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Long Beach mulls downtown redevelopment impact

April 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The city of Long Beach is on the verge of finalizing a community redevelopment plan that will change its downtown look and make it more business friendly. But there are concerns that the project will push low-income residents out of the area.

Long Beach leaders have a vision: A downtown that will be a model for international living, a hub for a diverse economy with more apartments and more offices.

Since December, residents in the one-square mile impact have been weighing in on zoning changes proposed in the downtown community plan and its potential impact.

Some say downtown needs more housing for the homeless.

"I am petrified," said Long Beach resident and activist Cynde Soto. "There is a complete lack of affordable, accessible housing."

According to a study by the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, the current plan would displace 75 percent of current residents, that's 24,000 moderate and low-income residents.

"There is not one single unit of affordable housing and no local jobs for Long Beach residents in the plan," said Susanne Browne of Legal Aid.

Councilman Robert Garcia represents part of the impact area. He says there's still much to hammer out to strike a balance.

"Government can only do so much when it comes to market forces and the way developers and property owners have their homes," Garcia said. "At the same time, we're trying to accomplish something that represents everyone."

Legal Aid says they want guarantees for the new construction, including 10 percent affordable apartments, housing subsidies for local workers and 30 percent of jobs for local residents.

City leaders are now in the process of reviewing public input. They will have 60 days to respond to comments before a final environmental impact report is released.