Long Beach City Council approved two measures to improve public safety and approved the construction of new housing units in East Long Beach during a Tuesday night meeting.
North Long Beach will be gaining back paramedic service Rescue 12, after it was pulled in 2010 due to low funds. The council is now able to revamp the paramedic service by allocating funds from sales tax revenue Measure A, which was originally meant for street repairs.
The paramedic service will be located at Fire Station 12 in the 9th District, but is expected to improve the response time throughout the city.
“We’ve been discussing this for years and have always made public safety a top priority, and now we have a fiscally and structurally sound plan to restore services we can count on and that our residents deserve,” said Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, who introduced the item to the council.
Richardson said he felt the need to restore Rescue 12 after seeing that the response time in the past decade had increased by one minute, severely compromising the safety of Long Beach residents.
The measure will also restore the Police Academy unit, taking effect March 1.
“Because of Measure A tonight, we’re restoring the rescue in North Long Beach and we’re restoring the Police Academy unit to ensure that training is the best possible in the city of Long Beach,” Mayor Robert Garcia said.
The council also moved to have the Long Beach Police Department patrol the Metro Blue Line and is currently awaiting approval of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Currently, the Los Angeles County Police Department has jurisdiction over the Blue Line.
Richardson claimed that putting the LBPD in charge of the Blue Line would decrease response time from 12 minutes to five minutes and increase the coverage of policing in a 24-hour period.
LBPD Police Chief Robert Luna said that since the city funded two police academies last year, along with the two incoming this year and they are well equipped to take over the Metro Blue Line.
“Improving Blue Line safety has been and is a high priority for this council and for the thousands of residents who use public transportation,” said councilman Al Austin.
The Metro Board will vote on the item next Tuesday.
The council also voted to move forward with a single-family housing unit in East Long Beach. The housing unit will replace a church lot that has been sitting vacant for two years.
Bordering Long Beach and Hawaiian Gardens, the unit will hold 40 homes that will vary from 2,400-2,700 square feet. Some of the models will include the option to have the master bedroom on the first floor in order to accommodate older residents who have no other single-story options for housing in the area.
The project was met with opposition from Warren Blesofsky of the Long Beach Citizens for Fair Development, who claimed that it had an unsatisfactory Environmental Impact Report and challenged the developers to find a way to save the church building instead of tearing it down.
Still, the neighbors of the future housing unit were largely in support, claiming that the development would increase property value and offer more options for older residents. The developers of the unit held a meeting with the surrounding community, where over 100 residents attended and gave their opinions on what they want their future neighboring homes to look like.
“The residents have reached out to me and said ‘approve it and approve it quickly,’” said councilwoman Stacy Mungo of the community’s support.