City officials and business interests have hailed Long Beach’s Downtown Plan as a major factor in the area’s development and success. Now, the city may be able to develop a similar planning document for North Long Beach, thanks to $250,000 in funding recently approved by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).
The idea for UPLAN – an acronym for Uptown Planning Land Use And Neighborhood Strategy – was conceived in and championed by the 9th District, according to Vice Mayor/Councilmember Rex Richardson.
“The Downtown Plan was a collection of documents that updated the land use, created some incentives, streamlined environmental impacts and created the stage for development to take place in downtown. We’re doing the same thing but differently, because downtown is very different than uptown,” Richardson said. “We’re going to look at areas where we can modernize and update the land use to set the stage for more investment, just like downtown,” he explained.
While there are multiple developments planned in and around North Long Beach, there is no single guiding plan for the area, Richardson explained. “UPLAN would be one strategy, one community plan for North Long Beach that ties it all together and spurs more economic development,” he said.
The plan might address ways to capitalize on North Long Beach’s industrial area, which accounts for one-third of the industrial space in the city, according to Richardson. It may also address the area’s corridors and creating connectivity between areas of development. “We have to make sure the table is set for better community development,” he said.
While the grant application was conceived by and pertains to the 9th District, Richardson said the idea has not been fully scoped. When asked if UPLAN could include the 8th District, he said, “We look at North Long Beach as one community, and just because it starts in District 9 doesn’t necessarily mean it stops where the border boundaries stop.”
The $250,000 grant awarded by SCAG will go to Long Beach Development Services, which created the grant application and will spearhead development of the document.
According to a press release from Richardson’s office, the funding is awaiting final approval by the California Transportation Commission and the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee.
“Residents will actually be a part of crafting it,” Richardson said of UPLAN. “The title is UPLAN, but you can think of it as U-Plan.”
Richardson has begun creating a task force to oversee the creation of the document. The chair is Tom Carpenter, whose firm, Frontier Real Estate Investments, is developing a former redevelopment agency property at Atlantic Avenue and Artesia Boulevard. The vice chair is Tasha Hunter, director of the Uptown Business Improvement District. A second vice chair appointment is pending, Richardson said.