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TAPS hires consultant & City leaves parking out of General Plan

A disturbing number of developments tell us that the City is proceeding with its plans to not just ignore parking but to actively cut down on parking in many areas of Long Beach. We understand the issues but the City's current direction will do a great deal of harm. There are better solutions. Write letters to let City leaders know you want change. Stay informed so you know how you can take further action.

LB TAPS hires parking and TOD consultant. The parking study that was the result of our lawsuits will soon begin, conducted by KOA. We recommended to City staff that they hire someone to oversee data collection, help the City with program implementation, and train City staff. There was some funding in our settlement for this. The City's first response was that they'd use existing city staff. TAPS has decided to hire Mike Kodama to help us communicate with KOA and to help us advocate for change in an informed way. He is a big part of the reason we've gotten this far. He is a highly experienced parking planner and TOD expert. He has experience with City policies across the country.
Parking was purposely left out of City plans.

Most of us are too busy trying to make ends meet to understand the dizzying amount of detail in the many new plans that the City is creating. Even people who understand the process and CEQA are overwhelmed.

Here are some key points.

  • The Land Use Element (LUE) is a part of the City's General Plan. It is not required that they update it within a certain time.

  • More housing is needed for our growing population and to stabilize housing costs.

  • In 2007, a State law was created to reduce greenhouse gases. In 2014, a State law mandates reduction in Vehicle Miles Traveled. The City is trying to meet these goals in its future plans for the City. They will increase development near transit. They will try to assure that goods, services, and employment is near population centers. They will add infrastructure for walking, biking, and alternate modes of transportation.

  • The State laws do not require that the Cities remove parking or do anything that impedes people's access to goods, services, and employment. However, the City of Long Beach is actively doing that even though 77% of our residents work outside of Long Beach. Our City needs a transition period until infrastructure is adequate for people to give up their cars.

CEQA laws (California Environmental Quality Act) require that parking be analyzed where there may be a negative impact to the area from these plans. This was not done. TAPS lawyer has written 2 letters (here's one).

The LUE update added sections on biking, pedestrian, and transit infrastructure but not parking. Staff says parking will be addressed later in zoning, not the LUE. That's fine in theory but what happened with the Downtown Plan should serve as a warning about why it's a bad idea to not include guidelines in the LUE. Those new DTN parking requirements were not based upon data or professional evaluation. Between the removal of parking lots and the inadequate parking requirements, all of those new buildings will add cars to our area's overburdened parking. The City also recently passed the Midtown Plan with lowered parking requirements that were not based on data. They simply said there was adequate parking in the area, a statement that one Planning Commissioner disputed after she drove through the area at 3:30 pm.

City Councilmember Price asked Staff if there were opportunities to alleviate impacted parking with the new development. Staff answered that the new buildings would all have some parking, which is better than the old buildings that do not. In truth, we will wind up with less parking after the development Downtown and the additional cars will spread into neighboring areas. There are many better opportunities for improvement. Some city leaders consider parking to be detrimental to their plans to increase housing density. They've refused to look at the solutions that are working in other cities. Councilmember Supernaw said we have city-wide parking issues and that if we increase density, parking must be improved. We need more like him.

Please continue to watch for updates and contact your City Council members for all of Long Beach. Lowered parking requirements are coming to other areas, too. Tell them you want parking in the City's plans and that parking should be based upon data and professional evaluation of the residents' and business needs. Thanks for you continued support and participation, it DOES matter.
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