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Caleuphoria
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Found this article on SSP, and I found it to be pretty funny (because I'm from Long Beach and I grew up with some of this stuff, like the crappy beaches and crackerbox apartments) yet sad and depressing at the same. Anyway, onto the article... the bolded sections are the ones I strongly agree with:

http://www.lbpost.com/newsdesk.php?id=260&where=#1185

The 10 Worst Decisions In Long Beach History

No city is perfect, but Long Beach seems to receive almost daily reminders of some of its most significant mistakes. They include local examples of humankinds’ conquest of nature, historic treasures lost to the wrecking ball, ballot initiatives whose gloss hid painful ramifications and decisions from our policy-makers that had unforeseen impacts on various communities throughout the city. A week ago, we asked readers to provide their input on the top ten worst decisions made in the history of Long Beach. Readers responded in force, providing some of our highest web traffic days to date.

No one person or entity can be held responsible for these events, nor is it the point of this discussion. Instead, we cast light on those incredible mistakes that have been made throughout this city’s rich history in order to avoid making similar ones in the future. In future months I will take the opportunity to further investigate some of these worst decisions and how we can collectively remedy them.

This list has been compiled with the help and input of our publishers, editor and other LBPOST.com contributors. Here they are, the 10 WORST DECISIONS IN LONG BEACH HISTORY...



1. The Breakwater

Built as part of a port project to create a large man-made protected harbor, the breakwater creates a protected cove from the Pacific surf. A large flotilla from the United States Navy considered Long Beach home because of the comforting embrace of those rock outcroppings, keeping their ships safe from the threat of long-range incursions on the part of Japanese submarines. The breakwater also defended against the potential damage of strong surf conditions. Unfortunately, at the same time it stole away one of the greatest natural assets of our waterfront community.

The formerly great surf was an incredible attraction that brought visitors from across the region to this seaside town. Indeed, one could justifiably argue that the two most economically depressed waterfront cities in Southern California (Long Beach and San Pedro) are so in part because they lack the attraction that an active beach provides. The breakwater (along with pier J) also prevents the complete outlet of stormwater from the Los Angeles River, forcing all the trash and debris onto the Long Beach shore.

There have been a number of efforts to remove the breakwater, or at least to reconfigure it to permit more a more natural tidal flow along Long Beach’s uniquely south-facing shore. However, to date these efforts have failed. This has been due to a combination of strong political opposition from some residents, as well as port- and federal-level bureaucracies.

The City Council supports a reconfiguration study, but thus far has received little support from the federal government or the Army Corps of Engineers.




2. Crackerbox Apartments

From the late 1970s to the early 1980s, in response to population growth and pressure from local developers, Long Beach City Council and staff up-zoned portions of the city to allow for a greater density of residential development. Over a relatively short period of time, neighborhoods were transformed in a haphazard fashion, as vintage bungalows were indiscriminately razed to develop a new prototype of apartment building.

This type of apartment building was ingeniously designed to conform to the city’s zoning code while accommodating the maximum amount of residential units. Little emphasis was placed on issues of liability or livability, as two-story apartment buildings were in essence placed on stilts over ground-level parking lots. The seemingly precarious nature of these mass-produced apartment buildings was one reason they were dubbed “crackerboxes.”

What turned out to be a de facto amendment to the city’s planning map had serious negative impacts for many communities. “Crackerbox” apartments brought greater residential density, but without any accompanying infrastructure to support this density. These outsized buildings altered the scale of neighborhoods, looming over the remaining single-family homes in their midst. Communities really had no proper opportunity to challenge the changes in zoning that made these “crackerboxes” possible until the damage had been done. As a result, these effected communities continue to suffer the lasting affects of this shortsighted planning fiasco.



3. The New Pike

The development of the downtown waterfront has been a frustrating series of lost opportunities and failed attempts. The original Pike, an amusement park built at the foot of Ocean Boulevard, was once considered the Coney Island of the West. By the mid-twentieth century, the park has been expanded and rechristened the Nu-Pike. Unfortunately, it faced significant competition in the form of the newly developed Disneyland and eventually Knott’s Berry Farm. The Nu-Pike went into decay, and was finally closed down in the 1970s.

