Civically Speaking is a weekly newsletter on the latest local government news from the lens of the Long Beach Post’s City Hall reporter, who sits through so many city meetings for us.

Politicians are asking for a lot of money 

This is a very strange part of the news year for city government reporters like me. I’m patiently awaiting the release of this year’s budget so I can dig into it and let you know what you might not have time to find out for yourself. 

I’ve also got an eye trained on next year’s election. Who’s filed paperwork to run for a City Council seat? Who’s being shopped around as a potential candidate? What kind of ballot measures are going to be pushed on the ballot in what will likely be another historic turnout in the 2024 Presidential election? 

Nothing’s set in stone yet, but it could be a pricey year for the state—and Long Beach residents. 

Let’s start locally, where Long Beach City College leaders have indicated that they’ll likely ask voters to approve $990 million in bonds so they can upgrade campus facilities like Veterans Stadium and build affordable student housing. 

There was some discussion over how it will be worded: “25 cents for every $1,000” or “$25 for every $100,000” of assessed value, with survey results showing a preference for the first option, likely because it seems like a smaller number (it’s not). 

No matter how they word it, it will cost property owners by raising their mortgage payments because of the increase in property taxes. The board will have to decide by August 2024 if it wants to put it on the November 2024 ballot. 

Two other measures that Long Beach voters could help decide have to do with the minimum wage for employees of health care facilities and hotels. A referendum vote on healthcare worker wages is scheduled for March and the City Council basically said that a similar wage increase for hotel workers will join it on the ballot

Those might not directly affect Long Beach voters, but health care industry officials warned the council it could lead to closures of facilities in the city or lead to an increase in charges to patients. If the hotel wage increase passes, it’s not crazy to think that hoteliers would raise the prices of their rooms. 

A number of statewide ballot measures could also affect Long Beach. 

A referendum vote on an oil production setback law (Senate Bill 1137) could force the city to wind down its oil operations earlier than planned. 

City management estimated this could mean a $20 million annual hit to the city’s general fund, meaning projects and services might have to be scaled back or cut if the city can’t find a way to replace that money if voters reaffirm SB 1137. 

The city has already released plans for a less opulent Belmont Pool project, something that is being funded primarily with oil revenue. 

A state bill could allow Los Angeles County officials to increase the sales tax rate by 0.5%. It wouldn’t happen automatically, and the Board of Supervisors would have to ask voters to approve the tax, but the idea is to extend the county’s Measure H homelessness tax and potentially add on another quarter-cent tax to fund affordable housing. 

With Long Beach already at the top of the allowable sales tax rate (10.25%) city officials were unsure how this would affect Long Beach, but it could be the case that it would bump it up to 10.75% if voters agree to extend Measure H, which expires in 2027. 

While statewide bond measure (Assembly Bill 1657) would authorize the state to issue $10 billion in bonds to pay for affordable housing and associated programs, an amendment to the state’s constitution (ACA-1) would lower the threshold for special taxes to pass. 

I’ve always thought it was kind of backward that state law requires a two-thirds voter approval to pass a special tax to fund specific things while a general tax, which can be used on literally anything, needs only a simple majority to pass. ACA-1 would lower it to 55% for taxes meant to build affordable housing if voters approve. 

There is one thing that popped out to me with the proposed amendment: It doesn’t just apply to affordable housing, although that’s how it’s being pitched. 

The bill’s language includes “public infrastructure,” and you’re correct if you guessed that it could apply to most everything, including replacing public safety buildings like fire and police stations, libraries and parks. Most would agree those are not part of the state’s affordable housing crisis. 

That’s a lot of big decisions that will be lumped in with a presidential election cycle, but it’s common for tax increases and bond measures to be coupled with this cycle because larger voter turnout, especially from less conservative voters, increases the chance of them passing. 

Let me know if there’s anything else you think we should be tracking. 


It didn’t take long for the city’s Southeast Area Specific Plan (we call it “Sea Sip”) to go from hypothetical to reality. The plan rezoned a part of Southeast Long Beach near 2nd and PCH to allow for more housing production. The plan made room for 2,500 future units, and this week nearly 1,300 units advanced closer to groundbreaking. On Tuesday, the City Council denied an appeal seeking to block a 281-unit project at the corner of Studebaker Road and PCH. And on Thursday, the Planning Commission OK’d two other projects at the same intersection that will add about 1,000 more units. Environmental groups, residents and some businesses have raised alarms over what this will mean for wildlife, traffic and displaced businesses but it appears this projects are moving forward. 


This Tuesday is “Black Tuesday,” which means the City Council won’t meet but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an opportunity to go to a public meeting. The council’s Public Safety Committee is taking its show on the road and will hold an in-person meeting at the Expo Arts Center in Bixby Knolls. The committee wants to hear what you think the city should be looking for in its new Police Oversight Director. It’s the new position that was created after last year’s vote to disband the Citizens Police Complaint Commission in favor of a new model of police oversight. Last week, the city started its recruitment efforts to fill the position and Tuesday afternoon you could tell the committee what you want to see in the person the city ultimately hires.  You can RSVP for the meeting here

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.