In a Dec. 9 memo to the mayor and city council members, Long Beach City Manager Thomas Modica informed them that the long-debated Belmont Shore Pool project has again hit another roadblock. This time a change in legislature that will likely reduce city funds will require the plan to be reworked to adjust for a funding gap of approximately $50 million.
SB 1137 was passed in October and will go into effect in January 2023. It places restrictions on oil operations in environmentally sensitive areas, which will affect the city’s oil production in the tidelands and uplands areas, according to the memo.
“Simply put, a reduction on oil operations as a result of SB 1137 cannot support either the operating or the capital requirements of the current project without significant modifications,” Modica stated in the memo.
Most of the funding was expected to be paid out of the City’s Tidelands Fund. The city had set aside approximately $61.5 for the project and were still anticipating a funding gap of approximately $25 million. That figure had already ballooned to nearly $50 million due to inflation, rising construction costs and other site requirements, the memo stated.
Despite those hurdles, city staff had been working on a financing plan to keep the project alive. That plan was scheduled to be presented to city council in December, before becoming a moot point.
“That plan would have required some tough choices but was feasible and could be implemented to finally complete the project,” Modica wrote in the memo.
Some residents had also opposed the plan for different reasons, including the location, arguing that the city was putting more money into its more affluent neighborhoods and ignoring other options. The Long Beach Post reported in February, shortly after the project finally got approval from the Coastal Commission, that at least two citizen groups had argued that the project would be better in the downtown area, near the convention center, possibly using the Elephant lot space.
Beach access and susceptibility to sea-level rise were also concerns expressed by groups. The memo stated that the project team is now looking into viable options to get the project back on track, which could include a smaller project or reduction in components of the plan.
The original Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool was demolished in late 2014 due to seismic deficiencies. For more on the pool project visit belmontpool.com.