The controversial project to slim down Broadway to add a protected bike lane has spurred one longtime neighborhood leader to run for the City Council — and sue Long Beach.
Robert Fox, founding president of the Alamitos Beach Neighborhood Association, announced during a Thursday, June 13, neighborhood meeting that his attempts to work with city officials to ameliorate public safety and legal concerns about the project have gone nowhere.
Fox said he’s reached out to officials in Long Beach’s Public Works Department and elsewhere in City Hall, as well as Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce multiple times, but her office never agreed to meet and discuss his concerns.
Pearce’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
So, Fox said, he reluctantly decided to throw his hat into the ring for Pearce’s seat in next year’s March 3 election.
“We need to have someone in that council seat that can say no,” Fox said. “I promise you, folks, I didn’t want to do this. I’m old. I’m 66 years old.”
But, Fox said, he hasn’t seen any hint that the leadership his district needs will come from anywhere else.
Besides Pearce, Fox will compete with mental health provider Jeanette Barrera in the race to represent Long Beach’s southern 2nd District, which includes the Port of Long Beach and stretches east to Redondo Avenue.
But running for the seat isn’t the only way Fox will take action, he said.
Fox also announced at the meeting that he has retained an attorney to sue the city because, he said, the Broadway project violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, and it did not receive approval from the state Coastal Commission as the law requires, Fox said.
Representatives for Long Beach did not immediately respond to a request for comment on those allegations.
Fox said the road design in some areas, in which the bike lane is sandwiched between raised dividers that mark parking spots on one side and the curb on the other, violates the ADA because of the difficulty it creates for people with wheelchairs to navigate their way from a parking spot to the sidewalk.
He also said the project reduces the amount of parking on Broadway, so the plan should have gone to the state Coastal Commission. The agency has jurisdiction over the road’s southern half because those parking spots are considered necessary for public access to the beach.
But, Fox said, his main concern is safety.
“This is serious stuff,” he said. “The purpose of the government overall is to protect you and to make sure that you are safe.
“When the government fails at doing that,” Fox said, “they’ve lost their purpose in life. If they’re making you frightened and putting danger in front of you, they’re not doing their job.”