Mayor Bob Foster served two terms as the leader of the city. Photo by Brian Addison.
Mayor Bob Foster served two terms as the leader of the city. Photo by Brian Addison.

The new Long Beach Civic Center’s council chambers moved one step closer toward being named after former Mayor Bob Foster Tuesday night after the City Council unanimously forwarded recommendations to consider the item in future committee hearings.

The new civic center is set to open this summer and the council—prodded by a letter signed by over 30 community, business, labor and non-profit leaders—wants to name the center’s council chambers after the man who helped spark the construction process before leaving office.

In a unanimous vote, the City Council advanced the item to its Housing and Neighborhoods Committee where a vote of approval would send it to the Harbor Commission (the Port of Long Beach is also moving to the new civic center) before potentially heading back to council for final approval. If approved, the council’s new home would be called the Bob Foster Civic Chambers.

“It was his creative vision as well as pushing and working with staff and the council that helped develop what is now probably one of the most successful P3 [public-private-partnership] developments and projects anywhere in the state of California,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “So to consider naming this chamber after the architect of that work, I think, is really great to see and one that I really support.”

New civic center council chambers could be named after former Mayor Bob Foster

The council praised Foster for his work in the community during and after his two terms as mayor. They also applauded his vision for the new civic center. Foster was celebrated for bringing to Long Beach the public-private-partnership model that helped finance construction of the civic center and the Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse.

A similar plan is in the works to save Community Hospital in which the city and the new hospital operator would share the costs of seismic retrofits in attempts to salvage the site that was shuttered last year.

Foster was also remembered for his negotiating style and ability to lead the city through one of the toughest fiscal periods in recent memory. Foster was first elected mayor in 2006, just before the financial crisis hit the nation. Foster was at the helm when the city made sharp reductions in services across the board, but Tuesday night he was praised for his ability to navigate Long Beach through those trying times.

“He was a tough adversary in a tough time when tough decisions had to be made,” said Long Beach Police Officers Association President Jim Foster. “If ever there was a properly selected person by the powers that be for when history was going to hit us with this big crisis it was to get Bob Foster in that position at that time.”

Last week, Bob Foster said he was honored that the city was considering naming the chambers after him. And because of a recent tweak in the city’s laws, they’ll be able to do that while he is still alive.

If the City Council does end up approving the item, Bob Foster will join former Mayor Beverly O’Neill and former Gov. George Deukmejian as as the third Long Beach politician to have his or her name placed on a building in downtown.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.