BY NICK DIAMANTIDES
A small group of Long Beach residents proved that some people care very much about what is going on in their community. Approximately 30 people attended a community meeting hosted by 8th District Long Beach City Councilwoman Rae Gabelich last Saturday. The event, known as a “Community Coffee,” took place in the late morning at the Mirage Coffee House, 539 East Bixby Road.
Although the meeting covered a broad range of topics, audience members were most interested in the discussion pertaining to the increase of coyote sightings.
“Due to recent reports of increasingly aggressive coyote behavior, the Department of Fish and Game has recommended that neighborhoods in the 90807 ZIP code take additional actions to prevent wildlife-human conflict,” Gabelich said. “Animal-control officers have already increased patrols in the morning and evening when coyotes are most active and will be following up with residents reporting incidents where coyotes have approached adults in an aggressive manner or approached areas where children were present.”
The councilwoman told the audience members that they could help by keeping their pets indoors and removing attractants¬– such as pet food and bowls of water– that draw coyotes to the area.
Several residents said they were bothered by the fact that neither Long Beach Animal Care Services nor the California Department of Fish and Game were removing coyotes from Long Beach neighborhoods. Gabelich replied that coyotes exhibiting aggressive behavior will be removed.
A woman in the audience asked if it was legal to shoot coyotes. Gabelich told her that discharging a firearm in city limits was illegal, but probably no charges would be brought against someone acting in self-defense or in defense of someone else. She was quick to point out, however, that there has never been an incident of a coyote biting a human in Long Beach.
“Preventative measures have been proven to reduce or eliminate the number of human-wildlife confrontations,” Gabelich added. She urged residents to never leave small children unattended, keep pets indoors, not leave food or water outdoors, keep trashcans covered and secured, clear brush from around the house and pick up fallen fruit.
Later in the meeting a woman asked Gabelich if she knew what was going on with the old Roberts Department Store building, which has been vacant for many years The edifice is located in the Bixby Knolls Shopping Center, which is owned and managed by the Glendale-based Gaska Company. The woman told Gabelich that the structure is an eyesore to the community and drives business away from the shopping center.
“We have been talking to the folks at Gaska. and they have been promising for a long time to demolish the building and build a Marshalls department store on the site,” Gabelich said. “Believe me, I am frustrated by the long delay too.” She added that if Gaska does not do something in the next 60 days, city officials would be looking into the possibility of issuing citations for code violations.
During the meeting, Gabelich also told the audience about the Historical Society’s upcoming Long Beach Mayors Oral History Series. “I will have the honor of helping to launch this series as I interview Tom Clark,” she said. “We will be discussing his upbringing and early career and then delving into his perspective on the city’s development during his tenure on the city council and as mayor.” (Gabelich’s interview with Clark took place on June 25.)
She told the audience that three more interviews with former mayors are scheduled for next month. Mayor Eunice Sato will be interviewed by Doris Topsy-Elvord on July 2; Mayor Ernie Kell will be interviewed by Evan Braude on July 9; and Mayor Beverly O’Neill will be interviewed by Betty Karnette on July 30,” Gabelich said.
The community coffee also included discussion on the July 11 Bixby Knolls Dragster Expo and Car Show, the nearly complete Atlantic Avenue repaving project, and the upcoming repaving of Carson Street between Atlantic Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard.
In her closing remarks, Gabelich reminded the audience that it is illegal to buy, sell or possess fireworks in Long Beach and that the city council will soon be considering airport noise issues once again. “On July 7, the council will be presented with the first phase of the Quieter Homes program,” she said. “They are also working on a phased approach for the parking structure and terminal improvements.”
During the audience-comment period, discussions focused on cars speeding through neighborhoods, feral cats in Scherer Park, and the city’s ongoing budget crisis.
Gabelich hosts Community Coffees once every two months, alternating between locations close to the southern and northern boundaries of her district.