City to extend ban on development along two West Long Beach corridors until June 2023

A moratorium blocking the construction of residential developments along two West Long Beach corridors could be extended after the City Council asked for another 12 months to give planners more time to update zoning in the area.

The existing moratorium applied to the Santa Fe Corridor between Pacific Coast Highway and Wardlow Road and the Willow Street Corridor between the 710 Freeway and the city’s boundary with Wilmington. It was set to expire June 15.

The ban was put in place in June 2021 at the request of Councilmember Roberto Uranga, who said that continued development before new zoning laws are implemented could lead to the loss of valuable space for a grocery store, pharmacy or even a coffee house—amenities the area is lacking.

“We need to activate those two streets, and they need to be developed and be more neighborhood-serving,” said Uranga, who represents West Long Beach.

A city memo said the Development Services department needed more time to continue the community engagement process and satisfy posting requirements before approving the zoning changes.

Long Beach updated its land-use policies in recent years but has yet to implement those changes through all communities, meaning that decades-old zoning laws are currently in effect in some parts of the city.

The Santa Fe and Willow corridors are designated to have up to three stories of development, but new land use plans would encourage using the bottom story for neighborhood-serving purposes like retail or restaurants.

Gilbert Ayala said he purchased a property in the affected area in 2020 with the hope of developing what used to be a parking lot into two duplexes, but before he was able to pull permits for the project the moratorium was approved.

But that was after he spent money on an architect and other pre-building processes, Ayala said.

“I don’t think it’s fair for me,” Ayala said. “I followed all the guidelines the city gave me to follow I think I should be compensated for the money I spent on my property.”

A market study aimed at attracting investment to the area has also not been completed. The memo said that the study is likely to begin in July and could take up to 24 months to complete.

The council is scheduled to approve the emergency ordinance at its June 21 meeting. The moratorium would go into effect immediately and run another 12 months or until the city’s zoning is brought up to date with its recently adopted policies.

However, Allison Spindler-Ruiz, the acting planning bureau manager for the city, said she anticipated the new zoning should be ready to be voted on by the end of 2022.

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