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City Supports Research Park at Navy Site : Development: Council-endorsed plan would also construct a high school and shopping center on soon-to-be-vacated site. Homeless advocates want to use housing.

July 29, 1993|RICK HOLGUIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LONG BEACH — Brushing aside protests from homeless advocates, the City Council has thrown its support behind plans to build a university-related research park, a high school and a shopping center on federal property in Long Beach that the U.S. Navy will soon vacate.

The Navy has final say over what will replace the Long Beach Naval Hospital, the Savannah and Cabrillo housing projects and parts of the Long Beach Naval Station, which will be closed by Sept. 30, 1994, and declared surplus.

But the City Council's endorsement is expected to carry considerable weight in coming months as Navy officials sort out competing proposals, including a plan to use part of the property to house the homeless.

The council majority said Tuesday that the research park, shopping center and schools would best serve the city by helping to create thousands of jobs, tax revenue and other economic activity that will be lost when the Navy leaves.

By the time the Naval Station and related facilities close, Long Beach will have lost about 17,000 military and 1,300 civilian jobs and about $1 billion a year in economic benefits, city officials estimate.

The council-approved plan also includes a proposal by the city's Harbor Department to acquire some of the Naval Station for its cargo operations.

"We have to provide job opportunities, and we have to provide educational activities," Mayor Ernie Kell said before the council approved the plan on a 6-2 vote. Councilman Douglas S. Drummond was absent.

Councilmen Warren Harwood and Alan S. Lowenthal opposed the plan because it does not provide housing for the homeless. The Navy housing would be razed.

"This is an outrage to destroy that housing in the midst of severe economic times like these," Harwood said.

The Long Beach Naval Shipyard will remain open, taking over a portion of the Naval Station for its ship-repair operation.

The council is supporting proposals by Cal State Long Beach to build a research park and the Long Beach Unified School District to build schools where the Savannah and Cabrillo housing projects stand.

The housing is in an industrial area just north of Pacific Coast Highway. Savannah has about 200 duplexes on 44 acres, and Cabrillo's apartments spread across 90 acres directly to the south.

Cal State Long Beach has proposed developing a research and technology park on 60 acres of the Cabrillo housing project.

Companies in the park would benefit from the work of professors and students and could use campus libraries and computers. In return, the companies would provide training and create jobs.

Long Beach Unified wants to build a 4,000-student high school and, possibly, a junior high where the housing projects are.

Both proposals have won the endorsement of the U.S. Department of Education.

But the Department of Health & Human Services has approved a plan by the Long Beach-based Christian Outreach Appeal to run a housing complex for the homeless on 50 acres of Cabrillo. It would use 328 of Cabrillo's apartments.

Christian Outreach officials and other homeless advocates on Tuesday urged the council to approve its plan--perhaps reducing the size of the research park or school site. Long Beach has an estimated 5,000 homeless people.

Homeless agencies are given first shot to apply for the surplus property under federal law, but Navy officials could decide in favor of another proposal, said Louis Misko, director of the Navy's local base closure division. The Navy is empowered to transfer the property to homeless and educational agencies without charge.

City officials are trying to stave off competition for their own proposal to acquire the Long Beach Naval Hospital. Tuesday's vote will enable the city to apply to the Navy for the property, which is on Carson Street just west of the San Gabriel River Freeway, City Manager James C. Hankla said.

The city wants to tear down the hospital and build a mall to create hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in sales taxes.

But the Los Angeles County Office of Education also wants to acquire the hospital, which it would transform into its headquarters and training center. The proposal has won the support of the U.S. Department of Education.

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