Second Street Bus Pass Initiative Halted

Employees will not receive a subsidized bus pass, meant to divert their parking to free up spaces for patrons, due to lack of funding.

The bus pass incentive program for Second Street employees has hit a brick wall, as became apparent at the Belmont Shore Business Association meeting Tuesday.

The idea was to offer subsidized bus passes to employees who work on Second Street in hopes of freeing up spaces for patrons of the 300 businesses in the area.

The proposal called for the City to pay Long Beach Transit up to $15,000 per month to supply employees with bus passes to and from work, valued at 50 cents per ride, as long as they sign up in advance.

Encouraging public transportation would ideally kill two birds: it would alleviate parking congestion and save gas money for employees. It is an idea that has been in the works for years, and is modeled after bus pass programs like the one Cal State Long Beach uses: the school includes bus pass fare in tuition.

In a small informal survey of employees at Buffalo Exchange on Second Street, those who reported they drove to work said they might use the bus pass, those who rode their bikes said they definitely would and those who walked said they probably would not.

This program was tentatively scheduled to run on a three month trial basis, operating through funds from the Belmont Shore Parking and Business Improvement Advisory Commission, Long Beach Transit and BSBA.

However, in reviewing the program, Assistant City Attorney Heather Mahood has concluded that the subsidized bus pass program does not fall into a category of appropriate usage for parking funds.

None of the three sources of funds that the Parking Advisory Commission has authority over include incentive programs such as this one, which was the idea of the resident member of the Commission. The parking meter fund is one of the three and designates revenue to be used mainly on improvement, construction or maintenance of parking lots and related structures.

Jim Fisk, Development Project Manager of the Department of Public Works, said, "We thought it was a great idea! But it just can't be funded. The Parking Commission can fund 'things' but not 'programs.'"

The rest of the funding would have to come from another source, or the City general fund, and neither is feasible, according to Fisk.

Though the BSBA meeting was supposed to discuss plans for long-term funding, since the initial pilot program has hit a standstill, the item was removed from the agenda.

For an explainer on the Parking Commission and its budget, click here: http://patch.com/A-dmtQ

