As a 20-year resident of Long Beach, a homeowner and a parent of young children, I am supporting Measure A for a number of reasons. So, many inaccuracies have been written about Measure A–– I felt it was important to make it plain how much Measure A has done for our city and why it is important not to let the progress end.
Measure A is not a new tax or a tax increase. Our rate will stay the same when Measure A passes, not go up. Let’s be clear, it’s also not going to go down either. Many local governments now have our tax rate, or have measures to get it. If we lose our 1% locally, then it will just go somewhere else. But it’s never going down. If we let Measure A end, we’ll never see a 1% reduction. Some other county or regional agency will have passed a measure to get that 1%.
What have we received for only 1% more? A lot. Go to https://measurea-longbeachca.opendata.arcgis.com and take a look at what has been done in your neighborhood. Because every neighborhood has seen Measure A dollars locally.
Why should we keep Measure A dollars in Long Beach, instead of letting it expire and give the 1% to some other agency? (Because remember, it will not go down. The 1% will just shift to someone else.) We aren’t done with the work. The truth is, we never will be. We will always need and want to invest in public infrastructure, from police, to roads, to libraries [or] to new things we haven’t even thought of. That’s how we keep getting better and better, with public investment.
Improvements to our streets, sidewalks and alleys are easy to see. Yes, there is still much to be done, but let’s not forget, this is a multi-year program. We still have a few years left in the Measure A we passed in 2016. Of course everyone wants all roads and sidewalks fixed now, but the work can only be done as the funds come in.
There are many other benefits from Measure A that I don’t know if everyone is aware of. As a parent, I am very happy with the addition of new playgrounds at local parks. There are eight new playgrounds Measure A provided the funding for, in addition to repairs to community centers and other facilities at our parks. Library and park programming are an integral part (not a solution, but a part) in the problem plaguing us most right now, homelessness.
But I don’t just want parks for my children to play in, I want them to be safe in my neighborhood and across the city. We must keep the additional police officers we hired, keep the newly opened Police Academy open so our recruits are trained to be the very best, and keep the newly opened South Division open, so when we call the police, they come quickly everywhere in our city. Crime is the lower than when I moved here 20 years ago, lower than ever, and we must not let it go back up. Measure A allowed the [Long Beach] Police Department to remove more than 1,000 guns from our streets from people who shouldn’t have them and funded the Safe Streets Initiative, which contributed to the reduction in violent and property crime trends in some neighborhoods.
Measure A will also contribute to the reopening of Long Beach Community Hospital. It was disheartening to learn that ambulance transport times have increased by 10% since Community Hospital closed. Reopening Community Hospital will improve paramedic response times across the whole city. This benefits every Long Beach resident. Not only am I the parent of young children, I also care for my elderly mother in our home. If you are having a heart attack, stroke or have been in a serious accident, seconds count.
Are you still asking, why now if we still have a few more years of our current Measure A? Why not wait?
The answer is, like many cities in Los Angeles County, our sales tax rate is the maximum at 10.25%. What many voters don’t know, is that Long Beach only receives 2% of that rate and if we let our sales-tax rate fall and a different LA County or regional agency approves an increase, we will still pay the same rate we pay now, but the money will not stay in our city. We will always pay 10.25%, but we will:
• not be able to continue to fix our streets at the same pace,
• not keep the additional 41 public safety officers,
• not maintain the 108 officers we would have lost,
• not keep the restored paramedic unit in North Long Beach,
• not keep fire engines in Belmont Shore and the Traffic Circle neighborhood,
• not keep improving our parks and libraries.
But we will still pay the same sales tax rate. Just to someone else. That would be a travesty.
Remember, this is not a new tax, our tax rate will remain the same.
Please, don’t let the improvements end. My children, my elderly mother and your loved ones all deserve a better, safer Long Beach. We know how to get there. We need to vote “Yes” on Measure A.