By Laurie Angel
I am an Uptown Girl. Not necessarily in the way Billy Joel sang in his 1983 hit with Christie Brinkley in the music video, but from uptown (the place). Located in the northwest portion of Long Beach, uptown is a huge area, generally north of the 405 Freeway to the city limits north, west and (north of Del Amo) at Cherry.
With a population close to 200,000 residents, we have nearly every demographic possible represented with multimillion dollar estates in Virginia Country Club– an absolute jewel for the city with beautiful homes of style and grace. But we also have neighborhoods with homes of varying size, including my Jane Addams neighborhood, with over 1,100 homes built mostly in the late 1920s that are as small as 600 square feet– just cottages. There is literally every size and budget of housing in between in uptown.
Uptown is ideally situated and a great place to be because so much of what one might need is here– save a hardware store– with the recent loss of OSH. Sears and Lowes sucked the fiscal life out of OSH and left many communities nationally wanting. Uptown needs a neighborhood hardware store so we can continue to spend our money in Long Beach.
Being concerned about the city’s finances, I’ll drive to the Long Beach Towne Center at the 605 Freeway and Carson rather than drive just south on Atlantic to the Home Depot on The Hill to keep Long Beach businesses supported and sales-tax dollars flowing to the city.
Each time I pass the hardware store on the hill I think about what sort of thought went into putting it there– a place with multimillion dollar views. Other than being “freeway close” and looking to capture even more Long Beach tax dollars, it makes no sense at all. I won’t speak to land-use decisions, other than to say that the public often sees how the need for immediate sales-tax revenue drives a lot of decision-making in municipalities, at great expense to other areas and to longer-term fiscal health and success.
From my point of view, a lot can be accomplished for the betterment of all by changing the state sales-tax allocation methodology and looking beyond existing terms served into the future five, 10 or 20 years. The hardware store on The Hill is an opportunity lost to build better housing to support even more businesses, restaurants, sales tax and property tax growth, and to provide good homes for doctors, and other professionals in region– for the best possible revenue performance of the entire area.
Laurie Angel has lived uptown since 1989 with her husband of over 30 years. She served as the last chair of the North Long Beach Project Area Committee from 1996. She has an interest in a successful uptown that contributes to the growth and development of a healthy regional economy.