City Council approves extension on eviction moratorium until the end of September

A protest against a proposed rental repayment plan in the Alamitos Heights neighborhood of Long Beach on June 23, 2020.

At its July 14 meeting, the Long Beach City Council discussed the eviction moratorium, a new location for Fire Station 9, fireworks, and road construction.

Moratorium
The Long Beach City council voted to approve an extension to the moratorium on evictions until the end of September and expanding the eviction ban to extend to the Tidelands.

The original motion on the floor called for an extension of 30 days and would require the City Council to return to vote on any further changes to the eviction ban’s end date.

Councilmember Jeannine Pearce supported the original motion calling for an additional 30 days, but due to recent events, she stated that she would be willing to help a longer extension.

“We know that this week the government has shut down more businesses [and] more people are going back on unemployment,” said Pearce. “This situation is not exactly what it was a week ago.”

Councilmember Rex Richardson supported the idea of extending the moratorium past 30 days. One of the reasons he cited is the City Council meetings’ schedule, which does not meet during the last week of the month.

“This has been a full discussion, and I think we’re going to end up with a unanimous vote like we have on just about every one of these eviction moratoriums,” Richardson said. “I don’t know that we need to come back and re-litigate this every three weeks, because again, we don’t have a fourth meeting.”

Councilmember Stacy Mungo suggested a temporary restructuring of the Council’s meeting schedule to have the Council take the second week of the month off instead of the last week.

Councilmember Daryl Supernaw made a friendly motion to send a letter to the federal and state government to forgive mortgages for property owners, which Pearce accepted.

Fire Station 9

The City Council approved a motion by Councilmember Austin on Tuesday evening to authorize a lease agreement with the former Boeing (now Goodman) Fitness Center site, at 2019 E. Wardlow Road, just east of Cherry Avenue, to be the new temporary location for Fire Station 9.
(Via City of Long Beach)

The City Council voted to grant the City Manager authorization to enter into a lease agreement for a temporary location of Fire Station 9 for three years.

Under the new lease, Fire Station 9 will operate out of 2019 East Wardlow Road until a permanent location is found. The new site will include a three-year contract with a monthly rent of $10,300.

According to Austin, Fire Chief Xavier Espino said that the new site will improve response times by 1.5 to 2.5 minutes for the service area.

City staff indicated that they expect that once tenant improvements are made at the former Boeing Employees Fitness Center, that it should be operational as Fire Station 9 by October 1st.

“The building is approximately 16,500 square feet and can accommodate the temporary fire station. This will help reduce response time by about probably two minutes,” Sergio Ramirez, the Economic Development Department’s deputy director said.

The original station, located at 3917 Long Beach Boulevard in the Los Cerritos neighborhood, was forced to close due to environmental concerns including mold. Since then, Rescue 9 has been working out of Station 13, while Engine 9 has been operating out of Station 16.

Affordable Housing

Pictured is a rendering of The Spark at Midtown, a future 95-unit affordable housing development for low-income and homeless individuals that is set to open in 2020, according to officials. (Courtesy City of LB)

The City Council voted to approve a new inclusionary housing policy that will require developers in Long Beach to set aside a percentage of housing development for affordable housing for low-income residents.

The new policy will begin in January 2021 and require developers to reserve 11 percent of new units for very low-income households.

The final motion was primarily shaped by Councilmember Pearce, who pushed for a more aggressive plan than the ordinance brought forward by City staff.

The initial plan called for 12 percent of units to be set aside for affordable housing. The units would have been divided up by 25 percent for very-low-income households, 25 percent for low-income families and 50 percent for moderate-income households.

Pearce also suggested that the covenant be 55 years. The initial proposal set the covenant at 55 for rental units and 45 for ownership units.

She also suggested that developers who want to opt-out of providing low-income units pay a fee equal to the cost of the unit and for that fee to be placed in a fund for other affordable housing projects.

Fireworks

Fireworks

The City Council voted to have City Council report back in 90 days about increasing fines when a person is caught storing, transporting, or deploying illegal fireworks in the City of Long Beach.

In the public comments, residents called for higher fines and stricter legislation for residents who set off fireworks within city limits.

One resident, who identified himself as Dante, led an anti-fireworks group on Facebook and said that the Council needs to look past city limits to enact stricter penalties.

“Last year was my first experience with fireworks in Long Beach,” Dante said. “I couldn’t believe the city and police department would allow its residents to be exposed to such dangerous, harmful and illegal activity and not do anything about it.”

While most callers spoke in favor of harsher penalties, one caller criticized the City Council for focusing on fireworks over other issues.

In their comments, the City Council echoed the sentiments, stating that they have also struggled to have the Long Beach Police Department respond to illegal fireworks and emails from residents.

“I get tons of emails from people saying they’ve lived here their whole life and this year was the worst, I get it every year, but this year literally was worse I think,” Price said.

Possible suggestions for people caught with illegal fireworks included higher citations, community service, or forced to go to a class.

Safe Streets
The City Council voted to approve the City’s Safe Streets Long Beach Plan, an outline of how the Long Beach can eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries by 2026.

The plan is part of the City’s Vision Zero initiative, a road safety philosophy that states that loss of life due to traffic conditions is not acceptable.

According to a presentation from Public Works, fatalities claim almost as many lives in Long Beach as homicides. In 2019, Long Beach saw 30 traffic deaths and 34 homicides.

The City Council approved adopting this philosophy and incorporated it into the City’s planning in 2016.

The plan suggests that the City focuses on seven keystone actions:

• Dedicating resources to the Safe Streets LB effort
• Addressing speeding
• Build best practice street design
• More Safety education about walking and biking
• Collect better data to make better decisions
• Partner with local, regional, and state stakeholders to support safe street efforts
• Prioritize road safety investments through an equity lens

While the program does not claim that it will stop all crashes, the goal is to reduce the severity of auto accidents to avoid severe injuries and deaths.

According to Rachel Junken, a transportation planner for the City of Long Beach, other locations have implemented this philosophy and have seen improvements.

“There are 11 cities in California and 40 throughout the country that have adopted similar Vision Zero plans since 2014,” said Junken, “And we do know that the cities that have invested heavily in Vision Zero, like San Francisco and New York, have seen […] decreases in serious traffic collisions.”

In collecting data for the plan, Junken stated that City Staff performed outreach to the community. She said that about half of residents wanted engineering solutions to the traffic issue, while the other half was split about education and enforcement.

The Council voted to support the motion in a 7-1 vote, with Councilmember Daryl Supernaw voting against the plan.

Note: The City Council meeting for July 21 was canceled per a vote on July 7.

The Long Beach City Council meetings are held every Tuesday, except for the last Tuesday of the month. Council meetings are being hosted through teleconference in council chambers in the Civic Center Plaza, 411. W. Ocean Blvd. The public is allowed to participate through online comments and limited telephonic public comments.

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