Long Beach is requesting over $1 billion from the state and federal governments to help fund a laundry list of projects that spans from street and alley improvements to bigger ticket items, like replacing the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, as the city tries to capitalize on a funding window that could be closing.
The city’s “priority project” list was published last week in a memo that listed 37 projects totaling over $1 billion. The memo noted that the city is unlikely to receive state funding because of the state’s projected $22.5 billion deficit, but the city is pursuing federal dollars through Congress, which has said it will continue direct spending on cities in this session.
In the past two years, the city has been able to get over $57 million through its representatives in the state and federal governments.
Here are some of the projects the city is seeking funding for:
More park space
Improving park space is one of the largest priorities for the city, with over $142 million in funds being sought. Some of the requests are small, like $1.45 million to complete the 51st Street Greenbelt in North Long Beach, which just received a separate $2 million infusion from Congress in December.
Two other $1.5 million requests would go toward improvements at Bixby Park and toward the completion of the El Dorado Duck Pond project that’s currently underway.
The city is also looking for funding for three larger projects in North Long Beach. Two separate $10 million requests could help fund the Hamilton Loop greenbelt project next to the 91 Freeway and the construction of a public pool at Ramona Park. A $36 million request could fund a major facelift of Houghton Park, including new sports fields, a community building and other renovations.
Several requests are being made for West Long Beach park space. A $39 million request could help the city implement the Livable West Long Beach plan, which includes a host of street and pedestrian improvements and the expansion of some park space, like converting the Terminal Island Freeway into a greenbelt.
A $5 million request could help the city implement a vision plan for an 11-acre parcel of land along the Los Angeles River it identified as potential open space after the City Council voted to allow an old oil wastewater site to be developed into a storage facility against some community members’ wishes.
The memo said the city is working with Los Angeles County to lease the land and the vision process could start later this year. The group opposing the storage project scored a legal victory in October when a judge ordered the developer to conduct a more thorough environmental review before building.
Rebuilding the Shoemaker Bridge
The single largest request the city listed in its memo was for the replacement of the Shoemaker Bridge, which currently routes drivers off the 710 Freeway onto Sixth Street in Downtown. The city is seeking $650 million for the bridge project, up from a previously projected cost of $350 million.
The lanes coming off the bridge cut off Cesar Chavez Park from green space that is rendered unusable by the interweaving of off-ramps and on-ramps. Last month, the city received a $30 million grant to help realign Shoreline Drive, which is part of the bridge project and likely won’t move forward without Shoemaker Bridge being replaced.
Replacing the bridge and realigning Shoreline Drive would add about 5.5 acres of park space to Downtown. The city is hopeful that the 2028 Olympic events being held in Long Beach will help drive funding to this large entryway bridge that will be one of the first impressions of the city as visitors flow into Long Beach for the games.
A new pier in Belmont Shore
Replacing the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier is one of the city’s “8 by 28” projects that it sought to complete before the Olympics come to town. The pier is expected to serve as a viewing station for the sailing events being held in the city, but paying for the project could prove tricky, as it could cost as much as $102 million, according to a consultant report released early last year.
The report said that demolishing the pier and replacing it with the rainbow-shaped design that received community support could cost $86 million, and an additional investment of $16 million would be needed to pay for the retail and restaurant space that community members said were important to include in any re-design of the pier.
Long Beach is requesting $40 million for the pier project.
Funding the pier and other projects in the Tidelands area could be complicated moving forward, since those projects have historically been supported by Tidelands Fund, which relies heavily on oil revenue. A new law could force the city to phase out oil production faster than it expected, which would have a significant impact on the Tidelands Fund. City officials said Senate Bill 1137, which could create 3,200-foot buffer zones between oil operations and sensitive areas like residences, schools and parks, could cost the city about $20 million per year.
SB-1137 was supposed to go into effect in January, but oil industry groups opposing the law qualified a referendum on its implementation for the November 2024 ballot.
Fire Station 9
Long Beach’s Fire Station 9 has bounced around the past few years after its original location on Long Beach Boulevard near Los Cerritos was closed in June 2019 due to recurring mold issues.
The station’s assets were split between two other locations before coming back under the same roof in October 2020.
City Council members approved the plans for a replacement station in January. The two-story station will allow bigger vehicles to park in the station and relocate the station a few blocks north from the old location that was closed due to mold.
The city is seeking $23.1 million for the project and has allocated $6.6 million from its Measure A sales tax revenue toward the completion of the new station.