In a new role, Cesar Garay brings a wealth of city-savvy management experience to DLBA’s Clean and Safe Teams. “Most of my career has been spent in urban areas,” said Garay. “As Program Manager, I would love to help make our Downtown Core a lot more attractive. Hopefully, with our support of local agencies and our commitment to keeping Downtown streets clean, we can help attract new businesses and get this Downtown heartbeat up.”

Garay’s job is to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Clean and Safe Teams, which include pressure washing, safety patrols, and supporting DLBA during events. “I’m very proud of my teams,” he said. “I’m also fortunate to have a great Assistant Manager and an outstanding Team Lead.”

Born and raised in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles, Garay graduated from Roosevelt High School. He went on to study for a year at East Los Angeles College before transferring to California State University, Los Angeles, where he met his wife. “She went to Garfield — Roosevelt’s archrival!” Garay told us with a grin. “Couples from those two schools are rare.”

After college, he took a job with Home Depot, working overnight shifts, doing resets. While there, Garay met Sergio Andrades, who turned out to be his predecessor in the DLBA Program Manager position. They worked together for about four years, and stayed in touch after Garay left Home Depot to become manager of an O’Reilly Auto Parts store. As Andrades prepared to leave his DLBA position earlier this year, he sought out Garay, knowing that his former colleague’s skills would make him a perfect fit for the Clean and Safe Team.

Garay hit the ground running at DLBA, marshalling the resources of his teams and connecting with like-minded Downtown agencies to address issues such as public health, illegal dumping, and quality of life. “It’s not the easiest thing, approaching strangers who are having either an episode with mental illness or are under the influence of some kind of narcotic,” he said. “My team leans into these challenges. They engage folks, talk to them, and try to find a way to connect with them so that they can get some resources and get into a better situation.”

Helping the Clean and Safe Teams make these life-altering connections in Downtown are two “Quality of Life” officers from the Long Beach Police Department, who are focused on supporting the unhoused population and identifying folks who need service or intervention. The Clean and Safe Teams assist these officers with basic information and work closely with them to find folks in need, identify what issues they’re experiencing, and help link them to the proper service providers.

Garay also mentioned Downtown “Coffee With the Cops” meetings as another valuable tool for Downtown improvement. “South Division Commander Stephanie Hall is there, as are the two Quality of Life officers, division leadership, and lots of Downtown stakeholders and residents,” he explained. “It is a great way we all communicate.” Garay also stays in the loop with DLBA’s Public Safety Committee and keeps his Safety Ambassadors up to date with street intel.

A key service offered by DLBA — and, in Garay’s opinion, one that needs to be better known — is free safety escorts to and from anywhere in the Business Improvement District, provided by Safety Ambassadors. “It’s one of the greatest things we do,”‘ he said.

Those interested in becoming a member of Garay’s teams can learn more here. “We’re pretty well staffed right now,” he told us, “but we’re always hiring.”