The North Health Facility at Houghton Park will officially be named the Ronald R. Arias Health Equity Center after the Long Beach City Council voted Tuesday to approve the naming recommendation.
The center was renovated earlier this year and now will be named for the city’s former Health and Human Services Director. It’s located next door to the recently updated and named Doris Topsy-Elvord Community Center at Houghton Park.
Arias, who served in the city’s health department for 22 years, has been touted as a public health champion by members of the council. In a video tribute to him, Arias said having the building named after him was humbling.
“I always felt like I was just doing my job and I always tried to do the best job that I could,” Arias said.
The initial recommendation to name the center after Arias was proposed by Councilman Rex Richardson, who represents the area of North Long Beach where the center is located.
Richardson’s request said that Arias, a longtime North Long Beach resident, dedicated his life to social justice and youth development and continues to volunteer his time to a variety of organizations in the city. Richardson said Tuesday it was a fitting tribute to Arias and that he was looking forward to the naming ceremony next month.
Naming the center after Arias required the council to make an exception to a city rule that generally prohibits city-owned buildings and facilities from being named after living people.
However, this City Council has made multiple exceptions to that rule in voting to approve naming the Long Bach Performing Arts Center after former Mayor Beverly O’Neill and the City Council chambers after former Mayor Bob Foster. It most recently voted to name the Chittick Field Sports Complex after former Councilman Dee Andrews, who lost a reelection bid in 2020.