City Council sends performing arts center renaming request to committee vote

The Long Beach Performing Arts Center could soon become the Beverly O’Neill Performing Arts Center after the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to forward a renaming request to a committee vote later this year.

The council’s government and elections oversight committee will now hear the proposal at a future meeting, and the proposal will head back to the full council for a final vote if affirmed by the three-member body.

There is early support among member of that committee, including its vice chair, Councilwoman Cindy Allen, who co-sponsored the naming change. Allen made the amendment to the naming suggestion to include “performing arts” in the title after receiving initial feedback from the community.

“That makes sense,” Allen said. “We want to make sure that performing arts is still in the name.”

The original request asked for the structure to be named the Beverly O’Neill Arts Center.

Councilmembers Al Austin and Daryl Supernaw are the other two members of the committee. While Supernaw did not comment on the vote, Austin praised the O’Neill, who is commonly referred to as “Long Beach’s favorite mayor.”

Austin recalled O’Neill leading the city with “grace, strength and poise” during one of the most trying periods for the city and said that it was right to honor someone like O’Neill and “give them their roses while they’re here.”

“I don’t think anyone would disagree with Beverly O’Neill being honored in the way that we’re proposing to do so,” Austin said.

The 90-year-old O’Neill served as mayor of Long Beach for 12 years through 2006. O’Neill already has a part of the performing arts campus named after her. The Beverly O’Neill Theatre, located on the west side of the campus, was named after the former mayor in 2015. To do that, the council had to amend the city’s practice of naming city assets after people only once they had died.

O’Neill worked as a music teacher at Long Beach City College and was lauded for her work to invest in the arts during her three terms as mayor. Naming the entire performing arts center after O’Neill is fitting, Mayor Robert Garcia said.

“She is a senior stateswoman of our city and will be remembered for having transformed this city out of a very difficult period,” Garcia said. “We can’t say enough about her leadership.”

The recommendation will head to the government and elections committee in the coming months. The committee currently has no meetings scheduled for 2021.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.
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