[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, I e-mailed them to candidates Gary DeLong, Terry Jensen and Tom Marchese. Jensen is the first to respond with his answers.]

How will you overcome the fact that Long Beach residents demand improvement to the city and its development, but resist every attempt to develop any part of land in Long Beach?

This is a big problem, as it sends the wrong message to good quality developers that may want to do business in Long Beach.  Our image gets tarnished and developments or renovations take forever to get off the ground or are scrapped due to the passage of time or cost issues.  But let’s be honest: the majority of the delays are caused by a lack of a good master plan that shows potential developers exactly what we expect and what we will, or will not, approve and the lack of public buy in. If we create clear and concise development standards that are accepted by the neighborhoods we can make it much easier for developers to do business in sensitive areas of Long Beach. It would also help if the City followed proper and responsible process.

Understanding that the large majority of fire department calls are for paramedics, do you think there might be areas that could be cut there?

It is possible cost savings could be experienced with the reorganization of how stations are staffed, but first you must determine whether the change will improve service or delay service.  I will work to examine every department to insure all efficiencies are discovered and a high level of service is maintained.

If Jensen stopped stuttering and was more confident, people would listen.

I am sorry you find my speech patterns offensive and think I lack confidence; that’s something I have never lacked.  I hope you would look beyond the superficial and consider my judgment, character, business experience and passion for Long Beach when you evaluate my suitability for the office. 

Will you help restore the library’s budget for materials to the $1.5 million it was two years ago?

As a supporter of the library when Elinor Schmidt was librarian, I will do everything I can to restore funding for the libraries.

Please explain your position on council persons using Facebook, surfing the net, texting, etc. during council meetings.  

Council members should focus their undivided attention on staff presentations and testimony from public speakers during council meetings.  Anything short of providing their undivided attention is rude and disrespectful on what I believe is the Peoples Night.  If they pay attention they may learn something.

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?

I do not believe the Home Depot development was compatible with the character of the area and I was pleased it did not go forward.  Any development adjacent to the Wetlands should be consistent with SEADIP and Coastal Commission requirements.  No exceptions.

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?”

I would not support an increase in taxes until and unless the City makes some fundamental changes in how they manage our resources.  They must establish a clear definition of what essential city services will be fully funded and eliminate all non essential services until the City’s financial health is restored before any new taxes are contemplated.   Show taxpayers you have changed your ways before you ask them for more money. Lead by example!

What grade do you give to Redevelopment Agency projects over the last 10 years?

The grade depends on the project area to be evaluated, but overall when you consider the primary mission of the RDA is to remove Blight, create jobs, increase sales tax revenue and increase tax increment I would be hard pressed to give them higher than a grade of C.  Although the  RDA was not created to build and maintain streets, alleys and sidewalks they have spent approximately $170 million on infrastructure that should be funded by the general fund.

Can you cite a city that would be a good example of where Long Beach should go?

Good question. Although our size and diversity is quite different than Signal Hill and Cerritos, their redevelopment and fiscal policies have allowed them to shine while we struggle.

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?

If you believe as I do that nothing is more important to the quality of life in the neighborhoods than a superior standard of public safety protection then police and fire budgets will always consume the largest share of the general fund.  I am committed to work with Council and Management to develop affordable and sustainable compensation packages (wages, pensions, health benefits) that will  allow us to attract and retain quality employees in all departments.  No, I am not afraid of the unions and promise my decisions will always be in the best interest of the 3rd District and City as a whole.

You all realize we live in a city?  That there will be traffic?

Sure do, but that does not mean that we should allow construction of developments with disproportionate and unmitigated traffic impacts.  It is not in the long-term best interest of the City and neighborhoods to knowingly exacerbate traffic problems.

A year or so ago DeLong advocated for the ousting of then-Belmont Shore Residents Association (BSRA) president Mike Ruehle, even showing up at the group’s election to pass out write-in stickers for his preferred slate of replacement candidates. How would you have behaved if you were on the council at the time?

It is none of the Council’s business who the BSRA selects to be their president. I would have worked with whomever the BSRA elected to resolve the conflicts between the BSRA and the Belmont Shore Business Association (BSBA). We need to restore balance between the commercial interests and the quality of life issues of the neighborhood.

You were indecisive and vacillating regarding your candidacy, off-again and on-again from September to January.  When explaining your January decision not to run you told The District Weekly, “My mind just kept going back to an evening I attended a meeting on the Peninsula that was related to a big parking issue…I was sitting in the back listening and thinking, ‘This is really important for these folks on the Peninsula, but it’s not very important to me.  They are spending an inordinate amount of time talking about a parking issue, while the city is falling into a financial abyss.  I realized that this is not what I want to do.’  But the next day you did an about-face and decided to run.  Are you still not interested in community issues?

