BABY HUEY: He walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, but he's not in the EIR for Second+PCH

The Second+PCH project may be an Odd Duck—the just-released Environmental Impact Report (EIR) reveals that its promoters have designed a residential/hotel/retail complex on the site of the Seaport Marina Hotel that is loaded with even more deleterious features than its rejected predecessor—but just wait until you get a load of its younger brother. Are you ever going to be surprised!

Actually, you already are. You didn’t know Second+PCH even had a younger brother. Pretty much nobody did.

But there it is, buried deep (Chapter III, pages 1, 2 and 3) in that EIR: a detailed description of another mixed-use project [CLARIFICATION: BY AN UNKNOWN DEVELOPER] proposed for right across Pacific Coast Highway—on the current site of the Market Place shopping center. And it’s packed with even more retail, residential and hotel rooms than Second+PCH.

Odd Duck (and everyone else), meet Baby Huey.

This is a little awkward, I realize, so why don’t we let the EIR handle the introductions from here.

“Specifically, the Market Place conceptual site plan contemplates the redevelopment of the 18.42-acre Market Place site with up to 245,000 square feet of retail development, 90,000 square feet of office space, a 25,000-square foot cultural center/building/conference facility, 530 residential units, a 120-room boutique hotel and spa, and a 40-room coastal affordable/hostel residential use,” says the document.

Having a hard time imagining how all that could be packed on the edge of the Los Cerritos Wetlands? Think Baby Huey—big, fat and tall.

“The conceptual plan, as submitted, proposes structures generally ranging from two to six stories in height, with the exception of one mixed-use hotel tower reaching a maximum of 15 stories,” says the EIR.

Comparatively, Second+PCH proposes 220,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, a 100-unit boutique hotel, 95 hotel-condominium units and 230 residential units in a mix of lofts, flats and townhomes.

One of the most-prominent complaints about the Second+PCH project is proposed height of its hotel tower, which is only 12 stories—that is, three stories shorter than Baby Huey—albeit, nine or 10 stories higher than the current zoning limit of 35 feet. The other big objection was to all the extra traffic it would generate.

So, how does the EIR calculate the combined impact Second+PCH and its Baby Huey brother on an environmentally sensitive area that is also the most-congested intersection in Long Beach?

It doesn’t.

Right after acknowledging that the California Environmental Quality Act requires EIRs to analyze cumulative impacts—that is, “two or more individual effects which, when considered together, are considerable or which compound or increase other environmental impacts”—the writers of the EIR for the Second+PCH project simply come up with an excuse for not doing their homework. It’s an odd excuse: Baby Huey is, they say, just a concept.

Despite the detailed portrait the proposal paints—the stores, the offices, the cultural center, the hotel, the residences—the EIR insists it is “conceptual and speculative.”

“Accordingly, the Market Place project has not been included in the list of related projects in this EIR because it is not considered a reasonably ‘probable future project’ at this time,” the report says.


  1. April 27, 2010 at 7:24 am

    After reading this post, I read an article at the Press telegram about this same EIR, and I found it interesting that the PT version suggested that ultimately only “half” or a “scaled back” version of the proposed development will be permitted. I was left wondering, was “Baby Huey” added a a late date as a way to “double” the proposed development? And now a “scaled back” version will result in “half” of the proposal being approved, i.e. the only part anyone has ever discussed, the development where Seaport Marina now lies? Pretty clever strategy, if you ask me…ask for WAY MORE than you want, hoping the negotiation process will result in EXACTLY what the developers were planning all along.

  2. KeithH
    April 27, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    I think you may have misread the EIR a bit. At no place in section III does it say that the developers of 2nd and PCH are the same developers who filed the “conceptual site plan review” with the city for the Market Place. In fact, the whole section is about projects being built by other developers.
    Also, you say that they EIR does not calculate the cumulative impact of the two projects.
    This is true, but you leave out that the EIR explains the reason why:”Given the conceptual and speculative nature of the suggested [Market Place] proposal at this time, the necessary amendments, environmental review and approvals required, and the anticipated timing of ultimate project review and approval, City staff has determined that this proposal [Market Place] is not a ‘probable future project’…”
    Keep in mind that CEQA only requires cumulative impacts of “likely” projects. In this case, City Hall doesn’t even think the Market Place project is likely.
    The EIR also says that even if the Market Place project is built, it won’t be until well after the 2nd&PCH project is complete. Due to this, cumulative impacts, under CEQA, would have to be included in the EIR for the Market Place project, if one is ever written.

