Monday, November 3, 2008

Long Beach Visage

Pablo Ildefonso

Driving down Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach, one will get the impression of a prosperous city. Its shiny World Trade Center and Hilton Hotel glitter the street of Ocean Blvd. It would remind you of Los Angeles in the 80's; the years of excess.

Though driving north in Long Beach, the city begins to change; it seems to have a different face. Starting at the intersection of Ocean Blvd. and Pine Avenue, the buildings spaces are full with shops, nightclubs and restaurants. The further you head north, one can slowly begin to see empty shops with lease signs in front of windows.

According to a recent Long Beach Press-Telegram article, tourism in the City of Long Beach has been bringing a steady amount of money, despite the troubling economy. What brings tourism are the many conventions the city holds throughout the year. Conventions like Electronic Expo, Imprinted Sportswear, and coming soon TRPI 5th Annual Education Conference. These events bring millions of dollars to the city.

city of long beach

In addition, the U.S. Census reports that one-fifth of Long Beach residents live below the federal poverty line. That line being $9,973 annually for an individual and $19,971 for a family of four with two children.

In terms of race, Latinos make 27% of the poverty level, African Americans 25%, Asians 18%, and Whites 9% in Long Beach.

The Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs & Healthy (LBCGH) communities stated that the City of Long Beach in the last 30 years has spent $450 million dollars in redevelopment money. The goal is to redevelop the city into a viable visitor and convention destination. The coalition further adds that redevelopment has failed people because many receive poverty wages, which limits the amount of money that could stay in the local economy.

One of the things the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Long Beach wanted, was to be able to have a financial entryway into the city; with its World Trade Center, the beautiful Hilton Hotel, a new school, and new condominiums to show a nice space in the city. "So anyone coming into the city can see brand new buildings, and brand new condos. And wouldn't have to look at the blight or poverty," said Tonia Reyes-Uranga.

In a People-To-People tour, put togther by LBCGH, Tonia Reyes-Uranga, City Councilmember of District 7, talked a bit further about the tourism industry of Long Beach. "Development has been mostly occurring on the off ramp [of Ocean Blvd] that leads you to Downtown which have been pushing people into the west side and north side of the city where mostly the working poor live," mentioned Uranga.

"After twelve years of an administration focused on trade and tourism, what it brought was low paid jobs in the hospitality industry, in the ports, and trucker industry. They are the lowest paid workers in the industry," said Uranga.
The city has focused its efforts to bring Long Beach up economically through tourism and it has resulted in poverty wages in the industry.

In an effort to revitalize Downtown, the people of Long Beach do not have the income level to start a business. People are having trouble paying the rent. The farther you go north, the less you see revitalization in the city.

You can hear an interview with one of the workers from the Long Beach Hilton Hotel below:

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