June 23, 2008

Speak Out on Long Beach Development

By Karen Robes

Long Beach's newest city department is looking to reach out to the masses with some new communication features.

Long Beach Development Services has introduced a new hotline and newsletter and is planning to launch its new Web site in August.

The aim to facilitate transparency and involvement in government, said Craig Beck, Redevelopment Agency executive director and director of development services.

"A lot of the things that we try to do is to get people to come to meetings, get people to be engaged to what's going on," he said. "From our perspective, if there's a large development project occurring, we want to make sure that the community knows about it and can provide input."

The new hotline, 562-570-LBDS, allows callers to get information in several languages and talk directly to a staff member.

A new monthly newsletter includes news items and meeting times for entities such as the Planning Commission and the Redevelopment Agency and lists projects and contact information for the person working on those projects.

The department was created in late 2007 when City Manager Pat West merged the agency and the Planning and Building Department as a way to streamline operations and improve customer service.

"He thought there was a bit of a disconnect between the planning and building function and the redevelopment function," Beck said. "They didn't always work entirely on the same page, so what better way to work on the same page than to get them in the same department and have them work side by side every day."

The department will also focus on the Downtown Community Plan, which will look at addressing mobility, building standards and other issues downtown, and the Long Beach 2030 general plan update.

"To me, (the motto), 'Building a Better Long Beach' is a lot of things," Beck said. "It's not just about hammers and nails, but what kind of planning are we doing for our future."

[email protected], 562-499-1303

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