to go because when you’re trapped here, you’re forced to be family.

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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 16 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. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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