The southeastern gateway to Long Beach—Pacific Coast Highway and Second Street—looks poised to get a lot more traffic, now that two big new housing developments nearby have won approval from the city Planning Commission.
Commissioners on Thursday night approved two proposed developments near the 2ND & PCH shopping center that together would replace a collection of stores and restaurants, office buildings and parking with nearly 1,000 units of new housing and more than 9,000 square feet of commercial space.
The larger of the two developments, by Onni Group, is planned for the south side of Pacific Coast Highway immediately south of 2ND & PCH. It would include 600 units of market-rate housing and 4,000 square feet of restaurant space in two five-story buildings. Businesses at Marina Shores, a shopping center with an empty Whole Foods store as well as a Chronic Taco and Petco, would be demolished to make way for the project.
Across PCH, developer Carmel Partners plans to replace most of the office buildings and parking with a six-story mixed-use development including 390 apartments, of which 17 would be priced for very low-income residents; 5,351 square feet of commercial space; and parking for more than 500 cars and nearly 200 bicycles.
Several people in the audience and attending the meeting virtually said they didn’t think the city had thoroughly studied how the developments would affect the environment, especially the nearby Los Cerritos Wetlands, home to herons, egrets and other wildlife.
“We’re worried about the direct and cumulative impact of thousands of new permanent residents in the area,” Los Cerritos Wetlands Trust Executive Director Elizabeth Lambe told commissioners.
Others, including Seal Beach Councilmember Lisa Landau, objected to the traffic that several thousand new residents would generate.
“Substantial traffic delays have a major impact on the quality of life, which should matter,” Landau said. “Seal Beach residents deserve to have mitigation measures in place.”
City planning staff noted that studies for the Southeast Area Specific Plan, a 1,500-acre swath that encompasses both of the developments in question, considered the impact of more than 2,500 units of housing, and the accompanying traffic, over time.
Representatives of the projects’ developers said protected bike lanes would be added along PCH, Studebaker Road and Marina Drive.
Several tenants of office buildings that will be removed, including domestic violence nonprofit Interval House, worried about where they’ll go; they were promised at least six months’ notice to leave and assistance with finding new space.
Commissioners had questions about issues such as shade trees, bike lanes and bus stops, and what will happen to businesses that need to move, but they ultimately seemed satisfied with the answers and unanimously approved both projects. The decisions could be appealed to the City Council, which would have the final say.
The commission’s approval in April of a separate project adding 281 apartments just southeast of Marina Shores was appealed to the council, which rejected the appeal earlier this week.