Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson delivered his State of the City Address and explained his plan for his first 100 days in office on Tuesday at the Long Beach Terrace Theater.
Richardson began his speech by addressing homelessness in the city, a significant promise during his campaign. He promised to utilize city partners and resources to “effectively, compassionately, and with urgency” respond to the crisis.
“Today, the city council approved my request to declare a state of emergency in response to the homeless crisis,” Richardson said. “This allows us to respond to the crisis with urgency, and most importantly, focus, because when everything is a priority then nothing is a priority.”
He explained the declaration would ensure support from the state and federal governments, giving the city more power to build emergency shelters and coordinate a direct response between the county and other agencies.
The mayor recognized the homelessness issue is unique in each neighborhood and plans to hold area-specific homeless strategy meetings in highly impacted areas of the city. Richardson’s plan also includes coordinating a team of city and county health officials to assess unhoused people’s physical and mental health needs.
Approximately 556 [24%] unhoused people in Long Beach have endured a traumatic brain injury and approximately 826 [36%] of unhoused people in the city are physically disabled, according to the 2022 Point in Time Homeless Count Results.
Mayor Richardson acknowledged his ideas are expensive, but he plans to boost the Long Beach economy by having the city invest in clean energy, tourism and innovative industries.
“Each initiative will use the convening power of the mayor’s office to stand up the Long Beach Strategic Growth Council, a roundtable of business and academic leaders that will work to support the success of those critical sectors,” Richarson said.
“We will grow our emerging sectors by developing a Long Beach Strategic Growth Fund with the Long Beach accelerator, the Long Beach economic partnership, and the lobby center for economic inclusion,” he continued.
Long Beach has invested in innovative technology companies such as Boeing and Virgin Orbit. The mayor announced the aerospace company VAST Space would establish its headquarters in the city. The organization is developing artificial gravity for space stations and the requirements for people to live and work in space.
Richardson brought Kyle Dedmon, the company’s vice president of facilities, onstage to explain the organization’s ambitions.
“Over the next several years we’ll be designing, building and testing commercial space stations to enable long duration human spaceflight,” Dedmon said. “A project of this scale requires over 700 new jobs, primarily in engineering and manufacturing. This project is only possible in Long Beach because of the talent pipeline, the startup ecosystem and the transportation infrastructure.”
Mayor Richardson also expressed he wants to “invest in our people” by creating the Long Beach Public Service preference program. Graduates from Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Dominguez Hills and Long Beach City College will have a preference if they apply for city jobs.
City jobs will also limit years of service or degree requirements to reduce obstacles to acquiring city jobs.
His plan also introduces an initiative to empower small businesses and businesses owned by women and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“We also understand that culture and arts are critical to our economy, and that’s why I’ll ask the City Council to support permanent sites for cultural centers that support our Latino, African American, American Indian and LGBTQ communities,” Richardson said.
The Long Beach mayor’s first 100-day plan includes preparing for the 2028 Olympic games, where the city will host six events. Richardson intends to appoint an Olympics planning committee to represent the city as “equity-minded” on the world stage.
Richardson will have spent 100 days as mayor on March 30.