Bits 'n' Pieces

Duck Pond Reopens

In addition to elevating park patrons’ visiting experience by enhancing recreational amenities such as upgraded walking paths, enlarging the wetlands and forebay, and new California native landscaping, the El Dorado Duck Pond Project additionally supported the city’s water conservation efforts.

A reconfigured water circulation system, including new filtration and disinfection systems, has been installed that will improve water quality and allow reclaimed water to service the adjacent golf course, reducing the use of potable water. The project also supports the ecological function and habitat of the pond by restoring the pond liner.

“The El Dorado Duck Pond is a beloved part of our community. It is a place where folks come to relax, connect with nature, and create lasting memories with family and friends,” said Fourth District Councilman Daryl Supernaw. “I am pleased to see the restoration of this beloved landmark finally complete.”

The project is supported by Long Beach Measure A, Los Angeles County `Measure W grant funding from the Los Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space District Grant, in addition to federal grant funding in partnership with Long Beach Utilities (formerly the Long Beach Water Department). The funding was approved by the Long Beach City Council in April 2022.

Port Sets $760 Million Annual Budget

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners has approved a $760 million budget for the Port of Long Beach for the 2025 fiscal year, establishing a plan to fund new capital improvements in rail, zero-emissions and other infrastructure.

Later this year, the budget will be sent for approval to the Long Beach City Council. It includes a record $25.8 million transfer to the city’s Tidelands Operating Fund, which supports quality-of-life projects along Long Beach’s 7-mile coastline that have improved shoreline safety, cleanliness, water quality, facilities and other amenities.

The port’s budgeted spending for the 2025 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, is 19.5% higher than the budget adopted last year. The increase is largely due to infrastructure projects like the Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility, which breaks ground this year, and the proposed Pier Wind. If approved, Pier Wind would be the nation’s largest facility specifically designed to assemble offshore wind turbines.

Operating revenue is estimated to be 6.8% higher than last year’s budget.

“This budget reflects our values, balancing serving as an economic engine for our city and region and growing responsibly while limiting environmental impacts,” said Port of Long Beach CEO Mario Cordero. “We are optimistic about the year ahead and this spending plan builds our competitive advantages for the green future.”

“Because trade, construction and tourism support 51,000 jobs in Long Beach – or one in five jobs – it’s important we stay focused on attracting business, building for the future and moving cargo sustainably,” said Harbor Commission President Bobby Olvera Jr. “This budget advances these goals by leveraging our stable financial strength as a top gateway for global commerce.”

Next year’s proposed capital budget totals $368.3 million, 47.2% higher than the prior year. Of the sum, $204.9 million is for the Pier B project, which will break ground this summer. Pier B will shift more cargo to “on-dock rail,” where containers are taken to and from marine terminals by trains.

Moving cargo by on-dock rail is cleaner and more efficient, as it reduces truck traffic. No cargo trucks would visit the facility. The Port of Long Beach maintains one of the most comprehensive seaport infrastructure programs in the nation.

Also included in the budget is approximately $25 million in Clean Truck Fund subsidies to support the transition of the heavy-duty truck fleet to zero emissions. The Port of Long Beach has twin goals of a zero-emissions cargo-handling fleet by 2030 and zero-emissions trucking by 2035.

Additionally, during the board’s action, the amount allocated for the Community Sponsorship Program was increased from $2 million to $3 million. The sponsorship program helps the Port of Long Beach engage with and inform local community members about port operations and initiatives.

As the city’s Harbor Department, the Port of Long Beach does not use tax revenue to support operations.

New Affordable Housing Development Opens

The City of Long Beach recently celebrated the grand opening of 26 Point 2, a 77-unit affordable housing development for low-income households that are experiencing homelessness. The development, by Excelerate Housing Group and their partner Harbor Interfaith Services, is comprised of studio units and residents will have access to a multi-purpose room with a kitchen and lounge, outdoor courtyard and barbecue areas as well as onsite social services.

Located at 3950 E. Pacific Coast Highway, the five-story project replaces a 1970s blighted two-story office building and surface parking lot. It is named after the distance of a marathon race to acknowledge that Life Is a Marathon that requires perseverance and endurance to push through the obstacles and injuries that occur along the way. The ceremony reflected this with a ceremonial race finish line as opposed to a traditional ribbon cutting.

