City’s Largest Challenge? Homelessness

By: 
Steve Propes

Following a McBride High School morning meet-up, in early afternoon on Aug. 31, about 40 residents responded to the library of Caver School on Pavo Street for Robert Garcia’s “Meet the Mayor” event.

At the entrance, attendees were handed “Turn off the Water Tax Tap” tracts, contending the water rate increase effective on Oct. 1 will be transferred to the city general fund instead of maintaining water service, in clear violation of Proposition 218.

In the room, Garcia circulated  among the crowd to shake hands with each participant, starting his presentation about the economy.

Garcia began with recent history. At the heart of the recession, Long Beach had 15 percent unemployment. Since then, about 5,000 jobs have been added to the economy. And the city’s biggest employer, “guess who?” Answer: Long Beach Unified School District.

The biggest industry is “the moving of goods” with the port continuing to experience growth. Currently, the city has 72 construction projects underway. Now being built or completed includes LBX and 2nd Street & PCH.

Moving on to education, about the very place where Garcia once worked, he described the Long Beach City College promise for local high school graduates, namely two years free of tuition. Reading the small print, “if they enroll immediately after they graduate from high school.”

With an associate degree comes the opportunity to transfer to a university, and it just so happens that Long Beach has a major example, known to most as Cal State Long Beach, the country’s fifth most applied-to school. Cutting some of that red tape, a Long Beach high school graduate is guaranteed a CSULB seat, making that grad one of 9,000 accepted out of 104,000 applications.

In an abrupt switch to murder and murder rates, Garcia said, 30 to 40 years ago, the city had 100-plus murders. Currently that rate is about 30 to 35 per year. During the period of financial strain, police shrunk their four divisions to three divisions after the recession.

Garcia noted tales about local and neighborhood crime abound, but in a real sense, that’s a good thing, hyperawareness brought out by social media. Blame or credit the internet.

In the Fifth District, infrastructure is a big deal. At the meeting, Fifth District Councilwoman Stacy Mungo said, one of the worst major routes in her district is also among the worst in Districts Three and Four. As a consequence, Studebaker Road will be resurfaced along its complete length by all three districts at one time, a money saving approach. Money for this project will come from “Metro,” with a matching grant of six million dollars from the city.

For a six-year infrastructure, management plan to address streets and sidewalks than in a generation, the city has scored all streets, sidewalks and alleys online at http://www.longbeach.gov/globalassets/pw/media-library/documents/pci-str.... Many non-arterial streets north of CSULB are rated as poor as is Spring Street and Redondo Avenue near the airport. Douglas Park streets are not included in the survey, as they are the responsibility of the project’s operator.

According to Garcia, “The largest challenge we face is homelessness. Every year we place about 1,000 people from homelessness. But at the same time, another 1,000 fall into homelessness. To get somewhere with this problem, we must place 2,000. We face no bigger issue; there is not enough housing. There is no city-run shelter, it’s hard to find a location. Nobody says ‘put your homeless housing in our neighborhood.’”

In a 26-page report passed out to the audience “Everyone Home Long Beach Task Force Recommendation” based on a 1,863 person survey, the demographics showed 30 percent of homeless was female, 70 percent male. A total of 1,208 or 65 percent was unsheltered. The 1,863 homeless count in 2017 has risen to 1,894 this year.

Most of the questions had to do with homelessness and various proposed solutions, such as new housing for low income residents and the problem of storing possessions. Garcia stated offering lockers was in the planning stage.

About the Garcia-backed and recently-adopted Measure BBB, which allows for three terms, no write-ins, for officeholders, replacing the maximum of two terms with an opportunity for unlimited write-in chances, the question was, does the clock start with the next election, meaning anyone currently holding office would be able to run for three additional terms? Garcia answered in the negative, current two-term office holders would be eligible to only one additional term.

Among issues not covered were the new City Hall, the Broadway road diet and improvements to the Colorado Lagoon. In a question about the heat-related death of police dog Ozzy, Garcia stated the matter is under investigation. There was one question about the water fee and its effect on lower income water users. Garcia indicated it had yet to be approved by the City Council. However, on the following Tuesday, the water rate increase was approved by the City Council.

Additional “Meet the Mayor” events will be held at a school or library near you.

 

steve@beachcomber.news

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Comments

In my 40+ years of living in LB the current mayor is by far one of the WORST I have ever seen! I wish I could take back my vote!!!!! I love my city & the diversity but he has ruined it. I pray he does not get re-elected!!

Don't let the city manipulate you any longer you know they say to end homelessness nobody wants their homeless in their neighborhood well I have to know if there were no homeless people then City officials would have no job they create homelessness for their paycheck exploit the lesser of less to rise and step on them exploit them see the public need to understand that was out homelessness the multimillion-dollar industry how many officials would lose that money how many officials would lose their jobs they create more homeless then they say they create more jobs get the homeless education fix the problem it will never happen we will always face homelessness because that's it takes creates the homeless it is a turn around business opportunity for City officials

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