Letters to the Editor

City Attorney Sabotage

Before this was voted on my brother and I warned the Cambodian community at the Maye Center that they’d get stabbed in the back by the city officials.

From the beginning it is clear that Mayor Robert Garcia did not intend this to be any more meaningful than the CPCC as Stephen Downing states in the [July 2] article, after all, the mayor wanted to appoint all the “independent” commissioners.

It wasn’t until the Cambodian community (with assistance from Dr. Alex J. Norman) approached Common Cause for assistance in drafting a thoroughly vetted measure (Measure DDD) that was voted on by the public.

Still, even though the measure as finally written wrested control out of the mayor’s grubby little hands, our fear was that the Ethics Commission got to appoint the Redistricting Commission’s members. Yet the Ethics Commission itself was controlled by City Hall (the mayor and the city auditor have controlled the majority of its members in perpetuity) and it had none of the membership safeguards of the Redistricting Commission. For example, Mayor Garcia could appoint to the commission his favorite campaign donors and lobbyists.

Ultimately, we didn’t guess that the attempt to influence the Redistricting Commission would be through the city attorney. Regardless, the effect is the same.

No commission should be beholden to City Hall. The proposed amendments to the Citizens Police Complaint Commission, already in the works by the police in a clear case of the fox guarding the hen house, should be stopped, and a completely new Citizens Police Oversight Commission should be formed completely independent from City Hall.

Carlos Ovalle

 

New Community Pools

For aquatic safety at the beach as the climate heats up, our 115,000 children and youth need much more conveniently accessed basic swim instruction and practice. More public pools would enable schools and recreation programs to provide universal swim and safety instruction.

The pools will also serve as needed community cooling centers called for by the recent Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. They would also free up special facilities – such as the proposed Belmont Beach Aquatic Center (BBAC) – to focus use on their unique features.

Real aquatics equity now requires multiple distributed public pools. Token BBAC “equity” gestures would only worsen existing inequity, because the BBAC site is farthest possible from the city’s health-disadvantaged areas.

The city’s most recent 2016-2017 study of the existing Belmont Pool’s annual user days by user ZIP code shows that over 70% of 29,000 registered users come from Districts 2 and 3 but only 3.8% from Districts 1 and 9.

Very simply: The less advantaged your neighborhood, the more time you lose riding “equity” buses or otherwise getting to and from the BBAC.

For basic aquatics – whether swim classes, practice, fun or physical therapy – why should anyone have to ride miles across town to one special facility?

With or without a BBAC, we now need more community pools in less advantaged neighborhoods, to improve city-wide equity and life quality.

Glennis Dolce
& Joe Weinstein
Citizens About Responsible Planning

 

City Hall Mum on SB 9

Mayor/City Council don’t take a stand, cowards all. And repeat the same mistake you made in the 80s and 90s. You up-zoned all those streets in historically-populated bungalows to those hideous, two-story multi-units rectangular boxes. [Then] back track that decision and re-zone back to SFRs after the property tax-paying homeowners’ primal-scream outrage. You idiots [are] in-the-pocket of the developers – illegally. Morons all!

James D. Ulrich

 

Queen Mary Transfer

[Open letter to Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero]

I am writing to express our ongoing concerns about the transfer of the Queen Mary to the Port of Long Beach. Reviewing court filings and statements by city officials, it is difficult to reconcile the optimism of the current state of the Queen Mary by some city officials with the cold hard facts of its degraded and unsafe condition in engineering reports.

To transfer the vessel and the equally decrepit and unsafe submarine will be a huge drain of port resources, both financial and from a personnel standpoint. It should not be the responsibility of port tenants and customers to fund the reconstruction of the Queen Mary, especially given its unsafe condition, lack of success and history of mismanagement for the past 40 years.

City of Long Beach filings in Federal Bankruptcy Court where attorneys for the city called into question the structural integrity of the Queen Mary; cited the January 2017 survey of the vessel which outlined at least $289 million in needed repairs, calling the 396-page report “comprehensive” noting “critical life safety issues” that “may cause injury or fatalities to guests, visitors or employees; filed a declaration by an engineer who supported the findings of the 2017 survey and stated “Those issues noted as urgent in 2017 are more urgent now with the passage of time.”

The city bankruptcy filings also noted “Monthly meetings ... taken place in or about March 2020” continuing into 2021. Participants included the debtor, the city and “ ... a global engineering firm specializing in maritime projects ... “ The purpose of the meetings was to “track the status of repairs on the Queen Mary, including those “ ... deemed urgent over four years ago [that] have yet to be repaired.” In 2021, Elliot Bay Design Group (EBDG) was hired to determine what work was completed with the $23 million in funds provided to Urban Commons. According to the EBDG April 2021 report, “While a few repairs have been completed in the last five years, the majority of the urgent repair needs were not addressed.”

In addition, the City of Long Beach recently filed court documents, noting the terrible condition of the submarine which rests adjacent to Queen Mary and which itself is in danger of capsizing and rolling into the Queen Mary, causing damage.

While some may choose to ignore the structural concerns and dangers cited by inspectors and engineers over the years, they put the public in peril by their actions and we would caution the port in doing the same.

The Queen Mary’s proud history including its role in World War II has been overshadowed by ongoing failure, mismanagement and the steady and slow corrosion of time and saltwater. The future of the port is at stake. If the port undertakes the “restoration” of the Queen Mary, once hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars are spent, it will still be left with an attraction that is over 90 years old, made out of steel and sitting in salt water and which has never lived up to the city or its various operators promises.

The Port of Long Beach has committed to become a zero-emission port by 2035 which will require funding for billions of dollars of electrical infrastructure and rail improvements. These are needed to improve the air quality around the port and relieve truck traffic on the local streets and freeways. The port cannot meet these vital commitments and pay for the restoration of the Queen Mary, submarine and associated properties.

If the city believes the port can undertake this project, we would suggest that the repairs be funded by those that desire it. The port should not accept transfer of the vessel but instead should enter into a management agreement with the city to oversee repairs and management oversight. Fees for the port services and repairs should be deducted from the quarterly transfer of Tidelands funds from the port to the city.

Absent that, the port will be burdened with a cost that will impact its future success which risks the economic future of the city as the port is the economic driver of the city and the region. Finally, the real discussion that needs to take place is to undertake a comprehensive and independent review of the Queen Mary and estimate the total amount for the cost to repair, restore and make the vessel into an attraction or hotel that brings visitors in sufficient numbers to pay for its ongoing operation and maintenance. If that estimate is an amount that is not reasonable or achievable, then those parts of the vessel that can be salvaged should be saved and the rest disposed of.

John McLaurin
President, Pacific Merchant Shipping Association

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