With the opening of 26 Point 2 together with the Wellspring project that opened in Cambodia Town in April, the City of Long Beach this year is continuing its fast-track efforts to build and maintain access to safe, quality housing for residents across all income levels while increasing the feasibility of development of underused sites across the city.

“I am so happy to know that our district is now home to another affordable housing development that supports families who are at risk of experiencing homelessness and provides supportive social services,” said Third District Councilmember Kristina Duggan. “This project serves as a great example of Long Beach’s effort to strengthen neighborhood stability by creating more safe and livable communities throughout the city.”

The project, built at a total construction cost of $28 million, faced many obstacles over the past few years, including navigating the requirements of building over three abandoned oil wells that were capped a century ago but needed infrastructure improvements. With perseverance, the project team was able to get this quality affordable housing project over the finish line.

“The opening of this high-quality development is important for the community,” said Fourth District Councilmember Daryl Supernaw. “We need more of this type of housing that shines positively on the city and that tenants would be proud to call home.”

The 26 Point 2 project is 100 percent permanent supportive housing with project-based vouchers provided by the Long Beach Housing Authority. Residents were referred through the City of Long Beach Coordinated Entry System and have access to case managers from Harbor Interfaith Services on site six days a week. Services are paid with funding from the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services’ Housing for Heath Division.

Construction and permanent financing for the project was provided by the Long Beach Community Investment Company, the Los Angeles County Development Authority, National Equity Fund, Lument, California Bank & Trust, Century Housing Corporation, Farmers & Merchants Bank, the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, and the California Municipal Finance Authority.

“Quality housing like 26 Point 2 fortifies all our neighborhoods, making our city a more vibrant place to live, work and visit,” said Eva Melgarejo, a member of the board of directors of The Long Beach Community Investment Company, the city’s nonprofit affiliate that provided a $4 million loan for the project’s financing. “I take pride in our company’s dedication to helping support affordable housing for the community.”

Excelerate is a Long Beach-based, woman-owned real estate development company founded in 2019 that creates new affordable housing in communities and is particularly focused on partnering with local nonprofits and public agencies to expand housing opportunities.

“Even though the members of the Excelerate team have been involved in numerous affordable developments throughout our careers, 26 Point 2 has a special place in our hearts,” said Dana Trujillo, president and CEO of Excelerate Housing Group. “26 Point 2 is the first project that we have completed under the Excelerate name, and to do that in Long Beach, the city where our company is located and where most of us live and our kids go to school, is very special.”

Symphony Extends Contracts for Leaders

Long Beach Symphony announced that it has reached agreements with its key artistic and administrative leaders through the 2028-2029 season. Eckart Preu has served as the symphony’s music director since 2017 and Ruggirello was hired in 2013 to head up its administration.

“I am so honored to have the opportunity to continue serving as music director in this very special community,” said Eckart Preu, music director and conductor. “The Long Beach Symphony is a family of dedicated musicians, staff, board and volunteers who continually inspire me, and I couldn’t ask for a better team. We have so many exciting ideas and plans for the years ahead and I simply cannot wait for this next chapter to begin.”

Entering her 12th year as the symphony’s president, Kelly Ruggirello continues to champion the creation of a new summer series in a proposed professional, outdoor amphitheater having been appointed by former Mayor Robert Garcia to the Queen Mary Land Development Task Force Commission in 2015.

Also, LA28, the L.A. Olympics Committee is supportive of her vision to produce a multi-cultural arts festival coinciding with the 2028 Olympics and the 8 sporting events to be held in Long Beach. Ruggirello states, “I am grateful to have a tremendous partner in Eckart and the support of the board of directors as we celebrate our 90-year history while looking to an exciting future and new opportunities to serve this wonderful community.”

Preu and Ruggirello’s transformative work with the Cambodian community in Long Beach – the largest outside of Southeast Asia, garnered much praise and recognition, including receiving the inaugural 2023 Social Impact Award by the Association of California Symphony Orchestras for creating positive change and addressing a challenge or injustice in its community.

These key leaders also launched the symphony’s first family series of concerts due to the generosity and shared vision of The RuMBa Foundation of Long Beach which committed $540,000 – the largest single gift in the symphony’s history – over four years to fund this new initiative serving the families of Long Beach.

