New Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson State of the City Address & ‘Opportunity Beach Agenda’


In this excerpt from Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson’s first State of the City Address, Mayor Richardson lays out his plans for the waterfront city in his first 100 days in office. VX News shares highlights of Mayor Richardson’s 100-day plan, entitled “Opportunity Beach Agenda,” in which he outlines his priorities for economic development and environmental sustainability. Notably, Mayor Richardson calls for increased investment in clean trucks at the Port of Long Beach, and, through the 'Grow Long Beach Initiative,' aims to set in motion the city’s transition toward a more climate-sustainable economy. Click here to watch the full address.

Opportunity Beach Agenda

“...Our 100 day plan is called the Opportunity Beach Agenda. Opportunity Beach reflects on our commitment to expand access to resources that Long Beach residents need to thrive. In this agenda, we explore the concrete actions that we can take together over the next 100 days across five key areas: homelessness and ensuring quality and stable housing for all, building an economy where everyone thrives, creating safe and healthy communities, ensuring our youth have opportunities to succeed, and creating a sustainable and resilient city.

... I know what you're thinking. How are we going to pay for all of this? This brings me to my next point. The way we fund our city services is fundamentally changing. For generations, Long Beach has provided critical city services that we all depend on that have relied on revenue streams tied to the production of oil and fossil fuels. The changing nature of the way we consume our goods and services has made sales tax less dependable as a local revenue source.

Suppose that we wanted to ensure that our city has a secure financial future and the means to continue delivering quality city services. In that case, we have to focus on growing our economy in new directions. We shouldn't be afraid of change. This isn't the first time that Long Beach has undergone a major transition. In the early 1990s, the Navy began its withdrawal from the City of Long Beach. Mayor Beverly O'Neill successfully led the transition by focusing on the three T's: trade, tourism and technology, paving the way for the Long Beach that we know today.

Grow Long Beach Initiative

...The Long Beach of tomorrow will attract emerging companies, industries, and technology in clean and renewable energy. The Opportunity Beach Agenda leans into creating a new Long Beach economy for everyone. We’ll set in motion our transition toward a more climate-sustainable economy and away from our dependence on diminishing revenue sources by launching the Grow Long Beach Initiative.

The Grow Long Beach Initiative is a multi-prong economic development strategy that will unleash the potential of our emerging business sectors and industries across Long Beach. As part of the Grow Long Beach Initiative, I'll be asking the City Council to consider plans to identify new, sustainable, and long term revenue sources that will maintain and expand the level of service provided by our city.

To make way for this sustainable economic future, we have to double down on the sectors that will be key to Long Beach’s future economic prosperity, like aerospace, ports and supply chain, arts and tourism, hospitality, health care, and education. As we implement the Grow Long Beach Initiative, we’ll use the convening power of the Mayor's Office and the Long Beach Strategic Growth Council: a roundtable of business and academic leaders that will identify strategies and policies to support the growth, retention, and success of those critical sectors.

We’ll also continue to grow our emerging sectors by developing a Long Beach Strategic Growth Fund, in collaboration with the Long Beach Accelerator, the Long Beach Economic Partnership, and the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion. This fund will help identify resources and private capital to recruit and support 100 new startups in the City of Long Beach in its fastest growing sectors within the first five years, with a goal of ensuring that these startups reflect the vibrancy and the diversity of our community right here in Long Beach.

Long Beach is already home to some of the nation's most premier technology companies pushing the boundaries of innovation and technology, from Boeing and Virgin Orbit to Relativity Space and Rocket Lab. Every day, new companies are choosing Long Beach to be their primary place of business, and we're not stopping yet.

Today, I'm proud to announce the next addition to our growing space sector, Vast Space, an aerospace company developing artificial gravity space stations and the necessary infrastructure to enable humans to live and work in space.

...Over the next 100 days, I'm committed to meeting with 100 small business leaders from all corners of our city for the 100 in 100 Tour. We'll partner with local business improvement districts, the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, and other business groups to hear directly from small businesses about their greatest needs and their greatest barriers. I want to know what the city can do to best identify and implement new strategies to make it easier to do business here.

The City of Long Beach also has the ability to empower the small business community through procurement opportunities. As Mayor, I'll set a goal for our city to substantially increase the procurement services from local small businesses over the next two years. This work will focus on inviting bids from businesses owned and operated right here in Long Beach, run by women, our LGBTQ community, and our communities of color, reflecting the diversity in our city.

