Editorial: Our hope for Long Beach

Over the past year, we as an editorial board challenged and called out the city of Long Beach in various ways, reflecting on issues that mattered and impacted us as residents. We made demands and hoped for action, and tried to channel our deep love of this city into a voice for the community.

In this final piece of the inaugural board, we reflect on the hopes and visions that we have for the city of Long Beach over the next five years.

***

In my 40 years as a resident of Long Beach, I’ve seen a lot change, and a lot stay the same. We are more culturally diverse than ever, but we remain a tale of two cities. Looking forward, I see Long Beach as an equitable city, where every family has a home and access to worldwide communication.

I envision a city where unfair housing practices and gentrification are recognized as problematic for our whole city, and not just for those on the wrong side of the economic divide. I see a city where people don’t wait for homelessness to come to their doorsteps before they stand up and fight.

I see, also, a city where digital redlining, the practice of monopolizing low-income areas and charging higher prices for broadband service, is completely eradicated. A future Long Beach would insist on a broadband infrastructure for its 30,000 residents impacted by digital redlining. Because we recognize that, without digital access to information and opportunity, education and employment become virtually impossible.

The work of building an equitable city begins with empowering people. So, while we wait for the Long Beach Rescue Act to save us, and cross our fingers in hope the division of funds is equitable—that the money actually reaches where it does the most good—we can begin to empower ourselves and our city by acting now and acting responsibly.

Don’t know where to start? Below are links for organizations working hard to end homelessness, close the digital divide, and create opportunities for social entrepreneurship.

Use these links to join the fight for an undivided and equitable city.

Everyone In, Human IT, SOLA Impact, Home for Good.

-Shilita Montez

​​In our future Long Beach, I hope to see our communities flourishing; strong, healthy, and resilient. I imagine a city that has built more bridges to connect members of the community with the resources that they need, and that ensures all neighborhoods receive an equitable share of attention, resources, funding, and visibility.

I would love to see intentional and consistent outreach from the city to encourage inclusion and civic engagement, particularly in underrepresented communities that may face barriers to participation in the dialogue between the people and the city leadership. I hope for increased funding and support for the local grassroots organizations that are doing the work on the ground and are deeply connected with the people that they serve.

In the Long Beach of the future, we focus on developing long-term solutions backed by sustainable policies instead of high profile projects that don’t support the community’s needs. We invest in a housing-first approach that prioritizes access to permanent supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness, including expanded mental and behavioral health services. In addition to the temporary benefits of emergency shelters and food distribution, we need more affordable housing, tenant protections, and job opportunities that reduce the chance for at-risk individuals and families to fall into homelessness in the first place.

There are so many more ways that I would like to see Long Beach continue to empower its  community: Reduce food insecurity and eliminate food deserts. Invest in job training, upskilling and workforce development. Establish more parks and green spaces, particularly in West Long Beach. Increase resources available to small businesses and entrepreneurs.  Maintain clean, walkable and bike-friendly streets. Ensure responsible use of civic data and new technology within the city. Support development that uplifts and integrates existing communities without displacing them. Improve accountability and transparency to ensure that the city budget and tax dollars are being responsibly allocated.

I love and appreciate Long Beach and all it has done, but also hope that the city will continue to become better and will advocate for the community and the people first.

-Murriel McCabe

I often hear about how diverse our city is and our love for Long Beach’s culture. It’s true, seven out of 10 residents are people of color. I often ask, what are you actively doing to ensure we maintain this diversity in background and thought process in the workplace, at schools, boards, in your organizations etc.? Are we investing in real change and progress?

The pandemic highlighted our city’s long-standing inequities from access to green space, academic enrichment, economic opportunity to digital access, the list goes on. As a small business owner, Long Beach Unified School District parent, Parks & Recreation commissioner and education advocate, I worry over what the future will look like for our children. Without opportunity and access, will Long Beach diversity remain? Thirty years after my own elementary school experience, I struggle with reconciling how my daughters remain a minority in their academic programs. We aren’t making real investments for upward mobility for families, to support diverse spaces and educational attainment.  It does not provide shared prosperity. We can tell each other we’re progressive enough, but are we?

My hope over the next few years is that you understand the importance of being an active participant at this moment.  Comfort won’t bring about change. In my humble opinion,  inequality is the greatest harm to our democracy.  Generosity is insufficient. The goal should be justice and accountability. Justice in creating opportunities for every person to have a dignified and productive life that extends beyond economics.  Accountability in budgets, investments, people, and our elected leaders. Our city has provided a number of plans and recommendations to move us forward, it has laid the roadmap for progress. I hope you will join me and remain an active participant to ensure our city celebrates and invests in its diversity. Our children are not looking for photo-ops, they’re seeking real investments.

