Minutes from Long Beach Listens: East End Edition (March 21st)

So I introduce myself to the Newsday reporter. She asks me a few questions about the blog, but I tell her how I’m at the meeting as a resident and not a blogger – thus no pen, paper or laptop with me. Well, that didn’t last. Two minutes into the meeting I whip out my iphone and start typing on the tiny virtual keyboard as fast as I can – so sorry if I missed anything specific.

So without further ado, here are my minutes of the LONG BEACH LISTENS: EAST END EDITION

City Manager Jack Schnirman starts the meeting by talking about the current budget & fiscal crisis. He didn’t go into it too much and said how all the info was available on the city’s website. He skipped ahead and said how they’re looking for feedback from the rsidents on what the city can do to save money. Feedback forms are available at City Hall (So go there if you think you are Warren Buffett).

HERE COME THE QUESTIONS/CONCERNS:
LADY: Wants Harding Avenue in the presidents section to be repaved. She also said that there is a car left in the same spot for a long time. Wants to know if it can be towed.

Michael Tangney, Police Commissioner: Responds – Cars left in same spot for two weeks can be towed.  “We are here to help. That is our new motto”. (about 20 minutes later Mr. Tangney informed the lady that the car was indeed towed during the meeting. That was followed by lots of applause.”)

MAN: Spoke about the current City Council being great communicating with us residents. One person can make a difference. Quality of life / pride in community, etc.

LADY: Wants parking meters in business district and had questions about  illegal housing (I couldn’t hear what her exact issue was).

City Manager Jack Schnirman announced The City was gonna get $1.1 million in FEMA reimbursements, but doesn’t know when we will receive the money.  He said it should be sometime after July.

Then Jack said that he wants our feedback on parking meters; the city might explore that issue in the upcoming weeks.

Scott J. Mandel (City Council Member): Spoke about the illegal housing issue. Said “Everyone is entitled to due process.”

Michael Tangney, Police Commissioner: On illegal housing –  Call the police department about the illegal apartments and it will go to the top of the list. They will investigate anonymous complaints.

LADY: on illegal housing –  How do people know they are living in an illegal house? Renters might not know.

Len Torres (City Council Vice President): We have to depend in folks telling us they are illegal.

LADY: Wants parking meters. I mean, she really wants parking meters. “We have to stop subsidizing parking. Statistics
have shown that you will have better parking with meters.”

(The crowd goes wild)  “I DON’T WANT SOMEBODY PARKING IN FRONT OF MY HOUSE” yelled some lady in the distance.

LADY: Concerned about no crosswalks on Monroe  & Chester intersection, especially after the buses drop kids off. She was also concerned with the intersection of Park Ave and Long Beach Blvd. She said how she was told from a person at City Hall that the city doesn’t want people to cross there because it’s dangerous.

DIFFERENT LADY: The director of the Magnolia Senior Center retired and she was wondering when they are going to get a replacement.

City Manager Jack Schnirman responded: There will be a replacement and smooth transition.

———

DECOBIKES

LADY: Pissed about Decobikes. She said they poured cement on the median at Lafayette & Hudson for a bike Kiosk. “This is a residential area”.

(The crowd goes wild) “WHAT’S NEXT? A PIZZA PLACE AT MY HOUSE?” yelled some lady in the distance. (like our Taco Stand post).

Fran Adelson (City Council President) We stopped the work. We (current admin) never saw the locations of the kiosks. We were completely surprised by this too.

Fran added that the contract calls for 17 Bike Kiosk locations around the city, but the contract was signed on December 5th, 2011 for five years. They are locked into a contract. They did make a proposal to eliminate the kiosks in residential areas and that will be done. All kiosks will be in commercial areas.

James LaCarrubba (Commissioner of Public Works): “They [cement workers] didn’t ask where the utilities are. That was reason enough to stop the work. They could have hit a water main or gas line.”

(The crowd goes wild). “NOBODY KNEW ABOUT IT” yelled some lady in the distance.

Mr. Lacarrubba added: They put four slabs in around the city and they will be taken out.

LADY: Questioned Decobikes experience running a bike rental business. Said she did research and they [DecoBikes] are only a year old. “Are we getting billboards around our town like what they did in Miami?” Then she told us to express all our anger towards former City Manger Theofan and former Council-press Sofield, Jr. since it was their deal in the first place.

City Manager Jack Schnirman said he would love to know if a study was made as far as using this rental system, as well as the locations of bike kiosks.

Len Torres (City Council Vice President): Never saw a contract until after December. Said the damage to the property has to be restored. He said the city was looking into installing bike lanes last year. They knew they need 3 feet to accommodate room for the lanes – some blvds can accommodate this. The Bike Kiosks will be in locations such as the boardwalk, LIRR, Post office, etc-  commercial areas.

