City Hall and chambers (copy)

City Council meetings take place in the Bob Foster Civc Chambers on the left, next to the new City Hall building, background. 

Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price announced Monday that she will sponsor a bus Tuesday, Jan. 21, to take people from Leeway Sailing Center to City Hall.

That will allow people to attend Tuesday evening's City Council meeting, which is expected to address new plans for the Belmont Beach and Aquatic Center, among other items. A report on the impacts of the Compassion Saves policy at the Long Beach Animal Care Services Center, and rules for short-term rentals such as Air BnB also are on the agenda.

"It is essential to our local government for residents to play a role in our decision making, and the most direct way of doing this is for residents to attend our weekly City Council meetings to make themselves aware of the issues and the discussions, but also to provide their own public comment on the agendized items," Price wrote in the announcement. "This free bus is something I am sponsoring to help make it easier for residents to attend the City Council meeting because everyone needs to be heard on the issues the City is considering."

The Belmont Beach and Aquatics Center has been in the works essentially since the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool was closed (2013) and torn down (2014). An ambitious natatorium with indoor pools and diving well was approved by the City Council, but stalled when its money source — the Tidelands oil revenue — dried up and staff at the California Coastal Commission questioned multiple design elements.

A new design — smaller, all outside and further up the beach — surfaced last year and got Planning Commission approval last month. The City Council must give its approval before the design can go to the Coastal Commission. City officials have said they want the Coastal Commission to consider the matter in February, when it meets in Long Beach.

The Planning Commission approval has been appealed to the council, and a time-certain hearing has been set for 6:30 p.m. That means it cannot begin before that time.

People trying to go to City Hall in general and City Council meetings in particular have complained about parking issues — the most public parking is the Broadway garage, at least a block away from council chambers. More limited parking is available at what is commonly called the courthouse garage.

The bus will be leaving the Leeway Sailing Center, 5437 E. Ocean Blvd., at 6 p.m. Tuesday. There is plentiful parking in the area.

“Every week the City Council hears numerous important topics, and often those topics are deliberated in front of an empty chamber with no members of the public present," Price wrote. "So, I would like to offer a free bus to Third District residents interested in attending the meeting on the 21st. My hope is this will lead to greater community engagement and public participation. This is the first time we have made this offer for residents, so there will be limited seats available for those interested in taking advantage of the free bus ride."

The City Council meeting, which is open to the public, is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. in the Bob Foster Civic Chambers, 411 W. Ocean Blvd. Those who want to ride the bus are asked to register Eventbrite.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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