A Conversation with Mayor Garcia of Long Beach
Long Beach, California is a city just south of Los Angeles, home to nearly half a million people. The city’s Mayor, Dr. Robert Garcia, is focused on making Long Beach a leader in economic development, sustainability, education, and technology. Over the last year, Mayor Garcia has invested his time and effort into providing Long Beach with innovative, alternative transportation options.
Curious about how Mayor Garcia became a pioneer in micro-mobility and what’s his vision for Long Beach? We’ll let Mayor Garcia take it from here.
Share a little bit about yourself. What led you to where you are today, and what drives you to serve the City of Long Beach day in and day out?
I always say I have the best job in the world. I love being the Mayor of Long Beach. The best things about Long Beach are its people and its diversity. We have one of the most diverse cities in the country and that’s what really drives me to make Long Beach the best it can be.
You were an early adopter, and have been a leader in progressing the micro-mobility industry. When you first heard about Bird, what was your initial reaction?
I have always been a supporter of multi-modal transportation, including e-scooters. We want to provide as many options as possible to get our residents out of their cars and walk, bike, take public transit or a scooter. We were excited that Bird was interested in coming to Long Beach because it meant we had a chance to offer our city another form of transportation that was clean, fun, and innovative.
In what ways has Bird, and/or other micro-mobility offerings, impacted Long Beach thus far?
The e-scooter pilot program was a success, overall. We learned a great deal and will apply those lessons now that the Council has approved a permanent program for e-scooters in Long Beach. I’m proud that Long Beach has been a proactive leader in active transportation. I see folks on e-scooters almost every day and I’d like to think that each of those is one less car on the road and helps move us toward our clean air goals.
What is your take on the current state of the micro-mobility industry, and where do you see it going in the future?
I think the micro-mobility industry is growing and they are being innovative and working to see what works best in big cities like Long Beach. In the future, I think we should embrace and try new forms of multimodal transit. I’ve read almost every article there is about e-scooters and understand the concerns some people have. That is why we worked on a pilot program that took the best practices from other cities. Bird and other e-scooters provide incredible forms of transportation for many people. I’m sure other options will rise in the future and I hope they help more people get out of their cars and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Fast forward, and it’s 2050. What does the state of transportation look like for Long Beach?
I think we will see much more diversity in terms of how people get from point A to B. We’ve really worked hard to expand options for residents and visitors, and you’re seeing less driving and more walking, biking, and e-scootering, more young people choosing to live on transit corridors, less reliance on freeways. As a Metro board member, I’ve advocated for more investment here in Long Beach, and we’re right in the middle of a huge upgrade on the Blue Line. We’ve recently begun the process of making the e-scooters a permanent part of transit infrastructure and even expanding that option. We’ve also long had a very successful bike share program. I’m excited to see all this continue to help alleviate traffic, parking, and pollution. We want to keep expanding choice and mobility for the community.
Anything else you are excited about? We’re all ears!
There’s so much I’m excited about in Long Beach. We have a lot of irons in the fire. There are some incredible development projects that will be completed this year and others that will break ground, and that’s so important because we obviously have a housing crisis and we’ve got to keep focused on that. In March alone, we had two groundbreakings on innovative affordable housing projects and I know those are going to make a big impact. We’re getting ready to move into the new City Hall and open our new Main Library this year. We’re just looking at so many potential investments in our city—there’s a great positive energy about the future in Long Beach. It’s a very exciting time.
Dr. Robert Garcia is the 28th Mayor of Long Beach. Mayor Garcia is focused on making the City of Long Beach a leader in economic development, sustainability, education, and technology. Mayor Garcia currently serves as a Board Member on the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) representing much of the South East County of Los Angeles.