News / Perspective

Mayor Garcia Wants Sac'to To Shift $1.5 Billion State Taxpayer Surplus To City Halls As Blank-Check Block-Grants For City Hall-Devised Homeless Plans, Has Kept LB Neighborhood-Impacting Details Quiet Until After Most LB Incumbents Safely Re-Elected is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(April 12, 2018, 9:25 a.m.) -- LB Mayor Robert Garcia has joined other CA "big city" Majors in urging Sacramento lawmakers to enact (A.B. 3171) that would give an anticipated $1.5 billion state budget "surplus" (paid by CA taxpayers) to City Halls as blank-check "block grants" to spend as local City Halls via their City Councils desire to deal with homeless issues.

AB 3171 (text here), introduced in February by Assemblyman Philip Ting (D, SF) (with principal co-author state Senator Ricardo Lara (D, LB-Huntington Park joined by multiple Dem co-authors) would create a "Local Homelessness Solutions Account for the purpose of providing funding to cities to [legislative counsel digest] "to create innovative and immediate solutions to the problems caused by homelessness" and "appropriate an unspecified sum from the General Fund to the Local Homelessness Solutions Account and direct the Controller to apportion those funds to cities in proportion to each city’s most recent homeless population."

The bill would require cities to match any state taxpayer funds received from the program for spending on, among other things, "shelter diversion, rapid rehousing, and permanent supportive housing."

[Scroll down for further.]

To date, LB's Mayor and Council haven't publicly broached the hot-button issue of exactly where -- by specific LB locations -- they support or don't support using L.A. County's recent sales tax increase on top of now-potential A.B. 3171 blank-check revenue to deal with homeless individuals, a non-homogeneous population that can range from scofflaw vagrants to helpless mentally ill to families displaced by economic hardships. However with most LB incumbents now safely re-elected (exceptions: June runoffs in 5th and 7th Council districts), Mayor Garcia signaled at his election night celebration that he now plans to announce some type of homeless plan in the coming days.



Roughly three weeks earlier on March 13 -- without Council public discussion -- Mayor Garcia sent a letter to A.B. 3171 author Assemblyman Ting, cc'd to Assembly Speaker Rendon, LB-area Assemblymembers Gipson and O'Donnell and state Senators Bradford, Lara and Nguyen), stating i n pertinent part:

The Long Beach Continuum of Care (CoC) is nationally recognized as a well-coordinated system of care. Our homeless services providers universally deliver evidence-based best practices to individuals and families regardless of their housing status, integrate all key partners into a Coordinated Entry System so there is a "no wrong door" approach to accessing services, and coordinate housing application and utilization processes linked to supportive services and financial assistance programing.

While Long Beach was able to support a reduction in the total number of persons experiencing homelessness in the City by 21% over the last two years and a reduction in chronic homelessness by 26%, as evidenced by the 2017 Biennial Homeless Count, it is clear additional funding is needed. In recent years, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) has moved away from funding homeless supportive services in an effort to focus more on permanent housing. While permanent housing is the goal, supportive services are critically needed to help individuals experiencing homelessness maintain their permanent housing status. Matching funds from AB 3171 would provide cities with an opportunity to further innovative solutions that may help individuals experiencing homelessness maintain a successful transition to permanent housing.


Yesterday (April 11), ten of CA's "big city Mayors" (with Garcia absent after LB's elections a day earlier) held a photo-op in Sacramento to press Governor Brown to support the budget surplus diversion. (There's been no public response yet from CA's lame-duck but still veto-wielding Governor.)

Among those present at the Sac'to photo-op was L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti whose most recent homeless plan (after his previous plan failed to deliver as promised) involves putting homeless facilities in all L.A. City Council districts (with or without public approval.) In LB-adjacent OC, faced with a massive homeless encampment with syringes and human waste strewn along the Santa Ana River, a federal judge forced a short-term clean-up but with long-term remedies currently uncertain after multiple communities pushed back attempts to put facilities for such individuals in their neighborhoods.

For complex reasons (not discussed here), the worsening regional status quo is unsustainable and effectively incompassionate toward homeless individuals and unresponsive to neighborhood concerns.





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