Fran Adelson (City Council President) added: We will post info asap on website as to what the new plan will be.

LADY: asking about who is gonna pay for the cement removal and putting the grass back.

James LaCarrubba (Commissioner of Public Works): We are gonna make them [DecoBikes)] pay.

(The crowd goes wild.)
————

LADY: complained about  sink holes that have been on her street for 8 years – Belmont to  Cleveland on E. Walnut Street. She also said that the walkway at Pacific Blvd Beach needs to be repaired. And would love to see some benches at that beach too.

LADY: (many issues) wants recycling bins and said that there are cars going down one way streets. She also said she wants “resident only” parking stickers. Has issues with cars parking in front of her house. Said they are from businesses on Long Beach Blvd.

LADY: “Park Avenue needs bike racks.” She is tired of locking her bike up to a tree. She also said the city should allow food stands at the superblock. Said the city can make a lot of money from this during the summer.

LADY: Wants recycling bins for newspaper at the LIRR. People started getting angry telling her that it’s an MTA issue and she has to call them.

MAN: Reminding everyone about the Memorial Day Parade.

LADY: Dog waste and garbage is a big problem. Wants to know how to get those “Dog waste stations” like on Pacific blvd to be installed around town in more locations. She also wants more garbage cans too. Says she is embarrassed by how dirty this town is and she is constantly cleaning her property. She is also worried about this garbage going in ocean.

She also said that automobiles are going through stop signs and was asking the police commissioner if they can police the streets more or come up with a plan to stop these cars from speeding.

Michael Tangney, Police Commissioner City gives out 5000 tickets a year for moving violations. They will respond and are working to make the streets safer.

LADY: Said people shouldn’t ride bikes on the sidewalk over on National Blvd.

LADY/MAN/LADY/MAN: Issue over a grassy area that the city installed over at the canals. They said when the city redid the Bulkheads, the new grassy area is not maintained and turned into the neighborhood dog park. Lots of poop and it smells. They are looking for it to be cleaned up. “We want it restored to the way it was.”

The man made a comment how the chain link fence the city installed makes it look like the Bronx – at that point the place went nuts.

“DON’T TALK ABOUT THE BRONX LIKE  THAT  ….   MORE LIKE QUEENS” yelled some lady in the distance.

—- THE END —-

That’s it. The meeting ended at 9pm. Kudos to our Police Commissioner, Public Works Commissioner, City Manager and  City Council for coming out. Especially Council President Fran Adelson for creating LONG BEACH LISTENS. I really think it’s an absolutely brillant idea; one which I hope won’t go away.

 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: (DecoBikes) What’s next on our neighborhood streets? A Taco Stand?

As residents of Long Beach, many of us share a similar set of values. Besides placing the highest value on family and a real sense of community, a healthy lifestyle seems to top our list. Biking not only seems to fit that bill – with happy moms, dads and kids riding together on the boardwalk – but it is also just about as beautifully green as you can get: less cars on the road, no burning of fossil fuels, cleaner air and less noise.

Yes, Long Beach is a bicycle friendly town – with possible new bike paths and bike lanes planned for us in our future. But when our law makers permit bike rental stands on our side streets – within the very residential neighborhoods in which we live and play, one has to wonder what the City will allow next on our neighborhood corn

ers … A Taco stand?

For the moment let’s examine how DecoBike’s presence will benefit the residents of Long Beach. Simply put, bike rentals will make our town more attractive to non-residents who will come in, find it easier and more fun to get around, give us their money – and then possibly drop even more money in one or more of our local establishments.

But what kind of model are we setting up if we allow DecoBikes to park their bike stands on our residential streets? Long Beach law prohibits any business from being conducted in residential neighborhoods. Then why should DecoBike be the exception even if our City is benefitting? Where does it stop?

The answer may lie in instead in utilizing a model in other beach towns that offer bike rentals where the stands are placed in commercial areas. Okay, conceptually the DecoBike Official Bike Rental & Sharing Program sounds good. Rent a bike from any station in the city and simply drop off to any station when done. But can’t we rethink this?

Can’t we instead put these rental bike stands in our commercial areas where they belong? Yes it’s nice to ride bicycles on our boardwalk and our roads that are less traveled. But can’t we keep our roads beautifully residential like they should be without a bike and taco stand on every other corner?

CITY: DecoBike Construction On Hold

Woah, this one almost slipped right past me. The City Website has an update on the controversial-DecoBike plan:

The City has stopped DecoBike’s construction of its bike sharing stations because the work was being done prematurely without proper process. We are currently evaluating the plan that the prior administration signed off on in December concerning station locations, specifically regarding stations in residential areas. (source – DecoBike Construction On Hold)

I am still indifferent with this deal. Part of me doesn’t get it, the other part can actually see it as a benefit to both residents & visitors alike – especially for those who live in high-rises where it’s difficult to have a bike (been there, done that). Plus, I am always in favor of using bikes over automobiles.

