What should the city do when confronted with homeless individuals who refuse to go into a shelter or temporary housing?
The shelter and temporary housing the city currently offers, for those they wish to compel to use, consists mainly of hotel vouchers or facilities that aren’t deemed safe by the housing impacted residents of Long Beach. If a person refuses to go to a particular shelter there may be a good reason for it. Personal choices should be preserved, and homelessness decriminalized.
In participating in the 2022 homeless count the city coordinated in February, I found that many of those living on the streets had in fact accessed city services and were currently on five-year waiting lists. It was obvious to me that the services the city is currently providing are not adequate and the response to our most vulnerable residents needs to be re-evaluated and placed at a higher priority.
I plan to propose a street paper that will build a job base helping those that suffer from under-employment and ever increasing housing costs and support augmenting the health department budget to provide more complete services from those that need the additional help with mental health or addiction issues. It’s clear that what the city is doing isn’t working and that new ideas and more resources need to be applied to the problem. I have spent the last year talking to all stakeholders in this issue, both the homeless and community members impacted by the problem to try to understand the best practices first, to reduce the suffering of those that have no roof over their heads, and also limit the impact on other community members.
How would you address crime in the city?
I think the role of the police force needs to be evaluated and where needed changes should be made to shift the burden for things that the health department can handle to free resources that can be better utilized for public safety. LBPD has lost a large number of officers in the last few years and recruitment should be emphasized to reinforce the already over taxed resources of our police force. Long Beach has an excellent secondary education system in CSULB and LBCC and efforts should be focused there to recruit the next generation of law enforcement experts to keep Long Beach safe amidst the challenges the future will inevitably bring.
As far as deterrence, I have researched a system called Project Green light, which is a citywide system of microphones that detect gunshots, fireworks and explosions and triggers a camera network that will alert law enforcement to the exact position of the incident and allow a targeted response. This system has been used in many cities and could be rolled out in the highest crime areas first and scaled up as the budget permits, and the results become more evident. A fully transparent civilian oversight committee, with cooperation of sworn officers, can provide a way to bring all stakeholders in Long Beach public safety together to identify and solve problems, as well as build trust and confidence with the community.
The city got to where it is over a period of time and no single thing will immediately solve the rampant crime Long Beach experiences in many communities. I will immediately roll out a coordinated, transparent, forward-thinking and common sense approach in phases based on input from residents, businesses and driven by clear and accurate crime statistics.
With oil revenue dropping, and the city facing the possibility that Measure M revenue could disappear, what will you do to balance the budget in coming years?
Not only is Measure M revenue disappearing, the city just lost an appeal and now has to immediately return $31 million in unconstitutional tax revenue leaving a deficit that needs to be addressed immediately. The focus needs to be building a newly conceptualized tax base that embraces sustainable, green technologies, growth industries and attracting tourists to our world class attractions to bring in enterprise and much needed investment.
Keeping dollars in Long Beach and having them multiply the economic benefit is the key to rebuilding the local economy that has been devastated by the pandemic, and poor planning.
Maximizing revenue needs to be balanced with best business and cost saving practices. Competitive bidding, contract oversight and due diligence need to be brought back into the fiscal management of the city to keep wasteful spending to a minimum. Special interest and “less than arm’s length” dealings need to be eliminated to save the taxpayer millions. The bottom line is that the public trust, and our tax dollars need to be respected, and used in the most effective manner possible.
The state is requiring Long Beach to make room for 26,502 new housing units by 2029. How should those housing units be distributed throughout the city?
The city should strive to build balance in housing throughout the city, and any plan to develop 26,502 housing units has to be balanced between the strong need for more affordable housing, and the desire of developers to profit off of the Long Beach coastline. The current city housing plan calls for 40% of the units to be placed in the “lower resource” neighborhoods where the need for low cost housing is probably the greatest. This leaves 60% to go into neighborhoods where the developers would be making more profit with a higher definition of “affordable” in those areas.
I would propose that the majority of these units be built in the lower resource neighborhoods, and that an equity plan be developed to ensure that this new housing be located close to schools, shopping and greenspace. A first-time buyers program needs to be supported by the city and partnerships with lenders to be sure that Long Beach residents are able to take advantage of the development of Long Beach properties in a meaningful way that allows everyone to participate in the generational wealth home ownership provides families.
The Queen Mary will require at least tens of millions in repairs to just remain in the state that it’s in currently. Is this a wise investment for the city, or should something else be done with the ship?
It’s not just a wise investment for the city, but it’s imperative that the Queen Mary be restored and returned to full operation immediately so that the Downtown economy can begin to recover from a devastating pandemic. I’ve got news; it’s going to be much more than tens of millions to fix the Queen. But the good news is that it’s worth it, and there are many sources of funding for this enormous project waiting to make proposals to the city. Unfortunately, the city seems more concerned with covering up the Queen Mary debacle than actually solving the problem. It is an election year, afterall.
The Queen Mary comprises 33% of the city’s tourism dollars, and having her closed for the last two years has contributed to the increased crime and economic depression that affects Long Beach today while other communities are recovering. I have a plan and execution strategy to not only restore the Queen Mary, but return her to full operation as the magnificent floating hotel that became an icon of Long Beach in 1967.
It’s one of my top priorities as mayor to save the Queen Mary, and I pledge to ensure that she is returned to her former glory, and once again brings the world to Long Beach for our unique culture and history.
The city never imposed a vaccine mandate on its employees, and recently lifted its indoor mask mandate. What should the city do if there’s a new surge of COVID-19 infections?
There will almost certainly be another surge of COVID-19 infections, and for that reason the city health department has to develop a comprehensive plan to respond and protect the health of Long Beach residents, businesses and visitors. Fortunately, the health department has two years of statistics on how the city response affected residents, what worked and what didn’t, and what future health metrics would trigger a COVID-19 specific health response plan back into action. Things like masking and distancing requirements, and quick testing and vaccine centers. This would give people confidence that our leadership knows how to protect its people, and what they would be required to do in the event of a future outbreak of any infectious disease, and specifically COVID-19.
The initial response from the city to the COVID-19 pandemic was, as would be expected, with a novel virus mostly reactionary and unevenly applied. But having an experienced and dedicated health department, with a strong base of experience, and properly funded and able to respond to future emergency needs, can help to keep Long Beach safe and strong in the face of inevitable future challenges to public health.