2022 In Review

Steve Propes

Death and Disability

At age 71, LBReport.com publisher Bill Pearl died of esophageal cancer on Jan. 5 at his Long Beach home. In his working life, Pearl was an attorney, a rock and roll radio DJ and talk show host on KABC prior to the start of his LBReport in 2000. In 2021, Pearl also contributed stories to the Beachcomber.

On Oct. 5, after winning the primary in June, Seventh District Councilman Roberto Uranga took a leave of absence after experiencing a stroke in late September just before his 34-year-old son, Roberto “Tito” Uranga died on Sept. 22 following a battle with a rare and aggressive form of cancer, according to Uranga’s office.

Politics and Elections

Recently retired Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna announced his candidacy for L.A. County Sheriff on Jan. 1. Luna won the office in the Nov. 8 general election.

State Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell announced his retirement on Jan. 5. In early January, Josh Lowenthal and Eighth District Councilman Al Austin announced for the newly created 69th Assembly District to represent Long Beach, Signal Hill, Avalon and part of Carson. Lowenthal won. Also in January, Ninth District Councilman Rex Richardson and Third Councilwoman Suzie Price announced their candidacy for mayor of Long Beach. Richardson won.

Long Beach City Council returned to in-person meetings on March 15.

After coming short of 50 percent of the vote in the crowded June 7 primary, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia gathered 68 percent of the votes in the November 8 election, winning the congressional seat vacated by Alan Lowenthal.

On the Nov. 8 City Council races, Kristian Duggan won the Third District; Megan Kerr won the Fifth District and Joni Ricks-Oddie won the Ninth District. Because of redistricting, Councilwomen Cindy Allen and Stacy Mungo were drawn out of the districts they represented.

Infrastructure and Environment

On March 20 in a 710 Freeway takeover, 100 cars did their donut thing in front of literally hundreds of spectators who stopped on the freeway near Del Amo Boulevard to watch, stopping untold numbers of freeway users. After an hour or so, with about 50 cars still on scene, the CHP message was “help.”

On June 17 at the 3900 block of Allin Street near the Belmont Pier, a fire broke out on the second floor of a multi-unit building, spreading to the third floor. A powerful blast from the second-floor apartment shook the structure. Two firefighters were hospitalized with minor burns and hearing injuries from that explosion. Neighbors of the unoccupied second floor unit owned by a trust revealed it was used for storage of boxes. “Fireworks were involved,” said a Fire Department spokesman.

On July 10, demolition of the 54-year-old Gerald Desmond Bridge began.

On Sept. 4, Long Beach broke a heat record set in 1988. From August 31 to September 8, Long Beach suffered in a 100 degree plus heat wave.

On Sept. 23, the $48 million Billie Jean King Main Library, which opened in 2019 closed to walk-in patrons. Angry, possibly dangerous encounters with homeless people who stayed at the library all day and remain outside at night were the why. The library reopened on Oct. 20

Taking over the Queen Mary in September, on Nov. 1, City Council voted to authorize $1 million to pay for cosmetic repairs, though a city audit estimates Queen Mary still needs $23 million in “critical repairs.” In a partial reopening, the city authorized free first-come-first-serve tours of the ship to begin on Dec. 24. A reopening of other services is promised in the spring.

A freeway incident revealed a major vulnerability at the eastbound 405 just below the 605 juncture. After a major accident on Nov. 4, southbound traffic on Bellflower Boulevard gridlocked as did traffic on Seventh Street. Willow Street, Spring Street, Carson Street and Wardlow Road suffered similar gridlock and major delays. The incident expired four hours later. 

Crime, Disruption and Arrest

On March 1, after drinking at Bottoms Up at 1739 Artesia Boulevard, Octavio Montano Islas got into his truck, made a left turn on Rose Avenue and crashed into an apartment building, killing 42-year-old Jose Palacios and his 3-year-old daughter Samantha. Protests and an ABC investigation caused the bar to announce a closing, though it simply moved to 9875 Alondra Blvd. in Bellflower. Islas has evaded arrest.

On April 4, a student called her father, who in turn called police at Wilson High School that shots had been fired. It stirred up a major response and student and teacher evacuation to a sports field. Police began to stage outside the building, then were bluntly instructed to go inside right away, accompanied by a mass evacuation to the Recreation Park golf course and the school’s sports field. Turned out it was a case of a fireworks toss onto the plaza area. At noon, a whole lotta parental reunions took place. Firework toss person might soon face serious penalties.

On May 31, an armored car guard servicing an open standalone ATM machine at Viking Way, approached by a man who grabbed his arm and sprayed him in the face, then went for his bag. Said a witness, “The Brink’s guy shot blindly and the robber got away.” Though no one was hit, the suspects got the message: your plot flopped. They fled. No injuries reported, excepting the guard who got pepper sprayed, and who sought out a face wash-out at a nearby salon. At no time did the guard-driver leave the vehicle per policy. It’s now an FBI matter. No arrests, so far.

On July 7, police arrested Steve Burhmann, 65, on felony possession of a controlled substance while armed and owning a drug house at the 3300 block of San Anseline Avenue. He posted $50,000 bail a few days later.

On July 26, Seven-year-old Gabriel Garate of Long Beach and his father had the right-of-way crossing Lakewood Boulevard when a pickup’s driver made a left turn from 23rd Street to southbound Lakewood, failing to yield, fatally striking the boy. James Barnes, 57, of Desert Hot Springs was arrested for felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.

On Sept. 9, after an argument, Christopher Finley, 28, and boyfriend, Jake Stone were stabbed by a passerby at the Mineshaft, 1720 E. Broadway. Stone was treated for stab wounds, Finley died. On Sept. 12, Police arrested 56-year-old Michael J. Smalls at his 3000 block of Fourth Street residence for Finley’s murder.

On Oct. 7, after a Park Estates jewel theft, a homeowner alleged “this is the work of a network of Chileans that come here to loot wealthier neighborhoods and then go back to Chile later on. A gang of sort and rotational so may be a whole different set weeks later. International focusing on wealthier nations. Very professional accessing master bedroom only looking for jewelry and expensive handbags.” A similar burglary occurred two hours later at cross-town Country Club Drive. No known arrests.

On Dec. 8, display flags mounted in front of a residences at the 2800 block of Iroquois Avenue and Hackett Avenue were set on fire in the early morning hours, one of which dropped to a parked car, setting that vehicle on fire. Arrested was one-time resident of the area, 35-year-old John Leo Meylor of Laguna Niguel, 13 counts of arson and violation of parole.

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