During this period, the waterfront area south of Seaside Way continued to expand via land reclamation. Portions were allocated for a modern convention facilities and an expanded performing arts center, but the primary goal was to create a new waterfront destination.

Sadly, from the glory days of the original Pike the city is now left with the disappointing retail and entertainment center now called “The Pike.” Developed by Diversified Development Realty, the new Pike lacks all the excitement and originality that its prime location should demand. As it stands, it could have been placed anywhere: it does very little to take advantage of (or even acknowledge) its location in an urban area along a waterfront. Some critics go even further, reasoning that this development should never have taken place, due to restrictions placed on coastal waterfront land in California.



4. Destruction of Historic Structures

From the removal of entire blocks of historic gems downtown, to the creation of the original Long Beach Plaza mall, to more recent examples of removing historic bungalows in Belmont Heights for the sake of mini-mansions, it seems that a bit more of Long Beach’s built history disappears every day. Some notable examples of such wonton disregard for historic preservation include the destruction of the Pacific Coast Club on the ocean bluffs adjacent to the Villa Rivera to build a new residential tower, as well as the destruction of the Jergins Trust Building at Pine Avenue and Ocean Boulevard to build… well, nothing yet.

In recent years there has been a renewed effort to protect historic structures, including the designation of seventeen historic districts and greater education aimed at both the public and at city officials regarding the benefits of preservation. Noteworthy accomplishments in the wake of these efforts include the residential loft conversions of various department stores downtown, and the ongoing restoration of the Art Theater on 4th Street. While this new spirit of preservation is laudable, it cannot erase the brute fact that the architectural treasures Long Beach has lost will never come back.





5. Saying No To Disney Sea

Decades ago, Long Beach had an opportunity to create a new Disney amusement park based in Long Beach’s downtown waterfront. The new amusement park was to be a massive tourist attraction with a marine biological research center, five hotels, a four-hundred slip marina, and a whole range of amusement rides.

Despite the excitement generated by this proposal, the logistics of creating an area for a 360-acre amusement park turned out to be too great. Between the considerable land reclamation that would have been necessary, as well as difficulties in negotiating with existing leaseholders at the Port of Long Beach, the obstacles were too substantial to make this dream a reality. Many blamed the state’s Coastal Commission; others, the Port administration. Still others blamed city government for not trying hard enough to make this proposal a reality.

In the end, Disney abandoned the concept and built California’s Great Adventure instead.



6. City Place and the Downtown Wal-Mart

Urban malls have rarely been successful, so even when the Long Beach Plaza was first developed, its eventual demolition less than two decades later should have been unsurprising. A new outdoor shopping center called “CityPlace” took the place of the former six-block fortress of retail. Developed by Diversified Development Realty (as noted above, also the developer for the new Pike), the replacement shopping venue was little better than the hulking monstrosity it replaced. The design lacks inspiration, from its overall design to its faux-art deco finish, pasted on using foam coated with various colors of plaster. In terms of urban development, CityPlace contributes little to Long Beach’s downtown, particularly given that Wal-Mart presents a blank wall to Sixth Street, as well as several hundred feet of loading docks along Long Beach Boulevard.

Many Long Beach residents and stakeholders hoped that CityPlace could represent the aspirations of a revitalizating downtown, in particular by providing a retail venue that would draw shoppers from far and wide. Instead, the shopping center is anchored by the discount retailer Wal-Mart, complemented by various second-choice (at best) retailers like Marshalls and Ross Dress for Less.

It was the hope of all that CityPlace would be a catalyst for greater development downtown. Instead, it often judged to be freshly-minted blight that chases away potential new projects. CityPlace represents a prime example of throw-away development, meant to be torn down in a couple decades. Perhaps the best we can hope for is that Long Beach will not be forced to wait until 2020 for these six blocks to be redeveloped once again.





