Nov. 15: Councilman Carroll Opens Los Altos Field Office
(November 22, 2003) -- On November 15, 4th district Councilman Dennis Carroll opened a field office in Los Altos using space leased in the commercial center on the west side of Bellflower Blvd. just north of the gas station at Abbeyfield St.
Caveat: although the mailing address is 2117 Bellflower Blvd., the office is not visible from Bellflower Blvd. because it faces commercial center's parking lot.
Those attending the opening included LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill, 5th district Councilmember Jackie Kell, 9th district Councilman Val Lerch and a contingent of LBPD officers, including K-9 officer Winston.
The 780 sq. ft. facility includes office tables, computers, phones and informational leaflets on city services.
Framed pictures of Councilman Carroll, Mayor O'Neill and Vice Mayor Frank Colonna, Police Chief Batts and Fire Chief Harbour hang in one corner. Recognitions given to Councilman Carroll by various groups are also posted.
In his paid editorial column in the Nov. 14 Beachcomber, Councilman Carroll referred to the new Los Altos office as the 4th district's "City Hall East" and indicated it would be "able to provide more personal service for 4th District residents, and help you accomplish many City Hall activities." The office offers children's fingerprinting and homemade DNA kits. On November 19, free flu shots were given.
The field office phone number for info other services is 570-8080.
At the Nov. 15 opening, Councilman Carroll and Mayor O'Neill offered some extemporaneous remarks:
Councilman Carroll: ...We are at our new field office for the 4th district. It's something I have been working from the day I got elected, and we finally have the opportunity not only to better serve the constituents of the 4th district, but we have an opportunity partner-up with the police department, the police chaplain, and really give our constituents the sense that they're not only well served from the Councilmember but they have an additional presence of the police department and have that sense. And I've talked particularly to the ladies in the neighborhood and they just love to have the knowledge that the police are out there in the neighborhood taking care of them, so it's a wonderful opportunity.
And we have the privilege of having Mayor O'Neill here. She is so supportive of the notion of Councilmembers having offices and a presence in their district, and of course is a big supporter of community policing as well, and I think we have the perfect marriage here, so [introduces] Mayor Beverly O'Neill. [applause]
Mayor O'Neill: I just wanted to say that I'm pleased to be here. I think that Dennis is the last person that has a Council district office. I think every Councilmember does have a presence in their own district...
As we found all of the district offices, they all have different opportunities for citizens, whether they have some police there, many of them do not, many of them have storefronts elsewhere, or whether they are just for constituents, or whether they have the other services of the city in their district office. And that's very, very important I think to have a local area where citizens feel comfortable because not everybody feels comfortable or wants to come to City Hall when they have something that they would like to talk about that's in their neighborhood. So I know [Council office staffer] John [McNaughton] is going to love it. This is going to be his home and he will be available. People can find him at all times, one way or another, because he does have a central location there will be somebody here who will know where he is if he isn't here.
So this is a very important time for the 4th district. Dennis has been working on it since he became Councilperson for this district, and I don't know all the services that are in here. I know that there are going to be other areas that are going to be also here because it's a central location for the city of Long Beach and Dennis, congratuations.
In an agendized, publicly voted action on August 6, 2002, the City Council approved entering into a lease for the office space for a combined 4th district field office and LBPD storefront/bike patrol station...but after Anthony Batts became LBPD Chief, plans for the police storefront and bike patrol changed.
In a Nov. 14, 2003 memo to Councilmembers, City Manager Jerry Miller said that in addition to the 4th district Council office, the office space would now be used as a "community resource center and provide support to Police Department functions including serving as a location at which technicians will service/repair police vehicles' mobile data terminals." The memo indicated it will house "the Police Chaplains program, serve as an off-site interview location for victims/witnesses involved in crimes of a sensitive nature (such as Child Abuse or Sexual Assault); facilitate interaction between Community Police Officers, Fourth District residents and staff of the Fourth Council District; serve as an alternate location for officers to prepare police reports; serve as a restroom/coffee break location for police officers; and serve as a possible location to display memorabilita from the Police Historical Society."
The City Manager's memo indicated occupancy of the office had been delayed by issues including "needed structural modifications, improvments required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), procurement of necessary fixtures and furniture, and numerous program changes required by the Police Department.
The City Manager's memo indicated the cost to modify the space for city occupancy was $61,090. Furniture: $7,465. Current monthly rent: $1,934. (Starting base rent was $1,755/mo; the lease began in Aug. 02 and the first 90 days were rent free). Modifications and furniture costs were allocated to the LBPD and Public Works Department; rent is shared by the Dept. of Technology Services and the 4th district Council office budget.
Asked by LBReport.com whether some city-owned property might have served as a district office, Councilman Carroll said, "Unfortunately, I would have to evict somebody at Whaley Park or Stearns Park. They're staff, and I've chosen not to do that. Jackie [Kell] has an office. Frank [Colonna] has an office. I don't personally see why Los Altos residents [should be denied having an office (audibility difficult)]."
Other Councilmembers maintain field offices at varying levels of taxpayer cost in addition to their City Hall office. Council office expenses are items in City Hall's spending budget, facing a multi-million dollar deficit (spending exceeding revenue) that management is seeking to remedy with a three-year financial strategy (approved by the Council in 2003) comprised of cost savings and other budget cuts.
Former 4th district Councilman Del Roosevelt had a temporary field office in a trailer at Stearns Park in 1998-99. It was closed in 2000 because (the Aug. 6/02 staff memo says) it lacked adjacent accessible community parking and didn't have adequate facilities (like restrooms) for staff.
After being sworn-in in July 2000, Councilman Carroll conducted field office operations for a time out of his car...and didn't have a budgeted field office until the Aug. 2002 lease for the Los Altos office space.
Councilman Carroll has encountered some choppy political water over his district office. Los Altos resident Patrick O'Donnell, a declared candidate in the April 2004 election in which Councilman Carroll is seeking reelection, told LBReport.com that in his view "the timing of this office opening seems curious, given it so close to election time." He added, "Mr. Carroll could have fought to get more police patrolling our neighborhoods or to fix our sidewalks and streets. Instead, he is using our tax dollars to lease himself a second office."
Asked by LBReport.com about the timeline in which the lease began in Aug. 02 but the office opened in Nov. 03, Councilman Carroll said, "I tried to get it open as soon as we could, and you can ask the [city] manager and the police what the difficulties were." [see items cited in city manager memo above]
Independent of Mr. O'Donnell, Steve Kleekamp (husband of Stearns Park Neighborhood Ass'n president Traci Wilson-Kleekamp) made an appearance at Councilman Carroll's field office at about 11:45 a.m. (after we'd left to cover another event). He carried a homemade sign that put a political thumb in the Councilman's eye.
We weren't present when Mr. Kleekamp arrived and don't know exactly what transpired...but both sides seem to have survived. After the event, Mrs. Kleekamp emailed us this picture snapped at home before Mr. Kleekamp paid his call on the Councilman.
At the next Council meeting (Nov. 18) after opening his field office, Councilman Carroll thanked those who had attended, including the Mayor.