People with reduced mobility have long struggled to access the Long Beach waterfront, but city officials hope to change that.
City Council voted at its meeting on Tuesday July 13 to explore, over the next month, the feasibility of a pilot beach access mat – which makes it easier to navigate beaches for people who use walking sticks , walkers and wheelchairs – at the Granada beach ramp. The idea behind the limited pilot is to learn more about products on the market, maintenance, and other considerations before expanding the program to all city beaches.
“It’s long overdue,” said council member Suzie Price, who moved the item. “Frankly, I’m ashamed that we didn’t bring this item sooner. For me, this is a no-brainer that we should have thought of earlier.
Councilor Mary Zendejas, who uses a wheelchair, shared the sentiment. She said she used a beach access mat in Malibu and was excited about the prospect of being able to have a similar experience in her own city.
“We live in such a diverse and beautiful city that continues to grow and continues to be a leader in many areas, such as making city facilities and resources accessible to everyone,” Zendejas said. “Yet for years, as a city, we have shamefully dismissed the fact that people with reduced mobility and other disabilities have not been able to enjoy our city’s main feature, which is the beach.
“So I am extremely supportive of this pilot program which will start to change that,” she added, “and ensure that everyone – not just some of our residents, but everyone – can live, work and play. in their own city.
Disability advocates, for their part, said they support the article — but they hope Long Beach’s focus on the issue doesn’t stop there.
“I see the (beach mats) as the first of many steps, not the only step,” said Deaka McClain, a local defender. “It is no longer enough to do the minimum, to simply be an ADA complaint. We need to expand the conversation and action to make our city more inclusive and accessible.