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Council seeks to regulate ‘granny flats’ citywide, upholds decision to build a battery storage facility

City of Long Beach to become home of lithium battery storage facility.

Photo illustration by Jade Inglada

Photo illustration by Jade Inglada

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Long Beach City Council unanimously approved to add a state-of-the-art battery storage facility in the Los Cerritos area.

Battery storage facility

Warren Blesofsky, a representative of Long Beach Citizens for Fair Development, filed an appeal which contends that council should not allow Applied Energy Services Corp — a global power company — to build a battery storage facility in Los Cerritos Wetlands.

“AES does not care about the environment,” Blesofsky said. “They don’t care about renewable energy, they only care about their bottom line.”

Larry Goodhue, Long Beach resident and regular council attendee, was also worried about the potential danger of a battery storage facility. Goodhue and other residents were concerned that the facility is set to be built so close next to residential homes.

“I’d feel more comfortable if they signed an agreement that would commit in writing that his [CEO of AES] family would live there forevermore,” Goodhue said.

An AES representative assured the council that the proposed battery storage facility posed no immediate threat to the surrounding neighbors, and highlighted the success of similar projects.

“This is new technology that is being implemented and embraced around the world in electric grid systems everywhere,” said Stephen O’Kane, director of sustainability and regulatory compliance at AES.

According to councilmember Suzie Price, she and individuals who work on projects like the battery storage facility do live in the area and are not concerned about any potential hazards from the proposed facility.

Accessory dwelling units

The council also unanimously voted to draft an ordinance regulating the construction of “granny flats” on residential properties.

“Granny flats,” legally known as accessory dwelling units, are secondary living units on a residential property — for example, a garage that is converted to a building where someone is able to live in would be considered a granny flat.

These units currently remain under state regulations enacted by California Governor Jerry Brown in 2016. The state regulations allow for more leniency and freedom to residents who wish to build an additional unit.

Fifty-two hundred square feet is the minimum lot size allowed to apply for a permit which also restricts the dwelling unit to two bedrooms, according to Linda Tatum, the planning bureau manager.

Price wanted people to understand that what was being voted on is a response to state regulations that simply do not conform to the city’s needs.

“This is a state mandate that is being imposed on the communities,” Price said.

The council made three amendments, introduced by councilmembers Price and Daryl Supernaw, to the proposed resolution:

  • Reduce from 1000 square feet to 800 square feet for an ADU or 50 percent of the lot, whichever is less
  • Increase 25 percent to 30 percent open space requirement
  • Add preferential parking districts to the parking impacted areas

Since the resolution has yet to be officially adopted, anyone who requests a permit would only have to follow state mandates.

The next Long Beach city council meeting will be on Tuesday Oct. 17.

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