The good news is that a boat show at the Downtown Long Beach Marina next month is expected to bring visitors, business, money and publicity to the city. The bad news is that it also will bring cars to an area that already suffers from a parking crunch.
But to mitigate concerns about parking--and to win City Council approval--the promoters of an in-the-water boat show promised to provide an extra 1,000 free parking spaces by paying for a private Pine Avenue parking lot north of Shoreline Drive.
With that offer, the Southern California Marine Assn. won the approval of the City Council Tuesday to conduct its show from July 25 through Aug. 2.
City Wants Its Share
City officials also said they intend to keep closer tabs on the show to ensure that the city receives its proper share of revenues. Last year, the city did not require the promoter to get state-issued temporary permits for sales tax purposes, which could have brought the city about $100,000 as its share of $10 million in sales, City Manager James C. Hankla said.
City Councilman Warren Harwood, who last week wrote his colleagues a letter to protest the boat show, said after Tuesday's meeting that the additional parking would "certainly improve" but not solve the area's parking woes. Harwood withdrew his objection to the boat show but said he would like to see changes made next year.
Harwood had complained that the city was placing "the interests of out-of-town boat sellers and commercial vendors ahead of thousands of Long Beach families with children, the elderly and the handicapped who will find their free public parking occupied if we rent out our scarce water-oriented resources . . . ."
If the association returns next year, Harwood said he will ask the promoters to move their show to a less busy season for the Shoreline Village / Shoreline Park area. During June, July and August, locals who "pack their kids in their cars and come to enjoy the carrousel" often find themselves "driving around in circles in a gridlock," Harwood explained.
Another Possible Site
Another option is moving the boat show to the Convention Center, Harwood said after Tuesday's City Council meeting.
R.G. (Spike) Harvey, the association's executive director, told the council, "We have bent over backwards to try to not cause any problems in the city of Long Beach."
Harvey said there were no complaints about last year's show, which drew about 25,000 people. This is the fourth year since 1980 that the boat show, considered one of the largest in the West, will be held in Long Beach.
Councilman Evan Anderson Braude, whose district includes the Shoreline Village area, acknowledged "this is not an easy issue." But, he said, the boat show "makes our city a showplace."