Long Beach’s proposed budget focuses on streets, parks, homelessness and public safety

By Emma DiMaggio, Signal Tribune

The City of Long Beach released its proposed budget Tuesday, a $3.2 billion plan that will invest in fixing streets, improving parks, adding bicycle patrols, creating a new office focused on addressing climate change and expanding services to assist people experiencing homelessness.

Fixing streets, improving parks and enhancing corridors

The City plans to invest a whopping $521.8 million in infrastructure this coming year, which Mayor Robert Garcia called “the largest modern investment [in the city’s infrastructure] in modern history.”

The “lion’s share” of investments ($322M) will go into mobility improvements—things like streets, sidewalks and ADA curb ramps; followed by projects ($48.3M) at parks, playgrounds, and community centers; then public facilities ($49.9M) like libraries, health facilities and fire stations, according to Public Works Director Eric Lopez. 

Across the city, 33 parks will see improvements, including 10 new and improved parks and six community center projects. The budget invests in the Chavez Park Latino Cultural Center, Killing Field Memorial Garden and Cambodian Veteran Memorial, and Long Beach’s ranchos.

Public facilities will also see a boost in this year’s budget. Four fire stations are slated for improvements—Stations 9, 11, 13 and 14. 

The Bayshore, Brewitt, Burnett and Mark Twain Libraries will see improvements, as well as a Marine Amphitheater feasibility study and “significant” improvements to the city’s Senior Center, according to the budget proposal. 

Corridors along Market Street, Anaheim Street, Artesia Bouelvard, Studebaker Road, and Atlantic Avenue are slated for improvements. The City is also dedicating $1 million for the creation of an LGBTQ+ Cultural District on Broadway.

Of the total funds, $88 million will come from Measure A sales tax funding, $150 million will come from a Measure A Bond to be paid back over the next 20 years, and $283.8 million will come from external sources like grants. 

Expanding and investing in services to combat homelessness

This year’s annual Point-in-Time Count of residents experiencing homelessness found a 22% increase in people living in encampments or on the street, and a 380% increase in people living in a vehicle compared to January 2020. The survey was being halted for two years due to the pandemic.

To help address this increase, Long Beach plans to expand the services it already offers. 

The City’s REACH Team—which utilizes a public health nurse, mental health clinician and outreach workers to conduct outreach to people experiencing homelessness—will see staffing increases.

The Multi-Service Center, a hub that provides outreach, case management and shelter referrals to people experiencing homelessness, will see $6 million to support operations. 

Project Homekey, a program whereby cities purchase hotels to convert into interim housing for unhoused residents, will see a proposed $5 million to help Long Beach purchase another hotel. 

The plan also includes a $50 million investment in interim and permanent housing opportunities and $20 million for services for those experiencing homelessness.

The proposed budget includes $250,000 to support unhoused residents who face towing fees, $125,000 to clean up encampment sites in parks and open spaces, and $2.1 million in Measure A funds for a two-year clean-up initiative along riverbeds. 

More bike patrols

Following direction from the council to increase opportunities for community policing, the proposed budget funds 20 new police officer positions.

Of these 20 positions, 16 are for officers who will patrol neighborhoods on bikes and four are for quality-of-life officers who will conduct outreach to “address the root causes of crime” and to those experiencing homelessness, according to the budget proposal. 

A new climate office

Long Beach is expected to approve its Climate Action and Adaptation Plan in the coming weeks—a document that will guide the City’s mitigation efforts and response to climate change. 

To help with this effort, the budget proposes funding an Office of Climate Action under the city manager’s office. 

The budget will fund 9.3 new positions dedicated to climate action and sustainability. The office would be tasked with coordinating the city’s response to the climate crisis by “addressing public health, green economic opportunities, and working to transition away from fossil fuels,” according to the budget presentation.

How to give input

This was the first year that Long Beach solicited public input on the budget before its release. 

The council will receive more detailed budget reports from city departments over the coming month during its regular Tuesday meetings.

Residents can give input on the budget during several in-person and online meetings. Online meetings will take place on Thursday, Aug. 11, from 5:30 to 7 p.m.; Wednesday, Aug. 17, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 22, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Those interested in attending can RSVP at www.longbeach.gov/FY23

Budget hearings will take place at Long Beach City Council meetings on the following Tuesdays: Aug. 9, Aug. 16 and Aug. 23. Hearings and possible adoptions of the budget will occur on Sept. 6 and Sept. 13. Long Beach City Council meetings take place at 5 p.m. at the Civic Chambers, 411 W. Ocean Blvd. Meetings are live streamed at www.lbtv3.com

 

Original Source: https://sigtrib.com/long-beachs-proposed-budget-focuses-on-streets-parks-homelessness-and-public-safety/

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