Wednesday, December 6, 2023
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Long Beach

Creating pockets of public open space between new housing projects


by Baktaash Sorkhabi Long Beach has been home to a huge boom of new development, with new housing projects rising up all over the city. Central Long Beach has seen the biggest amount of housing development outside of the Downtown area. These housing developments are built to solve many concerns in the area, but most importantly they are bringing housing where it is desperately needed. One of the things these buildings have brought into the area was something that many did not know the area needed, Public space.With these new buildings comes much-needed public space. Central Long Beach lacks green space, plazas, and places for people to gather. From PCH to Willow and from Pacific Avenue to Atlantic Avenue there are only three small green spaces and public spaces to gather. Recently, on Long Beach Boulevard and 19th Street, construction wrapped up on The Spark, a new mixed-use development. Included in the development is a small park with exercise and play equipment, a basketball court, and places to sit. This is the first installment of its kind to enter the area.
Spark Plaza and the portion of Rhea Avenue before the transformation. Photos by Baktaash Sorkhabi.In this area, you don’t see residents going for a run like you may see elsewhere in Long Beach. While this could be due to many reasons, the built environment and concerns for safety seem to be among the top concerns that keep residents indoors. Since The Spark’s opening, this small area has seen hundreds of locals gather and check out it’s offerings. Early in the morning and late in the evening, you see people using the exercise equipment or running drills. In the afternoon, you’ll see people sit down for a picnic or use the space to take a break from the indoors. If you pass by on Friday, you’ll see a small knitting group use the space as a meeting area. While it’s unknown as to whether this is a public space for the entire neighborhood or just for the future residents of the buildings. City planners and developers should take note that the community was missing these types of spaces and observe the great changes The Spark’s open space has brought to the community since it’s unveiling.
The building and implementation of open spaces can bring positive change to the community in regard to physical and mental health. By giving the community a space to workout safely, community health can increase. Spaces like this can also create a greater sense of safety and belonging within the community, and they provide the community with places to meet one another and host a variety of classes. With all the scheduled and proposed development in Long Beach, we hope to see public and open spaces like this in communities that would greatly benefit from it.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.


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