 We also understand that culture and arts are critical to our economy. That's why I'll ask the City Council, this year, to support permanent sites for cultural centers that support our Latino, our African American, our Cambodian, our American Indian, and our LGBTQ communities. These centers will generate rich programming and safe spaces for all of our residents.

We're also taking on another big one this year. We'll see the Queen Mary take a major leap forward in history as an important Long Beach icon. This spring, she opens again to hotel guests and to the general public. Later this year, we will begin to plan her future and envision the future of Pier H--that's the acreage that surrounds the Queen Mary. Together we’ll establish a vision for one of the most exciting long term waterfront developments in our city's history. One that drives tourism and living wage jobs and ensures that the Queen Mary is preserved for many years into the future.

As we chart our economic recovery, let's also look ahead to 2028, when our city will host six Olympic events and welcome to world to Long Beach. That time is going to go by fast, so in preparation for that historic event, in the next 100 days, I will appoint a 2028 Long Beach Olympics Planning Committee that will ensure that Long Beach is represented as the global, equity-minded city that we are.

We can only charter inclusive recovery by discussing and thinking about how we invest in our people. Access to a stable job with a living wage can change someone's life, opening up opportunities for homeownership, better health, and a secure retirement. I know that story. When I was 26, I received one of those life-changing opportunities to come and work for the City of Long Beach. It provided me a salary to raise my family in this community and the benefits to setup a secure future.

From city planning to refuse hauling, city jobs are good jobs. Today, the City of Long Beach has more than 400 vacant city positions. That's more than 400 opportunities to change lives and put people on track towards financial stability and good health and retirement. Every day, thousands of Long Beach residents who live in our community attend world-class institutions in our city; we should hire them. Who better to serve our city than our own residents; products of our own world-class educational institutions.

I will work with the City Council to create a Long Beach Public Service Preference Program for graduates of Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Dominguez Hills, and Long Beach City College. We're going to implement hiring preferences and limit exemptions for years of service requirements or degree status requirements in order to reduce barriers to landing good jobs with the City of Long Beach and give our local residents an opportunity to serve the city that they love.

It can take up to six months, in some cases, to hire somebody within our city. A lot can happen in six months. That's just too long. Let's work alongside our Civil Service Commission to identify opportunities to update our City Charter and streamline our antiquated hiring process so Long Beach residents who want to join the ranks of public service in the City of Long Beach are able to do so. Let's just change it!

I also believe that young people in our community should be given a clean slate. We'll create a second chance program to reduce barriers for individuals with prior offenses occurring before the age of 25 to seek and obtain employment in the City of Long Beach. That's a reflection of our commitment to healing and supporting communities that have been impacted by poverty and a lack of opportunity for so many years.

Throughout Long Beach, immigrants and refugee communities are an integral part of our economy and our social fabric, making up more than a quarter of our population. Despite these extraordinary contributions, immigrants face unique barriers to accessing basic services like legal support, health care, and jobs. To overcome some of these barriers, we’ll continue to support the Long Beach Immigrant Justice Fund and set new directives to prevent the city from doing business with vendors who engage in wage theft and exploitation of our local immigrant and refugee community.

Environmental Sustainability

...Finally, a critical component of investing in our future is fostering a more sustainable and resilient environment in our City of Long Beach. One of the reasons I love working in this city and the reason I love local government is because we have the ability to make our communities better and get our hands dirty to see tangible results. Some of my most memorable moments were the times that we opened community centers and restored wetlands in the communities that needed the most. Open space is a vital part of a healthy community, but I can tell you, firsthand, developing new open space in communities that need it can be a challenge.

That's why we need a real, meaningful commitment to park equity. In the first 100 days, we will formalize our city's commitment to expand park equity by initiating the process of updating the city's Open Space Element in our General Plan. By doing this, we will ensure that the city pursues opportunities to acquire and develop new open space for generations to come, with the goal of ensuring that all residents have access to a park within a 10-minute walk from their home.

Next, to improve our air quality and safeguard the environment, we're going to work with our Port of Long Beach to speed up our transition to achieve a zero emission future. Tonight, I am calling on the Port to establish a $10 million Electrification Fund for local truck operators to create 100 public charging stations within the next three years and also commit to doubling the green truck rate within the next year. This will accelerate conversion to zero emission vehicles and reduce environmental impacts along these communities faster.

With these measures, Long Beach will rise again to the challenge of becoming a global leader in curbing the effects of climate change and carbon emissions to improve the health of our residents and our planet...

“Tonight, I am calling on the Port to establish a $10 million Electrification Fund for local truck operators to create 100 public charging stations within the next three years and also commit to doubling the green truck rate within the next year.” —Rex Richardson