Expired permit forces city to halt work on Wrigley greenbelt project for a second time

The Long Beach Department of Public Works halted work on a greenbelt project in the Wrigley neighborhood last week for the second time this spring, this time over an “unintentionally expired” permit, Public Works Director Eric Lopez said.

The project, called the Wrigley Greenbelt Project, stretches along DeForest Avenue from 26th Way to 34th Street on the eastern side of the Los Angeles River. It includes replacing and planting more trees along with adding a walking path, dry stream beds, benches, picnic areas and water fountains.

That work required a permit from the Los Angeles County Flood Control District—something the city had—according to Lopez, but the authorization lapsed, meaning Public Works can’t conduct any grading or excavation on the land until a new permit is approved.

“The appropriate permit approvals are forthcoming and all work (excluding dust control mitigation) will pause until the City and County resolve an issue with the existing permit,” the Public Works Department said in a May 7 update on its website.

This isn’t the first delay. Previously, Public Works halted tree cutting in March following concerns that crews were interfering with nesting birds. The department later released its second report that surveyed the area for nests. The May 3 report found “two nests under construction” and “a completed nest that was potentially active,” but no “bird activity” at or near the completed nest. The report then recommended that crews keep a 25-foot “avoidance buffer” away from the two nests, which belonged to Bushtit birds, to avoid any disruption.

It’s unclear when work on the greenbelt will resume, Lopez said. The delay comes during a tight schedule to use project funding. In 2008, Long Beach was awarded two grants from the Los Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space District totaling more than $1.6 million for the project. The city has until July 15 to use this grant money, according to the department.

“I’m hopeful that this will be resolved in the next week or so, but I can’t say that with certainty because we are working with the county, and they have their own timeline and processes,” Lopez said. “My hope and expectation is that this is resolved expeditiously so that it can allow us to finish our project commitment.”

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Crystal Niebla is the West Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of her grant-funded position with the Post. If you want to support Crystal's work, you can donate to her Report For America position at lbpost.com/support.