Every year, mayors across the country give their State of the City address to highlight important issues and successes in the community. In these speeches, mayors often discuss local economic conditions, capital projects, and other city finances. Through this annual speech, cities can look back on progress made throughout the year as well as set goals for upcoming initiatives. Tuesday evening, the city came together to listen to Mayor Rex Richardson deliver his first State of the City Address.
Newly appointed Vice Mayor Cindy Allen kicked off the night by welcoming citizens and dignitaries alike to share in this momentous occasion and recognize the hard work of those who made it possible. In her speech, she acknowledged all of the various city-wide elected officials as well as representatives from Long Beach City College and other organizations such as Port of LB, LB Water Department, LB Transit and the Convention Center Team.
Mayor Rex gave an inspiring speech about his vision for a brighter future for the city. He outlined various initiatives that would help to make this happen, such as ensuring quality and stable housing, building an economy where everyone can thrive, creating safe and healthy communities, providing opportunities for youth to succeed, and supporting a sustainable and resilient city. The mayor was met with enthusiastic applause from the majority of those in attendance who were eager to support his plans.
He began by discussing one of the most pressing issues facing our city – homelessness. Earlier that Tuesday, the City Council had declared a state of emergency for homelessness in order to provide more immediate assistance and services to the unhoused. However, he noted that funding these initiatives would require tough budget decisions as federal and state funds are not available like they were during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While he started with the more pressing issue at hand for our city, the bulk of The State of the City address was a reminder of the collective work that is still necessary to make Long Beach an equitable and thriving place for all. Mayor Richardson encouraged the community to continue striving hard toward making this happen through his 100 Days Plan called “The Opportunity Beach” Agenda.
Five Sectors that Mayor Richardson hopes to address in his First 100 Days:
- Ensuring Quality and Stable Housing for All
- Building an Economy Where Everyone Thrives
- Creating Safe and Healthy Communities
- Supporting a Sustainable and Resilient City
- Expanding Opportunities for Youth to Succeed
The Mayor outlined a bold agenda for the city, with plans to create “more affordable housing, expand park space, and invest in clean vehicles”. He went through a 47 page booklet that was distributed to attendees that detailed his plans to tackle these issues head on. The plan calls for funding for “permanent community cultural centers across the city, expanding parks in areas lacking parks, and accelerating zero-emission infrastructure and clean trucks at the Port of Long Beach” – to name a few of the items listed in the plan.
1. Ensuring Quality and Stable Housing For All
To immediately address the issue of homelessness, Mayor Richardson’s first action is to request a State of Emergency on homelessness, calling on all city agencies and partners to go “All In” to address the root causes of housing insecurity.
According to the 2022 Homelessness Point-in-Time Count, has increased dramatically:
3,296 People were experiencing homelessness in Feb 2022
Increased by more than 62% since 2020
Mayor Richardson hopes to help the unhoused by taking immediate actions that are allowed by declaring State of Emergency:
- New emergency shelters, housing, affordable housing targeted to people experiencing homelessness or at risk.
- Supporting new mental healthcare and substance use facilities, hospitals, and the such.
- New Social Services centers, food banks and storage facilities.
- New Safe Parking Sites, including RV and car sites
- Allow the legalization of currently occupied non-compliant units as ADUs
The top priority for my administration will be pursuing bold, evidence based, and sustainable solutions to address the root causes of homelessness and the housing affordability crisis impacting our city and region.
2. Building an Economy Where Everyone Thrives
Mayor Richardson will commit to charting a new path towards a sustainable and equitable economy – one that attracts emerging companies, industries, and technologies in clean and renewable energy to set roots in the city, all while generating thousands of good-paying jobs that improve the economic condition and health of families and residents
Launch The Grow Long Beach Initiative: Support 100 new and diverse startups identified in the growth sectors of Aerospace, Ports/Logistics/Supply, Entertainment/Hospitality, Healthcare, Educational Institutions.
Delivering for Small Businesses: Better equip small business owners with programming and resources to increase their chances of success. He will meet with 100 local small businesses to hear their concerns and challenges affecting our small businesses today.
Investing in People: Propose a “Second Chance Program” to help remove hiring barriers and encourage individuals with prior offenses to obtain employment with the City of Long Beach.
Promoting Arts & Culture: Identify funding opportunities in the City’s budget to support permanent sites for cultural centers that serve our Latino, African-American, Cambodian and LGBTQ communities. Make sure Long Beach is represented in the 2028 Olympics as a global and equitable city.
3. Creating Safe and Healthy Communities
A priority in hiring additional police officers and firefighters to meet the needs of our communities.
Creating Safer Streets: Park Safety Ambassadors will be unarmed safety professionals responsible for closing bathrooms. A new Bureau of Collaborative Response and Engagement. Community Service Response Team that will respond to non-emergency calls.
Police Oversight: The Police Oversight commission will support efforts towards greater accountability and transparency within the community.
Empowering Long Beach Neighborhoods: Neighborhood Association Summit to engage and encourage neighborhood associations to have city-wide discussions and identify policy needs and opportunities.
Protecting and Supporting Immigrant Communities: Funding options in the City Budget to support and expand the Long Beach Justice Fund. Increase efforts to aid enrollment of eligible undocumented residents for Medi-Cal expansions.
4. Expanding Opportunities for Youth to Succeed
Mayor Richardson hopes to lay the groundwork for youth engagement and actively learn and listen from their experiences about how their city can guarantee a prosperous future.
Investing in Youth Leadership: First Annual Youth Advocacy Day will encourage youth to become civically involved. Provide funding options for $1 Million to help Long Beach Youth Fund each year, to guarantee the stability of local youth programs.
Creating Long Term Pathways for Success: The Long Beach Trades Promise will create a pathway similar to the Long Beach College Promise for admission to apprenticeship programs and trade schools for graduating LBUSD students.
5. Supporting a Sustainable and Resilient City
Protecting the quality of the environment will improve the overall health of families and residents in the city. In the first 100 days, the Mayor’s office will take steps towards a safer and healthier quality of life for Long Beach residents
Renewing the Long Beach Open Space Element Plan: Committed to increasing park space and park equity in the City of Long Beach. They will work on New Parks Strategic Plan and Uptown Open Space Vision plan, identifying and categorizing opportunities for acquisition and development of new open space, with the goal that all residents in the city have a park no more than 1o minute walk away.
Advocating for a Greener Long Beach Airport: Work with our federal delegation and partners to advocate for new federal mandates to eliminate lead-based pollution in fuels.
Accelerating Zero-Emission Infrastructure and Clean Trucks at the Port of Long Beach: Work with the Port to establish a $10 million vehicle electrification fund. Timeline for the creation of 100 public charging stations. Ask the Harbor Commission to double the clean truck rate within a year.
Overall, Mayor Richardson believes that these initiatives will make a meaningful difference in the lives of all citizens living in Long Beach. By working together with city officials and community leaders to achieve these goals, we can “build an economy where everyone thrives”.