by Allison Jean Eaton
Mayor Bob Foster pedals his way along Atlantic Avenue with Councilwoman Rae Gabelich trailing at a distance, in Bixby Knolls last week to celebrate the launch of Long Beach's Bicycle-Friendly Business District program. Bixby Knolls is one of four local business districts participating in the two-year pilot-project. Photo courtesy of Bike Long Beach.
2:30pm | City officials said that more than 60 Long Beach businesses have signed on to a new program the city recently launched to fall in line with its goal of being the most bicycle-friendly city in America while promoting patronage at local businesses.
The two-year pilot program has been dubbed the Long Beach Bicycle-Friendly Business Districts program and was officially launched on June 1 in four of the city's prominent business districts: Bixby Knolls, the East Village Arts District, Fourth Street's Retro Row and Cambodia Town along Anaheim Street, according to information provided by City Hall spokesman Edward Kamlan.
The city is providing free bicycles and cycling gear for participating local businesses in those areas to use for short trips, such as local deliveries and post-office and bank runs. In exchange, the businesses have agreed to provide discounts each week to cyclists on "Bike Saturdays," according to the information provided by Kamlan.
The program is part of City Hall's comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan to improve cycling infrastructure citywide. Not only does it encourage both consumers and the business community to use bikes for short trips, but it also serves as a shot in the arm to the shop owners in the participating business districts by providing residents with an incentive to shop and dine locally.
A list of participating businesses can be viewed by clicking here, or cyclists out and about can identify which shops and eateries are offering discounts by looking for the decal at right somewhere on the premises.
Mayor Bob Foster said in a prepared statement that the program is a "win-win for the whole city."
Bike-Friendly Business Districts encourage merchants to use bicycles for their deliveries and errands and encourage residents to ride their bikes to shop and dine locally," Foster said in the prepared statement. "They promote personal health for residents and financial health for businesses as they attract more customers and more sales.”
April Economides, the project manager at City Hall overseeing the program, told KCET TV Channel 28 that the districts selected to participate in the experimental program are areas in which biking is not as popular as in others, more affluent areas of the community like Belmont Shore, where bicycling is already a popular mode of transportation.
Eighth District Councilwoman Rae Gabelich, in whose district Bixby Knolls is located, said in a statement that bicycling is an "integral part of local economic development."
“Bicycling encourages us to shop and dine locally, minimizes traffic and parking issues, reduces pollution, is often faster, always cheaper, and certainly less of a hassle than driving, and is healthy and fun,” Gabelich said.
The new venture is not costing the city a dime. Instead, City Hall has secured funding for the program through the Los Angeles County Department of Health and Human Services' RENEW initiative (RENEW stands for Renew Environments for Nutrition, Exercise and Wellness), which aims to better the health of residents countywide.
KCET reports that each district will soon begin holding monthly bike-friendly events similar to the already established First Fridays events in Bixby Knolls. Additionally, the city reportedly plans to promote the program by staging a couple of events during which attendees will receive free bike repairs and be able to purchase discounted bicycles from local merchants this summer as well as in the fall.
07/16/2011 06:50:21 PM PDT
LONG BEACH — It's a simple sign, but it took almost a decade to get there.
On Saturday, about 100 residents and dignitaries gathered to officially unveil one of two signs that proclaim the Cambodia Town area of Long Beach on the southeast corner at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Anaheim Street.
"This has taken a long time," said Councilman Dee Andrews, in whose 6th District most of Cambodia Town is located. "This is long overdue, long overdue for a little small sign."
Also on hand were leaders in the Cambodian community, from Richer San and Sithea San, the outgoing head of Cambodia Town Inc., to Kimthai Kuoch and Sara Pol-Lim, who head up the Cambodian Association of America and United Cambodian Community, respectively.
All were there to finally celebrate what had long been talked about, but remained puzzlingly elusive.
The idea began innocently enough 10 years ago after the Press-Telegram ran a series of articles about the Cambodian community in Long Beach, home to the largest Cambodian refugee population in the United States.
After politicians and bureaucrats, not to mention opposing factions within the Cambodian community, got hold of the idea, it took several years to get the City Council to officially recognize the area and four more years to get the first two signs put up.
Even the name, between the older informal nickname of Little Phnom Penh and the new designation, officially the "Cambodia Town Cultural District," caused debate.
However, last week, the signs went up.
The second sign is at the other end of the main Cambodia Town strip, on the northwest corner of Anaheim Street and Junipero Avenue. The area is lined with Cambodian- owned businesses, social organizations and signs in Khmer.
Yet even the Saturday unveiling proved to be difficult, with the banner that was covering the sign getting stuck until city workers finally removed it.
The event was celebrated with dance, a blessing by monks and other festivities.
John Edmond, Andrews' chief of staff, said a complicated web of issues of liability, policy and council votes had to be negotiated merely to install the simple sign high on a light pole in the city's standard blue with block letters.
Organizers say, however, that the installation of the two signs is just the start. Several others are in the process and freeway signs directing drivers to Cambodia Town are apparently already in the state's legislative pipeline.
Congresswoman Rep. Laura Richardson, D-Long Beach, who represented the 6th District as a councilwoman when the Cambodia Town designation was officially adopted, said the sign would serve as a reminder to residents to retain their cultural, business and historic identity.
Song Chhang, a former Cambodian government official, said the sign would help build a bridge between America and Cambodia.
Richardson and Andrews both said plans were also under way to build a larger and more distinctive sign that would arch over Anaheim Street and more prominently display the area. No dates for when that will occur have been announced.
Date: Thursday, August 18th
Time: 12 noon
Location: Large Conference Room (2nd Floor)
Please join us at this informal lunch meeting to learn more about the East Anaheim Street Business Alliance (the local Business Improvement District).
Learn more about what EASBA has to offer your business as well as give feedback to the EASBA Board of Directors.
Lunch (from Hole Mole) will be provided free of charge.
For more information, go to www.easba.com
We hope to see you next Thursday at noon!
07/17/2011 03:00:52 PM PDT
East Anaheim business group meets
Long Beach. The East Anaheim Street Business Alliance will have its regular monthly meeting and luncheon at noon July 26 at the Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St.
Guest speakers will be Jeff Williams, executive director of Leadership Long Beach, and April Economides, program manager of the city of Long Beach's Bike-Friendly Business District program.
There also will be updates from 4 th District City Councilman Patrick O'Donnell and the Police Department.
Long Beach SWAT called out to Anaheim and Obispo
By Tracy Manzer, Staff Writer
09/12/2011 02:29:46 PM PDT
LONG BEACH — The Long Beach Police Department SWAT team was called to an East Long Beach neighborhood Monday afternoon in the search for a federal fugitive.
Long Beach Police were assisting the U.S. Marshal's Service with an arrest warrant for an armed and dangerous suspect wanted on narcotics violations, said Sgt. Rico Fernandez, an LBPD spokesman.
The suspect was spotted at about 1:10 p.m. near Anaheim Street and Obispo Avenue and fled from authorities, police said.
Police locked down a large area of the neighborhood in their search for the suspect, warning residents and business owners and employees to stay inside for their safety.
The suspect was found and taken into custody without incident shortly before 3 p.m. and turned over to the U.S. Marshals Service, Fernandez said.
The fugitive's name and age were not immediately available, he said.