Long Beach mayor proposes $5 million to help restaurants, bars and breweries

In the wake of a countywide ban on in-person dining to slow the alarming surge in COVID-19 cases, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia on Monday proposed a $5 million “resiliency fund” that would aid struggling restaurants, bars and breweries.

The proposal, which the Long Beach City Council will consider in its next regular meeting on Dec. 8, would use future federal stimulus funds meant to support small businesses.

The effort comes as local businesses owners have blasted city leaders for shutting downing outdoor dining and putting thousands of people out of work just before the holidays. The county ban went into effect on Wednesday and will last at least three weeks.

Garcia in a statement said the $5 million could be increased depending on need and available federal dollars.

The proposal is supported by councilmembers Suzie Price, Daryl Supernaw, Stacy Mungo and Mary Zendejas.

“I spent four years waiting tables at local restaurants as a student at CSULB,” Garcia said in a statement. “That job got me through college and I know how painful and devastating these closures have been for our restaurants and bars.

“These small business owners are our neighbors and friends and we know that these closures have been horrific. As we work to reduce the spread of COVID-19 we are committed to helping them see this pandemic through and recover.”

The funding would come from a new federal stimulus package once it is passed. Garcia said Long Beach is expected to receive “significant funding in the new COVID-19 relief package,” noting that he city already secured more $40 million in the first bill passed earlier this year.

The mayor said he is also working on a similar proposal for personal services, which also have been hit hard from closures.

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Kelly Puente is an award-winning general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. She has worked as a journalist in Long Beach since 2006, covering everything from education and crime to courts and breaking news. Kelly previously worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register before joining the Post in 2018. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].