Mayor Bob Foster was enthusiastic, one might even say chipper, when delivering the 2012 State of the City address at Center Theatre last night. He said one grateful shout out to the Council, quoted two American philosophers, gave three major suggestions to improve our city’s future and cracked at least four good jokes. And although there are still many adversities to overcome, Mayor Bob Foster spoke of appreciation and affirmation to the hardworking citizens and employees who have brought the city of Long Beach to some new heights in 2011.
Suggestions to Improve the Future of Long Beach
When addressing the recent California Supreme Court ruling to abolish city redevelopment agencies, Mayor Foster expressed his frustration in the state’s decision, but promised to focus his energy on creating new avenues for growth.
“There is a vital need to better align the pieces of city departments that work on development, planning and permitting, issuing business licenses, administering small business loans and branding this city,” he said.
This act of ensuring Long Beach continues to grow and improve was followed with a suggestion to his Council members to pass the Downtown Plan, which will be voted on tonight at the city council meeting.
He also applauded the two public safety organizations that “willingly sat at the bargaining table because we share the belief that long-term fiscal health and high-quality public safety go hand in hand” and negotiated pension changes with the council that will result in more than $110 million in savings over the next ten years.
The Police Officers Association and Firefighters Association came to an agreement with the council, but they are still awaiting negotiations with the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, the IMA.
Mayor Foster recommended they stop the pension reform holdout and join all the other employees groups, in order to save an additional $145 million over the next ten years.
His third major suggestion to the council and citizens of Long Beach was to remind the council to continue making those tough, but admirable decisions to benefit our city, and for the residents to hold them accountable. He said it’s their job to make the hard choices, but our job to assess their performance. He even mentioned all the online tools we now have to stay informed and vigilant
Praises to City Development and Positive Statistics
Once again, crime is down in Long Beach and the murder rate is at the lowest number on record. For the first time in decades, nearly all of our beaches received an “A” grade from Heal the Bay. In due to a partner ship between Long Beach and 15 upstream cities, a $10 million project to retrofit storm drains to prevent trash from entering the Long Beach coastline was granted from a federal fund. The port has some very impressive achievements that have improved our air quality, as well.
About 10 parks were completed, 19 miles of streets and over 17 miles of sidewalks were resurfaced last year and the bike lanes on Broadway were completed. A brand new Ronald McDonald House opened its doors in December and 256 new businesses were established, a seven percent increases to 2010.
Another notable increases spun from the City-ran Pacific Gateway Network, which placed 3,100 area residents in permanent job last year, nearly 900 more than in 2010. And although he recognized that statics don’t give a relief if all can’t find work, he suggested visiting www.hirelb.com to let Pacific Gateway help.
And with the help of new resources like Long Beach City College Small Business Development Center, among many others, a shocking 31% of Long Beach purchases went to Long Beach businesses totaling over %86 million. Pretty impressive numbers, for a major California city.
What is in store for 2012
Mayor Forster pledged to continue to contain the city budget shortfalls and service needs, while focusing on infrastructure, economic growth, redevelopment and the environment. This means relying on resources and the impact of policies, more than ever before.
He also praised the current projects that will continue to develop in 2012, like the Superior Court House in construction downtown and the new terminal at the airport. Also included, was a $1 billion dollar project to protect the Port’s competitiveness and will generate 4,000 jobs over the next five years.
And although Mayor Foster made cracks about our “Armageddon rhetoric” ban on plastic shopping bags and recited a joke poking fun at public office holders, he was undoubtedly proud of the progress Long Beach made in 2011 and the future of this city. He knows that times are grim, but seem to suggest that times, they are a changin'.