July 25, 2008

Liquor, Lots Roil Belmont Shore

By Joe Segura

Towers, parking lots and taco-stand liquor permits raised eyebrows in Belmont Shore this week.

The Long Beach City Council gave the nod to an effort that could eventually lead to the purchase of former 3rd District Councilman Frank Colonna's parking lot in Belmont Shore.

That vote started off the process to set up a new Communities Facilities District for Belmont Shore.

City staff reported that the new district along Second Street would provide a means to finance parking improvements in the Belmont Shore business area by levying a special tax on commercial property there.

Tax revenues and revenue from parking meters have been used to finance various parking and related improvements and to pay debt service on parking meter revenue bonds issued by the city in 1993, according to the report.

The proposal is opposed by the Belmont Shore Residents Association for a number of reasons, including the quoted cost of $1.5 million for the lot. However, the business sector supports the proposal, saying it will lead to important improvements of the area.

According to a city staff report, the proposed new district requires a public review, and a council hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 5 at 5 p.m.

The Parking Commission has identified an additional parking lot located at 189 Park Ave. that it would like the city to acquire and improve, along with improvements of alleyways, the staff report noted. The total price tag has been placed at $5.8million.

An initial effort in March failed to get the required two-thirds vote required by the Long Beach Municipal Code.

At that time, each business property owner received one vote for each acre, or portion of an acre, of land.

"This requirement resulted in those owning very small parcels having the same voting power as those with significantly larger parcels, or those who owned multiple small parcels that aggregated less than one acre," the report said.

In order to remedy that, the council in May adopted an ordinance that amended the code, giving the council members authority to adopt an alternative allocation of votes in district elections.

With a new voting formula possibly getting back on track, the business district property owners are also seeking a new vote on the financial package.

No mas, group says

The Belmont Shore Residents Association is fighting an effort to grant a liquor license for Chronic Tacos.

The license was on Long Beach City Council's Tuesday agenda, but rescheduled to Aug. 5 after a number of residents raised concerns.

They opposed the original Alcoholic Beverage Control license for 3870 Ocean Blvd.

According to association President Mike Ruehle, ABC allows only five licenses in Chronic Tacos' census tract.

"However, it is already oversaturated with 10 on-sale licenses," he added in an e-mail to association members Wednesday. "Chronic Tacos' license would be 11."

Ruehle asserted that adjacent Belmont Shore census tracts are "extremely oversaturated" with 47liquor licenses.

Ruehle also said there are 23 residences within 100 feet of Chronic Tacos, which is described as a stand with no enclosed seating.

"All seating is in an open air, covered patio," he noted. "Their conditions allow them to be open until midnight. Thus the noise impact on neighboring residents of drinking patrons would be serious." Heavy traffic and potential patron-related problems would tax police resources, Ruehle argued.

"The community does not need more drinking drivers," he said. "Long Beach police are already overburdened and short staffed ... (Chronic Tacos') drinking patrons will add to their burden and those of the taxpayers."

A too-tall project?

A Web site for the on-again SeaPort Marina Hotel project site has some details about its upgrade proposals, including new structures that might reach 12 stories.

The newest development group - consisting of David Malmuth of Los Angeles-based Development Services Group and Cliff Ratkovich of Long Beach-based Ratkovich Properties - featured the latest edition of revisions on its Web page.

Readers - visiting its "A Fresh Approach" section, FAQs - are told that "the building heights will evolve as part of the community planning process."

In answering the question, "How high will the buildings be?" the Web site, www.secondandpch.com, declares:

"We don't believe in constructing all buildings to the same heights, which lacks interest and forces a denser, less porous development. We'd like to see buildings of varying heights to create a more visually exciting skyline with one or more buildings as high as eight to 12 stories."

Community activist Melinda Cotton spotted the Seaport Marina Web site.

"Interesting that nearly all the photos shown on the Web site are of waterfront locations with two-three story residences surrounding the water," she said. "And nearly all the other photos and sketches show low-rise buildings, and much of the description mentions only low-rise. Only in one or two places do they disclose they are looking at a 12-story hotel and mention of other eight-story buildings."

Pickup line at the fair

Surf City Nights is providing a free shuttle service for its downtown street fair Tuesday nights from

5 to 9 p.m., in 20-minute intervals.

The pickup service begins at Huntington Beach City Hall, 2000 Main St., in the north lot at Main and Yorktown Avenue. Passengers get off in the heart of Downtown. The last pickup downtown back to City Hall is at 8:40 p.m., organizers said.

[email protected], 562-499-1274

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