Bits 'n' Pieces

Southwest Connects to New Orleans

Southwest Airlines announced that it will launch weekly nonstop flights from Long Beach Airport (LGB) to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) on a seasonal basis from January 8 through the end of March 2023, just in time for Mardi Gras season. Tickets are available now at Southwest.com.

Southwest’s flights to New Orleans – utilizing the airline’s Boeing 737 fleet – will depart LGB at 12:30 p.m. on Sundays and arrive at MSY at 6 p.m. The return flight departs MSY at 4:55 p.m. and arrives back at LGB at 7:15 p.m. In addition to the new Sunday flights, Southwest offers daily service throughout the year between Long Beach and New Orleans through the airline’s point-to-point network.

“We welcome Southwest adding this Sunday shortcut from our award-winning airport to the Big Easy, giving travelers more convenient options,” said Airport Director Cynthia Guidry.

Southwest Airlines first began service from LGB in 2016 and has continued to increase its presence at the Airport since then. Of the 53 daily flight slots available at Long Beach’s noise-controlled airport, Southwest currently holds a majority, with a total of 38.

Including New Orleans, the Dallas-based airline will now fly nonstop to 16 U.S. cities from LGB.

In addition to Southwest’s flight slots, Delta Air Lines holds seven, American Airlines holds four, Hawaiian Airlines has two and Breeze Airways and UPS each have one.

Long Beach Airport will now offer nonstop service to 17 destinations across the nation, including Hawaii. Learn more at lgb.org/destinations.

Liquor Store Operators Receive Lifetime Ban

Amor Potestades Amacio, 60, and her daughter, Syntyche Amacio, 28, both of Norwalk, pleaded guilty last week for their role in the death of a family of three on Halloween night 2019 in Long Beach.

Amor Amacio was convicted of furnishing alcohol to a minor, Carlo Navarro (age 20) on October 31, 2019. Hours later, Navarro killed Joseph Awaida, 30; his wife, Raihan Awaida, 32; and their 3-year-old son, Omar, while they were walking on the sidewalk near Los Cerritos Park.

As a condition of her plea, Amor Amacio was banned from ever holding a liquor license or participating in any “business, or other commercial activity involving the sales or distribution of alcoholic beverages” in California. Amacio was also sentenced to 364 days in custody, serve five years on probation, perform 720 hours of community service, and submit proof of a least $1,000,000 in civil liability insurance that may be used for the payment of restitution to the victims.

Additionally, Amacio is required to donate $1,000 to a local charity selected by the family of the victims. The sentence was given by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lori R. Behar.

“This is one of the most tragic events to ever happen in Long Beach, and it was entirely preventable,” said Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert. “There is nothing a misdemeanor case can do to bring justice to the Awaida family, but we hope this will help prevent a similar tragedy in the future.”

The primary charge to which Amor Amacio pleaded guilty is California Penal Code section 25658(c), which provides a person who violates the law, “by purchasing any alcoholic beverage for, or furnishing, giving, or giving away any alcoholic beverage to, a person under 21 years of age, and the person under 21 years of age thereafter consumes the alcohol and thereby proximately causes great bodily injury or death to themselves or any other person, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

A video obtained by prosecutors show Amor Amacio handing a bottle of whisky to Carlo Navarro without asking for identification or paying for the bottle. According to a statement provided by Navarro, Amor Amacio knew he was under 21 years of age and had sold him alcohol multiple times in the past. According to Navarro, he was told to bring $25 to the store the following day to pay for the $16 bottle of whiskey.

Amor Amacio was also convicted of conspiracy to obstruct licensing provisions of the Alcohol Beverage Control Act because she was operating a liquor store, Green Diamond Liquor, without approval from ABC.

This is not the first time Amor Amacio has been convicted of a crime related to operation of a liquor store. She was previously charged by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office for welfare fraud in a case that alleged she stole more than $1 million in food stamps assistance. She was convicted in that case and ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution and serve five years of probation.

