Hundreds Attend Second Annual People’s State of the City


Photo courtesy of Building Healthy Communities / Facebook.

About 320 people from the community attended the second annual People’s State of the City on Thursday, March 11 at the Grace United Methodist Church, where affordable housing, clean environment, good jobs, healthy and safe neighborhoods, immigrant rights and quality education were discussed.

The church’s pastor, Nestor Gerente, who said he is a first-generation Filipino immigrant, welcomed the audience before introducing Indigenous Steward Aunty Xochitlmilko Portillo.

Portillo, in her message that spanned Tonga, English and Spanish, told a story that illustrated racist bullying. A 30-year-old woman bus driver yelled, “Go back from where you came from!” at a 5-year-old Spanish-speaking-only boy. Portillo concluded this story with a question: “What legacy do we want to leave our descendents seven generations from now? What do you want your descendents to say about you? What heritage are you going to leave your descendents?”

{loadposition latestnews}Tonia Reyes Uranga, Christopher Covington and Liam Cheun from nonprofit Khmer Girls in Action also presented at the state address.

Uranga, who is the executive director of the Miguel Contreras Foundation and a former councilmember, described some of the city’s issues, reinforcing the idea that her presentation was not to criticize, but to inform, educate, inspire and motivate people to organize and to act.

According to Uranga, Long Beach residents in poverty are 25% of the population; one out of two children lives in poverty. Uranga emphasized this point by sidelining support for worker unions and Measure N, stating, “The fact is that as union membership increases, so does family income. Ask the hotel workers union.”

Uranga then addressed other interconnected issues, including affordable housing, higher mortality rates in the poorer areas, environmental pollution (especially on the Westside), school truancy, teen pregnancy and immigration.

Cheun focused her remarks on the lower voting rates among the poorer area in the city, but she pointed out the rates increased when Measure N was on the ballot because of the proposition’s relevancy to the voters.

Covington from the BHC Long Beach Youth Committee went on to showcase the demographics:

  • Long Beach is the seventh largest city in California with a population of almost 500,000.
  • Women are 51% of the population.
  • People under 18 are 25%.
  • The highest density of African-Americans is Downtown and toward the north.
  • Whites are about 30% of the population and are concentrated in the 3rd, 4th and 5th Districts on the Eastside and toward Belmont Shore.
  • Latinos are 41% of the population and are significant in all the districts, with higher densities in the western half of the city, mainly comprised of the 1st, 5th, 7th and 9th Districts.
  • Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American and indigenous communities are 13% of the population with concentrations in the 4th, 7th, 8th and 9th Districts.

Also in attendance were Vice Mayor Robert Garcia; Councilmembers Patrick O’Donnell, Gerrie Schipske, Al Austin and Steve Neal as well as LBCC Board of Trustees boardmembers Roberto Uranga and mayoral candidate Doug Otto.

Meanwhile, during the resource mixer, Professor Julian Del Gaudio, who teaches history at Long Beach City College and who attended the first People’s State of the City, said, “This is where we need to look to see what needs to be done to improve the quality of life in this city because the perspective is not from the top down, which is the mayor’s State of the City. It’s from the bottom up.” 

Ofelia Rivera, a community activist who works with the Long Beach Time Exchange, said that it was an important event to attend because it provided an opportunity for community members to find out about resources and to network with others.

Tina Lopez, a member of Military Families Speak Out, agreed with Rivera that it was an opportunity for community members to network with each other.

Read our previous coverage of the People’s State of the City here. 

{FG_GEOMAP [33.7683509,-118.16506720000001] FG_GEOMAP}

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.