Here are the latest local news highlights to kick off the week of July 17, 2023.
A new free electric bike lending program is coming to Long Beach
The City is introducing an Electric Bike Lending Lending Library program expected to launch by the end of 2023. The goal of the program is to promote e-bike technology, increase e-bike ridership, and encourage zero-emission travel within the city. Residents will be able to borrow e-bikes from the library for up to three months at no cost, with a focus on ensuring equitable access. The city has released an Invitation to Bid (ITB) to procure bikes and equipment for the program and seeks a vendor partner to provide 30 to 40 e-bikes, including different models like standard, cargo, and tricycle, along with helmets and bike locks. E-bikes offer advantages over traditional bicycles, enabling longer trips and catering to various physical abilities. Cargo models can accommodate passengers or shopping, serving as a car alternative, while trike models provide stability and increased cargo capacity. Similar lending library programs in California and elsewhere have successfully promoted e-bike adoption and provided an alternative to car ownership, aligning with climate change mitigation goals. The funding for the E-Bike Lending Library comes from the Long Beach Recovery Act, a plan aimed at supporting the city’s residents, workers, and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. More information about the program and the Long Beach Recovery Act can be found at longbeach.gov/recovery.
Utility shutoffs and late fees for nonpayment will resume August 15
Long Beach Utilities has announced that utility shutoffs and late fees for nonpayment, which were paused during the COVID-19 crisis, will resume starting August 15, 2023. Customers with unpaid debt for water, natural gas, sewer, and refuse accounts are urged to take action to avoid disconnection. Options include paying the outstanding balance in full or applying for direct payment assistance programs. Long Beach residential customers currently owe a total of $12.7 million in unpaid utility bills, and the utility will pursue unpaid balances accumulated in the past three years to ensure fairness for all ratepayers. Advance notice will be provided to account holders before shutoffs, and customers can enroll in a payment plan if they are unable to pay the full amount. Multiple payment options are available, including cash payments at local stores, phone payments, online payments, in-person payments at City Hall, or mailing a check or money order. Customers who need more time to pay off their balance can contact Long Beach Utilities to set up a payment plan. Application for payment assistance and additional information can be found on the website or by calling (562) 570-5700. Printed application forms are also available at various locations in the community. Learn more here.
Long Beach Gray Panthers advocates for the senior citizen community
Long Beach Gray Panthers, a nonprofit organization with 49 years of advocacy, focuses on social and economic justice, particularly for older adults. The organization comprises volunteers who work to build community resources and address issues affecting seniors. They emphasize the dignity of older adults and collaborate with local organizations to promote social justice, education, and senior-related causes. The Gray Panthers advocate for nursing home reform, technology access, public transportation improvement, nutrition, affordable housing, and healthcare for all. They engage older adults in civic participation through educational programs and operate the Donna Helsley Food Fund, providing grocery gift cards to seniors in need. The organization hosts events, including an upcoming age-friendly sex forum on Thursday, July 27, and partners with local organizations and universities. The Gray Panthers recently received the Workforce Innovation Award and collaborate with over 400 interns from CSULB. They hold monthly meetings and welcome volunteers. For more information, visit longbeachgraypanthers.org or contact 562-336-1595. Learn more here.
Zoning Changes coming to Bixby Knolls
The City of Long Beach is seeking resident input for updates to zoning regulations in the Bixby Knolls area as part of the citywide Zone In planning effort. The project aims to modernize outdated zoning regulations in accordance with the 2019 Land Use Element. The focus is on commercial corridors and multi-family areas, excluding existing single-family neighborhoods. The community is encouraged to participate in an in-person open house event scheduled for July 26, where feedback can be shared. The updated regulations are expected to be presented to the City Council for adoption in early 2024. Other ongoing rezoning initiatives include Zone In: City Core and Uptown Planning Land Use and Neighborhood Strategy (UPLAN). The City plans to launch a related rezoning effort for the Wrigley community later in the year. Recently, Zone In: WestLB was completed and adopted in May 2023, which rezoned properties along West Willow Street and Santa Fe Avenue. These initiatives align with the implementation of the General Land Use Element and the General Plan Housing Element update. Those interested in attending can RSVP online. Learn more here.
Former NASA astronaut joins Long Beach aerospace company
Long Beach’s aerospace company, Vast Space, has hired former NASA astronaut Garret Reisman to provide input on its strategic growth and human spaceflight initiatives. Reisman, who had a successful career at NASA and SpaceX, will help Vast Space develop artificial gravity stations that can accommodate humans across the solar system. During his time at NASA, Reisman flew on multiple missions, including a three-month stay aboard the International Space Station. Reisman’s expertise will assist Vast Space in achieving its goals, including partnering with SpaceX to launch the world’s first commercial space station by 2025. NASA has also joined forces with Vast Space and SpaceX to support the development of commercial spaceflight technologies. Reisman’s role at Vast Space will involve providing critical support for strategic planning, growth, human spaceflight, safety, and mission assurance. Learn more here.