Shortly after pleading guilty to welfare fraud, Amacio’s daughter, Syntyche P. Amacio, applied for and was issued a license to operate a liquor store in North Long Beach, Green Diamond Liquor. Prosecutors allege the new store was operated by Amor Potestades Amacio, not by Syntyche, and that the license was sought in Syntyche Amacio’s name because ABC officials would not have issued a new liquor license to Amor.

Long Beach Supervising Deputy City Prosecutor James Young handled the sentencing hearing for the prosecution.

State Funding for Local Needs

Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D–Long Beach) has secured $23 million in funding in the state budget to promote local investments and improvements that will benefit the people of Assembly District 70.

“Improving the quality of life in our local communities has been a key priority for me throughout the eight years I have served in the State Assembly,” said Assemblymember O’Donnell. “Our state’s budget not only funds our schools, social services and other vital programs, it also provides important investments in our neighborhoods and communities.”

The 2022-23 California State Budget passed by the legislature will contain funding for the following important community enhancements:

  • $3.8 million for completion of the walking trail along the San Gabriel River to the Pacific Ocean.
  • $1.6 million for completion of the El Dorado Regional Park Youth Softball and Baseball Fields in the City of Long Beach.
  • $10.2 million for improvements at El Dorado East Regional Park in the City of Long Beach.
  • $2.2 million for capital improvements of Camp Fire Long Beach in the City of Long Beach.
  • $3.7 million for renovation and construction projects of Los Altos Family YMCA in the City of Long Beach.
  • $1.6 million for improvements at Stearns Park in the City of Long Beach.

“I am proud to have advocated for these projects in our district,” said O’Donnell. “They will enhance our community parks and recreational opportunities especially for our children. I have long said that a tired kid is a good kid and parks keep kids busy. Community parks also pay outsized dividends for everyone in improving mental and physical wellbeing.”

The California State Budget legislation has been sent to Governor Newsom’s desk for his signature.

Monkeypox Vaccine Clinic Operations Expanded

Beginning July 25, the City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will expand its monkeypox vaccine clinic operations by increasing hours and offering more appointments throughout the week for those who are eligible. These expanded operations are in effort to meet demand and to make the monkeypox vaccine more readily accessible to the populations at highest risk in the city.

In addition to city-run clinics, the DHHS is partnering with other local healthcare providers, including AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), Long Beach Comprehensive Health Center, St. Mary's CARE Clinic and the LGBTQ Center, to monitor the situation, share information and resources, and provide vaccine and other critical support for those impacted.

The City-run monkeypox vaccine clinic will be open Mondays through Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m. This clinic will accommodate those who are currently eligible and is by appointment only. Those looking to make an appointment may sign-up through our pre-registration system to join a vaccination wait list.

Those who sign-up and meet the eligibility criteria will be contacted with additional information on how to get vaccinated when it is their turn. The pre-registration system is available by visiting longbeach.gov/monkeypox. While the City is expanding clinic hours in order to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible, we are still limited by vaccine availability, which is in scarce supply.

On July 19, the city announced expanded eligibility for the monkeypox vaccine. Currently the vaccine is available for the following people:

  • People who were exposed to someone with confirmed monkeypox and do not have symptoms.
  • People who attended an event/venue where there was high risk of exposure to someone with confirmed monkeypox.
  • Gay or bisexual men and transgender persons who are on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
  • Gay or bisexual men and transgender persons who attended or worked in saunas, bathhouses, sex clubs, circuit parties, or sex parties where they had anonymous sex or sex with multiple partners.
  • Gay or bisexual men and transgender persons with a diagnosis of gonorrhea or early syphilis within the past 12 months.

Those who receive an eligibility email or text from the DHHS should bring a digital or printed copy to their appointment. The vaccine available to prevent monkeypox, JYNNEOS, is a two-dose series given at least four weeks apart. Second dose reminder cards will be given at the time of vaccination.

