Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia delivered his sixth annual State of the City address Tuesday, presenting his plans for education, homelessness and The Queen Mary.
“Our progress in these last few years is visible from every neighborhood across our city,” Garcia said.
Garcia announced big plans for higher education in Long Beach.
Long Beach State is slated to open a university village on Long Beach Boulevard later this year. The village will be home to 14 new classrooms and several dormitories.
On-campus developments will include housing for up to 476 students.
“President Conoley has announced ambitious goals to increase enrollment over the next few decades,” Garcia said.
Long Beach City College will be providing students free tuition for their first two years of attendance as a part of the Long Beach College Promise program. Enacted in 2008, the program helps to provide students with assistance and opportunities to attend college.
“Our Long Beach College Promise continues to be a national model,” Garcia said. “And with the partnerships at Long Beach State, Long Beach City College and Long Beach Unified, we continue to expand our reach with new initiatives around early childhood education, preschool and internships.”
City-wide improvements, such as the expansion of the Go Long Beach App and a universal phone number that can connect callers to all city departments will be launched in the upcoming months.
“Now these innovations will improve the quality of life for residents and make our government more efficient,” Garcia said.
Garcia went on to present plans surrounding what he said is one of the city’s biggest challenges: homelessness.
“As you all know, and I think we can all agree, that the single largest challenge that we face is a state-wide homelessness crisis and its connection to housing affordability,” Garcia said.
Plans for 2020 include the opening of a year-round shelter, creation of a “safe parking” and work program for those in need.
The shelter is slated to open this summer and will provide those in need with a place to stay out of the elements. Promised to be opened next month, the SAFE parking program will designate a parking lot for those who are currently living out of their cars with a place to park free of worry.
Job opportunities with the Public Works Clean Teams will be offered to individuals who are housing-insecure as a part of the work program initiative.
“But our work to end street homelessness will be the defining issue of the next decade,” Garcia said. “We must not turn away from our failure as a society.”
Garcia made a promise of more affordable housing as he did last year during his “Building a Better Long Beach” address.
Part of that promise focused on the revision of the Downtown plan, an initiative that focused on more environmentally sustainable, affordable housing in new developments across the city.
Recently, the city council in a 5-4 vote decided against placing a spending measure on the November 2020 ballot that would provide funds for affordable housing and homeless services.
Despite this, Garcia pressed on with his call to action.
“I ask the city council tonight to pass and adopt a policy that ensures the creation of new affordable homes in every new development across our city,” Garcia said.
Garcia turned his emphasis on the need to preserve and protect one of Long Beach’s most well known attractions —The Queen Mary.
“We need to preserve it, honor it and live up to the promise we made 50 years ago,” Garcia said.
Once used to transport troops and cargo, The Queen Mary has been a resident of Long Beach for a long time, yet the ship has been neglected and according to the mayor, it needs work.
“The Queen Mary is part of this city and she isn’t going anywhere,” Garcia said.
He also announced that the Community Hospital, which closed in 2018, will be reopened by year’s end.
“After a lot of hard work, we expect to open Community Hospital back this year,” Garcia said.
The facility was closed due to its location on an earthquake fault line. Inability to afford repairs to bring the hospital to seismic code requirements left many in the community without access to medical care.
Garcia closed the address by thanking those in attendance and those watching on the live stream for their support and “loving Long Beach.”
“It has been quite a decade, but let’s make this next one even better,” Garcia said.