LONG BEACH - Long Beach officials and citizens met and spoke with advisors from the company hired to help rewrite the city's development documents at a workshop on July 5 at the Super 8 Motel.

During the next year or so, Crea Affiliates will be reviewing the city's comprehensive plan, shoreline master program, critical areas ordinance, zoning code and development regulations.

Crea Affiliates founder Anindita Mitra introduced the team which will be working on the project. They included Mark Personinios, growth management specialist, Dividya Kasperzyk, who has an architectural and planning background, Bonnie Gee-Yosick, market analyst, Robert Bernstein, traffic engineer and planner, and Chris Davis, a GIS specialist.

Mitra emphasized the key to the project is citizen involvement. "Integral to the process is public input. It's a critical part of the success of the process."

That sentiment was echoed by other members of the team and city officials.

"I hope we have good turnout throughout this project," Mayor Ken Ramsey told the crowd of about 30 attendees.

"I don't want this to be a council decision or a planning commission decision," said Councilman Fred Cook. "The way this will work is if there is (citizen) input."

Community Development Director John Schelling complimented the council on the city's commitment to review the documents. "It's something that determines the future of our town," he said. "It's a blueprint of what we want our town to look like in 20 years."

The team of Crea Affiliates will help the town develop a "vision" for the future, which will include issues such as housing, transportation, land use, environment and infrastructures.

"The city is very fortunate to take a look at all of these documents at the same time," said Shelling.

City officials felt a need to hire an outside consulting firm because of the extent of the project and the complexity of the documents, which must comply with all state and federal regulations and well as address local issues. They want to ensure the language correctly states the city's intent and does not provide for loopholes which can be exploited.

"Change is going to come upon us," said Cook of increased development pressure. "We can have some control or stick our heads in the sand."

Personinios told the crowd the city is wise to review the documents. "It's what a forward thinking city does," he said. He said Washington is one of the most highly regulated states, which increases the difficulty of planning.

Mitra was encouraging about the project. "The process of planning is an opportunity to be proactive," she said. "This is about creating your future."

Before the meeting broke up, Cook once again encouraged public involvement. "I challenge the citizenry to step up to the plate," he said.

The advisors and officials will be holding regular meetings over the next year, times and place to be announced. Those who wish to be involved should contact the city at 642-4421.

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