Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce, Council Member Roberto Uranga, Former LBUSD School Board Member John McGinnis, California Faculty Association Long Beach Chapter, SEIU Local 721, California Nurses Association, Our Revolution Long Beach, Yes We Can Democratic Club
Why are you running for the 2nd District
I am running to lift up the working class, to improve the standard of living for all residents, and to ensure that all Long Beach workers are treated with the dignity they deserve. The working and middle class of Long Beach are being locked out of the economic prosperity that our city is experiencing. My vision is economic inclusion means that all residents will have a bigger share of our city’s economic boom. On a practical level, this means residents will have real access to affordable housing, green spaces, a healthy environment, youth programs, resources for elders, mental health services, and safe neighborhoods.
In practice, real economic inclusion means that all Long Beach residents:
Are safe from dangerous work conditions and harassment,
Are paid a living wage,
Are covered by affordable and high-quality health insurance,
Are properly classified,
Are protected from wage theft, including overtime wage scams
Have sufficient yearly sick days, family-leave, and vacation days
Can retire with a pension worthy of their labor
To accomplish this, my mission is to bring together people from all walks of life and abilities. Together, we will push for pro-worker policies inside City Hall and we will stand side-to-side in the picket lines outside the workplace. I look forward to activating the network of pro-worker Second District advocates that have organized together over the past decade.
What do you see as the biggest problem facing the 2nd District, and how do you propose solving it?
Without a doubt, the biggest problem is the lack of affordable housing. Both the median rent and cost of homes in Long Beach are unattainable for the average worker. Worse yet, the increasing cost of housing is displacing residents and feeding into a related crisis – homelessness. At the end of the day, PEOPLE are the city’s most important asset. Under this philosophy, the rising cost of housing works against the interests of the city’s #1 asset.
I will prioritize effective solutions to building more affordable housing while working to centralize the city’s response to homelessness. For example, I will move forward with an inclusionary housing policy that adopts mandates for developers to build mixed-income residential buildings. Such a policy would require meeting the housing needs for not only low-income residents, but moderate income as well.
The state of California recently passed The Tenant Protection Act, a law protecting tenants from high rent increases (caps it at 5% plus local inflation). The state law also protects tenants from no-cause evictions. The immediate step forward is to inform Long Beach renters of these new policies to ensure that their housing rights are protected. The city must also have a tough stance on any landlord attempting to displace renters by circumventing these laws and ignoring their responsibilities to provide a safe livable environment for their tenants. I will make this happen by working with the city’s legal team and with local housing organizations.
The economic diversity that is iconic in Long Beach must be maintained; this city should be a home for all economic backgrounds.
What are your specific plans to address homelessness?
LA Times Columnist, Steve Lopez, recently wrote an in-depth series on homelessness where he identifies the biggest impediment toward solving the problem: No one is in charge. He examined the homeless crisis as a broader LA county problem and Long Beach is one of the 88 cities with “their attendant bureaucracies, along with a huge county presence, but no command center or field marshal.”
Worse yet, over a billion dollars in Measure HHH has already been spent, but has not been very effective in large part due to uncoordinated efforts. I propose reviewing best practices in Long Beach and relaying information to the county while also working more effectively with the county to solve this escalating problem. The county needs to be empowered through policy to have more robust leadership on this issue. Homelessness has no borders and it makes more sense to work with the county and other cities on this crisis. It’s also important to note that homelessness disproportionately affects African-Americans and this racial injustice needs to be addressed as part of the homelessness discussion.
Do you believe there is a parking issue in the district? If so, how would you address it?
Yes, there indeed is a parking issue and I have a short and long-term approach toward solving the problem. The short-term approach includes auditing of loading, emergency, and 30-minute restricted parking zones to determine which ones can be converted to regular parking spaces. Additionally, there is an ordinance already on the books allowing residents to get a permit to park in front of their driveways. However, most residents don’t know about this ordinance and I will ensure there is wider awareness through advertisement of the driveway parking permit. Fees for the permit need to also be lowered to increase the number of permits and therefore add parking spaces. Finally, under a short-term approach, I will bring in technology utilizing apps for users to locate available parking spaces.
My long-term approach requires viewing the parking issue as it relates to local job creation, public transportation, and environmental justice. Currently, an astonishing 77% of Long Beach working residents are employed by the city. I will lead with a local-job creation agenda to bring down and in that process, bring down both the percentage of residents who work outside the city while lowering the over-reliance on cars. Public transportation also needs to be bolstered because it’s friendlier to the environment and in time, with more residents working in the city and a cultural-shift away from over-reliance on cars, we can work hand-in-hand to lower our carbon footprint.
What, if anything, is wrong with the Broadway Corridor and how would you fix it?
The Broadway Corridor needs a thorough independent assessment to determine several safety concerns. Is the new configuration indeed saving pedestrian lives by slowing down traffic? Can emergency responders safely maneuver in the Broadway Corridor? Are bicyclists safer under the new design? Safety aside, we also must be mindful of businesses along Broadway and the way in which they have been impacted by the changes.
Once we have data from an objective source, we can then move forward with potential modifications to Broadway. Before any modifications take place, residents and business owners along the corridor must be fully brought into the discussion to ensure transparency and clear communication on any proposed changes.