parking meeting crowd

More than 200 people crowd into the main ballroom Wednesday at the Long Beach Yacht Club to hear presentations about parking at the 2nd & PCH retail development and the adjacent Alamitos Bay Marina parking lots.

There will be enough parking on the 2nd & PCH property for both customers and employees, developers told more than 200 people Wednesday night, and the city is taking several steps to ease parking pressure on the adjacent marina lots, but that didn't seem to allay concerns.

CenterCal Properties, LLC, is just more than a month away from opening the large retail center at the corner of Second Street and Pacific Coast Highway. In the last several months, people with boats in the Alamitos Bay Marina have said they're worried parking in marina lots will be impacted by the development.

At a meeting in May, city officials announced a parking and traffic circulation study for the entire area along Marina Drive from Alamitos Bay Landing to Second Street. Of particular interest to boat owners is the large Basin 3 parking lot across the street from 2nd & PCH.

That city study still is in the works. At the meeting Wednesday, Sept. 18, Economic Development Deputy Director Sergio Ramirez said the study was at the draft phase, but likely wouldn't be done and released until the end of the year or January. He did say there would be no paid parking in the Basin 4 lot, but lots for Basins 2 and 3 likely would eventually see meters for spaces not reserved exclusively for boat owners. 

Boat owners have reserved parking spaces in the lanes next to the marina. But they also use the public spaces for guests, and the Basin 3 lot in particular has been impacted by a Sunday Farmers Market and Craft Fair, with more impact expected when the San Pedro Fish Market restaurant opens there near the end of the year.

Commissioner Tom Mayes prompted applause when he said:

"Boat owners paid for those lots. They should be available for boat owners when they need it… When the lots start generating revenue, how will the income benefit the boat owners?"

Elvira Hallinan, Marine Bureau manager, waited until after the CenterCal presentation and comments from the public before announcing changes to ease Basin 3 parking. She said the Marine Patrol started ticketing cars Sunday that were illegally parked in boat owners' parking (47 tickets were issued), and that enforcement would continue. Starting Oct. 6, the market will move to a smaller footprint closer to Second Street, and talks are continuing to find a completely different location, she said.

Regarding traffic congestion and circulation around the 2nd & PCH development, Hallinan said that the state Coastal Commission had again said it was against connecting Studebaker Road through wetlands behind the Marketplace shopping center. Instead, the city will move forward on extending Shopkeeper Road behind the Marketplace to connect to the stub of Studebaker leading to an intersection with PCH that has traffic signals. No details of that plan were provided.

At 2nd & PCH

Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price opened the meeting — which was before the Marine Advisory Commission — by saying she hoped the presentation would counter "misinformation" that had been circulating. She stressed that CenterCal had met parking requirements in the city's zoning code; a fact CenterCal Director Barret Bradley alluded to several times in his presentation.

Bradley said that there are 1,100 parking spaces on the development's property. Much of that is on roofs and a level below the roof of several buildings, so it won't be visible to passersby. He also said that there would be adequate parking to put all the employees on site — a statement questioned several times at the meeting.

"We will park all tenant employees on site," Bradley said in response to a question from MAC Commissioner Camille Daniels. "We will work with tenants to purchase monthly parking passes."

In response to later questions, Bradley pointed out that Long Beach Transit is adding two more bus stops at the center, there are ride-share stops at both ends of the development and talks are continuing about ways to use public transportation. If all else fails and parking at the center is still overloaded, CenterCal would look at finding offsite employee parking.

Parking at 2nd & PCH will cost, with 90-minute free parking with validation. Bradley and other officials declined to say how much the parking fees will be.

The system has been designed with technology from APS Technology for a "frictionless" parking experience, Bradley said. The system uses cameras to scan license plates and link them to the parking tickets so exit gates can open automatically, and to count cars so signs can tell visitors exactly how many spaces are available where through multiple signs. Roof bridges link the various parking areas to make it easier to find a space.

CenterCal has contracted with LAZ Parking to manage the parking system. That's the same company that manages the city's parking lots and garages. A LAZ spokesman said that the company will have employees on hand to both deal with problems and help people understand the system.

Work on Marina Drive is supposed to be finished on Sept. 30. To help traffic circulation, there is a private road, called Seaport Way as a nod to the late hotel, that connects Marina Drive and Pacific Coast Highway without ever going through a parking lot. Bradley said that road, as well as driveways leading to entrance gates, should eliminate any potential backup of cars onto the public streets.

A grand opening has been scheduled for Oct. 24. Bradley said crews are working to finish interior landscaping now, and between 30 and 40 tenants are working to complete the inside of their spaces.

Whole Foods, at the corner of Second Street and PCH, anchors the center with a 45,000-square-foot store. Overall, the tenant mix is about 50 percent food — grocery and restaurants, 15 percent fitness options, 10 to 15 percent services of various types and the rest traditional retail.

For more information and updates about the city's parking and traffic circulation plan, go to www.thegrunion.com/parking.

Harry Saltzgaver can be reached at hsalt@gazettes.com.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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