City Council starts process to create COVID-19 memorial in Long Beach

Long Beach will officially start designing a COVID-19 memorial after the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to begin a visioning process.

The design process could take six to 12 months and include input from a community advisory group. The memorial’s location and how much it will cost are also questions the city will have to work out.

The memorial would honor all those who died from the virus, which includes over 930 Long Beach residents and more than 62,000 Californians.

“The truth is that not every city is going to have a memorial,” Mayor Robert Garcia said. “There will probably be few of them in the states, so it’s an opportunity for us to provide this feeling of special space for those of us in the city, but also we need to be prepared that many others will visit this memorial from across the state and other places.”

Details on what the city would like to see out of the memorial are still sparse, but Garcia said he wants the city’s former health director Ron Arias to help lead the project because he steered the design of Long Beach’s health department.

Garcia said the memorial should also recognize health care workers’ heroic deeds.

Members of the council supported the project, saying it should be a place to heal from the trauma of the past year. Others said it should simply serve as a reminder of a tragic time in the city’s history.

“We went through a pandemic in 1918 and unless we read the newspapers and go into the archives we would have forgotten about it,” Councilman Roberto Uranga said. “I think this event in our history needs to be memorialized and never forgotten.”

The city’s plan includes assembling an advisory board for the design process, but it’s not yet clear how members will be selected. How much the memorial will cost is also unclear. Garcia mentioned the possibility of using city reserves to pay for the project as well as potential fundraising efforts and outreach to the state and federal government for assistance.

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