  3. April 27, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I don’t think I wrote that the developers of 2nd+PCH were the same developers filed the conceptual site plan review with the city for the Market Place. I certainly never thought they were. I realize that City staff is saying that it doesn’t believe the Market Place project is “likely.” City staff says a lot of stuff–or doesn’t, which is why the existence of this proposal was such a surprise. Or did you know about it?

    • KeithH
      April 28, 2010 at 1:52 am

      I think your inserted clarification solved the confusion. I only brought it up because the first commenter seemed to think the two projects were linked. In retrospect, I should have directed that portion of comment to her. My apologies.
      And, no, I had not heard of the Market Place project before, though these “conceptual site plan reviews” come up a lot and never materialize into anything. Keep in mind that these conceptual filings have to be done before a developer can even start an EIR and many times when they find out how much and how involved the EIR process will be, you never hear of the project again. I’ve heard of many of these conceptual reviews over the years and a common thread is how pie-in-the-sky most of them are. I think in this case, that is exactly what the City staff comment from the EIR I posted was saying, albeit in nice EIR legalese. I’m not even sure if City Hall even considers these filings as public documents–I’ve always heard of them through third parties. In the past, I have had the city deny public records requests for pre-EIR plan documents similar to these filings on the basis that they will be components of the EIR. CPRA has an exclusion for something like “uncirculated draft documents,” which is what an EIR is considered until it is approved for release to the public (which, of course is then, ironically, first released as the Draft EIR). Might be worth a call to City Hall to find out though.

      • April 28, 2010 at 7:18 am

        Hi KeithH: From the standpoint of preparing an environmental analysis document, determining what constitutes a reasonably foreseeable project under CEQA is sometimes difficult business. I’d be curious to hear why the City thinks this is speculative, however.

        Regardless, I have to believe that the Baby Huey developers are watching the Second + PCH project VERY closely…to see just what the Second + PCH project is allowed to get away with in exceedance of existing zoning.

        Should the Second + PCH project not fly, I imagine that the Baby Huey developers might be reticent to proceed with their project iteration. Then again, Lennar died (primarily) due to traffic concerns, and the Second + PCH team turned right around and proposed a project slated to generate more traffic than Lennar intended (up to 28.8% more traffic in certain peak periods). So shows you what I know.

      • April 28, 2010 at 7:36 am

        Indeed, Mr H., it is true that I interpreted the EIR incorrectly after reading Dave’s post. I now understand that these two projects are *unrelated*, but we all know how small a town LB is, don’t we? So how unrelated are they in reality?

  4. wrongbeachjohn
    April 27, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    How about that Tom Dean, eh?

  5. LBCanuck
    April 28, 2010 at 10:45 am

    I am shocked – SHOCKED – that the PT failed to mention the Marketplace proposal in its story about the Seaport Marina project. (Actually I’m not shocked at all. For the most part, the PT dutifully reports what city officials want it to report. And reading those darned EIRs sure is hard work.)

  6. May 16, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    This all sounds like a plan to extend downtown Long Beach to the Southeast side of Long Beach to me. If I wanted to live among high rises I would have moved downtown a long time ago. How do they think they can fill up all that retail space? It’s not like LB is the most business friendly city and much of the surrounding retail space has been vacant for long periods of time. And forget about the traffic problem on PCH keeping me from getting to Seal Beach to enjoy the ocean and Main Street with my grandkids–there is no way to mitigate that problem. Just like in downtown area which I avoid as much as possible, if a monster development causes traffic problems and congestion I won’t go there. I want to see buildings that conform to SEADIP and the California Coastal Act, I want a safe bike path down Studebaker Road so I don’t have to drive down to Marina Pacifica and the Market Place, I want coastal features such as a publicly accessible wetlands and restoring our beaches (note real estate types–quality water front property is more valuable), and I want to see our suburban style neighborhood preserved. People don’t want to raise their children in a urban/downtown congested high rise atmosphere! I know many others who want the same. A group of tall buildings does not fit into this concept. However I don’t see where our opinions have really been counted by either the developers or the city.

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