I’m going to end where I began, something I’ve never shied away from: I’m a doer and I respect doers. Pundits can come and go as quickly as the fingers they point blame at can adjust angle but actions have a more lasting (and more risky) presence. It’s what led me to become Chair of the DLBA’s Board: it’s a board that isn’t meant for bystanders.

Serving this past year has shown how fruitful our work is at the DLBA, be it as a volunteer like myself or a staff member. In what feels like a very short year, we’ve welcomed on our COO, Mr. Broc Coward, who has altered our Clean and Safe Teams while solidifying the operations side of the DLBA while also bringing on Research & Policy Manager Austin Metoyer. Community Outreach Manager Steve Be Cotte’s work within the DLBA, specifically advocating for those experiencing homelessness, has led him to being appointed on both the Continuum of Care and Long Beach Area Coalition for the Homeless boards. Special Events Manager Gina Dartt has experienced (yet again) a record year, with this year’s series of Taste events bringing in over $100,000 in ticket sales. Economic Development Manager Adam Carrillo continues to further attract investors and developers while supporting small business owners through the process of opening their doors. Communications Manager Brian Addison has altered our image through content-marketing that had brought the DLBA to a whole new generation of DTLB advocates and residents. And Placemaking Manager Sean Warner? He led the charge in reinvigorating the southeast corner of Pine & Ocean with The Loop (after being dead for nearly three decades).

Our fearless leader Kraig Kojian (on top of having the acuity of bringing on Broc) led the discussion with small businesses about potential minimum wage hikes, offering the City of Long Beach empirical data that ultimately helped create a balanced discussion.

And much like last year, we still have challenges—something I hope we’ll always have. Walking into any place and seeing every head nodding means complacency rather than growth; challenges are an inherent part of making the Downtown better.

Some of the challenges I brought up last year still remain: we have a large disconnect between the waterfront and everything north of Ocean… We’re facing the challenges of a growing population amidst development, where it is in our position to lead in educating the population about development, advocate for more housing during the statewide housing shortage, encourage density for a healthier urban environment, and push for better transit… The issue of homelessness, in conjunction with increasing mental health services, cannot be ignored…

So as I pass the baton to Toliver Morris, make no mistake, DTLB: we certainly have challenges but this collection of neighborhoods filled with doers—and you shouldn’t want it any other way.