For The Westside Project Area Council, The Future Is Now

westsidewatertower

There are so many issues still facing the Westside of Long Beach, from dysfunctional storm drains to street closures to near-dock railyards, and the Westside Project Area Council (WPAC) has a keen understanding of those issues. The organization’s muscle has rarely been more needed by the businesses it protects, but its future is unclear; the evidence of that apparent by the lack of attendance at the monthly meetings and less-than-robust response to the “request for membership” that went out in early March.
 
WPAC member Gil Ficke shared his thoughts on this unfortunate trend at the last monthly meeting, stating, “The purpose of the PAC is to protect the neighborhood and look out for the neighborhood’s best interests. If the neighborhood wanted that advocacy, they would be present and supportive. It seems to me that the neighborhood has spoken.”

When the Redevelopment Agency collapsed last year, the WPAC hurriedly reformed as a 501c3 non-profit with the intention of continuing its advocacy for the Westside, as it has done since 1975. Loyalists remain, meetings continue, but getting the neighborhood engaged (beyond those already associated with the council) has been rough. Where project officers and legislative representatives were always on-hand to provide updates and field the neighborhood’s concerns, now there are predominantly empty chairs; no projects to update, budget cutbacks disallowing their attendance, etc. The chairs are empty but the issues remain.

{loadposition latestnews}The graffiti and illegal dumping and pot holes and gang infringements that were rampant throughout the area have all been quelled, in large part because of the WPAC’s dogged efforts and unified voice. Westside streets are in vastly better shape than they were ten years ago. Watch how quickly that good work goes down the dysfunctional storm drain, should the council disappear.

Maybe Westside neighbors beyond the already-members-of-the-PAC don’t know what the organization has accomplished over the past 38 years. The area was unincorporated back then. Businesses banded together and, as a unified voice, convinced City Hall that they needed some things, like sidewalks, like streetlights.

Many years later that same unified voice convinced City Hall that the area needed a police station, and it was through the WPAC and the neighborhood’s tax increment dollars that the West Division Police Station was built. Beautification efforts, from the elimination of blighted bars and flea-motels to the renovated Water Tower that serves as a landmark to the neighborhood have helped change the very tone of the place from scary to inviting.

Think back. Remember how it was on the Westside. If it seems safer to you now, cleaner, better maintained, some of the credit belongs to the WPAC. Maybe you didn’t know that–but now you do. And the reason they’ve been able to make things better is because they stood together.

The next monthly meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 10 at 5PM, and will be held at the West Division Police Station at 1835 Santa Fe Ave., Long Beach, 90813. Meetings are open to the public.

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