Mary Zendejas

What should the city do when confronted with homeless individuals who refuse to go into a shelter or temporary housing?

Homelessness seems to be at the highest point that our city has ever seen. Residents and business owners are negatively being affected by the homelessness crisis that we are living through. I strongly believe that as a city we need to be more compassionate with our unhoused neighbors by providing them services to help them get into temporary housing, which hopefully will lead to permanent housing. It is not compassionate of us to allow them to sleep on the cold concrete floors. 

We must do more even when they refuse services because most likely those who refuse services might be the ones who need them the most because of their mental instability. Just recently, we as the City Council directed city staff to look into the possibility of bringing tiny homes for the unhoused. I am also working on policies to explore the possibility of offering more services for longer periods of time including the weekends to make sure that we are as accessible as possible to those who need our services. I have also made donations to organizations that help empower those experiencing homelessness by providing them with meaningful activities that helped the city and that helped them at the same time. Homelessness is a huge crisis to tackle but I am determined to work hard to find positive solutions for all. 

How would you address crime in the city?

I believe that our community as a whole must work together to prevent and reduce crime by evaluating our current practices and implementing practical solutions that can be reinforced by improved systems. Working with our city attorney to improve and expand deterrent programs is one of the pathways to addressing crime in the city. I think people often forget that aiding our community members in securing a well-paying job can help in addition to access to stable housing and is also a deterrent from engaging in crime because often people resort to crime due to a lack of resources.

The state is requiring Long Beach to make room for 26,502 new housing units by 2029. How should the 1st District be a part of that plan?

The 1st District has historically been the leading district when it comes to new development in the city of Long Beach. I will continue to do my part in evaluating what each project brings, and how it impacts our local economy, current residents, and future residents. With seven years for the city of Long Beach to meet state requirements, I believe that the 1st District is leading by example for the rest of the city when it comes to new projects and meeting that goal. We must be cognizant of our population’s needs in regard to affordability, citywide, as we build into the future to keep people here and keep them housed, which is also reflected in the city’s recent update and adoption of the Housing Element of the General Plan.

What would you do about the high cost of housing in Long Beach? 

Referring to the city’s updated Housing Element to meet the state’s requirement, I would support the development of housing for all income levels and household types, including special needs populations, with which I identify, and help promote fair housing choices that reflect the diversity of the populations here in Long Beach. The city of Long Beach has committed to creating more affordable housing and I want to see this commitment come to fruition so that everyone has a place to live safely.

There’s been a historical lack of investment in open space and recreational opportunities in your district. How would you secure more resources for open space?

The Drake/Chavez Masterplan and the accompanying LB MUST facility/wetlands will go a long way to improve access to open space in the 1st District. Additionally, I have pushed for early funding to restructure the 710 entry points at Third Street to help realign the freeway to give residents access to the large parcel of open space that sits in the middle of the freeway ramps. I think that we as a community can identify more open spaces that can be converted into recreational opportunities by being innovative in exploring how collaborative efforts with organizations can aid multiple generations in being outdoors, being engaged in activities inclusive to diverse populations, and facilitating an environment that encourages us to take advantage of what our city can do for us.

Do you believe the city is doing enough to alleviate climate change and the effect it’s having on the city? If not, what additional actions should be taken? 

The city of Long Beach is taking steps in the right direction by identifying goals and establishing plans to become energy efficient. Recognizing that changing existing practices takes time, I believe that we can maintain a momentum that allows us to keep in mind the existing and future workforce that will be impacted by us being a greener city and continue to bridge gaps that will allow us to engage in more sustainable practices with renewable energy. 

Parking is a huge quality of life issue in the 1st District. What, if anything, would you do about parking? 

This continues to be an ongoing issue in the 1st District as well as citywide. I have found that our more densely populated areas, which can typically have higher occupancy rates in their domains, are challenged with finding a place to park but should have access to parking so they are not subjected to citations and environmental hazards when taking the risk of parking in a manner not compliant with our street requirements. 

As a city, we have Preferential Parking permits that aid residents in impacted areas, but to help prevent impacted areas from worsening, I want to see future housing projects incorporate parking that can accommodate the growing needs of our population. I also think that we as city can look at unoccupied areas to see if we can redevelop these spaces to serve as alternative options for residents to utilize.