Long Beach has had better days. The pollution and environmental-unfriendly practices that prevail in this city leave something to be desired. A nice walk on the beach will leave your feet stained with tar and youll be hard pressed to find more live animals than dead ones.
But a new young and fresh mayor, Robert Garcia, elected last June, is looking to change that.
At his first State of the City address in January 2015, Garcia made it clear that changes for global warming adaptation is priority.
That means changing the way we produce and use energy, supporting transportation that is not reliant on fossil fuels, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, creating green space, and looking at every way we can to reduce our carbon footprint, he said in his address.
Garcia is more than just empty promises. Hes already commissioned the Aquarium of the Pacific to draft up a Climate Change Action Plan, which would include suggestions on what the city should do to prepare for environmental problems such as sea-level rise or heatwaves. The plan is due at the end of this summer.
Garcias the first mayor to talk publicly about climate change, which is a welcome change to the previous mayors that wouldnt even mention the term in public. But he doesnt mind being the odd ball out, hes used to it.
The 37-year-old mayor is the youngest individual to ever be elected in Long Beach. Hes also the citys first Latino mayor (Peruvian-American) and the first openly homosexual mayor. Although Long Beach is known for its openly homosexual culture and acceptance, it still took until now for one of their own to reach such a high position in office.
Garcia believes cities should take the lead on climate change because we dont have a lot of progress at the national level, according to Grist.
Garcia hopes to green up Long Beach by making streets more walkable and bike friendly, implementing a bikeshare program, installing token solar panels on homes, protecting marine wildlife, reducing air pollution, improving the harbors water quality and reducing its use.
Garcia may face some challenges when it comes to greening the city but fortunately he will have the Latinos on his side. The city currently has a bigger Latino population than any other ethnic group and Latinos tend to overwhelmingly support climate action.
When you look at the communities that are actually the greenest, it always shows that Latino communities are actually very interested in the environment. My family was always just like, you dont litter, you take care of the environment. There was always gardening happening and an appreciation for public parks.
Hopefully, Garcia will be able to spread his love and appreciation for nature to the rest of his city.