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Friday, December 19, 2014
Long Beach is still listening
Council pledges to continue community outreach program
By Anthony Rifilato
Courtesy City of Long Beach
Torres, far left, with City Manger Jack Schnirman, Adelson and Mandel on the boardwalk last Sunday.

Members of the Long Beach City Council are expected to relaunch a series of community meetings and outreach initiatives next month, dubbed Long Beach Listens, that began earlier this year as part of an attempt to be more accessible to residents.

Council President Len Torres, Vice President Scott Mandel and Councilwoman Fran Adelson were among the Democratic candidates who regained control of city government from the Republican-led coalition in last November’s election. At the time, Adelson said that such meetings had not been held in about six years.

They began again shortly after the new administration took office in January, and were held in different parts of Long Beach — including North Park and the West End — to gauge residents’ concerns and to encourage them to get more involved in local government. The most recent meeting was at the Lindell School in July.

In addition to the community meetings, Torres and Adelson said that the team is considering a different approach to Long Beach Listens: turning it into a broader community outreach initiative that could involve visiting residents’ homes and greater interaction with them through social media and the city’s website.

“What we’re doing is actually changing the venue a little bit, and we’re going to be visiting families, going from house to house and hearing what people have to say,” Torres said.

Adelson said that the program has included Good and Welfare sessions at every council meeting and live podcasts of the meetings on the city’s website. “What we’ve been trying to do is be open to the public and make them feel more comfortable in approaching us with ideas,” she said. “Long Beach Listens was not just about those [community] meetings … some people can’t come because they have kids, while others don’t like to talk in front of other people. We want to try to reach people who don’t necessarily come to the meetings. We’re trying to figure out a way to reach a wider population. All Long Beach Listens [meetings] are open to the entire community, and maybe we’ll go back to that format, but we don’t want that to be the only format.”

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