I was driving down Pacific Coast Highway a couple of weeks ago on my way home from a Wilson High School Class of 1978 reunion planning meeting (you can do the math on the number of years) when I had something of a déjà vu experience. I was looking at the Marina Pacifica Shopping Center, the Golden Sails Hotel, the wetlands, the Marketplace and Second and PCH and I realize nothing has really changed since 1977 when I was entering my senior year at Wilson.
Houlihan’s has been replaced by a much nicer Tantalum, Buffum’s is now Nordstrom Rack and Best Buy and Ulta replaced the Miller’s Outpost store while our beloved Cookie Munchers Paradise is now our beloved Barns & Noble. The once regal Edgewater Hyatt House at Second & PCH is a boarded-up eyesore. Many of the names have changed, but the footprint and land uses remain the same.
Long Beach is a beautiful city we all love and cherish. But the reality is that along this stretch of PCH, we have turned our back (literally) on two of our best natural assets — the waterfront and the wetlands. Seas of asphalt and building masses have become more of a focal point in our community than these beautiful resources.
We talk about the eastside community as having so much potential. That we under utilize our waterfront, things could be so great if we could just update some of our old developments.
Well, that opportunity is finally upon us after more than four years of planning and public involvement the new South-East Area Specific Plan (SEASP) has been completed and will go before the Long Beach City Council for approval Sept. 19.
SEASP has been developed with the involvement of a citizens oversight committee, through an extremely transparent process that has included dozens of public meetings with our Councilwoman Suzie Price, city staff and some of the best planning consultants in the nation.
It is a plan that focuses on protecting and restoring the wetlands, it limits the height and density of new developments, requires adequate parking and mitigation of traffic impacts and will encourage new upscale retail, beautiful residential with stunning views and new hotels that we can be proud to have our friends and family visit.
No longer will each of the developments be separated and isolated. In the future, we will have developments that connect with mixed use residential and retail, walkable streets and open space within the developments and changes to PCH that will make it more inviting for walking and biking.
No longer will the wetlands be ignored. This plan will enhance the wetlands, improve buffers and develop long-term financing for improvements.
No longer will your friends and family have to stay in hotels in Orange County or downtown. This plan will allow for new upscale hotels with great restaurants, retail, waterfront activities and access to Belmont Shore and Naples.
And, if all of that isn’t enough, these developments within SEASP will generate millions of dollars in new revenue to the city through sales and property taxes.
SEASP is a WIN-WIN-WIN for the city of Long Beach.
• The environment wins — with improved wetlands and open space.
• The residents win — with new retail mixed-use development and increased property values.
• The whole city wins — with increased revenue for city services and a new Eastside Gateway.
We should embrace the opportunity to create a more connected and vibrant community that restores and honors the natural beauty of our surroundings. I encourage all residents in Long Beach to embrace and support the SEASP plan and let your City Council representative know. You can do so, by either attending the City Council meeting on Sept. 19 or by sending an email or calling your Council representative. For contact information go to www.longbeach.gov/officials.
Jeff Hoffman is a businessman and resident in Naples.