Daily 49er

Heads of city fund two plans to improve living conditions in West Long Beach

Gene Kumagai, Contributing Writer

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Residents provided feedback on Livable West Long Beach, a set of plans and projects for improving quality of life near the Port of Long Beach, at a community workshop last week.

“We asked the residents to define what quality of life means to them in West Long Beach,” Brant Birkeland, the planner for Long Beach Development Services, said.

Residents said that access to clean air and water, jobs, goods and services and safe neighborhoods were their top priorities.

Birkeland said that Livable West Long Beach entered its planning stages during the summer of 2014, following a $300 thousand grant from the Board of Harbor Commissioners.

Livable West Long Beach will exit its planning stages in May of this year following the first LBDS community workshop in December 2014.

The plan includes policies for improving air quality and public transportation, separating industrial work from residential areas and creating parks.

“Although we have a ton of plans in place, we haven’t really done a great job of implementing those plans,” Birkeland said. “The implementation [of Livable West Long Beach] is longer term without a definitive completion date.”

Some aspects of the plan are policies that can go into effect relatively quickly, while others are construction projects that could take years to complete.

LBDS is also working on Green Terminal Island, a plan for decommissioning the Terminal Island section of the I-710 freeway and replacing it with a local thoroughfare and greenbelt.

GTI would move freight traffic to different roads and include upgrades to the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility, which manages shipping for the port, said Ira Brown, the city planner for LBDS. The California Department of Transportation supplied a $225,000 grant to fund the planning of GTI.

“The scope of the grant is pretty narrow,” Brown said. “We don’t have enough funding to do any of the engineering or conduct any studies, only coming up with a community vision.”

Birkeland said that Livable West Long Beach and GTI are both city projects, and pulled from existing city efforts.

“Clean streets, clean neighborhoods and other things like that can be taken care of by volunteer efforts,” Birkeland said. “There may not be a responsible party for implementing certain plans and projects.

As with Livable West Long Beach, residents affected by GTI reported prioritizing air quality and environmental protection, Birkeland and Brown both said.

“There’s some discussion of jobs as well, improving quality and having anything we do when we decommission the freeway not have a negative impact on jobs,” Brown said.

Birkeland and Brown both confirmed that residents emphasized the use of drought-tolerant, native plant life for park spaces and the GTI greenbelt.

“Anything we do would be drought-tolerant and native,” Brown said. “But some [non-native] plants would be put in place for the purpose of air quality.”

Interested individuals can visit the LBDS website to find out how they can contribute.

 

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SOURCES

Brant Birkeland, Planner for Livable West Long Beach

(562) 570-6922

[email protected]

Ira Brown, Planner for Green Terminal Island

(562) 570-5972

[email protected]

Jaqueline Medina, Director of Communications for LBDS

(562) 570-3827

[email protected]

WAITING ON

Monique Lathrop, Board of Harbor Commissioners (no response yet; reached out today)

[email protected]

Angela Reynolds, Deputy Director of the Building and Safety Bureau

(562) 570-6369

[email protected]

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