Local activist groups demand translation services for all Long Beach City Council meetings

Local activist groups are calling for City Council meetings to be available online with translation options for Spanish, Tagalog and Khmer speaking Long Beach residents.

The Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, Khmer Girls in Action, the Filipino Migrant Center and Black Lives Matter Long Beach asked their social media followers to call and email their district’s City Council representative to urge them to begin providing adequate translation for all City Council meetings.

Online fliers listing the contact information of each City Council member also provided a script for community members to read during their calls in support of translation services.

“Long Beach City Council meetings need to be accessible to everyone in our community! Did you know that since March, all city council meetings have been online without any translation options for community members who want to partake in their local government?” The Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition posted on Instagram. “When the city council is discussing important topics like housing or the city budget, do immigrant voices not matter? We can’t continue to be excluded from city council! Provide adequate translation in all future meetings!”

Immigrants account for 25.4% of Long Beach’s total population, according to estimates by the United States Census Bureau.

According to censusreporter.org, 44% of Long Beach adults speak a language other than English at home, with 30% speaking Spanish.

44% of adults and 52% of children in Long Beach speak a language other than English at home, according to censusreporter.org. (From censusreporter.org)

“It is a shame for the City of Long Beach to not have adequate translation processes in place to ensure everyone can listen in,” Black Lives Matter Long Beach posted on Instagram, “and to capture every voice giving input on city council and city committee calls! Call your council person and demand adequate translation for monolingual and immigrant voices be set up now!”

According to the City’s Language Access Policy, regarding public meetings and hearings, “Oral interpretation of any public meeting or hearing held by City Council or a Charter City Commission shall be provided if requested at least twenty-four hours in advance of the meeting or hearing in question. At City Council and Commission meetings extra speaking time shall be given when translation is needed.”

The policy was implemented in 2013 and states that “The local policy exceeds the state requirements (California Dymally-Alatorre Bilingual Services Act) by providing services not only in Spanish, but also in Khmer and Tagalog.”

In an email statement to the Signal Tribune the City’s Office of the City Clerk stated that the August 4th city council meeting would be available for translation in Spanish. To call-in and listen to the meeting in Spanish, participants need to dial a Zoom meeting number: (213) 338-8477. Next, a recorded message will ask the caller to input the meeting ID number which is: 994 5487 8032, followed by the pound (#) sign.

No translation services will be provided for Khmer or Tagalog.

The Office will also be providing translation of the telephonic public comments. The email also stated, “Members of the public can contact our Office 24 hours before the meeting to request a translator and we will have a translator on the call with the speaker, and they will be given double the allotted time to provide their public comments.”

The email was sent to the Signal Tribune at 6 p.m. The Aug. 4th city council meeting will begin at 5 p.m.


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