By Neena Strichart
Long Beach Eighth District residents, business owners and other interested parties had the opportunity last Saturday morning to join Councilmember Rae Gabelich for coffee and conversation at Avila’s El Ranchito Restaurant, 5345 Long Beach Blvd. With a dozen or so in attendance, Gabelich began the meeting by introducing Long Beach police officer Juan Carlos Reyes, who addressed the group with local police news before taking questions from individuals.
Reyes told those attending that although he is assigned to serve a larger portion of the north end of Long Beach, he does his best to concentrate on what he referred to as “Beat 21,” the boundaries of which include “Del Amo to South and Cherry to the riverbed.” The officer offered that auto and residential burglaries are a growing concern and thanked the group for helping to report any suspicious activity they may encounter. “Give us a good description if you see someone walking around,” he said.
Audience member Laurie Angel brought up the subject of area bicyclists who break the law. “Riding bicycles on sidewalks is extremely dangerous,” she said. “[It] might be a good idea to have a handout for bicyclists outlining the rules of the road.” Reyes agreed, as did Gabelich’s staffer Linda Ivers. “That’s a good one to have on the website for downloading,” Ivers said.
It was also mentioned that parents and schools could also download such a handout. Other audience concerns were skateboarders and bicyclists who wear earphones. One attendee queried whether or not pedestrians talking on cell phones or wearing headphones was unlawful. The officer stated that although bicyclists could be cited for wearing earphones there is no law on the books restricting pedestrians from doing so. Following the topic at hand, Gabelich mentioned that Neighborhood Watch was a program being reinvented through brainstorming into “more of a community watch.” “That’s kind of how we’re thinking– make it wider,” she said.
Moving on with the meeting, Gabelich asked, “Can everyone see the changes on Long Beach Boulevard?” When most attendees responded in the affirmative, Gabelich stated, “Thank God they did it,” referring to the city’s redevelopment agency (RDA).
Bringing up the governor’s threat to cut RDAs statewide, Gabelich remarked, “[State Senator] Rod Wright is the only one who supported us.” Gabelich then encouraged those in attendance to contact their elected state officials regarding the importance of keeping RDAs intact.
Other matters discussed were:
• Scherer Park improvements to include repair of the walking path and basketball court, and new signage to discourage feeding of ducks. New swing-set will be added if budget allows.
• Hughes Middle and Longfellow Elementary schools will host a shredding fundraiser April 16 from 9am to 1pm.
• Redistricting Committee will meet Wednesday, April 27 from 6pm to 9pm and will receive public input for assembly, senate and congress redistricting proposals.
• Election one year from now for 8th District. Gabelich said she will not run but offered that she believes Mike Kowal and Al Austin may run for her seat. No other possible candidates were named.
• 37th Grand Prix coming up third weekend of April.
• Bixby Knolls Dragster/Car Show scheduled for Saturday, July 9. Will take place on Atlantic Avenue from Roosevelt to San Antonio. Grand marshal will be Shirley “Cha Cha” Muldowney. BMX racing demonstrations will take place at the event.