“On behalf of the board of directors, we are absolutely thrilled to extend contracts to these two leaders who champion artistic excellence, award-winning music education programs and a profound commitment to our diverse community,” said Roger Goulette, chairman of the Long Beach Symphony board of directors. “Eckart brings both innovation and a sense of tradition to Long Beach while Kelly’s dedication to our vision and mission of uniting all people through the transformative power of music ensures the symphony’s growth, relevance, and service to our broad, diverse city.”

As Preu and Ruggirello look ahead to the future, they are firmly and passionately committed to continuing a tradition of excellence in its artistic, music education and collaborative multi-cultural programming.

Pilot Tax Credit Program for Cannabis Businesses

To stimulate growth in the local cannabis industry and promote community benefits, the Long Beach City Council approved a Cannabis Tax Relief Plan and ordinance amendment. The approved plan includes a 1% cannabis tax reduction (or equivalent) for cultivation and adult-use retail businesses as well as a Pilot Tax Credit Program, for a combined potential 4% of tax relief for qualifying businesses.

The amended ordinance and 1% cannabis tax reduction for all businesses went into effect on May 24. The city is now accepting applications for the Pilot Tax Credit Program.

To qualify for the Pilot Tax Credit Program and receive a tax credit of 3%, a cannabis cultivation or adult-use retail business must be in “good standing” and satisfy the eligibility criteria. The eligibility criteria, including local hiring, workforce quality of life, training, and equity business support, are designed to provide flexibility to businesses and promote meaningful employment opportunities using a workforce and equity lens.

Businesses enrolled in a Special Circumstances Payment Plan may be eligible for the program after six months of proven payments. Tax credits will be applied upon remittance of quarterly or annual taxes and gross receipts reports, and other supporting documentation as required.

More information about the program, including application requirements and the link to the application, is available on the Cannabis Business License and Fees webpage.

Eligible businesses may contact the Department of Financial Management, Business Services Bureau by email at cannabislicense@longbeach.gov or by phone at (562) 570-2662 with questions.

Airport Expands Externship Program

Long Beach Airport (LGB) kicked off its annual Careers Taking Flight Externship Program this week, doubling the size of the program in its second year with two, 12-student cohorts from Cabrillo and Jordan high schools learning about a wide variety of aviation careers and how to make themselves competitive for future positions.

Over the course of a 40-hour, five-day program, students in each cohort learn about the job duties, pay and credentials required for more than a dozen careers working for airports, airlines, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the business aviation sector.

Partners providing tours or guest speakers for the high school students include Aeroplex/Aerolease Group, Atlantic Aviation, Delta Air Lines, the Federal Aviation Administration, FlightSafety International, Fly Compton Foundation, Hawaiian Airlines, JetZero, Long Beach Aero, SoCal Jet Services, Southwest Airlines and the Transportation Security Administration.

In partnership with the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), students were selected through a competitive application and interview process to take part in the opportunity. Students who successfully completed the full course received a $500 incentive payment.

Two graduates from the 2023 externship program were selected this year for a full summer internship to serve as leaders for the next cohort and to learn more about Airport operations. Funding for the internship is provided by LBUSD.

“Long Beach Unified is thrilled to partner with Long Beach Airport for the Careers Taking Flight Externship Program,” said Superintendent Dr. Jill A. Baker. “This initiative provides our students with invaluable exposure to the aviation industry and equips them with the skills and knowledge to pursue exciting career opportunities.”

Participants also were offered a free exploration flight on the final day of the program through Chapter Seven of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles program. Since its inception in 1992, the Young Eagles program has given more than two million young people ages 8 to 17 the opportunity to fly in a general aviation airplane.

The summer externship is part of Long Beach Airport’s Careers Taking Flight suite of programming designed to provide students from grade school to college with different opportunities to gain a basic understanding of careers within the aviation world as well as general knowledge about LGB and its industry partners.

“I’m so proud of the way Long Beach Airport is engaged in showcasing diverse career pathways within the aviation industry and opening up a world of opportunities for future professionals,” said Long Beach Airport Director Cynthia Guidry. “I’m also grateful to our partners for their participation and engagement in helping us inspire and empower the next generation of aviation leaders.”

The Careers Taking Flight program aligns with goals outlined in the Long Beach’s Racial Equity and Reconciliation Initiative to eliminate social and economic disparities in communities most impacted by racism. The program also supports goals of the city’s Strategic Plan for Youth and Emerging Adults, which centers around academic and job training needs of youth.

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