ST3532 - January 10_Layout 1 1/10/14 3:25 PM Page 1 SIGNAL T R I B U N “Bolt Rex” various metals and hardware by Andres Alarcon See page 8 E SERVING BIXBY KNOLLS, CALIFORNIA HEIGHTS, LOS CERRITOS, WRIGLEY AND THE CITY OF SIGNAL HILL Vol. 35 No. 32 January 10, 2014 Eyes on McDonnell as Baca retires Your Weekly Community Newspaper LB City Council close to finalizing billboard ordinance, but “cap and trade” proposal gets more scrutiny Long Beach police chief to announce decision soon Cory Bilicko Managing Editor Upon Lee Baca’s official announcement Jan. 7 that he will step down from his position as Los Angeles County Sheriff by the end of January amid a scandal regarding abuse of inmates, one local leader is appearing once again to be a frontrunner to replace the beleaguered official– Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell. Last year, McDonnell emerged as a possible contender against Baca for sheriff, but he ultimately made the decision to not run. McDonnell had once been second in command within the Los Angeles Police Department, under Chief Bill Bratton. Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert,who is seeking reelection, was quick to throw support behind McDonnell after Baca’s Tuesday-morning press conference. In an emailed statement sent to the Signal Tribune, Haubert said the Long Beach police chief is the “obvious choice.” “I’ve worked closely with Chief McDonnell and seen him do well under pressure,” Haubert said. “He is the type of leader who can make tough decisions and still retain the respect of his officers. LA County Sheriff is a difficult job, and only someone with Chief McDonnell’s experience and leadership skills could do it well.” Haubert acknowledged that McDonnell last year had made the decision to not seek the position, but the city prosecutor said he Sean Belk/Signal Tribune Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell (pictured above in a press conference last year at LBPD headquarters) said this week that he will be making a decision about running for Los Angeles County sheriff “in see SHERIFF page 7 the very near future.” Signal Hill Council approves plans for Chipotle, Starbucks, Sprint and ATMs at Gateway Center Sean Belk Staff Writer CJ Dablo/Signal Tribune In a first-reading vote, Long Beach City officials unanimously approved a new ordinance that will have strict guidelines in place for both regular and electronic billboards. If fully approved, the ordinance will allow for new billboards under a “cap and trade” program. Details of the “cap and trade” program still need to be worked out after one billboard company voiced opposition to a specific portion of the ordinance. The Signal Hill City Council at its Tuesday, Jan. 7 meeting unanimously approved plans for a new Chipotle restaurant, a drive-through Starbucks, a Sprint retail store and two standalone ATMs to be located at the corner of California Avenue and Spring Street. The 215,000-square-foot, multitenant development would take up the last vacant parcel at the Signal Hill Gateway Center and neighbor the new Applebee’s restaurant that opened last October. Other tenants at the shopping center include a Home Depot, Dollar Tree, Petco, Ross, In-N-Out and Jack In the Box. Signal Hill City Manager Ken Farfsing said the new tenants are “the candle on the cake” of the shopping center that first started as a vision between the City and property owner Signal Hill Petroleum (SHP) more than a decade ago. “It’s taken almost 10 years, but you’ve hung in there,” he said. “This has been a development that kept going even during the recession.” The vision for the shopping center dates back to 2001, when the Council first approved a conceptual site plan and environmental-impact report for the 23.5-acre center. Home Depot opened in 2005, followed a year later see COUNCIL page 13 CJ Dablo Staff Writer The Long Beach City Council is close to fully adopting an ordinance that would regulate static billboards and allow construction of electronic advertising signs on a limited basis. Although the Council voted to approve the initial ordinance at their Jan. 7 meeting in a first-reading vote, representatives of a billboard company strongly opposed details in the ordinance language that specifically deal with a “cap and trade” program intended to limit the number of billboards in the city. It’s not the first time that a billboard ordinance has been brought before the Council, which approved one draft of an ordinance back in December of 2011 in a first-reading vote, but it failed to get full approval in a second reading. Since then, the staff has revisited the issue with further suggestions for changes and has met with the companies with a vested interest in continuing their static billboard signs and expanding into electronic advertising. More than 350 static billboards are scattered throughout Long Beach, according to figures provided by Director of Long Beach Development Services Amy Bodek, and the new ordinance will allow companies to build new billboards or expand or upgrade existing signs, provided that they agree to remove what is considered their “legal/non-compliant” billboards. These are signs that were constructed before the City began to regulate them. At Tuesday’s Council meeting, Bodek explained how the staff determined Weekly Weather Forecast Friday 74° Saturday 69° Sunday 72° see BILLBOARDS page 11 January 10 through January 14, 2014 Monday 78° Sunny, warmer Partly sunny Mostly sunny Mostly sunny Lo 49° Lo 49° Lo 50° Lo 50° Tuesday 79° Partly sunny, very warm Lo 50° This week’s Weekly Weather Forecast sponsored by: Catch all the NFL games here! 1174 Wardlow Rd. 562-427-4630 Karaoke! Wed/Thurs/Fri/Sat 8pm Sean Belk/Signal Tribune The final vacant parcel of the Signal Hill Gateway Center is expected to be filled in by a new multi-tenant development that includes a Chipotle restaurant, Starbucks drive-through, Sprint retail store and two Bank of America ATMs. The new businesses will be located at California Avenue and Spring Street, next to the new Applebee’s that opened last October.