City of Long Beach Releases Land Use and Urban Design Element Drafts

Long Beach City’s Development Services recently released drafts of their Land Use and Urban Design Element for the City’s General Plan.

The Land Use element in specific is a hugely impactful policy document spanning 179 pages, and contains some critical policies encouraging urban agriculture, community gardens, and health-promoting retail through the year 2035!

We commend this gargantuan effort, and are glad we were able to give lots of input in meetings through the past year and a half!

The public is invited to attend a Planning Commission Study Session and provide input on the City’s progressive vision for future land use and urban design. A Planning Commission Study Session will be held on Thursday, July 2, 2015, 5:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, 333 W. Ocean Blvd.

See the below excerpts from the Land Use Element, or download the entire document at


The language below was extracted from the 179 page draft of the City of Long Beach Development Services’ Land Use Element Draft and Urban Design Element Draft. The excerpts below are those that pertain most closely to food access – particularly community gardens, markets, and urban agriculture. Download the entire document at 

 Access to Healthy Foods

Increasing access to healthy, locally-grown foods by invigorating the community’s interest in farmers’ markets, community and school gardens, and home-grown foods also contributes to a healthier population.

Community Gardens and Urban Farms.

Community gardens and urban farms can be established on public or private land that is gardened and tended by the community. Community gardens and urban farms can be used by the community to grow vegetables for personal use, or may be dedicated for “urban agriculture” where the items grown are sold at a farmers’ market.

Community gardens have many benefi ts, including reducing food budgets for families, educating residents about sustainable agriculture and real food, providing healthy food options, raising environmental awareness, and providing an additional form of passive open
space for the community. The Long Beach Community Garden Association operates and maintains an eightacre community garden at El Dorado Park and rents out over 300 garden plots. Long Beach Organic, a non-profi t organization, operates over half a dozen small urban garden spaces throughout the City. As of 2013, Long Beach had over a dozen community gardens located throughout the City, with more in the planning stages.

Urban Agriculture.
There is growing movement in Long Beach that promotes healthy and environmentally sustainable urban agriculture and small-scale farming. Several non-profi t organizations and local businesses are supporting a local agriculture movement and smallscale animal husbandry in the City. The goal is to build an urban farming network that will increase local food production, assist underserved neighborhoods and establish greater community and social connections. In 2009, the City’s Offi ce of Sustainability established the Civic Center Edible Garden, a small demonstration garden aimed at educating the about growing their own food. There are also several small-scale urban farms operating in the City, supplying local farmers’ markets and restaurants with organic fruits and vegetables.

Farmers’ Markets: Access to Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.
Farmers markets provide a physical place for farmers and food artisans to directly sell their food to the public. These markets can be permanent or temporary, and can take place in private buildings or public spaces. Farmers’ markets provide support for area farmers and businesses and provide an opportunity for the community to purchase fresh, locally grown foods. Established farmers’ markets occur regularly in downtown, Bixby Knolls, the Alamitos Bay Marina and near the Long Beach Airport. Additional neighborhoods should be served by farmers’ markets.

School Gardens.
School gardens, like community gardens, allow children to experience a working garden and function as outdoor classrooms. Not only do they provide healthy produce for children to eat, but they offer an educational experience about healthy eating and how to grow fruits and vegetables. Parents, teachers and principals are teaming with non-profi t groups and local businesses to pursue grants to establish instructional and school gardens. Several schools in the Long Beach Unifi ed School District are participating.

Public Health Concerns
There is a growing awareness of how the design of the physical environment aff ects public health. Within some neighborhoods there is little or no access to healthy and affordable food options due to a limited number of grocery stores, quality restaurants, community gardens and farmers’ markets. Some areas are overly concentrated with fast food restaurants, convenience and liquor stores. The design of the physical environment discourages everyday physical activity. Ineffi cient street patterns and land uses discourage walking and a lack of bicycle trails, safe play grounds and insuffi cient recreation areas supports inactivity, especially among children. Residential neighborhoods proximate to ports, truck routes, freeways, major arterials and airport flight paths bear noise and air pollution impacts. All these issues increase the potential risks of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and asthma. We now realize that the design of the built environment holds the potential for addressing many of Long Beach’s current public health concerns.
LU Policy 10-1: Require land use plans, policies and

regulations promote health and wellness and reduce

barriers to healthy living.

LU Policy 10-2: Provide for a wide variety of creative,

aff ordable, sustainable land use solutions to help resolve

air, soil and water pollution, energy consumption and

resource depletion issues.

LU Policy 10-3: Support land use and policy decisions

that promote local urban agriculture, community

gardens, and local food production throughout the city.

LU Policy 10-4: Reduce disproportionate concentrations

of unhealthy food sources within neighborhoods,

especially near schools and sensitive uses.

LU Policy 10-5: Ensure neighborhoods are accessible

to open spaces, parks, trails, and recreational programs

that encourage physical activity and walkability.

LU Policy 17-3: Allow for and encourage small-scale

agriculture on public and private properties, including

community gardens, edible gardens and landscapes,

small urban farms and gardens throughout the City.

LU Policy 17-4: Increase the number of trees to provide

the maximum benefi ts of improved air quality, increased

dioxide sequestration, reduced stormwater runoff and

mitigated urban heat island effect.

LU Policy 17-5: Enhance access to safe open space and

recreation facilities for all residents.

LU IM-54: Adopt land use regulations and programs that

encourage healthy food options in local neighborhoods.

Initiatives could include establishing additional

community gardens and farmers’ markets, allowing

edible estates and urban agriculture, and discouraging

drive-through facilities.

LU IM-72: Increase the diversity of urban recreational

spaces to include pocket parks, infi ll parks, community

gardens, small green spaces, rooftop gardens, urban

agriculture and gardening spaces, paseos, linear parks,

small play fi elds and courts, playgrounds, urban trails

and similar urban open spaces.

LU IM-79: Reuse vacant properties as community

amenities such as gardens, parks or temporary green

spaces to reduce blight and safety issues, increase

residents’ access to needed parks and open spaces, and

spur additional investment in neighborhoods.

The following are excerpted from Long Beach Development bureau’s Urban Design Plan element.

Policy UD 5-1: Provide opportunities for public access to fresh food through the encouragement of urban agriculture, edible sidewalks, and community gardens.
Policy UD 32-1: Utilize city-owned, vacant lots for interim green uses (e.g., parks, gardens, plant nurseries, mulch areas) and develop strategies that address citywide and local needs, in determining the best use for these lots.
Policy UD 32-2: Identify opportunities within neighborhoods and at schools to create and maintain community gardens.
Policy UD 32-3: Transform underused lots and public properties into vibrant, social, public spaces to accommodate community gatherings and events
Policy UD 4-3: Provide locations for amenities and uses that encourage community interaction and healthy lifestyles such as farmers’ markets, demarked walking routes, street festivals, and performing spaces.
Policy UD 33-2: Provide flexibility in street design and improvement to be flexible, easily accommodating temporary uses that might be programmed to serve the neighborhood such as farmers’ markets or community events.
Policy UD 13-2: Neighborhood amenities, such as coffee shops, restaurants, and convenience stores, shall be located within a 10-minute walk or a short bike ride from residents to the greatest extent possible.


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