John B. Greet June 01, 2011 at 01:45 PM
No. I do not believe the best solution in this case needs to rely upon government at any level. Here's one suggestion to get the ball rolling: Perhaps BSBA could increase its dues by $50 per month and earmark that increase to cover the costs of monthly bus passes for those employees who want one. A regular unlimited-use monthly bus pass from LB Transit costs just $65 dollars. The dues increase should be able to cover a large number of these passes, which can be issued to employees on a first come-first served basis. This is a market-based solution to a market-based challenge and does not require government involvement at any level.
Mike Ruehle June 01, 2011 at 02:56 PM
If the Parking Commission can only fund things and not programs, how was the Parking Commission able to fund their PARKING PASS PROGRAM? How was the Parking Commission able to fund their GATEWAY SIGN SURVEY, fund the FREE PARKING last April 14th, fund FREE HOLIDAY PARKING, fund VALET PARKING, and many other non-"things?" None of those sound like "construction or maintenance of parking lots and related structures." Where was the City Attorney when those monies were being spent? The Parking Commission has requested City Council change their ordinance many times in the past to include spending on items not previously authorized. I suggest they do the same for this potentially worthwhile program.
Aileen Colon June 01, 2011 at 03:27 PM
It seems the City of Long Beach and the Port of Long Beach look for green programs and certainly this one would qualify. The quality of our air enviornment remains poor and this can be considered an excellent measure to encourage folks to leave their cars at home. No doubt it could reduce air pollution as well as parking congestion. The BSBA should pursue funding this one with the encouragement of our Mayor and Councilmembers.
Nancy Woo June 01, 2011 at 05:31 PM
Well, for knowledge's sake, there is one part of the funding that is designated to public improvements, including: "promotion of businesses and public events, or furnishing music in public areas." It can also include "project art" and acquiring parking spaces to "make parking available within the boundaries of the District." There is also an Attachment A describing areas included, which I do not have. It seems like improving a sign would fall under "street furniture" or "improvements to streets, curbs, gutters...and other appurtenant work located within...the boundaries." However, a parking pass program (I know not which one you speak of) seems like it wouldn't, and free parking - maybe as a part of "operation."
Nancy Wride (Editor) June 01, 2011 at 05:39 PM
Would freeing up parking for customers and patrons not fall under promoting business? I understand that term might mean promo....but as to the spirit of it? It does seem odd that its okay for the Parking Commission to be able to spend money on furniture and live music but not....improving parking? I wonder if there is a will, there is a way....
Nancy Wride (Editor) June 01, 2011 at 05:46 PM
This is a nice overview of the commission and its budget, which I found helpful as someone who had never heard of the commission prior to working for Patch. http://patch.com/A-dmtQ
Nancy Woo June 01, 2011 at 05:50 PM
Hm, you have a point that it could fall under "promoting business"...
Nancy Wride (Editor) June 01, 2011 at 05:59 PM
Does the BSBA favor the plan if it were deemed acceptable use of funds by the City Attorney? That would be a good follow story!
Mike Ruehle June 01, 2011 at 07:31 PM
Does anyone know how the Parking Commissioners voted on this agenda item. Was it Unanimously approved by the Parking Commissioners? Or was there dessent from one or more of the more powerful commissioners?
John B. Greet June 01, 2011 at 08:18 PM
"Recommendation to receive and file Long Beach Transit Belmont Shore Employee Rider trial program proposal. A motion was made by Commissioner Trossen, seconded by Commissioner Schneiter, to approve the proposed three month trial program. The motion carried by the following vote: Yes: 6 - Kurt Schneiter, Joy Starr, Ken Trossen, William W. Lorbeer, Marsha Jeffer and Eric Forsberg" (Commission Minutes - 5/19/11) http://longbeach.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=905737&GUID=B0F32DA9-E48F-44D8-B3BC-42059B2FFC05
max w laubscher June 01, 2011 at 09:12 PM
MAX the city atterney is correct. parking meter money can not be used for promotions, promotions are the businnes of the BSBA.
Mike Ruehle June 02, 2011 at 12:29 AM
Thanks John. This begs an interesting question. Has Councilman DeLong finally begun questioning Parking Commission decisions because its Chairman and Vice Chairman are bar owners in Belmont Shore. In particular, Commission Chairman Lorbeer is the commercial property owner and landlord for Legends and Belmont Station, both problem bars on 2nd street. Furthermore, Lorbeer's nephew is married to the daughter of Belmont Shore Business Association President Gene Rotondo, whose spat with DeLong was recently documented by the Press Telegram. Has Lorbeer brought DeLong's retaliaton on to himself because he has sided with his buddy Rotondo? Previously, the Parking Commission was allowed by the city to act with impunity. Its actions were NEVER reversed. Numerous past complaints about Commission actions were submitted to the City Attorney's office and always ignored. In the past, a decision such as this proposed program would have been passed with no questions asked. Something unusual is happening.
Panglonymous June 02, 2011 at 05:49 AM
For a dull subject, this is really quite interesting. Good work, all.
John B. Greet June 02, 2011 at 01:17 PM
A market-based solution to this market-based challenge is best. Government (taxpayer) involvement is not necessary and not welcome. If the BSBA members do not want to act collectively to assist their employees who desire to ride busses, then perhaps those BSBA members who do can act on their own to do so and then receive favorable public notice from great sites like The Patch when they do. A market-based solution allows us to completely avoid all of the political questions, allegations, and complications and simply addresses the challenge directly and constructively. No Commission agenda items necessary. No Asst. City Attorney derailing the idea. Just lawful businesses working independently or collectively for the direct benefit of their employees and the neighborhood in which they do business. Whatta concept!
concern business owner June 02, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Thank you the city, Gary "the bozo" Delong some of the residents of the shore for trying to kill anything the Bsba or the parking commission does . Some of you want the bsba and its member to subsidize this project? well I say why dont the residents pay for it as well ?? its not only going to help with the parking congestion but employees would not park on the residents street. The city has 18 million to distribute give some of this money back to the shore. Instead gary and his cohort (the residents) want to kill second street businesses and to follow gene retondo comments, We dont need big brother to tell us what to do .We have too many restrictions on our businesses already, why dont gary do something about the increase of homeless , pan-handling , street musicians. Also I never seen so much of parking enforcement on second street. They are targeting second street so they dont want to loose cars for some transit program, cause it means loss of revenues.
Mike Ruehle June 02, 2011 at 03:18 PM
CBO, are you sure residents are opposed to this idea? It was my understanding the majority of the residents AND business owners support the program. Otherwise, why would the Parking Commission, which is supposed to represent those two groups, vote to approve the program. Does anyone know what the Belmont Shore Residents Associaton (BSRA) position is on this issue? They no longer poll their membership before taking a position and seldom, if ever, state their position in their email newsletter, so it is anyones' guess. Does anyone know what the Belmont Shore Business Associaton (BSBA) position (really Gene Rotondo's position) is on this issue?
John B. Greet June 02, 2011 at 03:52 PM
CBO, since the bus passes would only be available to BSBA-member employees (all Shore area businesses are BSBA members, yes?), it seems reasonable that the BSBA might consider pitching in and purchasing a quantity of these passes as an added benefit for their employees. In truth their might not be that many BSBA-member employees who are interested in bus-transportation so the total demand for the passes may not be that great. BSBA could start small...adjusting its dues only enough to purchase, say 25 monthly passes ($1625) considering the total number of BSBA members, that cannot possibly represent that great a burden for each. And wouldn't that be worth it to you to keep government well and truly *out* of the equation altogether...to keep "big brother" from "telling you what to do"? And what a nice benefit to offer to those of your employees who might want to use public transportation! Can't afford the nominal dues increase? Pass it on to your customers by adjusting your prices slightly. Doing so would be completely compliant with a market-based solution for this challenge. Here's another: Locate an off-site public (or private) parking lot, have BSBA-member employees park there, and run an employee shuttle several times a day. Here's another: Offer incentives to BSBA-member employees who ride a bike or use some method other than a personal vehicle to get to and from work. There are any number of market-based solutions that can keep "big brother" out your hair. Pick one.
Nancy Wride (Editor) June 02, 2011 at 04:43 PM
If I understand it correctly, it was only going to be a three-month pilot to see if the employees actually used transit and to see if parking congestion, where it exists, was eased. But the BSBA receives a degree of Parking Commission funds as per the link in the story on how its budget works, and those funds are are for certain uses. Also, CBO, that is an interesting point about parking revenue from cars. But I thought the objective of the pilot program was to free up parking for 2nd Street businesses. And it has been argued by some business owners privately that if the city had done a better job of managing CUPs and had a parking master plan, it would not be on the back of business or residents to financially and retroactively solve the problem. These are some but by no means all of the positions I've come across.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »