Photo of the lower Los Angeles River to illustrate the landscape being discussed in the post

The City of Long Beach is poised to determine the future of the Lower Los Angeles River with two utterly inappropriate development proposals currently shimmying their way through what appears to be a very careless approval process. If you have any interest in the river, the watershed, human life, or environmental justice, now is the time to let the Mayor know your concerns.

Email addresses:
Mayor Robert Garcia mayor@longbeach.gov
Councilmember Al Austin II district8@longbeach.gov

Useful links:
An abundance of resources and information from the Riverpark Coalition – my letter is an adaptation of their fantastic template
A petition to sign
Shocking stats on park inequities in Long Beach
The Lower LA River Revitalization Plan
More on 3701 N Pacific Place
More on 712 Baker Street

You’re welcome to reuse anything from my letter, which is an adaptation of the sample letter from Riverpark Coalition.

Dear Mayor Garcia and City Councilmembers

The Los Angeles River in west Long Beach

I am an independent scholar and the founder/curator of Los Angeles River X. With over a decade of international research and community engagement expertise in river landscapes and their complex interrelationships with surrounding communities, particularly the Los Angeles River, I am writing in relation to 3701 N Pacific Place and 712 Baker St, and the City Council’s overarching responsibilities to protect and improve the lower Los Angeles River.

I have been horrified to learn that under your leadership the City of Long Beach may disregard many years of policy and planning promises to revitalize the Los Angeles River, and with it west Long Beach, in favor of approving inappropriate residential and industrial developments at N Pacific Place and Baker Street.

Mayor Garcia, just a few years ago you yourself wrote to the Senate in support of SB-1374. You said that ‘Long Beach has a vested interest in making sure the Lower Los Angeles River receives adequate funding for the development and revitalization of open space and parks”, you acknowledged the environmental injustices suffered by your constituents in river adjacent communities, and you enthused about the river being “a unique opportunity for open space development [and] urban greening.”

Now, on your watch, 712 Baker Street is moving through CEQA to become a gated private residential development and 3701 N Pacific Place has sidestepped the CEQA process thanks to a Mitigated Negative Declaration granted by your Development Services Department.

The proposed developments on these two important land parcels  are the extreme opposite of what you yourself professed to want for your constituents, and they would lock away two precious tracts of river adjacent land that can and must become public open green space.

Residents in the western half of Long Beach have one tenth of the minimum national standards for access to green space. With a measly one acre per thousand residents and the hyper-industrialized landscape of west Long Beach, it is little wonder that cancer, asthma, and diabetes hit this community harder than many.

Furthermore, the health of the Los Angeles River watershed depends in large part on the policy and planning decisions made by the City of Long Beach. This is articulated in the current draft County Master Plan, the Lower LA River Revitalization Plan, and the RiverLink Plan to name just a few.

I urge you and your Council to use any and all available means to acquire, and thereby protect, the two land parcels before they are built out and lost forever to the west Long Beach community and all who care about the LA River, across the watershed.

The City must begin negotiations in earnest with the landowners to publicly acquire these properties while assisting the would-be developers to relocate their proposed construction to more suitable and less sensitive locations. These lands are too valuable to the City, and the watershed, to lose. The Council’s available mechanisms to do this include:

  • Requiring an Environmental Impact Report for 3701 Pacific Place
  • Denying all requests for zoning changes
  • Denying all approvals and permits for construction
  • Using eminent domain to meet the dire need for green space along the lower LA River
  • Accessing the many millions of dollars available from local, state, and federal agencies for land acquisition and remediation of river adjacent land in west Long Beach

You must do everything in your power to stop the construction and instead bring these open spaces into the public domain before they are paved over and gone to us and future generations forever. You have in the past publicly promised to enact a new greener vision for the Lower Los Angeles River. This is the moment for you to make good on your promises, and I urge you to do so as a matter of urgency.

Best regards,

Tilly Hinton, PhD

8 comments

  1. Dave Hall

    Reply

    Work has been abandoned on expanding Drake Park in Willmore City, as well as the Urban Forest. There is little or no political will to protect the Liwer Los Angeles River.

    • Tilly Hinton

      Reply

      Ugh. here’s hoping the City and County turn that ship around. An ambitious hope I know.

  2. Rae M Gabelich

    Reply

    Thank you Tilly, for writing such a powerful letter to Long Beach Mayor Garcia. I would encourage all to write not only to Garcia and 8th district council member Al Austin, but 7th district Roberto Uranga where the Baker Street high density residential project is proposed. All 9 council offices should be cc’d in your communications. Their votes will determine the outcome! Most of the time, fellow council members will support the will of the district representative, but if they hear a convincing argument – some, sometimes will question and then vote accordingly.
    Stay Tuned! Rae G.

    • Tilly Hinton

      Reply

      Good point about CCing all councilmembers – will do next time. After all, this is citywide in importance.

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