Home News What Westsiders Want From Their New Councilmember

What Westsiders Want From Their New Councilmember

Long Beach’s 1st District city council seat has been vacant for months following former Councilmember Lena Gonzalez’s election to the state senate in June. A new face will represent the 1st District’s residents and business owners once a councilmember is elected during a special municipal election on November 5.

Westside
One business resident said Westside Long Beach is a core economic driver for the city, with industries such as manufacturing providing key services to the region. However, some business owners feel there is little support from city representatives, and they hope the next 1st District Long Beach councilmember will make the Westside more of a priority. (Photograph by Brandon Richardson)

Ahead of the election, the Business Journal reached out to business owners in the Westside industrial area of Long Beach to gather their thoughts on what they would like to see in their new councilmember. Six responded to the query. Although responses varied, nearly all business owners emphasized the need to address a pervasive homelessness issue in the area. Visual blight and employee safety are also paramount concerns.

One Westside business owner expressed concern about the Port of Long Beach’s Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility project, which is intended to expand and enhance the existing Pier B rail facility that currently borders Anaheim Street and the 710 Freeway. Some businesses in Westside Long Beach are in the direct path of the Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility project and may have to relocate. Other business owners desire a councilmember that will listen to community feedback and frequently meet with Westside residents and business owners.

Some of these establishments, many of which offer services in disciplines like manufacturing and woodworking, have been staples of the Westside industrial area for decades. Although distinct in their business offerings and priorities, all six business owners shared a desire to improve the Westside. The following responses outline the issues these business owners believe the new 1st District councilmember must prioritize for the Westside of Long Beach.

Matt Cullen, Owner and President, Amber Resources, 1543 W. 16th St.

As a longtime Westside business resident and major employer in the City of Long Beach, we are looking for a councilmember that will serve as an advocate for our area. The Westside is a core economic engine for the city, yet employers in the district receive little support or basic city services. A quick trip around our neighborhood provides you with an example of what I have described. [We have] numerous broken-down motorhomes parked with trash surrounding them, [and] our streets and alleys are littered with garbage. We need someone who will demand action and provide the business owners with a clean and safe neighborhood to create value for the city and its residents. Business owners on the Westside are working together to revitalize the Westside Project Area Council (PAC), and we welcome our new councilmember to be an active participant.

German Ibarra, President, Snugtop, 1711 Harbor Ave.

2019 has become the year that Westside Long Beach experienced a dramatic increase in homelessness and drug abuse. This is greatly due to the change in law that now makes it illegal to reside along the riverbed. This change has forced so many homeless individuals to relocate to neighborhoods, such as those surrounding Snugtop. The owners of these motorhomes understand that they simply need to move their vehicles every 72 hours at a minimum of five feet in order to be in compliance. They dump all of their trash just outside their vehicles, and when they move their vehicles, they leave their trash behind. They dump their bodily fluids (human waste) on the street. We have seen them carrying gallons of this and disposing of them near street corners.  This poses a severe hygienic and safety hazard for all of our employees. The reality is that Snugtop isn’t in one of the safest locations in Long Beach. There are some days we can see as many as six or seven vehicles parked in front of our facility and as many as 13 in the first two blocks from Pacific Coast Highway. This doesn’t leave much room for our nearly 200 employees making our employee parking even worse than it already is. Employees report that it takes them more than 30 minutes to find parking and are forced to park blocks away from Snugtop. Tuesday and Wednesdays are the worst because that is when street sweeping is scheduled. By parking so far away, employees are unable to keep a close eye on their vehicles to try to discourage vehicle thefts and vandalism. 

Stan Janocha, Chief Operations Officer, Superior Electrical Advertising, 1700 W. Anaheim St.

