The Long Beach City Council’s Budget Oversight Committee is requesting about $500,000 in additions to this year’s municipal budget ranging from small items, such as $15,000 mats that would let wheelchair users better access city parks, to larger requests, like $200,000 to help connect people in shelters to long-term housing.
Other additions include $25,000 each for programming and administrative support for the city’s Cambodian, Latino and African American cultural centers.
The committee wants another $150,000 to go toward the city’s animal shelter to help pay for spay and neuter services. The amount is expected to cover about 700 operations, according to city staff.
The committee’s recommendations will now be forwarded to the full City Council, which could pass the budget as soon as next week.
“I think they’re thoughtful and they pair well with what I think is an excellent budget,” said Councilmember Joni Ricks-Oddie, who chairs the committee.
More funding to support the city’s right-to-counsel program for tenants facing eviction might have to wait until next year. The city has already proposed $1 million for the eviction protection fund, but advocates had pushed for an additional $900,000 this year, something they wanted to establish as a new baseline of funding for future years that they hoped would eventually raise to $9.5 million.
Instead, Ricks-Oddie said that it should be considered a priority for the city if the mid-year projections show that the adopted budget is over-performing, something that’s happened in recent years. Ricks-Oddie suggested an additional $500,000 be dedicated to the program if there’s money available.
Lauren Harper, who works with Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, which staffs the eviction defense program the city pays for through Stay Housed LA, reiterated that the cost savings from investing in eviction defense could actually save the city money because it could have to fund fewer shelters and other social safety net programs renters use when they’re pushed out of their homes.
“For those receiving full scope representation, about half of tenants are able to stay in their home, but 40% are able to get soft landing,” Parker said, noting that other victories can be seen from the program like past rents being waived, landlords paying relocation assistance to tenants and evictions never making it onto renters’ records.
The committee also voted to forward Mayor Rex Richardson’s budget proposals to the full council for a vote. Richardson’s request now includes looking at the feasibility of a bring your child to work day for city employees and having youth more involved with future budget processes.
Richardson is also requesting that the Port of Long Beach match the city’s $500,000 investments in things like tree plantings and $150,000 for planning the conversion of the Terminal Island Freeway into park space.
Richardson is also pushing the Port to prioritize West Long Beach for future port grants. West Long Beach is a core focus of Richardson’s budget, which he revealed earlier this month with plans to drive economic investments and other improvements to the area through his proposed “West Side Promise Zone.”
The City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposed budget at its Sept. 5 meeting.