Robert Fox, Neighborhood Advocate/Businessman Who Forced City Hall To Hold Heavily Attended Citywide Town Hall-Style Meetings & Led Opposition To City Staff's Density-Promoting Land Use Element, Pulls Papers To Run For Mayor
|(UPDATED Jan. 12, 2018, 8:45 a.m. from front page breaking Jan. 11, 5:15 p.m.) -- In a potential game-changing Long Beach election development, the City Clerk's website at late afternoon Jan. 11 indicated that Robert Fox, the neighborhood advocate/businessman who revived the grassroots Council of Neighborhood Organizations (CONO), effectively forced City Hall to hold citywide Town Hall style meetings and has led opposition to city staff's density-promoting Land Use Element, has pulled papers to run for Mayor.
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The development comes a little over 24 hours before the filing deadline to submit paperwork to the City Clerk for a place on the citywide April, 2018 ballot. LBREPORT.com has learned that Mr. Fox sent an email at midday Thursday (Jan. 11) inviting recipients to sign his nominating papers, and within a few hours several dozen LB residents arrived at his home (2nd Council district) to supply the needed signatures due for filing with the City Clerk by the end of business Friday. LBREPORT.com has learned that among those signing Mr. Fox's nominating papers was 5th district Council candidate Corliss Lee.
In his Thursday afternoon emailing, Mr. Fox wrote:
After much prayer and mediation, I have come to the decision that our City desperately needs a new direction. The experience of the Land Use Element, is only one issue which indicates that the voice of the citizenry is not being represented. (heard, yes. represented, no.)
The upcoming elections coincide with Council actions on city staff proposed Land Use Element (LUE) revisions seeking to allow increased density at varying levels in various parts of the City. The LUE was scheduled for Council voted action last year but now collides with the election cycle due to organic public push-back given voice in large part by Mr. Fox.
That citywide issue comes as city management recently acknowledged (Dec. 19 Council study session) that LB taxpayers now face deficits (spending exceeding revenue) over a period spanning FYs 19, 20 and 21 totaling over $30+ million -- in addition to a separate $18+ million "litigation" fueled deficit stemming from taxpayer challenges to City Hall-imposed LB Water/Sewer/Gas fees that the Mayor/Council had been using to balance City Hall's budgets. The incumbent Mayor/Council are now scheduled to take a March 2018 vote that could put a Charter Amendment measure on the June 2018 ballot, asking voters to restore those fees, although the Mayor/Council have failed to restore nearly 200 police officers and three fire engines that taxpayers no longer have despite a June 2016 Mayor/Council backed sales tax increase (that has left LB with the highest sales tax rate among all CA cities (tied with only a few others.)
Coinciding with the Mayor's race, Council candidates Gordana Kajer in the 3rd district, and Corliss Lee in the 5th district, have both sounded reform-style themes in their campaigns to unseat incumbents Suzie Price and Stacy Mungo.
In the 3rd district, Ms. Kajer opposed the SEASP rezoning that Councilwoman Price voted to advance to the Coastal Commission, that would allow commercial building heights exceeding current Coastal Zone height limits in some commercial areas generally surrounding 2nd/PCH. Ms. Kajer has also strongly opposed a $100+ million Belmont Beach "Aquatics Center" supported by incumbent Price. Ms. Kajer has professionally printed lawn signs and on Jan. 10 held a fundraiser to fuel her campaign.
In the 5th district, candidate Corliss Lee has since the first half of 2017 warned of proposed density increases in the advancing LUE and formed the grassroots Eastside Voice neighborhood association when she found Councilwoman Mungo unresponsive on the issue in April and June. Ms. Lee, who opposed international airport operations, has deployed professionally printed lawn signs and appears to be working with a professional campaign consultant.
Also waging a campaign to unseat incumbent Mungo is former LB Harbor Commissioner (Mayor Foster appointee) and longtime ILWU member Rich Dines. Mr. Dines spoke out against the LUE's proposed 5th district density increases at an October ELB Town Hall meeting. He was also an April 2017 contributor to Mayor Garcia's 2018 re-election campaign.
Council incumbent Mungo is supported by the LB Police Officers Ass'n PAC (the largest single contributor to the Measure A sales tax increase which failed passage in nearly every 5th district precinct) and is also endorsed by the LB Chamber of Commerce-related PAC (with the Chamber on record as having strongly supported international airport operations.) In Jan 2017, Mungo made a motion to "receive and file" city management's recommendation to advance international airport operations which halted its forward progression without flatly voting "no" on it. If no 5th district ballot candidate receives over 50% of the April vote, the top two will proceed to a June runoff.
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