Here are the latest local news highlights to kick off the week of Monday, September 11, 2023.
“SipSafe” Program Enhances Public Safety through Drink Safety Test Kits
The City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services has launched SipSafe Long Beach, an initiative aimed at promoting public safety by distributing drink safety test kits. These kits can detect illegal substances in beverages, particularly drugs used in drink spiking like GHB and ketamine. The Health Department has acquired these kits and will distribute them to businesses and organizations in the city. Mayor Rex Richardson expressed that this $25,000 investment demonstrates a commitment to community safety. To ensure fair distribution, the Health Department has created a request form available in multiple languages. The initiative was proposed by Vice Mayor Cindy Allen, co-sponsored by First District Councilwoman Mary Zendejas and Sixth District Councilwoman Dr. Suely Saro, and received unanimous approval from the City Council in December 2022. More information can be found at longbeach.gov/SipSafelb. Learn more here.
Long Beach Hosts Reentry Symposiums for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals
In September, Long Beach will host a series of symposiums under the title “Re-envisioning Reentry in Long Beach 2023.” These events aim to address the challenges faced by individuals returning to the community after being released from jail or prison. The series includes three events, each with its own focus and target audience, covering topics such as workforce reentry, housing services, and support for service providers. These initiatives align with the city’s efforts to reduce recidivism and support formerly justice-involved residents, as outlined in the Framework for Reconciliation. The Long Beach Reentry Advisory Council, formed in May 2022, plays a key role in developing solutions for recidivism reduction through collaboration among various stakeholders. For more information on the events and how to register for them, click here.
Long Beach Approves $3.2 Billion FY 2024 Budget
The Long Beach City Council has approved a $3.2 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2024, aligning with the city’s Strategic Vision 2030. This budget maintains current services while making substantial one-time investments, particularly in major infrastructure projects under the Elevate ’28 Plan. The goal is to create a safe, clean, and healthy environment for all residents. The budget maintains services at FY 23 levels, emphasizing quality public services, community well-being, and economic stability. It also strategically allocates resources to avoid adding to the previously projected General Fund shortfall. The budget reflects input from the City Council, Strategic Vision 2030 priorities, and community feedback.
Key investments within the budget include:
- $25,000 for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade
- $150,000 for safety enhancements in Long Beach public libraries, with a focus on the Mark Twain neighborhood branch
- $90,000 for the Hoops After Dark Summer Season
- $1 million for the Cambodia Town Grand Entrance
- $500,000 for VIP Records and Signage
- $3.7 million for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park (including Measure A Funding and Proposed Federal Earmark)
- $25,000 each to support the Cambodian, Latino, and African-American Cultural Centers
- $1.5 million for the Tenant Right to Counsel Program, offering eviction protection
- $1 million for the Justice Fund, providing legal assistance for immigrants and refugees
- $3 million to expand translation services, addressing language access needs
For further details, visit longbeach.gov/budget.
Long Beach Addresses Pickleball Noise Issue with New Courts and Sound Barriers
The city of Long Beach is tackling the problem of excessive pickleball noise by constructing 16 new courts in two locations: DeForest Park and Veterans Park. These parks were chosen for their distance from residential areas to minimize disturbances. The expansion aims to alleviate parking concerns and provide more playing options. Sound barriers are being installed to reduce noise, and court lights will now turn off at 9 p.m. to further mitigate disruptions. Despite these efforts, some residents are advocating for courts to be located away from homes with dedicated parking to prioritize the well-being of affected neighbors. In contrast, the city of La Canada has opted to convert a tennis court at Glenhaven Park back to exclusive use for tennis due to ongoing noise complaints. Learn more here.
Long Beach Commemorates 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop with Cultural Series
The Long Beach Public Library is commemorating the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop culture with a series of events in September and October. The program, titled “Hip Hop Celebration: 50th Anniversary Series,” aims to honor the influential history of Hip Hop, both locally and globally, focusing on its four core elements: breakdancing, DJing, MCing, and art. The series kicks off with an event on September 23 at Recreation Park, followed by a five-week workshop series for tweens and teens. The events will include activities, panel discussions, special guests, and a teen dance competition. Following this, a workshop series will provide hands-on learning experiences for tweens and teens in DJing and producing, street art and music, MCing and music, and break dancing. The Library aims to nurture creativity, self-expression, and teamwork in young minds and provide an inclusive space for them to explore their passion for Hip Hop. The Long Beach Public Library, in collaboration with Native Sol and VIP Records, welcomes the community to join in this celebration of the impactful culture of Hip Hop. For further details and event updates, click here.