In spite of the multiple detours caused by extensive street construction on Long Beach Boulevard, 8th District Councilmember Rae Gabelich’s most recent community gathering attracted more than two-dozen interested residents. Last Saturday morning’s two-hour “Coffee and Conversation” get-together took place at Avila’s El Ranchito Restaurant, 5345 Long Beach Blvd.
Special guests included Long Beach Police Officer Juan Carlos Reyes and Commander Galen Carroll of the North Division. What was on the agenda? According to an email sent by Gabelich staffers, the topics were to include “concerns and suggestions on issues affecting your neighborhood.”
The first order of business was a welcome by Gabelich, who quickly turned the meeting over to Reyes so he could discuss the features and benefits of community watch to the crowd. Explaining the program as “the same concept as neighborhood watch,” Reyes added that the program, although similar, was an expanded version allowing for “more eyes looking after your neighborhood– not just block to block.”
When asked what requirements were necessary for a local group to be formed as a community watch, the officer said only one meeting a year was mandatory but offered that more were recommended and told that LBPD representatives could be made available to attend such meetings.
In other business, and on a much more serious note, Reyes told the group that the area is being hit with “a lot of chain snatches.” With what Reyes called a crime where the victims have “no time to react,” he asked that people be aware of their surroundings and encouraged them to call the police should they find themselves targets. When asked if the snatches were happening in Bixby Knolls as well, Reyes said that the illegal activities are happening up and down the corridor.
Joining in on the discussion of police matters, Commander Carroll encouraged those listening to be proactive and call the police if they witness what they believe to be a crime. “Don’t shut the door and hope the problem will go away,” he said. “Don’t just shut the blinds.”
Gabelich then took the floor and discussed the City of Long Beach’s new plastic-bag ban. Telling the group that she would be giving out free reusable bags at the end of the meeting, she reminded them that she did not vote for the new law and remarked, “Some like it. I don’t like it.” She also informed her listeners that contrary to popular belief, “none of the money [from the sale of paper bags] goes to the City.”
Commenting from his seat, Long Beach resident David Zink suggested the City might have found a different way to handle the plastic bag problem. “Put a bounty on them of a penny apiece and watch how fast they disappear,” offered Zink.
Other topics briefly addressed were medical marijuana, the fate of city redevelopment agencies, new public art projects and the city budget.
When the subject came up of the city’s redistricting, Gabelich said of the reworked borders: “Johnson took 900 [residents] more than he needed; a number of people are still unhappy about it.”
At the end of the meeting, she was asked if she would consider running a write-in campaign for 8th district during the next election. She assured those in attendance that she would not, but she said that she might entertain the notion of running for mayor– which garnered a large round of applause.