Thursday, May 30, 2024

The strips of green on Ocean Boulevard? They’re parks—and their decades-old design guides are being updated

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Victory and Santa Cruz Parks—the former, originally dedicated in 1889 and acting as the city’s oldest park, stretching on the south side of Ocean between Alamitos and Magnolia Avenues and the latter stretching on the same side of Ocean from Cedar to Golden Avenues in DTLB—have always been lovingly mocked by both residents and city planners alike: They’re basically the sidewalk decoration for the many old and new high-rises running along the major arterial that is Ocean.

And “for the first time since 1989,” according to a press release from the City of Long Beach, the city wants to actually update the design guidelines—the document which guides what can and can’t be done to the space—but not before seeking the public’s input on the project: Public comment on the project runs through June 9 and the city is hosting a “Popup at the Park” where people can visit Saturday, May 20 from 9AM to 11AM, in front of the OceanAire apartment complex between Pine and Pacific Avenues on Ocean Boulevard, to learn the history of park and provide feedback.

Well, asking the public about those decades-old plans kinda for the first time since 1989.

Victory Santa Cruz Park LB
Santa Cruz Park and Victory Park in DTLB. Courtesy of Gruen Associates.

The city actually reached out to the public back in December of 2019 and again in February of 2020 about updating the design guidelines—only to be shut down by Le Pandemic. 

Now, the city has a genuinely full, viable plan for what is being dubbed as a linear park—but don’t quite expect a High Line experience: There are certainly stretches which can be interconnected almost seamlessly (outside of space for cars to pass or structural interferences) but is perpetually broken up by, well, spaces for cars to pass and structural interferences along the entirety of the park.

Victory Santa Cruz LB 01
The easternmost edge of Victory Park, which stretches between Magnolia and Alamitos Avenues in DTLB. Photo by Brian Addison.

Partially created out of a need to honor what was there before—Victory Park is Long Beach’s first formal park, a stretch of oceanfront bluff that was a recreational and social space long before Downtown Long Beach became, well, the Downtown—and the need to squeeze as much green space as possible in a part of town that has been nearly entirely developed.

And in all frankness, this update needs to be applauded: Sure, it might not quite be as elevated as the High Line but it is, nonetheless, a stretch of dotted-with-disconnects green space that can, with the right design and approach, become a series of mini-assets along Ocean Boulevard. 

The public review period will be open through June 9, 2023. All comments can be provided to Project Planner, Alex Muldrow at Alex.Muldrow@longbeach.gov. “Popup at the Park” will take place in front of the OceanAire apartment complex between Pine and Pacific Avenues on the south side of Ocean Boulevard on Saturday, May 20, from 9AM to 11AM.

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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