|(August 24, 2019, 10:10 p.m.) -- On August 24, Mayor Robert Garcia held one of a series of community meetings he's holding in various Council districts. The meeting doesn't explicitly mention, but effectively seeks to paint a positive picture of current city conditions in advance of the March 2020 citywide election on a ballot measure seeking to make permanent the 2016 "temporary" Measure A General Fund ("blank check") sales tax that Garcia, the Council and city management now want to continue indefintely. Our coverage is of the event held at Fire Station 14.
LBREPORT.com provides VIDEO of salient portions of the Mayor's remarks re public safety/crime as well as homeless-related "challenges."
(Ambient audio is difficult; we summarize his comments in text below.)
In August 2019, Mayor Garcia's office began sending mailers/cards to at least some residents (we're not sure yet how many) in ELB's 3rd, 4th and 5th Council districts. (We presume the mailers also went or will go to other Council districts but we haven't confirmed this yet; if you're in districts 1, 2, 6, 7, 8 or 9 and received one, let us know.)
The mailer invites recipients "to atted a casual meeting for an update about what's happening in Long Beach including local projects, the City budget, and other issues." It asks recipients to "please RSVP today." (In addition to planning for the number of attendees, this lets the Mayor's office collect email addresses for future contacts with individuals interested in such matters.) For addresses with more than one registered voter, the mailer applies "householding," a technique used by political campaigns that saves mailing costs by addressing mailers to the "______ Family" (instead of individuals) followed by their street address.
Prior to the 3rd/4th dist. meetings, Mayor Garica mentioned the events on his office's Facebook and Twitter channels: Aug. 24, 10:00 a.m. at Fire Stn 14 (3rd dist.) and 12:30 p.m. at Stearns Park (4th dist.)
About two dozen people were present at the 3rd district event; it wasn't what we'd call a "casual meeting"; it included a City of LB sound tech/PA system, the Mayor's Chief of Staff, a senior advisor in the Mayor's office, LB City Manager Pat West, Public Works Director Craig Beck and for much of the meeting Councilwoman Suzie Price.
[Scroll down for further.]
Mayor Garcia spoke without notes, he offered an upbeat narrative he's recited in other venues (including his State of the City messages.) He described LB's economy as booming with multiple projects advancing. He didn't downplay crime but said serious crime (homicides) is at near record lows and much lower than in some cities roughly the same size as Long Beach. He said overall crimes are at their lowest levels in decades and attributed a perception by some to the contrary to "hyper awareness" of neighborhood crime due to information now shared on social networks.
He described homelessness and housing issues as a single issue, said it is complex with several aspects and has no single solution, acknowledged public safety issues attributable to LB's homeless population, said it's a major frustration and told the audience he's working to address it. He cited his "Everyone Home Long Beach" plan that he said includes a "huge effort" to address the issue (without citing details.)
Portions of Mayor Garcia's presentation cited matters that he and the Council don't directly control, including unemployment (a figure based on whether LB residents have jobs anywhere, not just LB jobs), Port volume (reflecting marketplace forces and policies set by Harbor Comm'n) and CSULB, LBUSD and LBCC's "college promise" programs (implemented/operated by the educatonal institutions, not the Mayor or Council.)
Mayor Garcia connected well with audience, with many visibly nodding their heads in agreement with him as he spoke. No audience members voiced criticism of the Mayor's policies or actions; several commended him and the audience gave him a warm round of applause as he concluded his presentation.
On public safety, the Mayor didn't cite the number of police officers that LB taxpayers previously received but no longer receive despite Measure A (186 citywide deployable officers not restored) or fire engines not restored (Engines 101 and 18 with Engine 17 recently proposed for temporary restoration in FYs 20 and 21 using "one-time" Measure A funds.)
Mayor Garcia said overall crime in LB today as is lower than it's been for the past forty years. Acknowledging that every single homicide is a tragedy, he noted that "there are many cities of our size that are having 100 or 200 homicides a year." He said "in the most serious of crimes, which is murder or homicides, this city continues to decrease every single decade and that trend continues. Overall, when you look at this year versus last year, we are at the exact same point when it comes to homicides." He said "Overall crime today is lower than it was 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago...and [Long Beach] is safer than it has been in last 40 or 50 years..."
Mayor Garcia acknowledged (to polite audience laughter) that when he says this, some disbelieve him but said it's what LBPD data show. He attributed disbelief to many people now being what he called "hyper aware" of neighborhood crimes as a result of social networks (a factor he didn't criticize but argued should be acknowledged.)
After crediting the area's educational institutions, listing district infrastructure improvements and describing the city as "really brightening," he segued into what he called the city's biggest "challenge": homelessness and housing (which he treated as a single issue.)
At 1:38 on our video, Mayor Garcia said he considers homelessness and housing "the number one issue in the City of Long Beach" and said it also the number one issue in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco and Oakland as well as now Irvine, Santa Ana and Newport Beach. He called it "a complex issue of housing affordability, of enough places to live, of mental illness, of society turning our back on problems that have been growing and growing and it's a public city challenge" (and his remarks continue at 2:50.)
Mayor Garcia said that the homeless population must be considered part of the city's population, and as with any population group "we have serious public safety issues within our homeless community and it's causing major frustration and serious challenges within our neighborhoods so I understand that and it's something we're also trying to address." He said there's a "huge effort" included in his "Everyone Home Long Beach" plan "to address that issue and we continue to work on it as the single biggest challenge that we have and we are incredibly serious about it and we also like all of you are very frustrated about it and we shared that all up and down the state of California."
Since Mayor Garcia doesn't hold open press conferences [which President Trump, Governor Newsom and some big city Mayors do] and hasn't invited LBREPORT.com to periodic briefings to which he invites some selected outlets, LBREPORT.com sought to ask him a question during Q & A. After multiple audience questions, we raised our hand; the Mayor spotted us, remarked that he'd take two more "community" questions which he did and then ended the audience Q & A.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Recommend LBREPORT.com to your Facebook friends:
Follow LBReport.com with:
Contact us: mail@LBReport.com
Hardwood Floor Specialists
Call (562) 422-2800 or (714) 836-7050