Long Beach Council reviews Title VI policies for equity


At its meeting on April 2, the Long Beach City Council unanimously voted to adopt revisions to its existing nondiscrimination policies aimed at ensuring equitable access to city services and programs.

The updated guidelines, intended to meet the requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, emphasize inclusivity by prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, or national origin. They include the appointment of a Title VI compliance officer, who will oversee compliance efforts and investigate residents’ complaints. The plan outlines a comprehensive complaint procedure, ensuring that any instances of discrimination are promptly addressed.

The policy aims to guarantee that all residents, especially members of minority groups, have equal access to public transit and other transportation services. It promises increased minority representation on advisory panels involved in transit planning.

The city will establish standards for bus capacity, frequency of service, punctuality, the fair distribution of buses across routes and proper bus maintenance. It will also collaborate with Nassau County Transit in order to enhance the overall transit network.

The policy, known as the Public Participation Plan, also aims to increase community engagement in transportation planning, with an emphasis on transparency and accessibility for all residents.

Some attendees voiced concerns about the implementation of the policy, and the necessity for thorough training of city workers to comply with it. Helen Dorado-Alessi, executive director of the Long Beach Latino Civic Association, compared the new plan with the city’s existing Title VI policy, which was revised most recently in 2010 and is reviewed each year.

Dorado-Alessi recommended integrating existing regulations with the new policy. “We’d like to recommend that you look at the policy that currently exists and see how you can bring them together with what you’re suggesting,” she said. “My recommendation, also, is not only analysis, but also training for city workers to understand what’s going to be expected.”

Dorado-Alessi also proposed that the policy include tracking mechanisms to monitor the effectiveness of the training, and to ensure that city personnel are consistently adhering to the new rules. The Long Beach Police Department has already established tracking protocols, which can serve as a template for other departments of the city government.

Chrystal Lake, a resident who regularly voices her opinions at council meetings, emphasized the importance of environmental justice, and urged council members to include an environmental justice analysis in the policy.

Lake added that any policies the council enacts should be open to discussion. “Might I add that citizen participation is crucial?” she said.

The City Council said it planned to conduct regular reviews and evaluations of the Title VI policy’s effectiveness in promoting equity and eliminating discrimination.

The city is exploring other initiatives to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, which include partnering with local organizations to provide resources and offer support to marginalized communities, enhancing cultural competency training for city employees, and investing in programs that address systemic barriers to access and opportunity.

With ongoing collaboration and community engagement, Council President Brendan Finn said during the meeting, the city aimed to create a more equitable and accessible environment for its diverse population.