Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia is planning for the city’s post-pandemic future.
Garcia is set to share his proposal for a Long Beach Recovery Plan early next month, which — if approved by the City Council — will include at least $150 million in funding to boost an economic recovery, double down on public health and secure the city’s financial future.
The plan would be funded with an allocation from the federal American Rescue Plan, which is on track for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives in the coming days, and with money from Los Angeles County.
Garcia said in a Wednesday, Feb. 24, phone interview that he’ll share details on the plan — including how the $150 million or more would be divided among the three priorities — when he unveils it in full at 11 a.m. Monday, March 8.
But, he said, all of the categories will receive “significant funding.”
The plan is necessary, he said, as Long Beach looks toward the end of the coronavirus pandemic. The city’s case rates have fallen significantly since mid-January, while more and more residents are being vaccinated each day.
And while Long Beach will continue prioritizing inoculation efforts until everyone who wants a vaccine has received one, Garcia said, it’s time to put together the city’s broader recovery strategy.
The first piece, he said, is to support Long Beach’s economic recovery, which would include small business grants targeted to industries hardest hit by coronavirus-induced shutdowns, such as restaurants and gyms.
“We want to make sure that small business owners in our city have the resources to get their employees back to work,” Garcia said, “to re-hire and to fully open as we move towards a real, safe reopening of the economy.”
The public health investments, meanwhile, would include funds to clean up the city. While Long Beach residents have largely stayed at home, Garcia said, the trash they produce has grown, so street sweeping, trash pick-up and other services have become more difficult.
“Part of this recovery plan is ensuring, coming out of COVID, that we’re cleaning the city in a way that’s big and bold,” he said, “and I want to double the efforts we’re making in cleanliness.”
And for securing the city’s financial future, the plan will help address the way City Hall has been impacted by the recession. It will seek to close Long Beach’s budget deficit and build its reserves back up for the next emergency.
“We’ve got to prepare for the next emergency, so that is also going to be part of what we’re talking about,” Garcia said. “It’s: ‘How can we plug these deficit holes to ensure we’re not talking about cutting libraries in the future?’”
Looking ahead, Garcia said, the city’s goals are clear — and Long Beach needs a plan to achieve them.
“I’ve always said the health emergency has always had to be our top priority, and it has been,” he said, “and as we move toward beating COVID-19, the next priority has to be recovery.
“And the same level, the same kind of energy and focus we have put on the health emergency,” Garcia added, “we have to put on the recovery of the city.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.