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There were several reasons for my supporting the RFP, including existing seismic safety concerns, ongoing maintenance costs and a desire to get rid of costly property leases for off-site employees by bringing everyone under one roof. I also believe the City has a once in a lifetime opportunity to include the Port of Long Beach in a Civic Center, making it easier for our residents to participate in their government and contribute to a vibrant Downtown economy.
The safety of residents doing business in City Hall and employees performing their duties is my first concern. This concern about the structural integrity of the building stems from seismic studies performed in 2005 and again this year. The studies revealed serious deficiencies in the event of an earthquake leading to the collapse of the four supporting cement towers housing elevators and stairwells necessary for evacuation. Coupled with code updates, ADA requirements and energy enhancements, the cost to retrofit City Hall has been estimated at nearly $170 million. This does not even include necessary seismic repairs to the Main Library or changes to its rooftop to allow public access. Nor does it cover the cost to make Lincoln Park or our civic plaza more functional and welcoming to pedestrians. So it makes sense to consider whether a newly constructed civic center is more cost effective than pouring money into an obsolete building surrounded by unfriendly public space.
Any design of a Civic Center will be based on guiding principles found in the Downtown Plan, which encourages bold, iconic architecture and pedestrian friendly elements that contribute to the vision of our Downtown as a thriving metropolis by the water. Included in the RFP will be the request for a state of the art library that serves our residents and visitors into the future while embracing that which we cherish – a rich history of books. In addition, we are interested in seeing how these development teams design spaces that support a safe and activated park, pedestrian plaza and perhaps other uses tied to higher education, arts and culture.
So how can you participate in the process?
Over the next few months, there will be opportunities for residents to share their suggestions for a new and improved civic center, including a community meeting hosted by the Second and First Council districts. We plan to invite interested development teams to the meeting to learn more about our community’s needs and priorities.
I invite you to share your hopes for our civic center with us at every turn, because an opportunity like this doesn’t come, but once in a lifetime.
To view the staff report, please click here.
To view staff's presentation and my comments following the presentation, please click here.
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