Long Beach Boulevard had long been known as one of the most significant automobile dealer zones in the Los Angeles area. Before that, Anaheim Street held a similar position. Even today, one can find a number of former auto salesrooms along Anaheim Street (now converted to various other uses). Regrettably, Long Beach has since lost is preeminence for auto sales. In fact, current auto sales within the city limits are fewer than the overall number of automobiles purchased by its residents.

A number of factors contributed to this loss of automobile dealers. Proposition 13 capped real estate taxes, which severely limited the ability of municipalities to obtain needed revenue. In the wake of Proposition 13, California cities have been forced to compete heavily for sales tax resources by providing massive incentives to large-format retailers like Wal-Mart and Home Depot, as well as big-ticket businesses like automobile and boat sales. Cities like Cerritos and Tustin moved swiftly to take advantage of this new climate, creating automobile dealer centers with convenient freeway accessibility.

Long Beach’s ability to respond in a similar fashion was hindered by the unusual presence of a city within the city, namely, Signal Hill. The most suitable and available locations to potentially relocate Long Beach’s automobile dealers were located along the 405 freeway that passes through Long Beach. Unfortunately, this freeway lies along the border of Signal Hill. Since Signal Hill also tended to provide better incentives than Long Beach, many automobile dealers moved out of Long Beach’s boundaries. The loss of sales tax revenue has been significant.




8. The Civic Center

Few areas in this city are more unfriendly than Long Beach’s Civic Center. This home of municipal government was developed during the height of civic brutalism; in this regard it may only be matched by Boston City Hall. The architecture and planning of Long Beach’s Civic Center seem more appropriate for Soviet Russia, or perhaps on the set of the original Battlestar Galactica television series (where it was indeed featured and poetically, was destroyed by the Cylons).

Beyond its poor design and seeming obliviousness to human scale, there are significant physical issues with various components of the Civic Center. The main library recalls nothing more than a bunker built to withstand a nuclear attack. Yet the building cannot keep rain out: colorful buckets are scattered throughout its two levels when storm clouds float above the downtown. The fourteen-story ivory tower that is the most prominent feature of the Civic Center is a seismic death trap waiting for a good shaker to separate its wings from its main body. Unfortunately for those in City Hall during such an event, those very wings contain the emergency stairs necessary for evacuation.

Lincoln Park, the civic square contained within the Civic Center, is rarely used by most Long Beach residents: it serves primarily as a campground the city’s homeless. Perhaps it is an appropriate commentary that the plight of these persons can be seen right on the doorstep of Long Beach government. In any case, the Civic Center in its whole is in serious need of change: retrofits and remodels will not solve its fundamental shortcomings.




9. Losing the Red Car

It may surprise many current residents of Southern California to learn that the Los Angeles region once had the most extensive fixed rail transit system in the nation. At its pinnacle in 1925, one could take a streetcar from Riverside to downtown Los Angeles to Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach. The contemporary belief that the Los Angeles region was predicated on the freeway is mistaken. In fact, many Southern California cities we recognize today, from Glendale to Gardena, were in part placed on the map by mass transit.

Outside downtown Los Angeles, Long Beach was the area best served by mass transit. Unfortunately, strong economic industries, including Standard Oil, General Motors, and Firestone Tires, had formed a sinister cabal to sink the streetcar in Los Angeles. In its stead, new modern buses were used to provide public transportation, and a freeway network was mapped out with the help of the Southern California chapter of the American Automobile Association.

It had been the case that many streetcar lines went through Long Beach. These included lines along California/Martin Luther King Avenue, Redondo Avenue, and the Pacific Electric right-of-way that cuts diagonally though the city. Imagine what Long Beach would be like today if it featured a streetcar system more extensive than those of San Francisco or Portland, current sterling examples of urban fixed-rail transit. This, for a fraction of the investment for new systems now proposed for Long Beach.



10. The decline of the Queen Mary

Few pieces of city history have been as storied and controversial as the Queen Mary. Even within this discussion, many readers could not agree on whether the historic ocean liner was good or bad for Long Beach. Opinion was almost evenly divided between those who saw bringing the Queen Mary to Long Beach as one of the city’s worst decisions, and those who felt that allowing the boat to decay under poor management was the truly bad decision. What is clear is that the current course cannot be sustained.

