OP-ED: Coverage of Bluff Hotel Project Lacks Community Voices

By Naida Tushnet | It’s unfortunate that Long Beach Post appears to be allowing itself to be a mouthpiece for a hotel lobbyist in its one-sided coverage of the Bluff Hotel Project.

The Post’s coverage of the vote highlights lobbyist Mike Murchison’s incredulity with the California Coastal Commission’s unanimous vote and insistence that some version of the project will move forward whether community members like it or not. The coverage centers on Murchison’s perspective and leaves the reader with the sense that a paid lobbyist knows what is best for the Alamitos Beach neighborhood when there is no shortage of voices opposed the project. 

The Post should have reached out to any of 1,100 individuals who signed the petition against the hotel or individuals whose organizations wrote letters and spoke out against the modified project, including Alamitos Beach Neighborhood Association, Long Beach Sierra Club, Los Cerritos Land Trust, Hamilton Home Owners Association, Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community, and Housing Long Beach. 

The assumption that the community somehow shot themselves in the foot is insulting. Community members knew about the previously entitled project and still chose to advocate for adherence to our Local Coastal Program. It’s too bad this decision wasn’t made when the first project came before the coastal commission, but when community groups partnered with Unite Here’s research team this time around, the group presented the commission with such a compelling case that a group of commissioners who are widely diverse in terms of their own interests and political perspectives voted unanimously to deny updates to the project.

Despite their two-year fight to change the project, Murchison indicates that the developer will move forward with its old plan. Debate abounds about which plan is better, and those who find the defeated proposal more appealing have been quick to dismiss concerns around a host of quality-of-life issues as well as the working conditions of the would-be workers in that hotel.

Proponents of the new plan need to take seriously the concerns of the neighboring residents. It is possible to take this project back to city council and request a variance to our LCP for this particular project, but this needs to be done with the input of key stakeholders and residents to ensure the project’s positive impact on the neighborhood.

Naida Tushnet is a Steering Committee Member for the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community

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