It has been my pleasure to serve you for the past four years and I look forward to working with all of you as we preserve and improve our neighborhoods during the next four years. We have accomplished a lot but much, much more still needs to be done.
One of my first priorities when I took office in 1998 was to secure funding to begin to repair our much-neglected infrastructure which includes our curbs, sidewalks and streets. As I walked every street during the 1998 campaign, residents overwhelmingly wanted the repair of sidewalks to be the number one priority. With this in mind, I successfully lobbied my colleagues and they agreed to an aggressive eight-year program to repair all sidewalks throughout the City that had been damaged by parkway trees. $3 million was set aside in the 1998/1999 fiscal year budget for these repairs. It was further agreed that an additional $3 million would be allocated yearly until this project was completed. The Fifth District had the bulk of these needed repairs and was given a substantial boost in the first year with $1 million being used to repair over 1,100 sidewalks in the district. We are now in the fourth year of this program and over half of the identified sidewalks have been repaired. During the next four years, the remainder of these sidewalks will also be repaired.
This coming year, I intend to lobby the State (the source of funding for most infrastructure repairs) for additional funding to repair our "residential" streets, curbs and gutters. This will complement the many main thoroughfares for which State funding was allocated in the past few years. I sit on the City Councilís State Legislation and Environmental Affairs Committee, and we will use this committee to lobby our State legislators to assist us in this endeavor. Standing water and other parkway tree related problems continue to be one the main concerns of our residents so it will definitely be a priority this year and for many years to come.
Because the City deferred repairs on our residential streets for so many years during and after the recession of the early 1990ís, many of our streets can no longer simply have a slurry seal to maintain them but must now be totally reconstructed at great cost. Unfortunately, some of you know this first hand because you live on one of these streets that needs reconstruction instead of slurry sealing. This is a street-by-street situation and I am aware of your concerns. Upon being funded by the State, this street reconstruction will not only repair the roadway itself but the curbs and gutters at the same time. Like the sidewalks, these repairs will not happen overnight. This will likely be a multi-year project with those streets in the worst disrepair being repaired first.
How can you help? You can call, write or fax our local State Assemblyman, Alan Lowenthal and our State Senator, Betty Karnette, and let them know that we need State funding for "residential" street repairs. Assemblyman Lowenthal can be reached locally at (562) 495-4766 or you can fax him at (562) 495-1876. His local address is Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal, 115 Pine Avenue, Suite 430, Long Beach, CA 90802. State Senator Betty Karnette can be reached locally at (562) 997-0794 or you can fax her at (562) 997-0799. Her local address is State Senator Betty Karnette, 3711 Long Beach Blvd., Suite 800, Long Beach, CA 90807.
Once again, thank you for the opportunity to serve you for another four years. We have wonderful neighborhoods in the 5th District because the people who live here care about them and work hard to maintain them. I look forward to working together with all of you to achieve our mutual goals.