Two major corridors in West Long Beach are officially getting rezoned to allow for more commercial and residential development after the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve changes that will update building rules in the area that were decades old.
The city’s Planning Commission forwarded the proposed zoning rules to the council last month, which will require commercial development in future projects on some stretches of the Santa Fe Avenue and Willow Street corridors.
A nearly two-year-old building moratorium was set to expire in June, which the council had adopted to allow city planning officials time to meet with residents and rework building rules in the area to better serve the community by requiring commercial space along them, and to create incentives for things like grocery stores and banks.
The new zoning will create two new zones along the corridor. One (MU1-A) will allow for 100% residential projects, while the other (MU1-B) will have a mandate that the commercial uses be part of all future projects.
The MU1-B zones will be at intersections along Santa Fe Avenue at Pacific Coast Highway, Hill Street, Willow Street, Spring Street and Wardlow Road.
Councilmember Roberto Uranga, who represents West Long Beach, said that the vote was a “milestone moment” for the area that had been limited by existing zoning for decades.
“One of the reasons we’re not able to develop Santa Fe and Willow is there was no reasonable Land Use Element in place,” Uranga said Tuesday, referring to the guiding document for development in the city that was updated in 2018.
While the Land Use Element was approved by the council in 2018, it will take time formally implement those changes across the city. Long Beach planners are in the process of updating zoning in Central Long Beach and recently completed a similar process in North Long Beach called “UPLAN.”
Councilmember Joni Ricks-Oddie, who was a neighborhood leader and member of the Planning Commission before being elected as a North Long Beach councilmember, agreed with Uranga that these plans take time to complete.
She noted the UPLAN process was started when she had zero children and now she has two, but said that like the UPLAN, the new West Long Beach zoning would help ensure that community has access to basic necessities like banks and coffee shops, things North Long Beach lacked until recently.
“This is a future-looking document that makes sure that our communities and neighborhoods have what they need in the long term,” Ricks-Oddie said.
The new zoning rules are expected to go into effect before the end of the current moratorium in June.