Gary DeLong Announces 3d District Council CandidacyReturn To Front Page
(February 10, 2005) -- Gary DeLong, who serves on a number of civic boards and has taken an increasingly high-visibility position in public policy discussions (on LBReport.com's pages and elsewhere) has announced his candidacy for the 3d district City Council seat (election spring 2006).
In a written release, Mr. DeLong said, "I believe it is essential that a city councilmember provide effective leadership when addressing both district issues and city wide challenges. The City has had many accomplishments in the past decade, but we need to do even better." He added:
We need to reverse the trend of increasing poverty in our city. We need to ensure that Redevelopment funds are properly spent and that projects result in increased city-wide benefits. We cannot afford to continue to absorb a larger portion of low-income housing than our neighboring cities. We already suffer from past decisions, e.g., crackerbox housing. Additionally, we need to improve communication with the Airport, the Port and other city departments to ensure that a partnership is created to provide the greatest possible benefits to all Long Beach residents.
I am also concerned about the City’s infrastructure. While there are high profile topics that need to be addressed, such as the Airport, lack of middle income housing, the Port, Redevelopment, and others, we must continually strive to ensure that the City is taking care of residents’ immediate neighborhood concerns, such as potholes, tree trimming, all the things that support a better quality of life.
I believe it is crucial that an elected representative be accessible to residents of the 3d District, that this representative preserve and improve neighborhoods, invest in the city’s infrastructure and improve the city’s financial position. I intend to be accessible to the constituents with an open-door policy and I believe in returning constituent phone calls promptly. I’ve met with many residents in the 3d District and they voiced this concern. Accessibility is a priority.
In the release announcing his candidacy, Mr. DeLong indicated he favors a strategic vision of where residents want the city to be 10 years from now, 20 years from now and 30 years from now. Further, the budget needs to be balanced by managing expenses, not by creating additional debt.
As part of a "Sound Off" section on LBReport.com (expressing his views in a sponsored column that invited e-feedback from readers), Mr. DeLong argued in favor of an independently-run Redevelopment Agency Board.
Why is having the City Council act as the Redevelopment board a bad idea? There are reasons aplenty. Choose the one that appeals to you the most:
- Reason 1: City Council members are already stretched thin. Therefore, city staff will drive more of the decisions, with less public involvement and input. City Council members will spend less time on redevelopment projects than current redevelopment agency board members do. Which leads to . . .
- Reason 2: City Council members claim they don’t have adequate time to address their existing workload. Is dissolving the existing RDA board a smoke screen towards attempting to justify full time council positions?
- Reason 3: There will likely be a blurring of the Agency’s funds (property tax money meant to cure neighborhood blight) with General Fund money. Staff/Council may use RDA funds for General Fund projects.
- Reason 4: Councilmembers can pay themselves more for taking on RDA responsibility. One suggestion thus far is $3,000 per month per Councilmembers. The City Attorney has already told us: City Council members can vote themselves any amount of compensation they like.
- Reason 5: An independent agency board provides less potential for corruption, versus a City Council agency board that solicits campaign funds on a regular basis. Which of course leads to . . .
- Reason 6: Redevelopment decisions could potentially be based on "political" considerations, rather than economic goals. If Company A wants to secure a contract for a certain redevelopment project and wants a certain Councilmember to vote his way, you can be sure that every Tom, Dick & Harry in that company will kick in the maximum campaign contribution of $300. And finally...
- Reason 7: An independent Redevelopment Agency board will hold more public study sessions and subcommittee meetings, thus ensuring public input. This is an ongoing practice of the current RDA board.
On top of these arguments is the fact that there is a community-requested independent study of Long Beach Redevelopment underway...
A proponent of dissolving the RDA has stated, "accountability and decisions concerning redevelopment should fall to the city’s top elected body." Lest we forget - the last time the City Council had the opportunity to make a significant financial decision, they created a three year $100-plus million city budget deficit, and then blamed staff (after the fact) for bad advice. If Redevelopment takes a turn for the worse under City Council leadership, will staff again be blamed for the poor results?
In September 2004, Mr. DeLong presented pros and cons of the then-pending Boeing's Douglas Park development...raising concerns over inclusion of its housing component:
Benefit: Boeing Realty will invest $20 million in streets, curbs, sidewalks, etc. in the commercial portion of the project.
Concern: Adding 1,400 homes next to an airport will add fuel to an already divisive issue in our community. Additionally, there is no commitment to build a single commercial building. There is only a commitment to develop infrastructure.
Benefit: Jobs -- The development as designed (partial commercial) will provide up to 11,000 jobs.
Concern: Fewer jobs in the future. Every acre that is converted from commercial / industrial to residential is giving up - for all time - the possibility of a job-producing enterprise on the land.
Benefit: Tax Revenue -- Although the housing portion of the plan will probably lose money for the City (the cost of providing services exceeds the tax revenue), the commercial portion is expected to generate $1.3 million to $3.8 million annually after all facilities are built and occupied.
Concern: Less Tax Revenue -- If 160 acres will generate $1.3 million to $3.8 million annually, then 261 acres of commercial/industrial could generate $2.1 million to $6.2 million annually. And although there is concern regarding whether or not Long Beach could absorb this much commercial/industrial space, a recently issued General Plan Update states, "There is an estimated demand for an additional 1 million square feet of office, 3.5 million of industrial, and 432,000 of retail development through 2010."
On January 19, 2005 Mr. DeLong dissented when other members of City Hall's Economic Development Commission urged continuing efforts to include LB Airport "economic benefits" among Guiding Principles for Airport Marketing and User Responsibilities.
Mr. DeLong is immediate past Chairman of the Board of Directors for ChildNet Youth & Family Services, continuing to serve on that board as well as on the boards of The Aquarium of the Pacific, Goodwill Industries of Southern California, Long Beach City College Foundation and the Long Beach Public Library Foundation. He's also a member of City Hall's Economic Development Commission, a position to which he was appointed by Mayor Beverly O’Neill in 2003.
Professionally, Mr. DeLong is President/CEO of The RTP Group, Inc., a telecommunications management consulting firm and software development company in Long Beach.
The 3d Council district covers the southeastern part of LB.
Contact us: mail@LBReport.com