Bits 'n' Pieces

Airport Director Jess Romo to Retire in January

The City of Long Beach announced Thursday the retirement of Long Beach Airport (LGB) Director Jess L. Romo, A.A.E. Romo has served as director of the Long Beach Airport since 2016. Prior to overseeing and guiding all activities at LGB, he spent 19 years with Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) during his 28-year career with the City of Los Angeles.

“Jess led the Long Beach Airport with great professionalism and integrity, and he will be missed,” said City Manager Patrick H. West. “He oversaw the advancements of huge infrastructure improvements at LGB, and created a culture of inclusivity and transparency among staff, customers and Long Beach residents. We thank him for his service, and wish him the best in his retirement.”

During his time with LGB, Mr. Romo oversaw the progress or completion of major projects and initiatives, such as: Phase II Terminal Area Improvement project, a $65.2 million capital project that will improve functionality of terminal facilities, create welcoming community engagement and hospitality spaces in pre-screening areas and improve the customer experience; reconstruction of Runway 8R-26L, a $16 million capital project to rehabilitate the airport’s busiest runway, which was completed on time and on budget; and the implementation of a modernized, commercial ground transportation program to improve access and traffic flow and to yield greatly improved cost recovery highlighted by an annual revenue increase of over $1.2 million.

Romo’s last day with the city will be January 31, 2019. A national search for the next Long Beach Airport director will commence immediately, and an announcement regarding an interim director is forthcoming.

Super Trucks Return to 2019 Grand Prix

The Grand Prix Association of Long Beach announced that Robby Gordon’s Speed Energy Stadium Super Trucks series has signed a multi-year agreement to return and race at the Grand Prix of Long Beach starting in 2019.

Very popular with Grand Prix fans, the Stadium Super Trucks series features high-horsepower trucks that not only race around the world-famous 1.97-mile, 11-turn Grand Prix racetrack but also jump high in the air utilizing a series of temporary ramps placed throughout the circuit.

The Speed Energy Stadium Super Trucks will run practice and qualifying on Friday with races on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Last year, Gavin Harlien (Sat.) and Matt Brabham (Sun.) earned Long Beach wins.

 Featuring a wide variety of on- and off-track activities for the entire family, the Grand Prix will be headlined by the IndyCar Series, as well as the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix, featuring the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. In addition to the Stadium Super Trucks, the weekend will include the Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge under the lights on Friday and Saturday nights, the powerful sports cars of the Pirelli World Challenge and the Historic IMSA GTO Challenge.

Fans can select and pay for their Grand Prix of Long Beach seats, parking and paddock passes online at gplb.com. Ticket orders can also be placed by calling the toll-free ticket hotline, (888) 827-7333. A printed ticket brochure that includes a circuit map, ticket prices, order form and other information is also available.

City Hits Bulls Eye with USA Archery Grant

The City of Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine (PRM) has received an Explore Archery grant from USA Archery. This grant will supply resources for programming and materials to enhance PRM’s archery program.

As grant recipients, PRM will send two employees to attend an Archery Instructor Academy to be certified as USA Archery Level Two Instructors, PRM will receive Explore Archery program materials, range posters and the equipment necessary to implement a beginner to intermediate archery program.

According to USA Archery, archery is a sport of focus and discipline that provides a foundation for goal-orientation. Archery skills translate to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) concepts used in the classroom and help athletes become better students.

To provide community access to the archery program, PRM proposes to offer a one-day “Try Archery or Explore Archery” camp on four different afternoons in two different parks. Two will take place at Silverado Park, where an indoor archery range can be used and two will take place at the El Dorado Regional Park Outdoor Archery Range.

The goal is to introduce archery to youth participants and gauge interest for future programs. During the summer, PRM envisions an ongoing archery program at two locations once-a-week, for six to 10 weeks, mirroring the Department’s existing youth sports summer camps. The public can visit http://www.teamsideline.com/longbeach beginning in May 2019 for program information.

Campaign to Help Save the Vaquita Porpoise

In an effort to save the vaquita porpoise from extinction, zoos and aquariums in the U.S. are launching a public, worldwide 1 Million Cards postcard-writing campaign. The effort, which is led by Vaquita SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction), a collaborative effort by Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) member institutions, is working to encourage Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador to continue the country’s vaquita conservation initiatives and efforts.

The vaquita porpoise, Phocena sinus, is the smallest and most endangered marine mammal in the world, with fewer than thirty individuals left. Only found in Baja’s Upper Gulf of California, the vaquita is at the brink of extinction due to unsustainable fishing practices, which involve using gill nets (that are now illegal) set for other seafood that accidentally entangle the vaquita and other marine animals.

The 1 Million Cards campaign aims to influence President Obrador to continue Mexico’s vaquita conservation efforts to create sustainable fishing communities. In addition, the campaign aims to engage and empower Americans to help vaquita conservation efforts and to continue to educate and inspire individuals about the plight many endangered animals face around the world.

Zoos and aquariums around the country are encouraging their visitors and supporters to complete a 1 Million Cards postcard during their next visit. Each institution will collect the postcards, which will be hand delivered to the Mexican Consulate in San Diego at the end of December.

Lawsuit Filed in Response to Measure M Taxes

Long Beach resident Diana Lejins and County of Los Angeles resident Angela Kimball filed a lawsuit against the City of Long Beach in response to the city’s adoption of new water and sewer fees on October 1, 2018.   The suit alleges that the water and sewer fees violate Proposition 218 because they embed a surcharge designed to transfer funds from the utilities to the City’s general fund.  Proposition 218, passed by People of the State of California in 1996 and enshrined in the California Constitution, prohibits local governments from charging more than it costs to provide utility service and from using utility fees for non-utility purposes.

On June 5, 2018, Long Beach citizens passed Measure M, a “general tax measure,” which authorizes the city to include the surcharge in the water and sewer fees.  But this local tax measure conflicts with restrictions in the California Constitution. Specifically, section 3 of article XIII D prohibits a local government from imposing general taxes on water and sewer fees.  Furthermore, nothing in Proposition 218 suggests that voters can circumvent constitutional restrictions on property-related fees.  Because Kimball resides in an unincorporated area of Long Beach, she was not afforded the opportunity to vote on Measure M.

This lawsuit follows the 2017 settlement of a lawsuit Lejins filed to challenge the transfers.  In the settlement, the city agreed to greatly reduce the amounts of the transfers and to restore $12 million to the utilities.  Measure M is the city’s attempt to restore the transfers to their prior levels.

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