Yes, I did deliberate at length my decision to enter the race, as it is a big personal commitment, but I hope most are pleased that I finally decided to run. As for my interest in community issues, it is important for you to recognize that for years I have  demonstrated  strong  public support of local neighborhood issues.  But I also believe it is critical Council members focus on the policy decisions that caused the problem in the first place and make sure the same mistakes are not made in the future. Council must also focus on proactive policies that will restore our cities fiscal health so we can afford to provide superior service and improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods.  With fiscal health we can pay for the repair of our streets, sidewalks, seawalls, boardwalks, park grounds and buildings, libraries and fully staffed police and fire departments.  As I have said for years, nothing is more important than the quality of life in the neighborhoods.

Gary DeLong, we do not feel represented when you are not present at city council meetings, or when you leave early.

Gary has stated on a few occasions that he enjoys being the 3rd District Council member with the exception of Tuesday night.  Leaving early, not paying attention and missing meetings is a clear indication of his feelings. It is my opinion that Tuesday night is the Peoples Night, and elected officials should attend meetings, pay attention and openly discuss every issue so the public can be respected and informed.

  1. Leslie
    March 24, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Sounds promising! Good answers and thank you for answering them!

  2. March 24, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Mr. Jensen – Thank you very much for taking the time to answer the unasked questions.

    I hope Councilmember Delong and Mr. Marchese also take the time to do so.

  3. March 24, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I also hope that the other candidates will answer. The last question I think was directed at Mr. DeLong–don’t need any more debate. MOst of the answers I have to add to my own considerations and I wouldn’t have dignified the one about the stuttering with a response. Thanks for doing this, Dave. Your blog is a few shovels of good dirt (and I mean that in a fertile way) into the hole left by the District Weekly.

  4. Gary C
    March 24, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Remember, first responders usually don’t know CPR!

    • lbgal64
      March 24, 2010 at 5:23 pm

      All first responders are CPR certified! If there weren’t any first responders many things would die!

  5. Lee G
    March 24, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Are Mr. Delong’s “absences from City Council a bit over blown? Have you ever listened to some of the drivel that goes on toward the end of a meeting? I can’t stand it and change channels form the Council session. Personally, I find it a waste of time and do not see why anyone but the person speaking should be there just like the U.S. Congress.

  6. Pat Towner
    March 24, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    I thank you Mr. Jensen for your response to the “gas rate” question. I immediately called Gary’s office when I got my bill after talking to whoever answered the call in the gas Dept Office and couldn’t quite figure out what I was talking about since the wording at the bottom says they have good news, they have reduced my bottom line as a consequence of the settlement of a law suit. What good does that do when the rates where raised “just because they could be” and Gary just let that happen, giving the Dept. an out by saying “well it will be used for infrastructure—right?” to which he got a yes response. No follow-up, no questions as to what it will be used for–and it was OK just because they could do it.

    It is too bad that at this time they raised the rates “just because they could” without concern for myriad of people who live below the median income level if they are employed at all. That means more than 14% got a tax rate–just because!

  7. RW Crum
    March 24, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    A few things come to mind. One, the question about asking whether council or candidates was phrased rather stupidly, i.e. uninformed, and the answer was no better. Do some homework. Any entity, much less one that employees upwards of 6,000 people, is going to have salaries take up about 85% of the budget. Moreover, are there any two departments in the city larger than police and fire, especially ones that require such specific training.

    Two, where does he expect to get the money to restore the library funding?

    Three, ask the rest of them, especially Uranga, Delong and Lowenthal, about facebook et al. I liked Jensen’s answer, but NONE of them should EVER be on something like that during council meetings.

  8. Stephen
    March 24, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Mr. Jensen makes good sense and was very personable. He seems to me to be the most qualified to represent the People, which is so lacking in government today. Mr. Delong, on the other hand, comes off as quite rude, arrogant, and as an elitist. It is time for a change.

  9. Laura
    March 25, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Thank you Dave–can’t wait for Delong!! I also think Mr. Jensen is personable,
    but do not think he understands the 3rd District. His reply regarding SEADIP
    showed ignorance. “Any development adjacent to a wetland should be consistent with SEADIP (ordinance)” True, but SEADIP is broader than that! Perhaps he should have said any development within SEADIP should be consistent with the Ordinance. 2nd and PCH aso lie in SEADIP and the Coastal Zone. When Mr.Jensen says he thinks mixed-use is appropiate for that site, it is a betrayal because residential, (condos) are not allowed on that site. SEADIP requires a certain density and height requirment for that site. It’s all in the online SEADIP Ordinance and I strongly suggest Mr. jensen get aquainted with it.

  10. Terry Jensen
    March 27, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    I have in fact read SEADIP more than a few times and am quite comfortable with the document a document that the Coastal Commission has not approved by the way. I must also remind you that point out that SEADIP specifically allows mixed use development on some of the Subareas. Mixed use means more than one use and can include retail/office/residential/commercial/industrial or any combination depending on the area. For Subarea 17 (Seaport Marina Hotel site)SEADIP allows mixed use consistent with the Cities CR Zone. SEADIP also specifically allows the development of 15.6 residential units per acre on Subarea 11A (behind In-n-Out). Three story residential as flats or townhouses are allowed up to three stories.

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