-Mariela Salgado

In the next five years, I see the City of Long Beach moving toward a more community-centered and equitable response to gun violence. Having lost a 17-year-old son to gun violence, I can only hope that we as a community respond to these tragedies in a way that not only deals with the violence itself, but also with the root causes of that violence. I see our city responding with mental health services instead of interrogations of our communities after a shooting. I see our city responding with resources instead of obstacles and barriers for those families that experience this intense trauma. I see our community addressing these problems before they even begin by building community youth centers where they are needed, by providing reentry services to those who are returning to our community after being incarcerated. I see our community building community with one another and understanding that when violence happens in our neighborhoods, we all have a responsibility in how we deal with it, especially if we want to reduce and eventually eliminate gun violence in our city.

If we are serious about reducing and eventually eliminating gun violence in our city, we have to worry about how we respond to it, but we also have to worry about how to prevent it. We can’t come up with any of the solutions necessary if we are not willing to build community with one another. I was a documented gang member for a long period of my life, and if I had stood on the principles and the twisted ethics of that lifestyle I would not be in relationship with members of law enforcement and other government agencies and I would not associate myself with people that I looked at as rivals or enemies. Transformation for me has only come because I was willing to change and transform myself. That is the only way that the City of Long Beach will be transformed around the issue of gun violence that plagues it, by being willing to transform itself.

-Jose Osuna

I love Long Beach. Within the next five years, I hope I can still afford to live here. The city has been gentrifying with abandon. Just a few years ago, I first heard that Long Beach was the last affordable beach city. And now, perhaps that still is true, but Long Beach is no longer affordable for those of us who have to work for a paycheck.

Being rent burdened is defined as spending 50% or more of one’s paycheck on rent. According to the Equity Growth Profile for Long Beach released in 2019, 63% of households led by Black women are rent burdened in Long Beach. In Los Angeles County, households earning half the median income or less may spend up to 71% of their income in rent.

I hope that Long Beach will consider its outrageous 55% increase in rental rates since 2013 and enact a reasonable form of rent control. Low-income households, recent graduates, city employees, port employees, and teachers will all be priced out of the city that they serve.

Long Beach will start to look more like Orange County—very affluent and very White. I hope this isn’t the intention. I hope there is an influential contingent that wants to preserve the demographic and intellectual diversity of Long Beach. I hope there is a way to reverse the trend and keep Long Beach affordable for the sake of its current residents, not just for the ones who, five years from now, are looking to live in an affordable beach city.

-Ebony Utley

As educators and school officials prepare to launch the new school year in August of 2026, I hope that the inequities in educational outcomes, extra-curriculars, technology access and the cultural competency of teachers will be greatly improved. It is not a mystery that although there are many public schools in Long Beach, only some are considered “good schools.” Schools in this category, beyond the higher test scores, often offer extracurricular activities, accept few “school of choice” students, and fundraise through parent foundations toward projects, classes, activities, and additional staff members for after-school programs. In five years, it would be great if “school of choice” was selecting what’s best for your child from a level playing field and every neighborhood school will be a “good school.”

This past week, many LBUSD teachers attended mandatory equity training. The district heard the community demands to address inequity after the social justice uprising of 2020 and all teachers will be compensated for their participation. Hopefully, in five years, there will be measurable outcomes from this investment of the educator’s time and taxpayer’s money that show up in the curricular choices, the relationships built between teachers and families, the educational progress of students and the embracing of all the cultural and linguistic wealth that the students of LBUSD bring to class each day.

In 2026, I hope that: every child will feel academically challenged and emotionally supported; each student will feel that their experience, language, culture, LGBTQ+ identity and family are respected and valued; every caregiver will feel welcome and informed; and all educators will feel confident and competent to facilitate difficult conversations with students about systemic racism and White supremacy that don’t continue to center the discomfort of White students and families over students of color.

-Amber Hopper

***

As we close out our term as an editorial board, we wanted to extend our thanks to the Long Beach Post and the communities within Long Beach for engaging with us during this journey.

We brought with us different life experiences and represented various districts of Long Beach.

Over the course of a year we worked together in collaboration and shared our thoughts with the community through our pieces because we all care for this city that we call home.

There are still visions unseen and voices unheard.

We welcome all our neighbors in all pockets of Long Beach to join the conversation, whether online, or in person, or as the next community editorial board member.

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.

The Community Editorial Board is made up of seven members of the Long Beach community and are drawn from different life journeys, different parts of the city and different socioeconomic experiences. The board writes on issues and subjects in which it has a personal interest, experience or expertise. The board operates wholly separate from the newsroom and members serve a one-year term. The Community Editorial Board can be reached at [email protected]
- ADVERTISEMENT -

More