Baseball park? Bike parking garage? Residents weigh in on Downtown development

By Alicia Robinson, Long Beach Post

Long Beach residents have a wide range of suggestions—some of them conflicting—for what they’d like to see in the Downtown and shoreline areas: more parks and green spaces; family-friendly businesses instead of more bars; more parking structures; housing instead of parking structures; and multiple votes for a grocery store.

The city is overhauling the plans that guide development in those areas, and it’s seeking public input. There was plenty of that at a Saturday open house held at the Billie Jean King Main Library—about 100 people showed up to ask questions and chat with planners, and to write their ideas on sticky notes that were affixed to display boards around the room.

The Downtown neighborhood hasn’t been rezoned in more than a decade, and plans for the shoreline, or waterfront entertainment area haven’t had a full update since the 1970s, according to the city.

City planners and consultants will consider public feedback as they create draft plans, which should be available for residents to see in about a year. After environmental review and any revisions to the plans, they’re expected to go to the City Council for a public hearing in 2025.

Sean Erwin, who moved to Long Beach from New York City about three years ago, used his sticky note to advocate for public bicycle parking structures or other theft-deterring options.

A resident of Alamitos Beach, he often goes Downtown, and he bikes a lot—but at home, he keeps his bicycle in his apartment to keep it safe, he said.

“When I come to a place, I have to just put my bike on the street,” Erwin said. “If the high-rises get parking structures, we should at least get some sort of community structures for our bikes.”

Some of the suggestions for Downtown were better lighting, safety and bathrooms for parks; affordable places for co-working; car-free zones; rent stabilization; more condos to offer homeownership opportunities.

About a half-dozen people suggested a grocery store, both for Downtown and for the shoreline area.

Residents also asked for ocean-centered activities and marine education for kids; a sculpture garden or urban forest around the Port of Long Beach; more walking and bike paths along the waterfront.

Downtown business owner Patty Wirth said she passed by a dog festival at Marina Green on her way to the open house, and that’s the kind thing she’d like to see more of—it was relatively small, and she was able to wander through for free.

Big festivals and concerts require road closures and often bring their own food vendors, which means visitors won’t spend money in local restaurants, Wirth said; instead, the city should use public spaces for more community-oriented events.

Kimberly Lim, who works for the nonprofit Long Beach Forward, said she was glad to see the city soliciting residents’ opinions, because it sometimes feels like the planning is mostly done by the time it’s rolled out to the public.

“Hopefully they’re still actually able to take into account and really hear what the community needs are,” she said.

On some issues, unfortunately, no compromise will be possible.

A note on one of the boards rooted for “Angel Stadium of Long Beach;” inches away, another note firmly stated, “No baseball stadium.”

The city will continue to collect input on the Downtown and shoreline area plans, with an event focused on Downtown to be held this fall. Find information, learn about future events and provide feedback here.

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