Long Beach

Historic Long Beach neighborhood fights against affordable housing project

Neighbors say a residential building would tower over one-story historic homes.

NBC Universal, Inc.

The push for affordable housing in Long Beach is running up against opposition in the city’s largest historic district.

“Affordable housing is great for the area of Long Beach,” said Patricia Acevedo, who lives across the proposed project. “We see the need, we are not opposed to the housing. It’s just the magnitude of it.”

The building itself would be just outside the district line, but right up against the historic neighborhood.

The city of Long Beach bought an old one-story grocery store at 1131 Wardlow Road in 2023, hoping to turn it into much needed affordable housing. The initial proposal was a seven-story, 100 residential unit, mix-use building just outside the Cal Heights historic district, which has been zoned to one-story homes since 1990. 

“For them to just plop down this Soviet-style looking box and say here you go. It’s new, it’s bright, it’s clean. It doesn’t fit,” said Elena Dorio, who has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years.

“We have heard from residents that they don’t feel the city is being transparent,” said Manuel Valenzuela, president of the Cal Heights Neighborhood Association. “We get the sense that the city is checking boxes.”

Mayor Rex Richardson and city councilor Megan Kerr attended a community meeting in March where they heard the opposition to the project.

The city presented a trimmed down version of the project, revised to five stories and 70 plus units.

“The process for making the proposed development at 1131 E Wardlow into affordable housing is still in its beginning stages. The city owns the property and is working through the necessary steps,” wrote Kerr’s office. “We recognize the concerns being raised by some members of the community, and we will continue to advocate for more opportunities for our residents to provide feedback on the next stages as the process progresses.”

The city, under state law, has to build 26,502 units of housing in eight years.

Until recently, the building has been concentrated largely in downtown, central, and north Long Beach areas with about 2,800 units built.

Eastern neighborhoods, like Cal-Heights, have only had 151 affordable units built.

According to the state’s housing and community development department, affordable housing in Long Beach is available to families with household incomes between 30% and 80% of the area median income, which is a range of about $37,830 to $100,880 for a family of four.

The city of Long Beach has determined all neighborhoods should share the load of the housing mandate.

“We are midst of a housing crisis but we need to build things in a way that embraces the community and doesn’t deter the community,” said Valenzuela.

Contact Us