As of July 22, there are nine confirmed and probable cases of monkeypox in Long Beach. None of these individuals required hospitalization and all are isolating and recovering at home. The DHHS continues to notify people who have been identified as close contacts to confirmed cases and offer vaccine. While the risk of monkeypox is low, health officials urge community members to remain vigilant and aware of symptoms and possible exposure. The DHHS is continuing to work closely with healthcare providers in the community, including sexual health clinics and LGBTQ+ centers, to provide vaccine, education and guidance.

People who have symptoms should call their healthcare provider; they will determine the need for testing. Those who do not have a healthcare provider and are experiencing symptoms can contact the city’s public health information line at (562) 570-7907 for assistance with finding healthcare services.

The department encourages all residents to visit longbeach.gov/monkeypox for up-to-date facts on monkeypox, and to avoid misinformation.

LA County Property Valued at $1.89T

Los Angeles County Assessor Jeff Prang certified the 2022 Assessment Roll, reflecting economic growth for the 12th-consecutive year with the increase in assessed value of all taxable property countywide at $1.89 trillion.

The 2022 Assessment Roll (Roll) grew by a record $122 billion, (or 6.95%), over the prior year to a $1.89 trillion in total net value. The total net value translates to nearly $19 billion in property tax dollars for vital public services such as public education, infrastructure, first responders, and healthcare workers as well as other services.

"I am pleased to report the 6.95% increase in assessed property values in Los Angeles County shows we are slowly emerging from the pandemic that has been with us for the past two years,” Assessor Prang said. “Although the housing market is showing signs of leveling off now, it had been robust with low interest rates, inflation and a high demand during the COVID restrictions."

The roll is the inventory for all taxable property in the county and, as such, can provide some insight into the health of the real estate market. Assessments are based on the value of property as of the lien date of January 1, 2022.

The roll is also driven in large measure by real property sales, which added $69.6 billion to the roll; the CPI adjustment mandated by Proposition 13 reached its full potential of 2%, adding an additional $34.2 billion; and new construction added $6.3 billion.

Assessor Prang also reminded residents that the growth does not mean property owners will be subject to a corresponding increase on their annual property tax bills. Most property owners will see only a 2% adjustment prescribed by Prop. 13.

The 2022 Assessment Roll comprises 2,589,521 million real estate parcels and business assessments, including 1,889,000 single-family homes, 250,000 apartment complexes, 248,000 commercial and industrial properties and more than 165,000 business property assessments. A full list growth and parcel count for cities and unincorporated areas is available here.

Maria Mendez Joins Su Casa

Su Casa – Ending Domestic Violence has selected Maria Mendez to join the nonprofit agency in the position of Outreach manager. Mendez’ role will be to lead the efforts to increase awareness of Su Casa’s domestic violence services in the community and provide prevention education.

“Maria will be focusing on outreach to the communities we serve,” stated Dean Lockwood, director of development & community engagement. “She will increase our presence in the community and implement programs directed toward teens.”

Mendez will also bring her skills to increasing the reach of Su Casa’s social media reach. One of the goals is to provide prevention and education to the social media channels on a regular basis.

Mendez received her Bachelors of Science in Public Health from the University of California, San Diego where she was involved in the leadership of a number of volunteer community service projects. She brings international experience with community health background. Not only did she serve with projects in different regions in Southern California, but also to villages in Thailand and Honduras. She is very passionate about health and promoting holistic wellness to all.

Orci Announces Retirement

The City of Long Beach announced the upcoming retirement of Department of Development Services Director Oscar Orci. Orci has served for the past two years as director of the department that provides planning, permitting, code enforcement and housing services for the city. Prior to that, he had served as the department’s deputy director for four years. Altogether, Orci served for more than 30 years in community development work for cities across Southern California.  Orci’s last day with the city is Aug. 12.

“We are grateful for Oscar’s unwavering leadership over the last several years – both as director and deputy director – who continued leading our Department of Development Services with dedication throughout the pandemic and ensuring city planning, permitting and affordable housing services continued despite the unprecedented challenges,” said City Manager Tom Modica. “I wish him all the best as he embarks on his well-deserved journey into retirement.”

Christopher Koontz, current deputy director of Development Services, will serve as acting director while the city conducts a national recruitment to permanently fill the position.

 

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