Sixth District Councilman Dee Andrews is putting forth an agenda item at the Tuesday, September 1 city council meeting to help Long Beach economic refugees.
In response to the fact that many people are living in their cars throughout the city, Andrews will attempt to get his colleagues in agreement that the city needs to assist the destitute. The agenda item directs city staff to recommend a variety of restrictions and safety implementations, including a minimal standard for prior proof of Long Beach residency.
The existing city law effectively criminalizes living in one’s vehicle, and the councilman’s goal is to create special zones within the city that those who are economically stressed can sleep safely in their vehicles. These zones would include municipal properties, parking lots of churches or community-based organizations, industrial areas, and other areas that would have minimal impact on residential communities.
“We are in a new era of poverty and homelessness in our nation, state and our great city,” Andrews said. “Everywhere I look, I see Long Beach economic refugees seeking basic assistance in support of their life. Many of our neighbors have lost their jobs, their homes, and their support network. Many people are left with no choice but to live in their vehicles as they try to get back on their feet. We are all a few paychecks away from being in the same situation.”
The City of Long Beach would not be the first to help address this problem. Eugene, Oregon, and the County of Santa Barbara have developed a compassionate community strategy to allow people to safely sleep in their cars.