What should the city do when confronted with homeless individuals who refuse to go into a shelter or temporary housing?
As an educator and school district executive, I have assisted homeless families trying to keep kids in school, and supported city efforts and law enforcement to develop and implement policies to curb the impact of homelessness on the community.
I understand the conditions of the homeless and have been an advocate for greater mental health and counseling support in the agencies I serve by hiring counselors in schools, and at Casa Youth Shelter, where I currently serve as president of the board of directors supporting our mission to serve youth in crisis.
Homelessness is growing in Long Beach. The city reports a total homeless count of over 2,000 adults in our community. Because homelessness is largely a symptom of one or more underlying conditions, simply moving a homeless individual to a shelter or temporary housing is not a sustainable solution for the city, or the individual. Getting homeless individuals off the street is only an initial step. Continuing support is necessary to break the cycle of homelessness.
For those who refuse shelter and/or support services, direct intervention is a necessity.
I believe when a homeless person refuses to move to a shelter or temporary housing they should be promptly evaluated regarding their condition to care for themselves; if they pose a danger to others; if they are in violation of the community’s laws; and/or if they are negatively impacting our private and public spaces, law abiding residents and businesses in our community.
Individuals who meet one or more of these conditions should be brought into a system of accountability and support through Homeless Court and/or other means to facilitate and incentivize their access to services, relocate to family support, and to ultimately work within a supervised and supported plan for an improved personal situation.
How would you address crime in the city?
As a superintendent of schools I have worked directly with law enforcement, and held executive responsibility for school police services to keep students, adults, community and property safe and protected. I have worked with and implemented gang intervention programs that continue today to serve as a first line of defense for youngsters in tough neighborhoods to avoid gangs, and to build relationships and respect with local law enforcement.
In 2009, the Long Beach Police Department budgeted for 800 sworn police officers. In 2022, the LBPD budgeted for 644 sworn police officers. Not only do these statistics demonstrate poor public policy, but they certainly underscore the reason for higher crime in Long Beach. Further and with respect to those who serve to protect our city, there is little more demoralizing to law enforcement personnel than to not being able to fulfill the sworn duty to protect and serve the community. Unfortunately, this is the case in Long Beach, and it needs to change if we are to have safe neighborhoods and a stronger Long Beach.
To address rising crime in the city, first I will work with the City Council to prioritize community safety and provide our police department with the resources to increase the number of sworn police officers by 100. Second, I will work with LBPD administration and city administration to identify and remove barriers to increase police patrols and establish a higher level of police visibility, enforcement of nuisance crimes and crime deterrence throughout the city. Third, I will work with community advisory groups and LPBD to address specific neighborhood issues and best policing practices in each neighborhood as they may require.
The state is requiring Long Beach to make room for 26,502 new housing units by 2029. How should the 3rd District be a part of that plan?
Long Beach shouldn’t be part of this plan. Long Beach is simply not well served by the state’s specific mandate for more units and greater housing density. The state should not be able to dictate the city’s land use policies. Long Beach should be joining other cities to challenge the state mandates in the courts.
Higher residential density will not only change the character of the city’s well established neighborhoods, but will also stretch an already challenged city infrastructure, and have a tremendously negative impact on parking, traffic and public resources. I will speak out to push back on state mandates that serve to deteriorate our communities, and be a voice of the City Council for managed and sustainable development in the city.
What would you do about the high cost of housing in Long Beach?
Housing in Long Beach, like other beach cities, is not only in demand but is essentially “built-out.” This is a challenging situation.
Over the last several years, the city has promoted high housing costs by permitting development of a large component of high end luxury apartments and condominiums, despite the need for more affordable workforce housing. This is just one example of poor public policy that must change.
The city currently has 6,900 subsidized resident households; more than 500 units for interim housing; newly implemented rent controls and auxiliary unit development regulations. Affordable workforce housing is where the emphasis is now needed. I will be a voice for managed and sustainable residential development, and for moving affordable housing residential projects into our city as a greater component of the city’s housing stock.
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?
Yes, generally I believe the city is doing enough, and certainly our residents and businesses are doing their part.
As a school superintendent I have reviewed and considered many programs that support climate change. I have purchased clean emission vehicles, including CNG/LNG school buses, modernized school campuses with sustainable materials to reduce carbon footprint and resource use; and promoted recycling and composting programs.
The city has made great strides with programs to curb emissions from ships that travel to and from our port, and with clean air vehicles that service the port and our public transit, but it has also promoted programs with dubious benefits that create burdens rather than benefits.
I will review future city initiatives for climate change critically with an eye to balancing any public financed action against projected benefit and impact, including potential hidden costs to local residents and the business community. I will also be a proponent of our most precious asset, our beaches, ocean and marinas. I will be a voice on the City Council to mitigate discharges that foul our beaches from cruise ships, tankers and the cities upstream of the Los Angeles River.
Parking is a huge quality of life issue in the 3rd District. What, if anything, would you do about parking?
Parking problems have been around for the years I have lived in 3rd District, and much longer. And, as the recent attempt to install parking meters in the Alamitos Bay has demonstrated, discussions concerning changes to parking are not easy.
Parking issues continue to evolve with residential density (see response concerning state-mandated housing development); additional vehicles in each household; garages that are utilized for purposes other than parking; and with the popularity of our beaches, parks and business districts.
Over the years, many ideas and plans have been considered only to find that they are not economically feasible or are otherwise unpalatable. We know that each 3rd District neighborhood and business district has its own unique parking situation, and that these situations require unique solutions.
The parking conditions within our neighborhoods and business districts deserve regular consideration and review. In this way ideas and solutions develop, and thinking is continuous overtime. With the engagement of neighborhood and business associations, and our city traffic engineer, I will support continued community meetings to understand parking concerns and identify promising strategies that would enhance the quality of life in the 3rd District.