Long Beach could soon purchase a sandy plot of private land on the market at Alamitos Beach and declare it public in perpetuity.

The roughly 9,954-square-foot plot of land is north of the bike and pedestrian paths between 13th Place and 14th Place and was listed for $2 million in 2022 before a price reduction in February brought it down to $1 million. The Long Beach City Council could authorize the purchase of the land for $50,000 on Tuesday night.

“We just decided to put it on hold and let the city buy it,” said Gretta Sheffer Minnema, the listing agent for the property.

She said a potential buyer was interested in the property but backed out after being advised by their lawyer that trying to develop the land would be complicated.

City officials have said that future development of the site would be “difficult and limited” because of the lack of vehicle access and its location on the sandy beach, which would likely require more intensive engineering and approvals from both the city and the California Coastal Commission.

A cyclist rides past a plot of beachfront property that is for sale in Long Beach, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Even if the city approved development of the land, the Coastal Commission (which has jurisdiction over projects in the Coastal Zone across the state) would have final authority, or at least the ability to hear an appeal of any proposed development because of the parcel’s beachfront location.

“One way or the other they’d have to come to the Coastal Commission for approval,” said Sarah Christie, the commission’s legislative director.

Christie said it’s possible the parcel already belongs to the public. In California, the state owns the area between the water and the mean high tide line, which is the average height of high tides over a given period. A tide survey would have been required before any development of the Long Beach parcel.

The city owns the sandy part of the beach, aside from a few parcels, including this one.

“It’s moving inward, and if it hasn’t already, it’s going to start causing land that was privately owned to become part of the public domain,” Christie said, referring to rising sea levels.

But even if the land could be developed, the parcel’s small size would limit what could be built there. Just building a single-family home would be “extremely challenging” to get through the permitting process, Christie said.

Then the owner would have to deal with sea level rise, and any new structure on the land wouldn’t be eligible for a seawall to protect it, she said.

“It’s a dubious proposition at best,” Christie said.

The City Council is expected to approve the land purchase to move forward Tuesday night. The total cost to the city is projected to be $65,000, with $15,000 going toward escrow, closing costs and environmental investigations, according to the memo.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.