The most important things I am looking for from the new councilmember is honesty, integrity and support of the Westside business community. Long has Westside Long Beach been ignored by the mayor and council. During the approval process for the Pier B On-Dock Rail Project, which will certainly bring noise and pollution to the Westside, we certainly did not receive support from our councilmember. Business owners on the Westside – more than 300 – were lied to and betrayed. There was no honesty and certainly no support from our councilmember. The Westside needs help with the homeless situation, the marijuana industry, street maintenance and monitoring of traffic on Anaheim Street and Pacific Coast Highway. I would like to see a councilmember that visits the Westside more than once or twice a year and pays attention to us as much as they do to the downtown area. We generate a lot of tax dollars on this side of Long Beach. Visit us sometimes and attend a few WestPAC meetings. Be honest, be sincere and have a genuine interest in the Westside.

Tania Lopez, Co-owner, RTL Woodwork, 1660 Hayes Ave.

They must have a passion for the City of Long Beach! He or she must want to build upon those things that make Long Beach a great city to live and work [and] know the great quality the city possesses. In addition to having courage to ask difficult questions and able to hear responses that they do not necessarily agree with, [they must have the] ability to listen to the community. [That’s] what is most important. Despite being a great city, there are business owners who feel like they aren’t being heard, and the candidate needs to hear the comments and complaints of the business owners. They [must have the] nerve to make decisions with the city’s best interest in mind. Sometimes the best decisions are not the most popular.

Shawnte Marquez, Owner, Joyful Paws Pet Hotel & Daycare, 1701 Fashion Ave.

The Westside district creates the most significant revenue stream, [more] than any other region in Long Beach, yet our neighborhood doesn’t receive the attention it deserves. I’d love to see a more considerable effort from the councilmember to keep our streets free of trash and graffiti, removal of recreational vehicle dwelling and homeless encampments and an increase of assigned police patrols to our area. The neighborhood can often look uninviting, which makes it tough for business owners to attract customers. In years past, the Westside business community has been a thriving district with much pride. It would be great if we could inspire that again!

Mike Zupanovich, President, Harbor Diesel Industries, 537 W. Anaheim St.

As a property and business owner on the Westside in the Magnolia Industrial Group area since 1976, I have been part of one of the, if not the most, neglected areas in the City of Long Beach. The quality of life in the area is very poor for residents, businesses, employees and property owners. The area is inhabited daily by homeless criminal, drug-addicted and mentally ill vagrants that bring blight, theft, health and safety issues to all of us Westsiders. I want to be clear: our problem is [not with] homeless individuals looking for a helping hand to get back on their feet and contribute to society, for whom I support doing what we can to give them the help they need. The next councilmember needs to work for 1st District residents and businesses alike and not focus only on social issues to attract more business and create more jobs. [We need to] give the Long Beach Police Department what they need to enforce the law and remove the . . . vagrants from the Westside. There are streets deteriorated beyond repair all over the Westside [that] need to be replaced. [We can] reach out to the Port of Long Beach for help to subsidize new infrastructure in the industrial area. A significant amount of businesses are doing business in the port, and the heavy truck traffic has, and is, contributing to the deterioration of our streets. [We need more police] patrol on the Westside regularly, especially in the industrial areas. Streets, alleys and sidewalks need to be cleaned up promptly for everyone’s health and safety.

Westside Long Beach
Ahead of the election, the Business Journal reached out to business owners in the Westside industrial area of Long Beach to gather their thoughts on what they would like to see in their new councilmember. Although responses varied, nearly all business owners emphasized the need to address a pervasive homelessness issue in the area. (Photograph by Brandon Richardson)

4 COMMENTS

  1. Roger,
    I was appalled at the city paying $9M for a property that sold 2 years earlier for only $2M. The other ridiculous thing, is very few asked any questions about this “purchase.”

    Nonetheless, this location is scheduled to be a permanent temporary shelter. In other words, it takes people in at night and releases them in the morning. This is hardly the solution, especially since it will take care of less than 10% of the population on the street.

