|(Sept. 12, 2017, 7:10 a.m.) -- It should have been all hands on deck. Instead, LB's Mayor ran from the deck.
Mayor Robert Garcia should have been in Sacramento to publicly oppose SB 35, a bill so potentially harmful to Long Beach in dictating additional density that Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell (D, Long Beach-San Pedro) broke with his party's leadership to oppose it. [LBREPORT.com coverage of SB 35 here, here, here and here.]
Instead, as LBREPORT.com reported (first again) yesterday, Mayor Garcia instead jetted off on a junket to Lima, Peru with organizers of the 2028 L.A. Olympic games ("LA2028"). What happens in Lima doesn't require his presence; the Olympic decision is a foregone conclusion, a lock that L.A. will get the 2028 games (for which L.A.'s organizers have allotted a few venues in Long Beach.)
What's taking place now in Sacramento on SB 35 is a much more serious matter carrying long-term consequences for the City of LB and its neighborhoods. When photos surface showing Robert Garcia posing for Olympic fluffery in Peru instead of tending to serious city business in California, those images will permanently remind LB residents of the terribly misguided priorities of this Mayor, some others inside City Hall and the usual suspects.
[Sept. 14 UPDATED text] SB 35 was succinctly described by an independent Bay Area webpage publisher as "taking power from the people" (link here.) When Mayor Garcia staged an "Ask Me Anything" hour on Twitter on Aug. 31, he failed to respond when a resident asked him for his position on SB 35. (Garcia hid the question by configuring his Twitter event so the only questions visible on his Twitter feed would be those he chose to answer.) The Mayor's office hasn't responded to our inquiry (Sept. 3 and Sept. 5) asking it to cite any examples over the past seven months (while SB 35 has been pending) showing when Mayor Garcia publicly opposed the measure as written or unless amended.
On Sept. 14, we learned that in a reply sent to an individual's Twitter page, Garcia stated on Sept. 7 (the same day Assemblyman O'Donnell voiced his opposition to SB 35 in a press release) that he opposed SB 35 on grounds it took away local control. So...where was LB's Mayor on this for the past eight months? [end UPDATED text]
Earlier this year, the city's State Legislation Committee (Austin, Gonzalez, Mungo) approved, and the full City Council went on to approve, a "State Legislative Agenda" that recited City policies including "oppose legislation that preempts the City's existing control over local matters" including "oppose policies and legislation that preempts the current authority possessed by the City and delegates that authority to the State or other government jurisdiction" and "oppose policies and legislation that diminishes the City's local control over land use, planning, zoning and development decisions, and oppose legislation in conflict with the City's adopted General Plan or other Council adopted land use policies."
But the City of Long Beach hasn't opposed SB 35. City Hall's officially stated position remains "neutral" while, city staff says, "working with the author on amendments, consistent with the City's state legislative agenda as it relates to local control." On June 1, SB 35 cleared the state Senate on a 25-12 vote...with the support of both members of LB's state Senate delegation (Senator Ricardo Lara (D, LB-Huntington Park) and state Senator Janet Nguyen (R, SE-LB/West OC)). LB's Mayor and Council remained mum as the bill advanced, desired by development interests and backed by Sac'to Dem legislative leadership. SB 35 is now poised to pass the Assembly in the coming days with a simple majority vote where Dems hold a 2/3 majority. If it passes, the Governor has signaled that he'll sign it.
We continue to suspect that what has happened in LB is similar to the 1919 World Series, when the Chicago "Black Sox" took the field pretending to play but let the other side win. The penalty for that was banishment from the game.
SB 35 is now poised to pass without any visible, audible or meaningful opposition from the City of Long Beach. LB voters can decide in April/June 2018 elections what penalties are appropriate for the incumbent Mayor and a Council majority.
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