State of the City: Mayor Garcia Says Long Beach is in a Citywide Renaissance

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Mayor Robert Garcia - Photo from Facebook

Mayor Robert Garcia – Photo from Facebook

Mayor Garcia delivered his third State of the City address at the Terrace Theater in front of a crowd of 2,000 people. The Mayor began his speech in front of a huge American Flag, after a stirring rendition of God Bless America, and spoke at length about our values as a city and nation, saying, “I believe what makes our country great is not fear, divisiveness, or anger—but kindness, respect, and love of country and constitution.”

Mayor Garcia also declared, “The state of our city is strong,” and “Long Beach is already great.” He announced an 8.3% reduction in homicides and a slight reduction in violent crimes in Long Beach in 2016.

Garcia spoke at length about the effect of the passage of Measure A and how the $387 million of new revenue would be invested in infrastructure repairs and vital restorations to our police and fire departments, saying, “It’s the largest investment we have made in a generation.”

Key elements of the three to four year $150 million infrastructure plan adopted by the Council include:

  • $91 million on street repairs;
  • $15 million allocated to sidewalk repairs;
  • $5 million being spent on the City’s first alley improvement plan to fix the worst alleys;
  • $19 million for park repairs;
  • $3.3 million in repairs to community facilities, like senior centers, and the Animal Care Center;
  • Nearly $3.7 million allocated to improvements to our city libraries;
  • $5 million will be invested to provide neighborhood storm protection; and
  • $6 million in Public Safety facilities

Another $50 million is available for further infrastructure projects after the first round of work concludes.

In the address, Garcia made a number of significant announcements regarding public safety including:

  • Calling for the restoration of paramedic Rescue 12 in North Long Beach to help increase emergency response times throughout Long Beach;
  • Creation of a nine officer Academy Unit in the Long Beach Police Department to improve officer training and increase staffing for patrols; and
  • Addition of up to another 30 police officers if he can convince his colleagues on Metro Board to contract with LBPD to patrol the Blue Line.

Mayor Garcia detailed an impressive list of accomplishments in economic development and new business and residential developments throughout Long Beach. “What you’re seeing as you walk, bike and drive around Long Beach is a citywide renaissance,” Garcia said. “Unemployment reached a nine-year low and we ended 2016 at 5.6%, down from 14.5% in 2009.”

Long Beach added almost 9,000 jobs to its economy this year and also issued nearly 900 new business permits.

Mayor Garcia then detailed the City’s progress in civic technology and sustainability efforts. Key accomplishments in civic tech include launching DataLB the City’s open data portal and the Innovation Team’s creation of Bizport—a new business portal to help businesses launch and grow.

Progress in sustainability included joining the Mayor’s Compact, release of a climate resiliency report, launching of Long Beach Transit’s all-electric bus fleet, installation of LED streetlights, and efforts to restore the coast and the LA River.

The Mayor mentioned challenges facing Long Beach and most other cities in California: housing affordability and homelessness. “We need to ensure that the cooks who are making our meals at our favorite Long Beach restaurants, the workers who are caring for our seniors and cleaning our hotel rooms, continue to have the opportunity to live in our city.”

The Mayor announced plans for a Council Study Session in February to consider policies to increase the production of housing to meet the full range of housing needs in Long Beach. While celebrating the progress made in housing more than 640 veterans, the Mayor said “We can and must do more,” calling for the creation of a year round shelter and creation of a safe gathering place for those experiencing homelessness in Long Beach.

The Mayor closed his address by stressing the importance of education in Long Beach, the accomplishments of our local institutions LBUSD, LBCC, and CSULB, and celebration the recent launch of the Mayor’s Fund for Education, which will work to increase access to early childhood education in Long Beach.

He closed the speech, as it began, declaring: “God Bless America and God Bless Long Beach!”

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