Elderly and people with disabilities stand strong at LB city council meeting

Long Beach City Council unanimously approved a motion to encourage the city attorney to draft an ordinance to regulate elevator repairs for equipment failure in commercial and residential buildings.

The ordinance would call for repairs to be done within seven days for facilities housing seniors, people with disabilities and people who struggle getting up stairs. Other commercial and residential areas would require repairs after a maximum of 14 days.

Councilwoman of the first district Lena Gonzalez, a co-signers of the agenda item, acknowledged Long Beach resident Frances Dawson for her advocacy of people with disabilities and for bringing forth the repair issue.

“Not only is [Dawson] an advocate… but about five or six years ago, I remember connecting with her over the holidays and it happened that she was confined to her building for 73 days because of an ongoing equipment failure with the elevator,” Gonzalez said. “Now many years later, now being on the council, I wanted to make sure this was being addressed and [that] we got it right.”

Gonzalez brought statistics in her deliberation of the item, shedding light on the roughly 45,000 people with disabilities and the 43,000 seniors living in Long Beach.

Robert Uranga, councilman of the seventh district, proposed an amendment to the resolution that includes installing emergency sleds for buildings over five stories.

During public comment, many voiced frustrations over power outages and suggested faster repair times.

Long Beach resident Ben Rockwell spoke of his experience with elevator outages and offered quicker solutions toward the issue.

“Over the last 35 years, I have been using a wheelchair many times when elevators have gone out,” Rockwell said. “It has taken hours at times to get out of that stopped elevator… I would like to suggest that we continue to work on having quicker aims – rather than seven days to make it a three or four day stay – because seven days is a long time to get stuck.”

Another LB resident Larry Goodhue suggested a turnaround time of one day.

“If the company is not in a position to do that, then get another company,” Goodhue said. “It doesn’t matter the age of the group… if they’re stuck, they’re stuck.”

Dolores Nason, executive director of the Disabled Resource Center in Long Beach, expressed a need to hold owners of residential homes accountable.

“You often hear the excuse, ‘Oh well the elevator is old and it’s hard to get parts.’ Well you need to install a new elevator then,” Nason said. “There should be no hardship for owners of these buildings. If they cannot afford to keep their elevators working, then they shouldn’t own the building.”

The council will look at this elevator repair resolution again in October.

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