2016 has been an especially busy, mostly positive, year for Long Beach. New projects opened and others broke ground. Douglas Park continued to attract new businesses and jobs. Local hotels experienced their highest occupancy rate in years. The Long Beach Innovation Team launched BizPort and other business assistance initiatives. Long Beach Transit received its first battery electric bus. Voters approved tax and bond increases and okayed pot sales for medicinal purposes. And that’s just a sampling.
In no particular order, here are our Top 10 local stories for 2016:
• Following the completion of a feasibility study, the discussion and debate over whether Long Beach Airport should allow international flights continues.
• Long Beach voters approve an increase to the local sales tax to pay for public safety and infrastructure needs.
• The minimum wage issue is resolved as Long Beach councilmembers agree to abide by the State of California law rather than the more aggressive city ordinance.
• Affordable housing evolves as a major issue as property owners and renters rights groups tangle over the cost and availability of apartments.
• Port of Long Beach container traffic takes a hit as one of its major customers, Hanjin Shipping, files bankruptcy.
• A new Long Beach Civic Center breaks ground that in two years will provide a new city hall, port headquarters and main library.
• A fire sale of former redevelopment properties continues, primarily downtown and in North Long Beach, that will generate significant commercial and residential development.
• Southwest Airlines is granted four flight slots and for the first time provides service at Long Beach Airport.
• The Southern California International Gateway project, a rail yard proposed by BNSF Railway, is rejected by the courts.
• Urban Commons signs a long-term lease to operate the Queen Mary and develop the land adjacent to the historic ship.