Draft versions of the new development zones that could be implemented along major corridors in Central Long Beach could be available to the public in December as the city works toward completing its “Zone In City Core” project, potentially in early 2023.

The city is in the process of rezoning portions of West and North Long Beach, but the City Core project is focused on the central part of the city bounded Pacific Coast Highway and 10th Street between Ximeno Avenue in the east and Magnolia Avenue in the west.

Rezoning the PCH, 10th Street and Anaheim Street corridors could allow more housing to be developed in the future and prohibit unwanted uses like liquor stores, motels or more industrial uses. Some areas of the city haven’t been rezoned in decades and have existing developments that are out of step with recently approved city development guidelines, officials say.

The project could also lead to other pedestrian improvements and potentially more affordable housing. Part of the City Core area overlaps with the city’s inclusionary housing zone, which requires 11% of new units built to be reserved for affordable housing.

While the zones aren’t locked in, members of the public who spoke at Thursday’s meeting called for more safety improvements to the area, most of which wouldn’t require zoning changes.

Jesus Esparza, president of the Washington Neighborhood Association, which sits at the western edge of the project area, said more grocery stores and lighting would be nice, but a cleaner neighborhood would improve the quality of life for residents.

“What I would also like to see in my community is more trash cans on the corners and big items like furniture, and tires to be picked up on a regular basis,” Esparza said about illegally dumped items. “And the owners of buildings and homes to keep their areas clean.”

Mike Clemson, who lives on the opposite side of the project area, said the city’s new zoning should protect people from being displaced from neighborhoods if new developments are built in the future, and that the sidewalks and streets need to be made safer so people feel safe walking.

“I want there to be a street safe enough where I can feel safe enough to let go ahead of his hand without worrying a speeding driver will kill him,” Clemson said of his 2-year-old son.

The Planning Commission held a study session Thursday night to get a preview of what those zones could look like when they’re made public next month.

The tallest buildings could be limited to six stories in the project area, mostly concentrated along major corridors like PCH, and Anaheim and north-south streets like Redondo and Cherry Avenues. Future development there could range from three to six stories with mixed-use buildings that provide retail on the ground level, according to the presentation.

Five-story developments could be allowed toward the western end of the project along Atlantic and Pacific avenues. That could come in the form of low-rise apartments or condos, it could also be grocery stores, restaurants or other retail developments.

Outside of the corridors, the existing two-story height limit assigned to residential-only areas could remain intact. It could still provide for the construction of bungalow-style housing or townhomes in the future but could prevent more dense buildings from being built inside existing neighborhoods.

“We need dense, tall apartment buildings but that can’t be the sole solution to our housing problems,” said acting Development Services Director Christopher Koontz.

Throughout the process, community members have called for more cultural spaces, community centers and neighborhood-serving uses like grocery stores, cafes and other businesses. Things like auto-repair shops, car washes, motels and dispensaries are things they’d like to see less of, according to city planners who’ve surveyed residents.

The draft zones are expected to be made public in December and the Planning Commission could conduct its first public hearing sometime in January, according to the city. The City Council, which has final approval authority and could change the zones before it approves them, could vote on them by this spring.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.