Multiple-unit housing plans spark protests in West Long Beach • Long Beach Post News
Currently, the approximately 2,700 square foot property located at 1900 Willow Street is fenced in, which had served as space for customers of some of the six adjacent businesses. These businesses include two retail spaces, two bars, a restaurant and a hairdressing salon.
Records show the city received a building permit application to build the duplex, and each of its units would have three beds and two bathrooms with a two-car garage. However, the project applicant, Gilbert Ayala, plans to build four units, not two, including eight parking spaces in the garages and two more outside the structure.
However, after hearing plans for the proposed project, around 30 protesters converged on a recent weekend outside the lot, leaving signs posted on the fence outside and collecting petition signatures.
Landscaping retailer Leo Gonzalez said they saw their customer base dwindle when the parking lot was closed about a month ago.
“It’s bad,” Gonzalez said in Spanish, owner of General Supply, one of six companies adjacent to the land. Gonzalez added that he was oblivious to the plans for the project.
Francisco Villalpando, a kitchen worker at Tux & Chucks Street Food, another company, said as an employee he sometimes had to park two blocks away. The restaurant also saw fewer customers, he said.
“We already have limited parking as is,” he said. “It only makes things worse.”
In addition to limiting parking for businesses, local residents of Westside against the proposed project say the recent parking lot closure is causing a ripple effect on nearby residents who struggle to find on-street parking near at their home.
John Cross, president of the West Long Beach Neighborhood Association, lives near the proposed project site and predicts that his neighbors will have even more difficulty once the housing structure is built.
“We want to stop it,” Cross said.
Records from the county assessors office show the parking lot was purchased for more than $ 200,000 in June 2020, which John Taeleifi, who heads the opposition, said shouldn’t have been done at the height of the pandemic while the city’s businesses were struggling.
But Ayala, the owner and former Long Beach resident for six years, said he fenced off the parking lot because city code enforcement staff warned him he would be fined. if he didn’t keep it clean.
Often, Ayala said, he found broken bottles, human feces and garbage on the ground. He also alleged that the adjacent landscaping company was using his land for storage.
Gonzalez, owner of the business, denied storing lawn mowers in the land, but said there was a pile of soil stored there.
Overall, Ayala said those who use her spell just don’t care.
“They are just upset because they want to use my parking lot without paying any compensation,” he added.
City officials did not immediately provide details of the project schedule, but the project “is zoned by law,” Patricia Diefenderfer, head of the planning office, said via email.
Either way, Ayala, from Fullerton, said he still needs to raise more money before he can start building.
“I don’t have a lot of money as they think,” he said of those who oppose the project.
Villalpando, the restaurant worker, said this housing structure could push back local businesses trying to recover from the economic hardships caused by the pandemic.
“I just feel like it’s a bit of gentrification going on,” he said.