5:25am | Sixth District Councilman Dee Andrews, in conjunction with Ninth District Councilman Steven Neal, put forth a City Council Agenda Item Tuesday to create a policy to provide equal language access to all City of Long Beach residents. The item passed unanimously.
Over 50 community members addressed the Long Beach Mayor and City Councilmembers about the language barriers that they currently face. Many members of the community expressed a desire to be involved in Long Beach City government and City services; however their limited proficiency of the English language acts as a barrier.
“Access to City Government and services are key for the continued growth of our City and the language barrier is stunting our growth. It is very important that all the residents that make up Long Beach are equally invited, involved, and educated about our City’s practices, especially vital services such as public safety, health, and general welfare”, said Councilman Dee Andrews.
The item suggests that a policy be created so that all City Departments, Board meetings, Commission meetings, City Council meetings and City organized/hosted community meetings be accessible to Limited English Proficiency (LEP) persons through the use of interpreters. Additionally, the item stipulates that vital City documents be translated into the primary languages spoken by Long Beach residents, and the City’s website be available in languages other than English.
"Everyone deserves the right to have equal access to his/her government. Each person has something of value to offer, and it would be a shame to miss great opportunities because of language barriers”, said Councilman Steven Neal.
"Language access is the #1 barrier to the success of immigrant integration for the residents of Long Beach. The policy will lead to the improvement of economic development, civic engagement and better quality of life”, said Sara Pol-Lim, Executive Director United Cambodian Community
The item requested that the City Manager work with the City Attorney and community partners with expertise in this area, including the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, Housing Long Beach, Centro C.H.A. and United Cambodian Community, to draft a city-wide Language Access Policy with consistent city-wide standards, and report back to the City Council within 90 days.
For information, call the Office of Councilman Dee Andrews at (562) 570-6816.
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