I’m wondering if any of my other neighbors are questioning City Hall’s belief that high-density development, with its high environmental impact and short on parking spaces, is right for our city?
This belief seems to be a trend in a few major cities around the United States. What I find is that in some cases it’s been successful, but in others, it has not.
Just staying within our own state of California, which I feel is a fair comparison, it’s interesting to see how San Francisco has been grappling with their explosion of high-density development. How first their seniors, then disabled, lower class and then middle class have been squeezed out of the city due to increase in rents and home prices stemming from all the new development.
Very little of it has been affordable, despite promises that it would be.
Santa Monica’s rapid high-density development has caused the residents there to collect 10,000 signatures to get a measure on the ballot. They are fighting their city hall for allowing even more high-density development, which the residents have cited as adding more pollution to their beach city, overcrowding, lower property values and a much lower quality of life. They are tired of watching their city officials turn their city into a high rise, high rent, concrete jungle.
Then there is downtown Los Angeles, which has been facing lawsuits from their residents because developers with deep oil money pockets have been throwing up high density development just as fast, and as much, as one can find a Starbucks on every block. Have you gone through Santa Monica, downtown LA or Hollywood recently? You should try.
So I wonder, with these problems facing these cities in just our own state alone, why would Long Beach want to join in on this? Before one gets me wrong, I’m not anti-development for our city. I’m not suggesting we ‘build a wall,’ keep others out and stop development. As all of us can attest, there are plenty of empty blighted lots that need to have something done with them in and around DTLB. I’m just wondering if this one size fits all high-density development belief is right for our city.
With all this high-density development slated for our beach city, I ask how, and will, it enhance our celebrated uniqueness? Our Visitors Bureau touts Long beach as having a “big city feel with small town charm.” Well, if we physically become just another high density city with overcrowding, more pollution, less parking and a lower standard of life like Santa Monica, won’t our “big city feel” just become a big city? How will our small town charm not get lost in the overdeveloped hustle and bustle of a big city?
Not to mention there is only one Metro line into DTLB that only takes one towards LA, and currently more than 60% of Long Beach commutes by car out of the city each day to work. How is everyone supposed to get around? It’s well known we are not Manhattan, Chicago, DC or Boston when it comes to public transit. “Sorry for the delays” and “we are working on it” just highlight that fact. Who has all that extra time in a day to deal with that?
I love living in Long Beach and I want to see my city grow and prosper. But what I also want is to make sure our city grows and prospers in an environmentally responsible way, not in an overcrowded, polluted, jammed-in, high density, can’t-get-around-town way.
I’m just wondering what real information, data, surveys, etc., are behind Mayor Garcia, City Manager Pat West and others at City Hall’s beliefs that photo coping other high-density cities is right for ours.
Am I the only one concerned with this cookie cutter, high-density for density’s sake thought process that’s coming from our city leaders? What’s about to happen to our city?
This is where our city leaders keep saying they are taking us. Are you ready to live in the new Santa Monica?
Jason Harris is a Long Beach resident.