Newly formed Central Project Area Council’s first meeting focuses primarily on title-loan business

At its inaugural meeting on the evening of June 5, the new Long Beach Central Project Area Council (LB CPAC) officially established itself as an organization, identified an important issue to pursue and offered its support to a long-term project.
LB CPAC replaces the Central Project Area Committee for Redevelopment, which ceased to exist when redevelopment agencies (RDA) were eliminated by Governor Brown earlier this year. Since there is no longer an RDA, the new LB CPAC will no longer receive funding or staff support from the RDA or the City of Long Beach; however, the goals remain the same, according to a press release issued by Jack C. Smith, CPAC press liaison.
The LB CPAC will focus on the central area of Long Beach. The boundaries of the area are roughly Redondo Boulevard on the east, Ocean Boulevard on the south, the L.A. River up to Pacific Coast Highway and then over to the western edge of the city on the west and Wardlow Road on the north.
At the inaugural meeting, the organizing group inducted new members, elected officers and collected dues. Many of the members and officers carry over from the RDA CPAC. They include renters, homeowners, community associations and businesses within the Central Project Area. The officers are: president, Annie Greenfeld; vice president, Patricia Paris-Appleby; secretary, Pepper Russell; treasurer, Jana Shields; and parliamentarian, Don Darnauer.
The initial dues will be used for startup costs as well as ongoing expenses. The organization is in the process of filing for nonprofit status as well as registering with the state. New by-laws were also adopted at the beginning of the meeting.
The first issue the group is taking on involves a title-loan business that might be established in the Pacific Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway area. Title loans are short-term loans using vehicles as security for the loan. Lee Fukui and Mauna Eichner, neighborhood residents and activists, made a presentation about the business, expressing their concerns for the impact the business will likely have on the area. They feel the location is at an important gateway to the Wrigley neighborhood and Pacific Avenue business corridor (now known as Wrigley Village). It is an area long ago designated as “blighted” and where the RDA was heavily involved in improving.
According to the presentation and previous information members have received from the company, the lowest interest rate anticipated for such loans will be one third of one percent per day– approximately 122 percent per year in the beginning– but will vary and follow market rates. In other parts of the country, this company typically charges upwards of 300 percent. A typical mortgage or new car loan rate these days is in the area of three percent, according to, from which LB CPAC acquired information about current loan rates.
According to the press release by LB CPAC, the discussion amongst the members made it clear the group considers such predatory lending to be financial blight and a danger to continuing the revitalizing of that area of Long Beach. Under the RDA, the improvements included new medians, landscaping and lighting. Fukui, Eichner and their team of community volunteers have collected more than 200 signatures opposing the project with many more pouring in from concerned residents in the area, according to LB CPAC.
At their meeting, the group also heard from a local banker who cautioned that, unlike payday loans, the interest rate for title loans of this kind is not regulated.
LB CPAC passed a motion to write a letter to the Long Beach Planning Commission, with copies to the mayor and city council, encouraging the company to not open at this site. The company is also considering opening in other areas of Long Beach, and the group felt that this site is a test case for the company– that success in opening there would open the door bringing this company and other similar companies to other parts of Long Beach.
As for a longer-term project, LB CPAC received an update on the Long Beach Boulevard Task Force, a subcommittee of the former CPAC and headed by Pat Paris-Appleby. The task force will continue working with the City on improvements to the Long Beach Boulevard corridor. The group received an update from community activist Evan Patrick Kelly of Hancock University that indicated that Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) grant money has been received and a consultant, Orange County-based Cooper-Carey has been hired. They have completed their initial studies of the Boulevard. The project goal is to develop guidelines as well as accomplish actual improvements along the corridor that will improve the quality of life and business climate. It will cover Long Beach Boulevard from 10th Street to Wardlow Road. An initial pilot project will be executed from 10th Street to Pacific Coast Highway.
The LB CPAC meets the first Thursday of each month at 6pm at Mental Health America, 456 Elm Ave.
For more information, contact Greenfeld at (562) 225-9462.

Source: LB CPAC

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