Signal Hill’s Diversity Coalition Committee (DCC) will ask the City Council to fund a list of projects it outlined during its April 14 meeting.
At the top of the list is conducting a survey to understand community needs and how residents and businesses view Signal Hill’s handling of “diversity, equity, community development, employment, affordable housing, etc.,” according to a draft proposal.
The DCC is presenting two survey budget options to the council—$8,250 for an informal postcard survey and from $75,000 to $125,000 for a more formal online or in-person survey requiring a consultant.
Draft summary as of April 14 of the Signal Hill Diversity Coalition Committee’s (DCC) proposed projects and budget for City Council consideration (Courtesy DCC)
The DCC has been meeting monthly since January—both as a whole and in three smaller subcommittees—to determine how best to achieve its purpose. The Signal Hill City Council formed the DCC in July 2020 as part of its Race and Equity Framework, with three areas of focus—education, facilitation and continuous improvement.
Within those areas, the DCC was charged to “examine the City’s current policies, and engage the community on various aspects of race and equity, as part of an evolving effort to address systemic racism and bias in the policies and practices of municipal government.”
During last week’s meeting, the DCC formalized a list of 14 projects to help meet those goals, along with related costs that the Council will consider in May as it decides the next fiscal-year budget.
Though the DCC’s purpose includes interrogating Signal Hill’s policies and practices—including those of the Signal Hill Police Department (SHPD)—as an agency of the City, it relies on municipal funding and City Council approval of its activities.
“I have to work through the city manager,” City-hired facilitator Fred Abdelnour told the DCC during last week’s meeting. “With anything that we create, we have to get the City Council to approve it because we’re an extension of them.”
The project list’s ideas and budget estimates come from meeting discussions and expertise of the DCC’s approximately 20 volunteer members.
Projects mostly relate to the “engage the community on various aspects of race and equity” part of the DCC’s mandate rather than the “examine the City’s current policies” part.
Besides a community survey, additional projects on the list foster diversity and inclusion, such as hosting a citywide multi-day cultural festival and organizing a diverse speaker series to promote dialogue.
Other projects focus on helping the community, such as supporting diverse education, including a mobile bus collaboration with the Long Beach Boys and Girls Club; helping with housing equity; creating economic-opportunity and career-development programs; and bridging the digital divide with free Wi-Fi in parks and refurbished computers.
A final set of projects focus on informing the community of the DCC’s existence and activities: creating a website, posting advertisements, providing marketing material such as business cards and T-shirts at Signal Hill events like Concerts in the Park, and creating a calendar of heritage celebrations such as Lunar New Year and Indigenous People’s Day.
The total project budget the DCC is asking the City Council to approve is between about $180,000 and $295,000.
Abdelnour said the project list represents the DCC’s “pie-in-the sky” ideas that might be difficult to accomplish in one fiscal year.
“Let’s see what direction the City believes would be beneficial for this group to take and what resources they’re willing to set aside,” he said. “The bottom line is really to understand what the community needs and implement positive changes.”
In exploring further possibilities, DCC Member Evie Kaegebein brought up creating a Facebook page for free, through which it could post materials, invite comment and even survey the community.
She said she would like to have posted a condemnation of anti-Asian violence and inform the community about the Cambodian flag the City is currently flying to recognize Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day.
“It would be really nice to have a place to share it,” she said.
Member Harshan Jayakumar concurred but said the DCC should consider its overall social-media profile, including Twitter and Instagram.
“I don’t see why we shouldn’t be present across all those platforms,” he said. “The point is to reach as many people as possible.”
However, Abdelnour said all City-related messaging has to go through Signal Hill’s communication specialist, and he would check on that process.
Member Samona Caldwell—who is serving as point person for a DCC interview with the SHPD at the committee’s May 12 meeting—expressed hope that the City Council agrees to its requests.
“It’s all in their hands,” she said expectantly. “They gotta give us the go-ahead.”