ST3525 - Nov. 22_Layout 1 11/22/13 12:19 PM Page 1 SIGNAL “This country is moving, and it must not stop. For this is a time for courage and a time for challenge. Neither conformity nor complacency will do.” –excerpt from John F. Kennedy’s undelivered speech in Austin, Texas on Nov. 22, 1963 “John F. Kennedy” mixed-media collage by Alejandra Vernon See page 10 T R I B U N E SERVING BIXBY KNOLLS, CALIFORNIA HEIGHTS, LOS CERRITOS, WRIGLEY AND THE CITY OF SIGNAL HILL Vol. 35 No. 25 Controversial decision to oust Harbor Commission president drives deep wedge between Long Beach mayor, his critics Your Weekly Community Newspaper November 22, 2013 Sean Belk/Signal Tribune Bob Cerince (far left), homeless services officer for the Long Beach Department of Health & Human Services, gives a presentation on homelessness at the Carmelitos Community Center during the North Long Beach Leaders meeting on Nov. 20. CJ Dablo / Signal Tribune Before the Long Beach Council voted to remove him from his position as the president of the Harbor Commission for the Port of Long Beach, Thomas Fields defends his record at the Nov. 19 Council meeting. CJ Dablo Staff Writer Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster succeeded in ousting Thomas Fields from his position as the president of the Harbor Commission for the Port of Long Beach at the Nov. 19 Council meeting. However, that night, the mayor had to fend off damaging accusations from a variety of people who questioned his motivation for requesting to remove Fields from office. Among his critics was 5th District Councilmember Gerrie Schipske. She took her usual spot at the seat to the mayor’s immediate right, as Foster read from a statement that outlined his reasons behind his request. According to the city charter, the mayor does have the ability to remove a commissioner if he is able to receive the concurrence of two-thirds of the Council. City Attorney Charles Parkin confirmed at the Council meeting that Foster needed six out of the nine councilmembers to agree with him, and despite the fact that numerous supporters of Fields loudly voiced their opposition to the mayor, six councilmembers did vote to approve the recommendation to remove Fields. Foster stressed that his choice to ask the Council to make this decision wasn’t over a mere disagreement between Fields and Foster. The mayor explained that it was about their “inability to work productively together.” Foster focused on three key issues– port security, disputes over a real-estate deal surrounding the port Efforts to reduce homelessness discussed at North Long Beach Leaders meeting Sean Belk Staff Writer Even though Long Beach has made major progress in reducing homelessness in the city, there were still about 1,800 people found on the street during a one-day, citywide homeless count in January this year, said Bob Cerince, homeless services officer for the Long Beach Department of Health & Human Services. Cerince, who was hired for the position a little more than a year ago, spoke to about a dozen people, most of whom lead local community groups, during the North Long Beach Leaders meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at the Carmelitos Community Center. The total number of homeless individuals in Long Beach, whether they are on the street or in emergency shelters or transitional housing, has declined since the City began the homeless count in 2003 from about 5,000 individuals to about 4,300, he said. Long Beach provides a system of homeless services through the collaboration of local organizations, from the police department to the health department to about a dozen established nonprofits, and more than $7 million a year in federal funding is spent on addressing homelessness in the city, Cerince said. Still, the reality is that “the need does exceed the demand,” he said. “We try to do as best we SH Council amends zoning to expand proposed affordable-housing project see FIELDS page 17 Sean Belk Staff Writer Signal Hill planners say a move by the City Council to change zoning in order to expand a proposed affordablehousing project by adding a site with an old, metal Quonset hut will possibly encourage a developer to take over the project and get the City one step closer to meeting state-mandated housing requirements. The Signal Hill City Council voted 5-0 at its Nov. 19 meeting to switch the land-use designation of a .2-acre site (more than 8,700 square feet) at 2170 Gundry Ave., which includes a Quonset hut that was once used for storage, from “light industrial” to “Special Purpose Housing Specific Plan” Area 6. The project, which has been in the works for more than five years, involves demolishing the hut on Gundry Avenue and combining the property with an adjacent 1.41-acre, City-owned site at 1500 E. Hill St. Merging the two properties enlarges the project size to a total of 1.61 acres, which increases the density of the proposed affordable-housing complex from 60 to 72 units. Though Councilmember Lori Woods requested clarification regarding the increase in density, Signal Hill Community Development Director Scott Charney assured that the project would conform to city standards for multi-tenant housing. “That’s 45 units per acre, which is the highest density that we allow in the city,” he said, adding that the project Weekly Weather Forecast Friday 69° Saturday 69° Variable clouds with a shower Mostly cloudy with a shower Lo 49° Lo 51° Sunday 72° Partly sunny Lo 48° November 22 through November 26, 2013 Monday 70° Mostly sunny Lo 49° Tuesday 70° Mostly sunny Lo 51° This week’s Weekly Weather Forecast sponsored by: Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist 3629 Atlantic Avenue, Long Beach (562) 424-5562 would be slightly denser than the Las Brisas II complex, which was the last affordable-housing development completed in Signal Hill at California Avenue and Burnett Street in 2007 by Adobe Communities. Charney said that the new affordable-housing complex might have some three-story elements, but the bulk of it would be four stories high. According to a city staff report, environmental assessments were completed for both sites of the project, and a negative declaration was presented to the Council that addresses any potential impacts regarding hazards, landuse planning, population and housing, public services, recreation and transportation. see SH COUNCIL page 15 see HOMELESS page 19 File photo The land-use designation of the .2-acre property at 2170 Gundry Ave., which includes an old, metal Quonset hut, has been switched from “light industrial” to “Special Purpose Housing Specific Plan” Area 6 in order to add the site to a proposed affordable-housing project that city officials expect to include 72 units.