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9th District Councilmember Neal uses website to open dialogue with constituents

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Athena Mekis
Staff Writer

Ninth District Councilmember Steven Neal unveiled his district’s community website,, in late April, just before his first, full year taking office. The website has allowed Neal to reach more of the North Long Beach community without adding any further expense to taxpayers.
“About 4,500 residents receive [Neal’s printed] newsletter every Monday. That number is increasing with the new website,” 9th District Chief of Staff Rex Richardson said.
The community website allows the ninth district’s 55,000 residents to follow policy meetings, learn about programs and keep up with community events.
The website’s main purpose is for residents to be able to submit casework requests for the Sidewalks, Trees, Alleys and Roads Taskforce and for residents to submit letters to the City Council, according to Richardson. For instance, residents made their voices heard by sending in letters through the website during the redistricting process.
Several big events are being held in the next few weeks.
On Saturday, Aug. 20, Action, Sports, Kids (ASK) Long Beach and 562CityLife will host the first LB Skate and BMX Jam competition at Houghton Park.
According to Richardson, the competition was put together after Neal noticed a group of kids premiering their skate video at a local restaurant.
“They needed a platform to shine,” Richardson said.
District nine partnered with former 7th District Councilmember Mike Donelon, who is also a local skate activist, to create the skate jam.
To top it off, hot dogs will be provided by local firefighters.
On Wednesdays, Aug. 17 and Sept. 21, the Long Beach Housing Development Company and the Los Angeles Neighborhood Housing Services will host a foreclosure-counseling clinic for people experiencing challenges with their loans.
Representatives from Chase, Bank of America, GMAC and City Mortgage will be on-hand to discuss mortgage loans.
“We asked the housing department specifically to come to North Long Beach,” Richardson said.
The workshop program began in North Long Beach at Jordan High School, where about 2,000 people showed up, but these workshops are held on a smaller scale and are meant for face-to-face interactions.
The LBHDC partnered with the LANHS in 2008 when the economy went into a recession.
According to LBHDC officer LaVerne Duncan, LANHS has a relationship with the banks and asks them to take part in the clinics. The banks prepare for the clinics by finding residents who bank with them and who are also in financial trouble. They send out information residents will need for the clinic.
“A lot of people can’t get to the bank or are discouraged, and this helps them,” Duncan said.
The Foreclosure Registry Ordinance was the first issue moved by Neal to the City Council. The ordinance helps keep foreclosed homes vacant from vagabonds.
About 400 properties have been registered with the neighborhood services at City Hall.
In the weeks to come, Neal will hold a budget workshop at one of the North Long Beach parks.
“We will work to integrate our residents into every aspect of the budget process,” Neal wrote in this week’s newsletter.
The workshop will consist of a budget presentation from Director of Financial Management John Gross, a critique of the budget by Neal, and time for residents to give their own opinions on ways to manage the budget as well as to explain how the budget affects them personally, Richardson said.
Neal has also helped residents adjust to the Plastic Bag Ban by giving away reusable bags at neighborhood meetings and grocery stores.
Five hundred reusable bags have already been handed out, according to Richardson. And there are about 100 left. (Those interested may call Neal’s council office to find out how to get one.)
“There’s still more to come,” Richardson said about the website.
There will be an improved survey portion, neighborhood association blogs and videos of city council implementing ninth district policies.

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Serving Bixby Knolls, California Heights, Los Cerritos, Wrigley and Signal Hill
9th District Councilmember Neal uses website to open dialogue with constituents