But would bike-rentals work here? There was also some concern over our local bike shops getting the shaft, but Decobikes said  they will use local shops for bike repair and maintenance. Would that be enough? I don’t know. Well, from the looks of it, DecoBikes was the previous administrations’ pet project and the new gang has other ideas. Developing…

RELATED ARTICLES – DECOBIKES

 

What kind of Long Beach do you want? City vs. Suburbia. FIGHT!

There are a lot of comments on this blog over what Long Beach should be. Long Beach is a city (incorporated in 1922), but it’s surrounded by suburban culture. Some of you are for development, while others want open space and less people. Then, there is that third category: I don’t care, as long as I can park. Lets break this all down:

City vs. Suburbia

with the sub-categories of:

Development vs. Open Space vs. Parking lots

To break it down even further, we argue (FIGHT) over the following issues:

  • Hotels (The Allegria): A great asset for Long Beach vs. Those damn valets are taking up all the parking spots!  FIGHT!
  • Superblock development: A convention center, hotel, condos, retail & food on the boardwalk. vs. I want nothing, but a large parking lot. FIGHT!
  • Bay area development (between Long Beach Blvd & The LIRR Tracks): A much needed marina, more housing & retail opportunities vs. More traffic & who needs it. FIGHT!
  • Bike Lanes: I want to be safe when I ride my bike vs. Bike riders are dangerous and don’t pay attention to cars. FIGHT!
  • DecoBikes: Great for visiters vs. Too many bikes, it won’t work & what about our local bike stores? FIGHT!
  • Retail & Restaurants on the boardwalk: A great idea vs. I don’t want Long Beach to look like Coney Island. FIGHT!
  • Major events (Quiksilver Pro, Beach Tennis USA):  Entertainment & putting Long Beach on the map vs. Traffic, headaches & fear of large crowds. FIGHT!
  • Local events (Polar Bear, Irish Day, Fireworks): Civic Pride vs. traffic & parking issues. FIGHT!
  • The conversion of dilapidated buildings to expensive condos (See: Aqua): I want to live there & it increases the value of my house vs. Too expensive for Long Beach and we don’t need the traffic or parking issues. FIGHT!

Some of these issues/ developments are ongoing, some are in the works, some are still a pipe dream. This is your SimCity (by the sea). What kind of Long Beach do you want? A quiet suburban beachside sprawl, or a walkable metropolis-by-the-sea?  

Get off your silent platform and speak up.  

FIGHT!

 

COPY AND PASTE (& FIGHT!!):

Hotel –

Superblock –

Bay Area –

Bike Lanes –

Decobikes –

Retail/Restaurants –

Major Events –

Local events –

Conversion of old buildings –

 

A bike-laned bridge over troubled parking

Most of you have already made up your mind on the whole DecoBike fiasco:

  • Worried about the extra 400 bikes.
  • Don’t want our boardwalk sold to private companies.
  • Just don’t want more people coming to Long Beach.
  • Just don’t want more bicycles on the boardwalk and around Long Beach.
  • Worried about the DecoBike racks taking up much needed parking spots.
  • The impact on Buddy’s Bikes.
  • The impact on Long Beach Bicycle.
  • The impact on Local Cycles.
  • Etc.

Like it or not, we are stuck with DecoBikes for the next 5 years. Will it work? Well, none of us went to school for bike sharing and its impact on small barrier Island cities, so I don’t think any of us really know that answer. Only time will tell. Our city officials are billing the ‘DecoBikes plan’ as a way to solve our parking problem, but it can’t and won’t.  Out-of-towners still need to drive and park their cars here in Long Beach to use the service. One way we can solve our parking problem is to bring less cars to Long beach, but we can’t because our current infrastructure doesn’t support safe bike travel from other parts of Long Island.  There are no bike lanes between Long Beach and Island Park, Lido Beach, Point Lookout, Atlantic Beach & even Oceanside.  Heck, I would even go up Loop Parkway though the Meadowbrook to Merrick.

A lot of residents from these neighboring towns, especially Island Park, park in Long Beach to use our beaches and spend money at our restaurants. Maybe some of these folks would love to leave their cars at home and take a bike! Why take a bike when it’s so much easier to drive? Well, it’s simple: there is comfort knowing you won’t have the frustration of finding a parking spot near the beach. Exercise and fresh air are always good too! (Some people, like myself, actually like exercise and fresh air).