Between the storied history of the ship and the large waterfront site it now enjoyed, it is remarkable and unfortunate that the city has squandered the Queen Mary’s potential to this point. If the trend of half-measures towards preserving the Queen Mary and investing in its adjacent property continues, Long Beach might have been better off letting the ship go to the scrap yard.

Hopefully with its new lease-holder (Save the Queen), we can chart a new direction for the Queen Mary, to ensure that it will someday find its way onto a list of Long Beach’s greatest assets.
And here's something else that I feel should be added to the list. :lol: Taken from Wikipedia:



11. The "Long Beach" Angels

It was thought the Angels would never develop a large fan base playing as tenants of the Dodgers. Also, O'Malley imposed fairly onerous lease conditions on the Angels; for example, he charged them for 50% of all stadium supplies, even though the Angels at the time drew at best half of the Dodgers' attendance.

Stymied in his attempt to get a new stadium in Los Angeles, Autry looked elsewhere. His first choice for a stadium was the site offered by the city of Long Beach. However, the city insisted the team be renamed the Long Beach Angels, a condition Autry refused to accept. He was able to strike a deal with the suburban city of Anaheim in Orange County, and construction began on Anaheim Stadium (nicknamed The Big A by Southern Californians), where the Angels moved in 1966.

Long Beach has the potential to be the greatest beach city in L.A. County if not all of California and even all of the U.S., but it's saddening to see that the fatal mistakes of the past are limiting us from becoming what we should be, which is a world-class beach city. The LBC can easily be akin to L.A. what Brooklyn is to Manhattan.

Our beach should be the primary thing that Long Beach focuses on if it ever decides to reach prominence. The reinvention of the Pike, the Queen Mary, and a restructured DTLB will all naturally follow suit after we clean our beaches up, IMHO.
 

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Silver Lake
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And yet Santa Monica marches on.....
 

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Caleuphoria
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That's one thing about the OC... occasionally I'll take jabs at the OC, but one thing they do know how to do is take care their shoreline. The OC has some of the cleanest and most beautiful beaches in all of California, because they realize that they're sitting on $$$. L.A. can learn something from them.
 

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Just a point of view from a tourist.....I think the Queen Mary is the attraction that brings tourists down to Long Beach....that's what we think of when Long Beach is mentioned....I am sure there are many other reasons this is a great place. Sorry to see condition of the ship after two visits.

By redbaron_012
 

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Everyone I know thinks the beach in LBC is the worst. A big nasty bathtub of brown fecal matter. I use to live there but I moved to Manhattan Beach. If I did live in long beach I sure as hell would vote out politicians that were not in favor of knocking down the break water. Personally I believe it is the harbor paying off the city to keep the wall up for its oil tankers and the oil rig islands.

Think about it.

The surf is back, the water is no longer brown and families can now enjoy the beach again. The nice beautiful beach would also cause a positive cascading effect on property in long beach. Everything within a 10 block radios of the beach would appreciate in value. All the good things you can imagine would fall into place.
 

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Silver Lake
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I silently weep for Long Beach.
 

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Caleuphoria
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Everyone I know thinks the beach in LBC is the worst. A big nasty bathtub of brown fecal matter. I use to live there but I moved to Manhattan Beach. If I did live in long beach I sure as hell would vote out politicians that were not in favor of knocking down the break water. Personally I believe it is the harbor paying off the city to keep the wall up for its oil tankers and the oil rig islands.

Think about it.

The surf is back, the water is no longer brown and families can now enjoy the beach again. The nice beautiful beach would also cause a positive cascading effect on property in long beach. Everything within a 10 block radios of the beach would appreciate in value. All the good things you can imagine would fall into place.
EXACTLY. There have been plans to keep the port functional and that would allow Long Beach to have clean beaches again, but what exactly is the holdup?
 

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Downtown L.B. was a great place to visit until the late 1960's when the Pike was reduced to carnival rides after the great Cyclone Racer was torn down.
 
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