LONG BEACH — The City Council has decided to boot the carnival-style rides out of the public parking lot downtown.
The amusement park owners Russell Maize and Chris Summerer got a permit in June that allowed them free use of about three dozen spaces to expand the for-profit business. After the Observer raised questions about the gifting of public resources — a practice banned by state law — the five-member council asked the business to pay.
Maize and Summerer agreed to rent part of the lot east of the attractions for $100 a month through October. The city later extended the permit through March 31.
Just before it expired, Mayor Jerry Phillips said he was against allowing the rides on the Long Beach-owned property any longer. He told the council on March 19 he was getting too much heat from residents.
After a few minutes of discussion, Councilman Steve Linhart said the council would support the mayor’s opposition. Although none of the members disagreed, two weeks later, the elected leaders were split.
Lindhart and Councilman Kevin Cline voted on April 2 to approve a permit that would have allowed Summerer and Maize to keep four of the six new rides in the lot for another seven months. Councilwomen Holli Kemmer and Tina McGuire opposed it.
Because Councilman Del Murry was absent, it was up to the mayor. Phillips broke the tie, voting to deny the permit.
Before making the decision, city leaders heard from people who wanted them to stop letting the private business to take up public parking spaces, Long Beach Administrator David Glasson said. Others spoke in support of the park that draws tourists to town.
Now, the Sidewinder, the Paratrooper, the Spinning Apples and the 100-foot Super Slide must be moved off city property, Glasson said. Summerer declined to comment after the decision last week.
In late March, he told the Observer, he might have to sell the rides if he couldn’t keep them in the parking lot. But, he didn’t want to speculate because he had no indication his permit would not be approved at the time.
Summerer intended to run the rides on city property during the tourist season every year and store them the rest of the time. He said he wouldn’t have invested in new attractions if he hadn’t been assured the city would support the park expansion.