Press Telegram
Thursday, August 19, 2004 – 8:08:09 PM PST
Panel OKs project sans homes
Boeing Realty says it won’t change plan despite commission vote.
By Felix Sanchez
Staff writer

LONG BEACH ? Citing problems with locating new residences so close to Long Beach Airport, the city’s Airport Advisory Commission in a split vote Thursday night said it supports Boeing Realty Corp.”s proposed Douglas Park project as long as it doesn’t have homes or apartments. But executives with Boeing Realty said that while they are disappointed with the vote, the commission’s action was expected and is nothing more than an advisory opinion. Boeing Realty’s focus is on future Planning Commission and City Council votes, they said. And following the vote, Jon Conk, Boeing Realty’s project manager for Douglas Park, said that the company will not redraw its proposal to remove all residences. “No,” said Conk and DeDe Soto, Conk’s fellow developmental manager.

The commission’s vote, which came after labored attempts to figure out exactly what it should vote on, what opinions should be forwarded to the City Council all following months of review drew praise from airport area resident groups at the meeting who have focused their ire on the residential component.

Almost unanimously neighborhood groups say they support Douglas Park formerly known as PacifiCenter and its proposed creation of 3.3 million square feet of commercial, light industrial and general aviation uses, 200,000 square feet of retail and a 400-room hotel at what used to be aircraft production facilities near Carson Street and Lakewood Boulevard. But they bristled at the inclusion of 1,400 single family homes, condominiums and apartments. “It’s absolutely nuts to encroach on the airport with new housing,” said Kevin McAchren, with the Long Beach Airport Association, a collection of smaller aviation businesses located at the airport.

The commission vote was 4 to 3, with members Alan Fox, Bob Luskin, Don Temple and Deborah Veady voting to support the project as long as there was no residential component. Commissioners Bernhard Clever, Carol Soccio and Douglas Haubert Haubert said some residences below 1,400 were needed for Douglas Park to work voted against the motion. Members Ron Salk and Bruce Alton were absent.

The board’s recommendation will be forwarded to the City Council for the group to consider when it takes up the project sometime in November. A Planning Commission public hearing is set for Oct. 7. Also during Thursday night’s meeting, the commission was told that two alternative “downsized’ proposals for improvements and additions to the airport will be completed in time for a September meeting.

City staffers and the private contractor, HNTB, which drew up plans for expanded permanent facilities for passenger holds, gates, ticket counters, concession stands, restrooms, offices and parking, said smaller proposals can be configured but some recommendations must remain the same. Passenger screening areas, baggage security screening, baggage claim devices, baggage service offices, restrooms, multipurpose rooms and office space, ticketing facilities, aircraft gates and vehicle parking should all be expanded as recommended, the staff said.