The New(est) Urbanist Mayor of Long Beach
11:02 AM PDT on June 6, 2014
Disclosure: Mr. Addison is and has been a personal friend of Mr. Garcia for nearly a decade.
If there was anything to be said about the election of Long Beach’s next mayor, it was that it showed a city divided—but not in the sense one would think.
On the one hand, there was a Long Beach that—at least for me—was a Long Beach I had never seen, one which opened its arms (quite widely) for someone whom was largely a newcomer to the city with endorsements (not to mention a former OCer—hey, Damon, we all make mistakes but this commentary still stands). Despite his opponent leading over him by almost five percent, Damon Dunn’s efforts should not be dismissed: he defeated multiple Long Beach political veterans in the primaries (efforts that ultimately provided the seemingly-unstoppable Lowenthal dynasty with their first ever loss given Bonnie third-place ranking in said primaries).
That being said, I am personally thrilled—not just as a friend but as an avid supporter of urban livability—that the other Long Beach, the one I know so well and, well, given there is no other way to put it, the Long Beach that puts Long Beachers first, ended out on top with the election of current Vice Mayor RobertGarcia. This isn’t to downsize Damon’s approach to urbanism; he was an outspoken proponent of bikes, less cars, green technologies, more parks, and less pollution. He’s very well in tune with what Long Beach wants.
But Robert is unquestionably going to be Long Beach’s most adamant new urbanist.
“I want more cops on bikes,” Garcia said, one of the many points he’ll happily make without the bat of an eye. And what about horses? He notes that the LBPD had horses nearly a decade ago. But he emphasizes bikes are better because they engage on a more human level: it’s easier to stop cops on bikes and citizens feel less fearful of approaching.
If anything, Robert doesn't need the ideas—only the funding. While this sounds like the typical political struggle, it’s actually not because, well, bluntly put: no mayor (or Long Beach politician) has been so driven toward ideas that, even if outrageous in the name on dollar signs, are downright innovative.
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