Letter to the Editor: Rougher Long Beach streets ahead

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[This letter is in response to an article titled: Rougher roads ahead? Officials say extension of Measure A is the way to be street-smart in Long Beach, which ran in the Aug. 30, 2019 issue | Vol. XLI No. 36]

“Rougher roads ahead? Officials say extension of Measure A is the way to be street-smart in Long Beach,” but, why isn’t Long Beach spending more on streets with existing Measure A funds? Overall, our city’s streets ranked up there as the worst streets in California! The average Long Beach motorist is reportedly spending ~$1,000 per year in expenses because of vehicle deterioration and depreciation, increased maintenance, fuel consumption and tire wear.

The Long Beach Public Works Department claims they need a more than $50 million-a-year investment over the next 10 years to get to a “good” overall street rating. But for the last three years, the City has budgeted, and projects to budget, only approximately $30 million per year. This year, the Long Beach City Council approved $34.8 million, but that is still 32% less than required. Residents are paying increased taxes from Measure A, Los Angeles County Measure M, California State Gas tax etc., but still, street funding is not at the level required.

Reportedly, passage of Measure A in 2016 would allow the City to invest in needed repair and maintenance of all our eligible streets, reducing further decline. That is not the case. Street liability is now well over $500 million and getting worse! Public Works stated the main cost factor is that the number of very poor streets are increasing. In Fiscal Year 2015, poor streets represented 20% with an estimated reconstruction cost of $205 million; but in 2017, poor streets increased to 22% with an estimated reconstruction cost of $309 million. That is an increase of over $100 million every two years!

City officials now are warning residents that, if voters do not approve an extension of Measure A in the next election, streets will become even worse. The fact is, only 10% of Measure A revenues went to improving our streets this year, and only 4% last year. Back in FY 2017, when Measure A was passed, 46% of its revenue went toward streets. Streets are getting worse because of inadequate City budgeting, not because residents are not being taxed enough. City officials: Why isn’t the City spending at the level that is required to improve our neglected streets with existing Measure A revenues, as well as the additional county, state and city taxes being received?

Jim Hines
Long Beach resident