After more than a year under a state of emergency in response to homelessness, it remains one of the most pressing issues facing Long Beach. What would you do differently to address this crisis of housing, addiction and mental health?
Homelessness is a crisis affecting not only people’s lives but also the quality of our communities. I’ll work towards a comprehensive plan to expand proactive services, quickly shelter and stabilize people experiencing chronic homelessness, and promptly facilitate connections back to permanent housing with the necessary supportive services. We need a hands-on approach from all our leaders, which is why I volunteered to participate with the homeless count on January 25. It is important to have accurate data that will help to better assess the specific needs of the unhoused population in our district.
As council member, I’m committed to taking the following steps:
1. Direct services to get people off the street, away from schools and parks and into permanent supportive housing;
2. Improve accessibility and services provided by the shelter system, including job or apprenticeship opportunities, financial literacy training, and more;
3. Invest in our public health department to prioritize effective homeless prevention policies with an emphasis on drug counseling and mental health treatment programs;
4. Bring together nonprofits, service providers, and state and regional agencies to ensure there are no missing gaps when improving access to resources for the homeless population;
5. I will look into more opportunities for local homeowners and developers to work together to promote ADUs and ensure the construction of new housing has a mix of market-rate and low-income units.
We can uplift those who are most in need and ultimately uplift our entire community if we work together and prioritize the needs of people who need help the most.
The city has recently had extensive hiring shortages affecting everything from trash pickup to police and fire response. How would you speed hiring and improve retention?
Several of the unfilled roles affecting city services have historically followed months-long hiring practices. This is unacceptable if we want to hire quickly and ensure residents don’t experience any interruption in the city services they rely on. I’m committed to cutting red tape to speed up this process and investing in our human resources staff to speed up the process to under a month. And many neighboring cities offer hiring bonuses that are significantly higher than Long Beach, so we’re losing out on many qualified, homegrown residents who end up going to work in other cities. We need to invest and recruit from our own community to meet this shortage.
Additionally, to improve retention, I would secure funding to support retention bonuses which are beneficial to both the employees and the city.
Long Beach has long been dependent on oil revenue, but that stream of money is going away. How should the city make up that revenue to avoid major budget deficits?
Although state, county, and local governments have worked to set and meet goals to transition to renewable energy in order to address the climate crisis, it’s important to address the consequences of those policies. Many city services have a history of benefiting from funding that comes from oil revenue, so we must ensure there are solutions available to be able to still provide funding for crucial services that help make Long Beach a great place to live, shop, and raise a family.
As the Head of Environment and Sustainability for a major stevedore company at the Port of Los Angeles, I have a deep understanding of the need for green jobs and training people to be prepared for the future. While the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles have secured a $1.2 billion hydrogen grant to aid their efforts to reach zero emission goals, it’s important to ensure there’s accountability so these funds are used properly and the city is prepared to capitalize on this revenue. I have the experience and knowledge needed to advocate for new and innovative ways to produce revenue for the city, including cutting red tape to attract and sustain quality businesses and doing so without raising taxes or fees that make it harder to live and work here.
An ongoing complaint by residents of the 8th District is a lack of investment in their communities. Late last year, a developer pulled out of a long-planned development along Atlantic Avenue where there are multiple vacant storefronts. What are your specific plans for bringing more development and businesses to the district?
In addition to hosting meetings with members of the business community through a strong collaboration with the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, I would strongly advocate for a concerted strategy to promote strong business development as follows:
a) Establish a Business Improvement District that caters to the needs of North Long Beach.
b) Review and revise rules and regulations to streamline the granting of permits.
c) Provide access to capital through the small business lending program, including for entrepreneurs of color.
d) Make available pertinent information to potential businesses that detail demographics, real estate property values, and potential investors.
As a candidate who was born and raised in Long Beach, I’ve seen how businesses have changed in our community over time. In the Bixby Knolls Shopping Center, we lost both CVS and Rite Aid. Most businesses are concerned with homelessness and issues involving public safety. As a city council member, I will work hard to tackle those issues to make our district friendlier to quality local businesses that serve our residents. There is great potential for small businesses in the new 8th District, but we need to meet the moment and do more innovative work to reverse the negative image of potholes, crime, and rising homelessness.
The 8th District, like many outside of East Long Beach, lacks park space. What will you do to help prioritize spending to create more usable open space in the 8th District?
The 8th District is dense and does not have a lot of open space compared to other ZIP codes in Long Beach, which limits building and expanding on parks. North Long Beach has approximately 1 acre per 1000 residents, whereas in the east and south areas of Long Beach, there are approximately 17 acres per 1000 residents. I am committed to partnering with local nonprofit organizations to bring inclusive community programs for all residents to existing parks, trails, and existing green spaces. Open space can improve our mental and physical health, provide opportunities for physical activity and social interaction, and help clean the air and water.
I am committed to working with the city and nonprofit organizations to find innovative ways to create more green spaces to not only add beauty but improve the health and well-being of the residents. Some examples are creating mini-forests or wall gardens along buildings. I am part of the 2024 Leadership Long Beach cohort and my group collaborated with the Office of Climate Action & Sustainability, Councilman Al Austin’s office, Litter Free Long Beach, and many community volunteers to plant 15 trees in addition to picking up almost 50 pounds of trash on 48th Street in North Long Beach on MLK Day. By increasing biodiversity in the district, we will reduce smog and air pollution, retain rainwater and trap CO2, and allow every resident the opportunity to enjoy a strong quality of life.