DELONG COMES THROUGH WITH HIS ANSWERS TO ‘UNPOSED’ 3RD DISTRICT DEBATE QUESTIONS
[NOTE: A lot of questions from the audiences of Monday night's Third District debate sponsored by the Long Beach Press Club---people who gathered at the Gaslamp restaurant and those who watched the live Webcast on InstantPresenter---couldn't be asked before time ran out. After publishing those questions Tuesday morning, I e-mailed them to candidates Gary DeLong, Terry Jensen and Tom Marchese. With DeLong's responses here, all three candidates have now answered the "unposed" questions---which makes them the most-posed questions of all!]
How will you overcome the fact that Long Beach residents demand [underlined on index card] improvement to the city and its development, but resist every attempt to develop any part of land in Long Beach ?
Most residents resist projects that are poorly planned and will have negative impacts on their communities. I agree. Any attempts to develop should be thoughtfully and carefully planned and include infrastructure concurrent with such development. I continue to advocate intelligently planned, carefully considered growth and development in the 3rd District and throughout the city.
Understanding that the large majority of fire department calls are for paramedics, do you think there might be areas that could be cut there?
Given the City’s projected $19 million 2011 deficit, I believe that every department should be considered as we look for cost efficiencies and attempt to provide more services with fewer dollars.
How will you work toward developing the 4,000 additional units of housing [underlined on index card] for very low-income residents that are required by the Housing Element that the city submitted to the state last year?
We already have more than our fair share and low income housing in Long Beach. I do not support building more.
Will you help restore the library’s budget for materials to the $1.5 million it was two years ago?
It is easy for anyone to proclaim, “I will “help restore funding to the library’s budget.”
Unfortunately, chronic budget shortfalls at the federal and state levels of government result in fewer resources for cities like Long Beach. Unless one can specifically identify where the funds will come from, and what else will be cut to generate these funds, such rhetoric is meaningless.
Gary DeLong, why have you not pushed to fill the seat on the Belmont Shore Parking Commission that is reserved for a representative of the residents? The Belmont Shore Residents Association recommended that its vice-president, Terry Enderson, be appointed—but the seat has remained vacant for about a year and there have been meetings in which business could not be conducted due to lack of a quorum. Can you explain?
There are four applicants, and the Mayor is in the process of interviewing each applicant.
Do you support or oppose plans by Orange County and CalTrans to widen the 405 Freeway by two-to-four additional lanes from the LA/OC line to John Wayne Airport ? What impact do you think this freeway widening would have on Long Beach ?
While this project will provide benefits, it is essential that the impacts are mitigated as much as possible. Councilmember O’Donnell and I have worked with City staff to obtain numerous financial concessions from OCTA which will result in reduced traffic impacts.
Please explain your position on councilpersons using Facebook, surfing the net, texting, etc. during council meetings.
As long as they are working on City business, and are following what is being considered by the Council, it’s ok with me. In today’s times, if you can’t multi-task, you’re falling behind.
Do you support Home Depot-style development along Studebaker Road east and north of the Los Cerritos Wetlands? Is development of retail or commercial space adjacent to the wetlands consistent with protection of that open space?
At this point the City is not open to supporting any changes to the existing zoning.
I understand you will not raise taxes, but support of an increase in gas rates amounts to a tax. Do you think we should have an increase just “because you can?”
The City Charter states that we are to set our gas rates based upon the prevailing market rates in Southern California (which is SoCalGas as they would be the gas utility in LB if LBGO didn’t exist). Accordingly, rates go both up and down depending upon the “competing” market.
The rate increase that was requested of the City Council on Feb 16th raised the average resident’s bill by $1.10 per month, or about 2.9%. Another perspective…the average resident’s gas bill peaks in the winter when gas is used for space heating. The current rates that include this latest increase result in an average winter gas bill in LB to be 9% LOWER than they were in 1998, twelve years ago! That’s because City Councils have also approved 3 residential gas rate DECREASES in the past 12 years, based upon gas market conditions (along with 5 minor rate increases) in that same period.
LBGO has been operating under a long-term pipeline replacement program for the past 5 years (and will continue it for the next 10-20 years) to strategically replace a significant portion of our 1,800 miles of underground gas pipelines. This program costs the gas utility about $8.5 million annually. Our gas revenues must fully fund these costs and this minor rate increase helps in that regard. Additionally, when LBGO generates a “profit”, more revenue is directed to the General Fund to pay for Police, Fire, Parks & Rec, Library Services, etc.
LBGO is providing a “return” to the residents of Long Beach of nearly $12 million this year whereas if they paid the same gas bill to the privately-owned SoCalGas, the franchise payment realized by the General Fund would be around $2-$3 million only.
What grade do you give to Redevelopment Agency projects over the last 10 years?
B+ Further, I strongly support the use of RDA money for infrastructure. Since redevelopment areas PREVENT property tax revenue from flowing into the general fund, it is appropriate that they replenish the general fund up to the amount they keep from going into it.
Can you cite a city that would be a good example of where Long Beach should go?
No. Long Beach is unique and we have many talented residents with vision who can point us in the right direction to become the best Long Beach we can be. We should strive to be the leader, not a follower.
Seventy percent of the city’s budget goes for police and fire department services. Is this really necessary? Or are council and candidates afraid of police and fire department unions?
Public safety is government’s highest priority, but not its only priority. Unfortunately, the significant pension increases in 2000 have created an unsustainable pension system. Once we get our pension costs under control, there will be sufficient funding to properly fund Public Safety and well as all the other quality of life services.
Yes, some (but not all) Council members and candidates are afraid of the unions. Obviously, I’m not one of them.
Marchese seems well rehearsed.
I hadn’t noticed.
You all realize we live in a city? That there will be traffic?
Yes, we live in a city and there is traffic. However, we can work together to improve traffic conditions and owe it to ourselves and those who follow us not to make it any worse.
A year or so ago Councilmember DeLong advocated for the ousting of then-Belmont Shore Residents Association president Mike Ruehle, even showing up at the group’s election to pass out write-in stickers for his preferred slate of replacement candidates. Gary, if you could do it over again, would you? Tom and Terry, how would you have behaved if you were on the council at the time?
Aileen Colon is doing a terrific job as President of the BSRA, and is highly regarded by Belmont Shore residents. The community would have benefited tremendously if she had become president a year earlier!
City Hall needs to become more business friendly, but not at the expense of our neighborhoods. We need to be less bureaucratic and more customer service oriented. Improvements have been made in the last 4 years, but we still have a ways to go.
Gary DeLong, we do not feel represented when you are not present at city council meetings, or when you leave early.
I have one of the best attendance records for City Council meetings. Any trip I take on behalf of the City occurs the last week of the month when Council is “dark” and I try to plan my family vacations for that last week as well. I have missed VERY few meetings in the last 3 ½ years. It is true that I usually leave when the business agenda items are completed, and do not stay for “announcements.”
In addition to the daylong Council related meetings on Tuesdays, I typically work 2 – 3 hours at home on City business before and after the Council meeting, which makes for a long day. It is not unusual for Tuesdays to be a 12-14 hour work day for me.
I believe that every day of the week is “People’s Day,” not just Tuesdays. If you’re working hard on behalf of your constituents, ninety percent of a Councilmember’s work is in the community, working with individual residents, neighborhood associations, community groups, etc. Far more is achieved for the community between Tuesdays than occurs at Council meetings.