The Wrigley Association met at 7pm on Monday, July 10 in the social hall at Veterans Park in north Wrigley to elect its new board and to discuss community concerns including the use of fireworks during last week’s July Fourth celebrations and the changes and updates to the Long Beach 2040 Land Plan.
The land plan lays out building goals and rules that are expected by the year 2040 and includes restrictions on the number of stories allowed for buildings. Wrigley Association members Lee Fukui and Mauna Eichner– both of whom are actively keeping tabs on the land plan– presented the recent changes to the plan, including the apparent vacillation on the number of stories allowed in certain areas.
“At the June 15 planning commission meeting, they gave us updated maps, and they actually raised the height again in the Pacific area,” Eichner said. “From 20th (Street) to 25th (Street), where it was down back to two stories, it’s now back to four stories.”
Additionally, on the stretch between 28th and Spring streets, the plan for a while was to have five stories.
“It does seem like they’re going to bring that back down to three stories,” Eichner said, “[but] we’re still very unhappy with the maps.”
Because of the widespread dissatisfaction among the association board and members, board member Adam Wolven placed a motion on the floor to compose a letter to the planning commission, city council and mayor stating that the Wrigley Association is against the currently planned heights. The motion was seconded and then unanimously approved.
The letter is planned to be written and sent prior to the next association meeting, which will be on Monday, Aug. 7.
Sixth District Councilmember Dee Andrews’s chief of staff John Edmond, 7th District Field Representative Sandra Zetti and Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) West Division Resource Officer Rudy Garcia brought up their concerns regarding the use of fireworks during the week of July Fourth.
Garcia spoke extensively about the LBPD’s fireworks-prevention campaign, which he said did have some effect on the use of fireworks throughout Long Beach.
In several cases, the LBPD went undercover on Facebook and Craigslist in order to locate and bust fireworks sellers.
“We had maybe about […] eight or 10 cases where we went undercover and were able to contact the individuals that were selling the fireworks out of their houses, garages [and] cars, and there were many individuals that were arrested,” Garcia said. “Most of them were arrested for felony cases– some of them for misdemeanors– depending on the amount of fireworks that was in their possession.”
One such case proved to be a huge bust, and not just in terms of fireworks.
“We seized over 5,000 pounds of fireworks,” Garcia said to applause by the association members. “The street value of these fireworks [was] over $30,000. And during the process where we seized these fireworks, we also found a large amount of PCP and firearms in his house.”
Additionally, the owner of the house had several children between the ages of 5 and 17, and the LBPD had to call the Department of Child and Family Services, Garcia said. All the adults in that household were arrested.
Despite the efforts the LBPD made by going undercover, patrolling the streets and posting and handing out signs informing Long Beach residents of the illegality of fireworks in the city, there was unanimous upset among the association members regarding the considerable use of fireworks in Long Beach.
Part of this, Zetti explained, could be due to a lack of knowledge. She said that while she was passing out fliers, several Long Beach residents stated that they were unaware that fireworks are illegal in the city. As a result, several members of the association called for more extensive education throughout Long Beach to bring awareness to fireworks, their illegality and their dangers.
Other members of the association complained that fireworks were being brought in from cities where they are legal, including Lakewood– which allows “safe and sane” fireworks– and other cities throughout Los Angeles County.
Unfortunately, Garcia reported, there were a few incidents involving fingers being blown off by mishandled illegal fireworks.
Before stepping down from the podium and finishing his LBPD West Division announcements, Garcia shared a story that demonstrated the positive effects of adhering to the department’s slogan to the public: “If you see something, say something.”
A house near the corner of Daisy Avenue and West Burnett Street burned down a few weeks ago, and while the family worked with its insurance company to find the finances to fix it up, the house was left vacant.
Because the house was empty, several transients have taken the opportunity to jump the fence and enter it through the back.
“The owner of the house [had] noticed that some of her valuables that [were] still inside the house were coming up missing,” Garcia said.
On Saturday, July 8, the owner’s neighbor and friend noticed a vehicle pull up and three to four suspects exit the car and jump the fence. When the suspects finally left the house sometime later, the neighbor took out his phone and recorded them.
“He saw that suspects were carrying large containers of items,” Garcia said. “He videotaped the license plate; he videotaped the incident and called the owner. A few minutes later, the owner got to the house [and] she called the police.”
The police were able to the view the tape, track the license plate and apprehend the suspects. The neighbor easily identified the perpetrators and their identities were double-checked through the video.
Because of the actions the neighbor took, the police were able to help out the woman.
Garcia encouraged everyone gathered that if they see something, to say something, because it can make a huge difference.
National Night Out conflict
National Night Out, a holiday to bring awareness to community police programs including neighborhood watches and crime-prevention efforts, will be celebrated this year on Tuesday, Aug. 1, which will fall on the same day as the first Long Beach Municipal Band concert at Veterans Park in many years.
Several members requested that the band concert be moved to another night because they will be having community events in their neighborhoods and will be unable to attend the concert.
It is expected that no change will be made. However, Wolven, Zetti and Edmond all stated that they will put in a request for a date change for the concert.
The streetscape project for Willow Avenue is currently going out for bid, Edmond announced.
“Councilman Andrews requested public works to conduct a traffic study,” Edmond said. “This will focus on additional items such as safer right-hand-turn lanes, cutouts, mid-block refuge islands […] and retention of on-street parking.”
Additionally, Andrews and his team are working towards more bike lanes and narrowing driving lanes, Edmond said. He explained that studies show that narrower lanes cause people to drive slower.
“Construction is estimated to begin this fall as the funds for this project come from the Pedestrian Enhancement Grant, acquired in 2010,” Edmond said.
During public comments, one member of the association brought up his concerns regarding a new medical marijuana dispensary and grow farm opening near Torres Bike Shop on Pacific Avenue.
“There was a period before the city council got involved where we were helping structure the [medical marijuana] ordinance for the city,” Eichner said.
During that period, she met and worked with city staff, neighborhood advocates and the owner of the dispensary to try and pass an ordinance with the best interest of the local neighborhoods in mind.
“He was responsive,” Eichner said of the owner. “He actually wrote the ballot initiative that everybody voted on for the medical marijuana.”
Because of the owner’s dedication to safe cannabis use, Eichner said she is not overly concerned about the new dispensary and grow farm.
“As much as we don’t want the business coming in,” she said, “we feel if we’re going to get a business in, that he’s probably the best […] person to be the one bringing in the business.”
Board member elections
Because there were seven board member openings and seven people running for office, an association member proposed a motion that was seconded and then unanimously approved to have all seven candidates become board members. The new board members for the Wrigley Association are Isabel Arvea, Diana Budd, current board president Alan Burks, Valerie Butcher, Hakeem Parke-Davis, Sam Partillo and Adam Wolven.