    My plan calls for Permanent Supportive Housing. The Villages of Cabrillo is such a place, currently housing 2,000 people who would otherwise be on the street. People remain their typically for a few months until they can get back on their feet. This is a real solution.

    Help me change the way the city keeps playing with this human tragedy that impacts everyone. http://Www.votejoeganem.com. I’ll stop the game playing and finger pointing. Thanks.

  2. As a candidate for District One, I have said on many occasions that Westsiders are suffering from neglect and it will be a priority for me to change that condition. I’ve focused on three primary problems in the First: Affordable Housing, Homelessness and Public Safety. My background as a former police officer, city manager, environmental lobbyist, and major trade association executive gives me the experience and knowledge on how to deal with these pervasive issues. I have no interest in running for higher office if elected, thus I’m only focusing on the First District. As a former Homeless Sevices Advisory Commissioner, I know what is needed to fix the issue. I resigned after 4 years because I realized there was no plan to get the homeless off the streets and out from under bridges. Check out my Instagram and Facebook videos on the subject (https://youtu.be/SQhJD6KNPOM) About two months ago I went on a bike ride with west side residents and learned their real concern for the air quality and crime in the area. I’d very much like to talk to some of the business people who were quoted. Please contact me at joe@votejoeganem.com or 562 283-8488. Thank you.

  3. Denny,

    Many Thanks to the Westside Business Owners for responding to this issue. I have been an Architect in and advocate for the Westside Business Community for 31 years. When we had Redevelopment Money the entire area was booming and for a Heavy Industrial Area in Southern California we we improving and getting better all the time. Since other Cities were misusing Redevelopment Funds, the State shut it down and ever since then our area has been on the decline. Since the City of Long Beach recently passed laws preventing Motorhomes to Park in Residential Districts and the City closed Lincoln Park to build the new Civic Center, our area has been inundated with the worst of the worst Homeless and Motorhome dwellers. From Public Officials in our City who work with the homeless issue, we hear that the homeless issue in Long Beach is much better than other Southern California cities. I totally agree the Los Angeles has the worst problem and they are spending Millions of Dollars and the problems are getting much worse, so basically LA is doing a horrible job aqt solving the issues. Long Beach is doing a better job, but the Westside is experiencing an onslaught of Mentally Ill, Drug & Alcohol addicted, Criminals and due to the overly Liberal Courts of the 9th district, our wonderful Westside Police Department has it’s hands tied in how far the Police can go to assist us with the Homeless Criminals and are making this area dangerous for the Businesses and Employees. We need a new Councilperson that will open their eyes, drive around and visit our area and businesses , attend our WestPAC meetings and have compassion for the hard working businesses and who pay the taxes, that employ the Public Servants that make up our great City. In last 2 months months the Long Beach Westside Police and Fire Departments have really stepped up their efforts and I’m comfortable that if we can get a similar response from the City’s Public Works, Code Enforcement, Business License, Parking Enforcement and Health Departments that the Westside can thrive and become a great place to do business once again. We’re looking for a new Councilperson to assist us to make that happen.

    • I realize it’s important to businesses to be safe and have appealing places of business, and that the homeless can impact that. Wanting to just say “not in my block, yo” (or NIMBY) and send them somewhere else is choosing to ignore the larger picture, which is, wherever the homeless go, they are still homeless. How is this not a classic example of NIMBYism?

      And what would you have the evil (oh yeah, I meant “liberal”) 9th dist court say instead of saying that the police can’t arrest homeless people who are where they are and have no where else to go?

      The city dumped a huge sum of money on a homeless center in North Long Beach some time ago, that I think is still doing nothing for the homeless. Maybe you need to be asking the potential 1st district council candidates for a commitment to press for a daily public update on the actual progress of that center; you could better apply the sense of urgency that you seem to want to blame liberals for.

      Then the homeless will have a place where they can go and then the evil-I-mean-liberal 9th district ruling won’t apply to them anymore.

      Huh.

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