Long Beach, California StateoftheCity Student Report January 9, 2012

On January 9, 2012, Mayor Bob Foster stood before the citizens of Long Beach City and delivered his State of the City Address, a speech intended to “inform the citizenry of the condition of our City.” The Center Theater’s auditorium held an excited group of honorable figures all anxiously awaiting the Mayor’s speech. Opening remarks by former Governor George Deukmejian with his “one clap” introduction of the Mayor’s guests of honor was exceptionally funny, interesting, and well-paced. I learned that the former governor is a Long Beach resident and because of his outstanding history of public service to the city of Long Beach and California the new superior court house will be named the “Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse” in his honor.

The Mayor opened the address with a call to the Long Beach citizens to hold our elected officials accountable for all their actions and to judge how well the Long Beach’s government is performing. As a student of Long Beach Polytechnic High School (Poly), located in one of the highest crime areas in Long Beach, I paid particular attention to the Mayor’s statistics on crime. He stated that major crime rate dropped to the lowest levels in decades and specifically that the murders are down to the lowest number on record and cited a 39% reduction. Crimes against property are in fact down from 2009 and are predicted to be even less in 2012. Although the murder rate is down from 40 to 33, the violent crimes of robbery show a projected increase from 1381 to 1424 and aggravated assault shows an uptick from 1609 to 1640 (2012 CityRating.com quoting the FBI Report of Offenses Known to Law Enforcement.) These projections are based on 11 years of actual data and combined with the loss of 140 sworn police officers. According to the December, 2011 Long Beach Police Department City Wide Reporting Districts data for Poly’s district, there were zero murders and three crimes of larceny. These numbers were reassuring. As a student, I have not seen a reduction in security or police presence on campus. Poly is a leader in student security with a dedicated staff and uncompromising student and visitor check-in procedures. Poly’s football games always put player, student, and fan safety as a top priority. Poly’ s security staff along with the Long Beach Police ensure that parking is secured and that entrance to the game is monitored for any safety breaches. As a student in the Long Beach Unified School District, I am proud to state that I have never felt in danger at anytime whether it be at school or at an outside school sponsored event.

The Mayor continued on to discuss that the “art of redeveloping Long Beach” continues albeit quite differently due to the restructuring and realignment of the Redevelopment Agency. Poly has most definitely benefited from redevelopment projects that according to the Mayor built a larger future tax base from parcels land better known as drug houses and run down liquor stores. On the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Martin Luther King, the outer north-east corner from Poly’s campus, a longstanding liquor store known as a hot spot of criminal activities was demolished. Poly’s cheerleaders were on site and applauded the demolition along with Councilman Dee Andrews. No longer were Poly students crossing that intersection or driving by in danger of any crime activity from the liquor store. In fact, a coffee shop is targeted to be built in replacement of the liquor store which will be a profitable and convenient business for Poly’s staff and students.

The Mayor continued with the update on Long Beach’s new parks that were completed this year. There were a total of ten new parks, the closest to Poly being the Rosa Parks Park. It is located on Los Alamitos Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway and is a better use of an empty meridian. So, it is not really a traditional park, but more of an eye pleasing landscaped sidewalk with drought resistant plants. The California Gardens and Chittick Park are still in Poly’s district and will be an exciting and much needed sports park. These parks will be used by the community and provide a local venue for families to stay fit and enjoy sports.

Also in attendance was Councilman Dee Andrews of the 6th District as well as the highly acclaimed Chief of Police of Long Beach, Jim McDonnell. Councilman Dee Andrews is a Poly Jackrabbit graduate and former Student Body President who has lived in Long Beach for approximately 60 years. I enjoyed meeting and speaking with the Chief and Councilman because it was readily apparent that these intelligent and successful city officials were both professionally and personally invested in the successes of the city of Long Beach because it is their home as it is mine. I believe Mayor Foster has provided thoughtful leadership and made critical decisions for the betterment of the city of Long Beach. We are a Long Beach Family!

A common theme of Mayor Foster’s address was that under his administration the goal was not to hand greater problems to our children and grandchildren, but to “preserve opportunity for the next generation.” He reiterated that in 2009 he spoke of the character of Long Beach and how our determination, courage, no-nonsense financial management, and integrity would see us through difficult times. As a young adult, I appreciate and understand that what fiscal decisions are made today are going to be my generation’s reality. I believe the crime rate is going in the right direction, but that we still have a long way to go. Mayor Bob Foster hosted a remarkable event that informed all residents of our standings in all aspects of a government. He has made us all proud with his strong leadership and I, along with many other Long Beach residents, look forward to all his future plans.