The Long Beach City Council allowed two Downtown housing projects to move forward Tuesday night after it denied appeals that sought to block hundreds of new housing units from being built based on environmental concerns.
A 141-unit development that would knock down the Dolly Varden Hotel that was approved by the Planning Commission in November and a 21-story tower that would bring 203 units to the site of the shuttered Long Beach Cafe on Ocean Boulevard were both challenged by Supporters Alliance for Environmental Responsibility (SAFER), but the council denied both appeals unanimously.
SAFER, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that has filed challenges against many developments in the region, claimed the two Downtown projects required greater scrutiny because they were not part of the city’s original Downtown Plan that was adopted in 2012.
That plan envisioned the production of 5,000 residential units in the Downtown area, something the city has already exceeded. The city had previously begun allowing more housing production in the area because retail and office space included in the plan has gone unused. The city is also in the process of updating the Downtown Plan.
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The two projects are very different from each other, with the 141 units planned for the current Dolly Varden site including mostly “micro-units” that the developer says will make them more affordable compared to other Downtown rentals. It will also include the Dolly Varden Hotel sign, which is a historic landmark, being placed atop the building once construction is completed.
The larger 21-story development will bring 203 units to Ocean Boulevard with the city’s first automated parking facility being incorporated into the facility. If both projects are completed, they’ll include a total of 28 units that will be set aside for lower-income households for a minimum of 55 years.