pool hearing before planning (copy)

Opponents lined up to testify before the Planning Commission in 2017 about the Belmont Beach and Aquatic Center.

A first step to approving a reduced Belmont Beach and Aquatics Center takes place Thursday, Dec. 19, with a hearing before the Long Beach Planning Commission.

A glitch in the city's computer system last Friday made it appear temporarily that the hearing had been cancelled, Christopher Koontz, Planning Bureau manager, said. That prompted Kerrie Aley, who calls herself a community advocate, to question whether the hearing had been properly noticed.

Aley said one notice was sent Friday cancelling the meeting. When another notice was sent saying the meeting was rescheduled on the original date, another 10-day notification period should have kicked in. That notice was sent on Saturday, Dec. 15.

"The hearing is happening," Koontz said via email Tuesday. "The matter was noticed by mail and at the site two-weeks in advance. There was a computer glitch late Friday and staff came in to the city Saturday, it was resolved Saturday afternoon. The email reminders went out Monday morning."

The Belmont pool saga has been ongoing for six years — since the original Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool was deemed a seismic risk and demolished. An expansive new design was approved by the City Council, but stalled in the face of concerns from staff of the California Coastal Commission.

Early this month, the city unveiled a new design, saying it had been prepared after consultations with the Coastal Commission staff. The most significant changes were making it a totally outdoors facility and moving it back from the water's edge to address expected sea level rise.

It also enhances the diving facility to the point where it could host the 2028 Olympics diving competitions, according to a memo from acting City Manager Tom Modica to the City Council. The new facility would cost about $85 million to build, compared to $145 million for the original design.

Thursday's hearing, which starts at 5 p.m. in the Bob Foster Civic Chambers, is to consider addendums to the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and amendments to previously approved Local Coastal Plan, zoning codes and other permits. The staff recommendation is to have the commission recommend those changes to the City Council, which has the jurisdiction to actually make the changes.

Modica said last week that the goal is to have the new proposal before the Coastal Commission at its February meeting, which will take place in Long Beach.

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

NOTE: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Kerrie Aley's name.

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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