The Long Beach City Council unanimously voted 9-0 at its Nov. 20 meeting to deny a conditional-use permit (CUP) for Georgia-based Pennbrooke Financial Services, LLC to operate an auto-title loan business at the southern gateway of the Wrigley neighborhood.
The motion, which was made by 6th District City Councilmember Dee Andrews, in whose district the title-loan company would have resided, was based on a set of negative findings presented by city staff. Those findings stated that the establishment “would not provide vitality or create a commercial center or provide commercial activity” as outlined in the description of an area zoned for a pedestrian-oriented retail strip.
At the crux of the issue is whether such high-interest lenders should be allowed to move into Long Beach. The City Council passed a moratorium on such financial institutions as Long Beach Department of Development Services staff conduct a study on their impacts to the community.
The final decision comes after the Planning Commssion came to a (3-3) tie vote on Sept. 20 on whether to grant the applicant the CUP that would have expired after five years. The property owner, Linda Mendoza, had wanted Pennbrooke Financial to occupy her empty commercial building on the northwest corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Pacific Avenue in order to secure financing to redevelop the site and bring in a grocery market.
The Planning Commission’s deadlock vote was appealed by both the applicant, Pennbrooke Financial, and project appellants, including Lee Fukui, Mauna Eichner, Lisa Wibroe, Annie Greenfeld, Colleen McDonald, Sam Portillo and Jack Smith, all who have spoken out against the title-loan company.