LONG BEACH — The rustic Belmont Shore pier area is in for some change following the City Council's approval this week of plans for a new restaurant, offices and 15 luxury apartment units.
In a 5-3 vote, the council approved land-use changes which will affect 38th Place, a one-block street near the beach. The proposal now goes to the California Coastal Commission. If approved there it would return to the city for approval of each segment of the plan.
Residents protested that the proposal could double the density on their street, add to an existing parking crunch and block ocean views.
"Please save our neighborhood," Charles Schumacher, 55, told the council in concluding his plea against the apartment complex which would be built across from the seven-unit complex where he lives.
One Owner for All
Some residents said they support the project. Barbara Queen noted that a noisy bar had previously been on the site. With the developer's promise that the same company would own the entire complex, she said she believed neighbors would receive more consideration. The apartments would rent for about $2,000 a month, a spokesman for the developer said.
Mayor Ernie Kell voted against the project, saying that the developer plans to return to the city and ask that the restaurant be allowed to have parking on the beach. To the applause of about 200 people, Kell called such a move "a mistake" and suggested the council stick with the recommendations of lower density originally made by the city's planning staff and overridden by the Planning Commission.
Councilwoman Jan Hall, who will represent the area under a new redistricting plan, backed the project. Calling the area "a bit of an eyesore," Hall said it "has really needed to be cleaned up."
Schumacher, noting on Wednesday that Kell and Hall are opponents in an upcoming mayoral race, said, "What we saw last night was just politics in action."
Kell, Ray Grabinski and Warren Harwood voted against the land-use changes. Hall, Evan Anderson Braude, Wallace Edgerton, Tom Clark and Clarence Smith voted for the changes. Vice Mayor Edd Tuttle was absent.
Dance Floor Proposed
The project by Western Pacific Development of Redondo Beach calls for a 15-unit complex, 2,400 square feet of offices and a 4,843-square-foot restaurant with a dance floor. The apartment building would be built at the south end of 38th Place at the top of a bluff and extend down the bluff to the sand, according to city documents.
The developer requested zone changes because the project does not conform to city height or density guidelines.
But most of the buildings in the area, built before the stricter zoning rules were enacted in 1980, are as tall or taller than the proposed 35-foot-high apartment complex, argued the project's architect, Dwight E. Bennett of Long Beach.
In a presentation to the council, Bennett said the project fits in with "the character of the neighborhood."
Equivalent of High Density
By asking for a 15-unit apartment building, Pacific Development sought the equivalent density of 81 units per acre, an increase from the allowed 48 units per acre. The city's planning staff had recommended a maximum of 12 units--which would have translated to 62 units per acre--but the Planning Commission and the City Council approved the developer's request for 15 units.
The council also granted the developer's request to decrease a 55-foot ocean view corridor to 42 feet.
In other action affecting the area, the council approved remodeling the concession building at the end of Belmont Pier to add a hamburger-type restaurant.
The building at the end of the pier already has a bait and snack shop, but Mickey's Belmont Inc. wants to change a storage room on the second floor into a restaurant, build a deck on the second level and extend the patio on the lower level, according to Carolyn S. Sutter, general manager of the city's Tidelands Agency.