What should the city do when confronted with homeless individuals who refuse to go into a shelter or temporary housing?
The first step is to remember that a homeless individual is still a person with basic human needs and rights. It is not our place to force someone to do something they do not want to do. Force or violence is never the solution. With that said, I believe we should work as a community to provide resources (such as return to work programs), education, bathrooms and social workers for those experiencing homelessness. This would eventually lead to bringing those individuals in need back into society as a productive member.
How would you address crime in the city?
Increased crime in a city is usually a symptom of not having enough resource or prevention programs in place. If we work to have more affordable housing, better access to jobs with good pay, less tolerance of guns/weapons, and improved access to education, I believe we can work to decrease crime in our city.
In addition, we should hire more social workers for our city and make contacting them a simple, easy, and confidential process so that those in need of help can turn to social workers instead of crime. Lastly, we should work on the public image of our police force and get them more involved in city/community events. Our citizens and police need to learn to trust each other and build rapport so that no one is afraid to call for help if they ever need it.
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?
District 1 is already very densely populated. If we are to add housing, there a few basic criteria that need to be met first. We need to have better access to affordable housing and programs in place to help first time homebuyers beat out greedy land buyers who just want to flip houses and/or rent properties back out at a premium. We need better access to resources such as grocery stores. With the closure of Numero Uno on Fourth and Pacific, there are no longer any affordable grocery stores within walking distance for most people living in District 1. Lastly, people need space. Wherever we decide to add housing, it needs to be thoroughly thought through with room for people to let their children play, walk their dogs and enjoy Long Beach without being on top of one another.
What would you do about the high cost of housing in Long Beach?
In the short term, we need to implement better rent control standards and better access/incentives for Section 8 housing. In the long term, we need less apartment buildings and instead, more condominium complexes. There are already plenty of “luxury” apartments in downtown Long Beach that are far too expensive for the average person to afford. We should consider converting smaller apartment complexes into condominiums; this would help people build wealth by purchasing their own homes instead of constantly paying rent to large companies. In addition, we should steer away from any new developments that are rentals only as it will not be sustainable for future generations or the growth of our city.
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?
I believe that we need to start by better utilizing the open space that we have to encourage people to go out and enjoy it. Cesar Chavez Park, for example, has a beautiful and intimate amphitheater that could easily host concerts/movies in the park. In addition, no one wants to go out if they are surrounded by trash. The amount of litter in our residential streets is unacceptable. This discourages people from wanting to go out and walk to the park or walk to a store. I propose we add public trash cans (with dog bags) throughout all the neighborhoods and have city workers tidy up the streets on a weekly basis. We can also start district-wide community clean-up days to encourage neighbors to meet one another and take pride in our town.
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?
Climate change, much like recycling, is a systemic issue and one that requires huge shifts in our thinking as a society. While it is great that we offer city bikes, public transportation, access to solar power, etc., we need to think bigger. For too long, the onus has been put onto the individual, who in all reality have very little control or power to stop climate change. We need stricter regulations for large organizations to switch to sustainable practices. We need to stop letting companies use and create single-use plastic. We need to stop believing that plastic can be recycled when we as a country don’t have the resources to properly process. Almost all our plastic gets shipped around the world to be burnt or buried in landfills, which then leads to more pollution and more greenhouse gas emissions. I believe that Long Beach can be a leader in alleviating climate change if we ban together and adopt aggressive policies. After all, we’re all in this together.
Parking is a huge quality of life issue in the 1st District. What, if anything, would you do about parking?
Access to parking is an issue we all face living in Long Beach. First, I propose that we put together a district-wide program that incentivizes property/business owners to allow residents to park overnight in those lots that otherwise sit empty each night. Second, we open up more city-owned parking lots/structures to be used overnight by residents (at an affordable, monthly rate) like we currently do at the parking structures along Pine Ave in Downtown. Third, we adjust our zoning regulations to better match the times as more often than not, one bedroom homes are occupied by two individuals, both with their own vehicle. For all new property development, we should require each home comes with two parking spots.