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Long Beach high-rise project gets go-ahead despite controversy

Los cerritos wetlands1

A proposed high-rise project in Long Beach that developers say would provide hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in annual revenue has been given the go-ahead by the city's Planning Commission.

In a 4-3 vote, the commissioners approved a zoning change Wednesday night that will allow the controversial development -- a 12-story condominium and a pair of buildings that will range between four and six stories tall -- to go forward. The panel also certified an environmental impact report on the project. 

In amending Long Beach's limits on development, including height restrictions, the commission signaled the importance the city is placing on creating jobs in a stagnant economy.

Opponents, however, contend that the proposed development at 2nd Street and Pacific Coast Highway would increase an already congested intersection and harm the nearby Los Cerritos Wetlands.

The estimated cost of the project, which is expected to include a hotel, a coastal science center and a 99-seat community theater, has been put at about $360 million. Proponents say it would create at least 1,300 construction jobs, 1,000 permanent jobs for the city and pump at least $2 million a year into the local economy, according to the project's website.

Years of debate over the construction of the 2nd+PCH Project, as it is known, has divided residents in the coastal town. Last week, developers and an advocacy group opposing the project took out large ads to drum up support.

The Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust, a grass-roots coalition of homeowners and environmental groups, say traffic congestion around the 10-acre site will worsen and that changing the existing zoning plan will lead to taller buildings in the area and more pollution, which will affect the habitat of the wetlands.

"Over 95% of wetlands habitat in California has been destroyed and Long Beach's Los Cerritos Wetlands are the largest remaining contiguous piece of wetlands left in Southern California," the group's website says.

The marsh is separated from the project site and sits along an existing commercial site, according to city records.

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--Ruben Vives

twitter.com/latvives

Photo: Double-crested cormorants in the Los Cerritos Wetlands. Opponents of the proposed building development in Long Beach say high-rises like those proposed would add to the area's congestion and  harm the nearby wetlands. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

 
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