Long Beach plans to spend over half a billion dollars on infrastructure; here’s where it could go

Long Beach officials released a $520 million public infrastructure plan last week that outlines what the city intends to build, fix or install over the next five years by using a mix of grants, external tax revenue and potentially issuing bonds.

Most of the funding is expected to come from outside sources in the form of grants and funds from the county and state, which would be dedicated to projects that improve mobility, like street repairs.

The city is currently projecting $88 million of Measure A funding will be included in the spending plan with another $150 million in bonds potentially being added to the mix if the City Council decides to issue them in the coming months.

The spending plan lists a wide range of projects that city leaders hope to address over the next five years including major investments in city parks, buildings and hundreds of millions earmarked for city streets. City officials say this plan does not include potential funding the city will receive from the Build Back Better plan championed by the Biden Administration.

Here are some of the big investments the city is proposing in its spending plan.

Streets

The city rates the condition of its streets on a scale of 0-100, and the average “pavement condition index” score, or PCI, is 58. Bringing the average city street PCI score up to an 85 would cost $1.77 billion, the city estimates, but the city has spent only $32 million to fix its streets over the last six years, since Measure A went into effect.

The plan calls for about $250 million in repairs for arterial streets, bridges, residential streets, major corridor repairs and a new “slurry seal” team that the city hopes can help prolong the life of streets. To do that the city will rely heavily on outside revenue sources ($283 million) including federal, state and county tax revenue and grants.

A large component of the spending plan is the City Council issuing $150 million in bonds backed by Measure A funds to supplement spending on streets and public infrastructure over the next five years. The spending could bring city street PCI scores to 60, a city memo said earlier this year.

Major corridors including Studebaker Road, Artesia Boulevard and Anaheim Street could see complete rebuilds to improve traffic flow and safety for pedestrians and cyclists. Officials are proposing $1 million for the design and implementation of the LGTBQ cultural corridor project advanced by the City Council earlier this year.

The improvements won’t be just for vehicles. Some already funded projects could finally be put in motion in the coming years. Two projects that are being paid for with Caltrans money will expand bike infrastructure on Pine and Pacific avenues Downtown.

A separate $8 million plan, also primarily funded through CalTrans, could improve the walkability of Downtown and also improve safety for pedestrians as the width of crosswalks are shortened through curb extensions along with other safety improvements.

The city is also expected to spend about $38 million over the next five years on ADA improvements that are mandated under a court order due to a lawsuit the city settled in 2017.

A city map showing projects it plans to complete over the next five years.

Parks

The plan lists over $40 million in proposed improvements to city parks that range from upgrading fields and community gardens to installing new pickleball courts at multiple locations.

More artificial turf fields could be installed at city parks with Heartwell Park ($2 million) being identified as an install site and another $300,000 in the plan being proposed for planning for another turf field at Houghton Park in North Long Beach.

Some of the city’s spending plan will address recent initiatives to invest in different cultures represented in the city. A proposed $4 million could go toward establishing a Latino cultural center at Cesar Chavez Park.

Another $450,000 is slated to go toward completing the Killing Fields Memorial dedicated to the victims of the Khmer Rouge genocide. The project, located in Central Long Beach, broke ground in 2020.

One of the largest allocations of funding will be the money being spent to renovate MacArthur Park. The city is proposing $9 million toward fixing up the Central Long Beach park. It received $8.5 million in state funding for the project last year but had to chip in some of its own money as matching funds.

A long-awaited tidal channel connecting Colorado Lagoon with Marine Stadium is also expected to break ground later this year. The $30.8 million project is largely being paid for through $26 million in mitigation credits that the Port of Long Beach approved in 2019.

Finally, in a sign that North Long Beach could be getting its own community pool in the future, the city is proposing half a million dollars toward the design and entitlements for building a new pool at Ramona Park.

The park was identified as a potential landing place for a new public pool earlier this year with the cost of building it estimated at about $10 million. The infrastructure plan doesn’t include funding for the build-out of the pool and the city said that it would explore multiple funding sources if the City Council decides to move forward with the project.

Facilities 

Over $50 million is proposed to improve city facilities. The Expo Arts Center in Bixby Knolls could get $700,000 for improvements including for the African American Cultural Center, which has been set up at the center since 2021.

Another $4 million is projected to go toward improving the city’s Senior Center on Fourth Street and about $9 million is being suggested for homeless services.

About half ($4 million) could go toward repairs at the city’s Multi-Service Center, the heart of the the city’s homeless services infrastructure, and $5 million could go toward the purchase of another motel to house people experiencing homelessness.

The city has applied for additional state grant funding that could allow it to buy more motels and build tiny homes at the Multi-Service Center in the future.

Improvements to police and fire department buildings make up the bulk of the proposed facility investments with about $23.5 million currently being proposed for fixes to multiple fire stations and a complete rebuild of the police academy building ($13.7 million).

One of the largest projects the city is expected to take on in the near future is not listed in the infrastructure plan. The Belmont Beach and Aquatics Center, which city officials say could cost over $100 million, is expected to break ground next year.

The city already approved a construction management firm for the project but a financing plan to cover the gap between the total cost and the $61 million in Tidelands Funds the city has for the pool has yet to be presented to the City Council.

Long Beach reveals its budget for the coming year; here are 5 key takeaways

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Jason Ruiz has been covering City Hall for the Post for nearly a decade. A Long Beach resident, Ruiz graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in journalism. He and his wife Kristina and, most importantly, their dog Mango, live in Long Beach. He is a particularly avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the UCLA Bruins, which is why he sometimes comes to work after the weekend in a grumpy mood.
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