Joni Ricks-Oddie

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

We need to respond from a place of compassion. There are a variety of reasons why someone may refuse housing assistance including the length of time without housing (recent versus long term), mental health needs, disability, safety concerns, presence of children and availability of permanent housing. We need to have housing options and support services that address these barriers to acceptance and prevent unhoused people from cycling back into homelessness. This is a long term issue and thus requires long term solutions. I believe that:

  • We need to build additional transitional housing with a clear path to permanent housing. We have seen short-term success through the city of Long Beach’s and county of Los Angeles’ Project HomeKey, which converts motels into housing options with supportive services attached.
  • We need to provide resources to our local health department for community mental health services. This would help to both prevent homelessness and provide assistance to those experiencing homelessness due to un- or under-treated mental health conditions.
  • Ensure our housing options can accommodate members of our disability community and can keep families intact. It is not acceptable to have housing options that are not considered accessible or require families to separate.
  • Target recently unhoused individuals and families that would more quickly accept assistance. Have the housing and wrap-around services available to quickly move people into permanent housing, provide employment and other support services. 

How would you address crime in the city?

Our public safety personnel are often asked to do work they are not sufficiently trained to handle, with fewer resources than they need to do the work well. We must increase the resources we allocate to assist our communities with mental health issues. As we continue to assess our public safety continuum, we must reframe the discussion away from simply addressing crime as a singular issue to a broader focus on crime reduction, intervention, and prevention. 

To do so, we must think more broadly about the influences and circumstances people are contending with and relevant factors like age, economic circumstances, and where people are born, live, learn, work, play and worship. Approaching improved public safety from a public health and social dynamic perspective can provide a more holistic approach to public safety and how we deal with crime and criminal behavior and how we address complex issues like domestic violence, mental health and family conflict. 

The city needs to make room for 26,502 new housing units by 2029. How should the 9th District be a part of that plan?

The Uptown Planning Land Use and Neighborhood Strategy has implemented a series of zoning changes along our corridors that allows for additional mixed-used and residential housing. There is already a development breaking ground this year that will add an additional 84 housing units. 

The 9th district has a number of nuisance motels that no longer serve the use they were originally designed for. We need to work with Development Services and Economic Develop to create a series of incentives for owner/operators to transition those properties into housing.

We need expanded first time home buyer assistance programs. North Long Beach is one of the last affordable places in the city to buy a home. We need to create a pathway to homeownership and wealth building among our residents to shift people out of the rental housing and thus take the pressure off of our rental housing market. 

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

Unfortunately, much of this is a regional and state-wide issue around the affordability of California and Southern California in particular. As it pertains to the rental market, the state has passed rental stabilization measures to address increases in annual rent and reduce displacement. Locally, we have an Inclusionary Housing Ordinance that requires affordable housing to be included in new development projects in Midtown and Downtown and provides a series of incentives to developers for other parts of the city. 

It will take some time before the city is able to assess the impact of this ordinance and whether modifications to the ordinance are needed. As a councilmember, I will ask for regular updates on the city’s affordable housing production. I will also push for the city to determine a consistent local source of funding for affordable housing production. 

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?

Currently, there are less than 50 acres of programmable park space in our district. The 51,483 residents in District 9, many with young children who need safe spaces to play, deserve better park and open space resources. As your Councilmember, I will build on the work I have already done developing the North Long Beach Open Space Master Plan, which provides a  framework for the Citywide Parks Strategic plan. 

As the most park-deficient area in Long Beach, District 9 needs a strong advocate on the City Council to ensure we are able to expand opportunities for new parks and open spaces in the 9th District. The newly adopted Parks, Recreation and Marine Strategic Plan lays out a clear path to prioritize previously ignored communities like North Long Beach. With these two strategic plans, we can continue identifying funding to make our open space priorities a reality.

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?

I believe the city is on the right track when it comes to addressing climate change and its impact on our communities, but we are still a long way from any satisfactory measures. The City of Long Beach is developing its first-ever Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP). The Plan is currently available for public viewing on the city’s website. It includes a number of activities designed to incentivize climate-resilient buildings and communities, minimize our carbon footprint and protect our natural ecosystems. Specifically, I would be focused on issues surrounding air quality, truck pollution and re-activating the Los Angeles River.