This, of course, brings me back to the bike lane over the Michael Valente / Long Beach Bridge proposal (see – Bike Lanes by the Sea).  How many cars come over the bridge from Island Park and park in our spaces?  I’m sure it’s a lot – especially on a hot Saturday in July.  If we can offer them a safe alternative – some will bite.  As of now, bike travel over that bridge is freakin’ dangerous & downright scary. Between the Harbor Island Condos & a redeveloped Island Park downtown, we are going to see an influx of folks coming to Long Beach and that only means less parking spaces for all.

Similar to my bike lane proposal for Long Beach (see – Bike Lanes by the Sea), I propose bike lanes for :

  • Michael Valente / Long Beach Bridge
  • E. Park Avenue & Lido Blvd to Point Lookout
  • Loop & Meadowbrook parkways
  • West end connection to the Atlantic Beach Bridge (which already has a bike lane, by the way).

They say that no man is an Island. Well, lets put those words to good use.

LB Patch has new Bike Rental / Bike Lane info

One of the agendas from yesterday’s Long Beach City Council meeting was the following:

 

Resolution Authorizing the City Manager to  Enter into a Contract for a Self-Service Bicycle Rent/Sharing Program for the City of Long Beach  (Source: Long Beach City Council Meeting Agenda – JULY 5, 2011)

Well, The LB Patch was there and has new information on this topic. Check out their “Question of the day” and comment there, where a discussion has already begun.

Source:  Question of the Day: Bike Lanes in Long Beach?

 

More Bike Rental Info (girls not included).

The Long Beach Patch has more information on the city bike rental service. (see – City May Add 800 Wheels to Long Beach Streets). The article answers the following questions:

  • Why don’t we use local bike shops?
  • Why did the city signed a six-year contract?
  • Are bike lanes in the mix?
  • How much money could this potentially bring to the city?

One interesting fact from the article is that DecoBike will be the operators.  From what I understand, Decobike runs a top notch bike rental service that works really well in Miami. Their website gives us a sneak peak of what to expect here in Long Beach:  www.decobike.com

How To Use DECOBIKE (Instructional Video) from DECOBIKE on Vimeo.

Source: Long Beach Patch – City May Add 800 Wheels to Long Beach Streets

A great insight on the Bike Sharing Program.

A reader named Allison posted the following comment in the Self-Service Bicycle Rent/Sharing Program’ (by the sea) thread, but it deserves it’s own post because it’s so good. So here it is!

Allison Writes:

Bike sharing programs are wonderful and work in places around the world that have have an existing bike culture; bike routes and an equal share of the roads with cars. We do not currently have that in Long Beach (but we could, and quite easily).

As this proposal stands, the company would introduce up to 400 bikes into the community. Long Beach cannot at this time handle 400 more bikes on the sidewalks and/or roads. Furthermore, these bikes would more than likely be rented to out of towners which is great for business in areas not surrounding the LIRR; however, without bike lanes and an understanding of the flow of traffic in this city (I’m thinking of the West End in particular on this one) this could lead to a potential traffic clog and safety issue for bikers, drivers and pedestrians.

A second issue is the lack of parking we already have. On any summer day there is a shortage of bike racks which leads bikes to be locked to the boardwalk ramps or using inconvenient placed structures that create unsafe sidewalks for pedestrians, strollers and handicapped. If there is a need for bike racks as it is, where would the installation of between 20 – 40 locking racks for up to 400 rental bikes exactly be?

Third – and most important- is the local bike shops that already rent bikes. The owner of Buddy’s Bikes on Beech St and Local Cycles on Park were not aware of this program; they simply were not approached by any member of the council about a need to bump up bike rentals and/or to make them more conveniant. Charles Theofan simply did not approach them. What gives? Since when has Long Beach shut our their own business owners to favor out of state business?

And finally, this bike sharing program would lock our city into a 6 year contract. 6 years.

While I understand the need to bump up revenue via 10% share of profits via advertising, the consequences to our streets, business owners and overall safety is not worth it.

‘Self-Service Bicycle Rent/Sharing Program’ (by the sea)

At the June 21st council meeting, there was talk on bringing ‘Bicycle Rental & Sharing’ to Long Beach. From the proceedings:

A “Resolution Authorizing the City Manager to Enter into a Contract for a Self-Service Bicycle Rent/Sharing Program for the City of Long Beach” was tabled

With the Quiksilver Pro this September, bicycle rentals could be a cash cow for the city. But what about the long run? I guess if the rental kiosks are strategically placed in the right locations, it could work.  In other words, don’t put one in the Waldbaums shopping center.

So what do you guys think? Do you think something like this might work in Long Beach, or will it suffer the same fate as the pedi-cab experiment of 2009?

Source: PROCEEDINGS OF THE CITY COUNCIL CITY OF LONG BEACH  MEETING OF JUNE 21, 2011

 

*photo is unrelated to Long Beach, NY.