Privately owned park in West Long Beach up for sale for $1 million; city hopes to save it

A small privately owned park in West Long Beach was recently listed on the market for $1 million and city leaders are scrambling to make sure the surrounding community will still have access to it.

At only 1.4 acres in size, Tanaka Park is one of the smallest parks in the Westside, but it’s seen as a much-needed source of green space—with its playground, walking trail and half-court basketball court—for an area of the city that faces high levels of air pollution due in part to nearby freeways.

Recognizing the importance the park plays in his district, Councilman Roberto Uranga announced on Thursday that he will be contributing $50,000 from his district infrastructure funds toward the effort to purchase the parcel.

“Tanaka Park is a beautiful gem in West Long Beach that should be preserved for future generations to enjoy,” said Uranga.

In a statement on Friday, city spokesman Kevin Lee said the City Council has directed City Manager Pat West to evaluate potential funding sources, submit an offer, and begin negotiations with the property owner.

“The City is currently in negotiations and can’t disclose details at this time,” Lee wrote. “If negotiations are successful, City staff will bring a Purchase and Sale Agreement back to the City Council in public session for review and approval.”

Located at 1400 W. Wardlow Road, just east of Santa Fe Avenue, the park was completed in 2004 through a collaboration between the Tanaka family and former councilmembers Ray Grabinski and Tonia Reyes Uranga (Roberto Uranga’s wife). The parties agreed to a 10-year lease.

The land is zoned for single-family homes, though it is still currently leased to the city, said the city’s Development Services spokesman Rick de la Torre.

The family’s parcel at one time served as a farming location for their business, according to the city.

Due to illegal dumping on the vacant site, the family turned to the city to help with maintenance responsibility.

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Stephanie Rivera is the immigration and diversity reporter for the Long Beach Post. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015.