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New Density, High Rises Possible in Downtown Long Beach

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The Long Beach Planning Commission is going big this week, with a Thursday hearing for the Long Beach Downtown Plan, a master plan four years in the making that could enable up to 5,000 new residential units, 1.5 million square feet of office space, almost 400,000 square feet of retail space, 96,000 square feet of restaurants, and about 1,000 new hotel rooms in the downtown Long Beach area, according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram. The 725 acres covered by the plan are bordered roughly by the LA River, Ocean Boulevard, Anaheim Street, and Alamitos Avenue. Under the new plan, the corridor between Pacific and Elm Avenues and Seventh and Anaheim Streets could see new buildings as high as 150 feet, or about 13 stories (current zoning allows five stories in that area). According to the P-T, "The plan also allows the city to rezone hundreds of acres north of the shoreline of what are now a mix of residential, industrial and commercial sections into more simplified, largely mixed-use residential-commercial areas."

Public opinion is split on the plan, with affordable housing advocates leading the opposition. Susanne Browne, an attorney with the Legal Aid Foundation, told the P-T that "It seems like a massive 'gentrification' of downtown Long Beach, and we're concerned about existing as well as future residents. Where will they go if they can't afford high-rent apartments or they land in what we believe will be one of the low-wage service industry jobs likely to be created in the future? It doesn't appear the long-term well-being of the majority is even being considered in this process." The plan's proponents, including an organization called the Downtown Long Beach Associates, say that outdated zoning make the area unattractive to developers and that the new plan fixes those issues.

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the Downtown Plan this Thursday, and the environmental impact review is available for public consumption on the Long Beach website.
· Downtown Plan Environmental Impact Report [City of Long Beach]
· Downtown development will it be: A Boon Or A Bane [Press-Telegram]