Way back in 1927, then-Councilmember Alexander Beck of Long Beach decided to build a tunnel that went under Ocean Blvd. at Pine Ave., or what is now called the Jergins Tunnel (and still exists).
The interesting thing is not necessarily the pedestrian tunnel itself—which is an adored part of DTLB’s history—but why it was built: Pine and Ocean was seeing some 4,000 people cross its intersection per hour on the weekend. And they weren’t heading north on Pine but south—the exact opposite direction in which current DTLB foot traffic goes.
This is why we proposed the question, “How do we (re)connect Downtown to its waterfront?” when we released our ULI TAP Study. And that is why we are now taking the suggestions of that study in order to create a Waterfront Task Force, looking to those interested to serve on this task force.
Connecting our waterfront, one of our most unique aspects in the Downtown, is an essential cog in building a better DTLB.
Intriguingly, according to the study, our weaknesses are precisely our strengths: a lotta land, street capacity, parking, and governance all both contribute toward and detract from making a better connection from Downtown to its waterfront. This led to not just admirable but great ideas that mainly revolved around bringing the more popular corridors—East Village Arts District’s Linden, Pine Avenue…—southward.
For example, the brilliant concept of shifting the facades of the Performing Arts Center (PAC) and Arena/Pacific Ballroom. As of now, they are entirely north-facing structures; that is, their grandeur has one side. No one thinks of entering from the southend despite the fact that Rainbow Lagoon sits right behind it. In this sense, the PAC’s whole geometry needs to be reconfigured in a sense where it stops feeling like the crowned end of Long Beach Blvd.
Fixing the parking situation was one they admitted was “complicated” and, in certain terms, was overbuilt for existing land use. A large portion of our real estate has been provided to parking—and questioning how we can make parking structures less like monolithic, concrete blocks and more resident friendly is key. This included appropriating flat lots for events and adding real estate to edges of parking structures so that businesses could pop-up.
Of course, these ideas were great. And welcomed. And inspirational. But now is the time to take the next step by creating a team that will examine the feasibility of these ideas and take tangible steps forward in connecting the waterfront.
Do you think you are perfect to serve in this capacity? Send an email to DLBA Placemaking Manager Sean Warner at SeanW@dlba.org and offer your suggestion!