The fifth annual People’s State of the City packed Franklin Classical Middle School Thursday night with hundreds of Long Beach residents and activists gathered to discuss topics ranging from community safety to environmental health.
Youth had a strong presence at the event, including emceeing and performing theatrical skits. Members of the youth-run organization Leaders of Long Beach were also on hand to answer a prompt from VoiceWaves– What’s the most important issue affecting you in Long Beach and what could be done to solve the problem? Read the youths’ responses below.
“The lack of opportunities between neighborhoods shows the difference of education. For example, differences between Franklin (Classical Middle School) and Stanford (Middle School) are pretty noticeable. I feel that Stanford’s area has more resources and privileges than over here at Franklin. I was gifted with college resources but I had to teach my friends about places that can help with the application process to go to college since they didn’t have that information available.
“More college bound programs and workshops would be great. The inequalities between neighborhoods should be fixed to have equal resources and teachers. By communicating well and having parents get involved in making changes with the Board of Education, things might change.”
Eileen Remigio, 17, Ernest S. McBride Sr. High School
“Education is very important but there’s a lack of classes. Some classes being taken out such as health classes don’t prepare students for life outside of school.
“Housing is important, too, because where I live, the space my family and I live in is not big enough for all of us. Rent can get pricey and living in a one-room apartment is not spacey for three people. People in the community should be educated on the programs available for immigrants, child-support services, and tutoring. People need to be together.”
Oscar Lopez, 19, Long Beach City College
“A lot of kids aren’t getting the right education especially with the distractions that come with technology. Kids aren’t as focused as they used to be because of their phones… We had a different upbringing with technology while I was younger and kids nowadays take advantage of it and might use their phones to look up answers. We’re in a different age so schools should adapt to these changes but not be so uptight.
“A lot of kids also like going out into the streets and these streets can be dangerous. We need to keep these kids safe because they’re the future… We need more security. The mayor has been taking action with safety, (asking for) increasing the amount of police in the street.”
Jesse Quinteros, 22, Cal State Dominguez Hills
“It seems like the city of Long Beach invests a lot of money in specific locations of the city to welcome gentrification and to attract tourists. I understand that this brings money into the city but there are way too many neighborhoods in the city that are economically struggling. Neighborhoods in the 90813 area are a clear example of the inequality of investment that is happening. I would like the city to invest into these neighborhoods to promote growth all across the community. Community members must unite together and request a change.”
“Neighborhood safety is a big issue for me because I want to have my doors unlocked and have the trust of my community that nothing would happen. With everything that’s happening, safety is doing pretty bad.
“Homelessness is also a big issue. Every time I’m in downtown, it’s pretty packed with homeless people. It’s pretty sad that most of them don’t have shelters and that problem should be solved. We need to keep speaking to the city. Maybe they have an idea that we might not have and we can come up with a solution that’s beneficial to both parties. We have to create trust in the community… Uniting as a whole and having community talks could be what causes changes to happen.”