Affordable housing units may be in Long Beach’s future — and not everyone is happy about it.
The Land Use Element plan has been controversial and long-debated since the announcement to update it over a decade ago, despite many voices against it, Long Beach City Council voted to move ahead with during Tuesday night’s meeting.
The plan, with goals to increase land development for housing as well as in commercial and industrial elements, has received contention from land-owning residents since its introduction. Many concerns from current residents about these housing developments range from an increase in criminal activities to difficulties with parking.
The council held the vote during the meeting, while also allowing those in attendance three minutes to air grievances to the council in regard to the plan.
“Destroying businesses to build residential units is just wrong,” said Carrie Sharp, a resident of Long Beach’s fifth district for 33 years. “Any official [who] puts money before the people does not have a place in Long Beach.”
One major consensus from the Land Use Element’s opponents is the idea that inviting this increase of affordable housing would allow more crime and traffic into their neighborhoods, thus decreasing the property value for future markets.
The plan’s primary goal is to create more affordable housing in the city, working toward building 7,000 units over the next eight years, including 4,000 units downtown, according to Mayor Robert Garcia. In a city where overcrowding is an issue, this element looks to create more housing per person across 800 acres.
Despite the outrage against the proposal, Garcia also noted the increasing level of support in providing more housing in the downtown area, which wasn’t the case a few years prior.
“I am glad that the city has come together and are now behind the idea that, ‘Yes we can and should build in the downtown for new people moving in, for young professionals, for seniors, for students and for working people,’” Garcia said.
One such supporter of the Land Use Element is community activist Daniel Brezenoff, who criticized those who argue lack of parking as a reason to stand against the plan, reminding that parking is not a constitutional, nor a human right.
“When we talk about parking, let’s be honest, what you really mean is you want free parking on your street in front of your house,” Brezenoff said. “But parking is not a human right, your ocean view is not a human right and to live in the city that you had when you were 12-years-old is not a human right. Housing is a human right.”
After over six hours of discussion among council members and testimonies from the public, the council voted nearly unanimously at 8-1 to approve the plan, with the one holdout being fourth district councilman Daryl Supernaw.
Following the vote, the council will prepare a final environmental report set to be completed in about a year, followed by a series of zoning changes set to take places over the next several years.