‘Staff doesn’t feel safe’: Businesses threaten to leave another Dem-run city over rising crime

And another one bites the dust.

Long Beach is the latest casualty as businesses flee the destructive liberal policies of Democrat-run cities to avoid streets overrun with crime, drug use and homelessness, in a situation that has become “more damaging than the pandemic.”

In hopes of not joining Chicago, which lost corporate giants Tyson and Boeing, Long Beach, California planned to hold a special meeting Thursday to address record high crime issues forcing business owners to pick up and move from the once prominent Downtown.

“The situation in Downtown is desperate, sad and disappointing,” Beachwood Brewing co-owner Gabriel Gordon wrote to the Downtown Long Beach Alliance. “We are close to having very few choices to save our Downtown spot.”

Citing a long list of grievances, including “open use of drugs, acts of violence near the restaurant, people wandering onto the patio where they disrupt customers and property damage,” Gordon said lack of police response is probably the biggest issue.

“While Downtown has had challenges over the last two years, these recent months have brought an entirely different level of issues concerning the aggressive and erratic behavior of individuals who may be suffering from substance abuse or mental health challenges,” DLBA CEO Austin Metoyer said, pleading with the city to take action before it’s too late.

The Ordinarie, BO-beau kitchen + roof tap, District Wine and Farmers & Merchants Bank are also considering closing their Long Beach locations, Metoyer said.

“Customers don’t feel safe,” District Wine owner Angela Mesna said. “My staff are afraid. We all carry pepper spray just to serve our customers on the parklet. It’s almost becoming more damaging than the pandemic.”

Thursday’s meeting will include representatives from the city manager’s office, police, fire, health and public works, according to Long Beach city spokesman Kevin Lee.

“Collectively addressing these complex societal challenges is important as we continue to develop new strategies to uplift our entire community,” Lee said.

Long Beach’s homeless population grew 62% since 2020 and overall property crime in Downtown is up 23 percent, according to reporting by LBBJ.

“In October, the city even temporarily closed the $48 million Billie Jean King Main Library due to security concerns,” LBBJ reported. “Adding to the problem, 22.4% of office space Downtown was vacant as of the second quarter of 2022. Many Downtown restaurants depend on lunch traffic from nearby offices.”

Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jeremy Harris isn’t optimistic about the outcome of the city meeting, having participated in a similar charade 6 months ago.

“I think it’s been status quo since then,” Harris said. “I don’t think the city has done enough to address issues, but Long Beach is not alone. This issue is unfolding across all major cities in the country right now.”

In September, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempzinski told business leaders of the Economic Club of Chicago that the Windy City “is in crisis.”

With crime reported to have surged 37 percent since 2021, McDonald’s struggled to get its employees to return to the American icon’s Chicago headquarters location and the company found it increasingly difficult to recruit new workers as news of the city’s devastating wave of violence spread across America.

“Everywhere I go, I’m confronted by the same question: ‘What’s going on in Chicago?’” Kempczinski said. “There is a general sense out there that our city is in crisis.”

Chicken giant Tyson Foods announced in a news release in October week that it will relocate offices in the Chicago area to its headquarters in Arkansas, with the move being billed as an effort to “foster closer collaboration, enhance team member agility and enable faster decision making.”

The decision to flee comes as Chicago experiences a 37 percent increase in violent crime and follows on the heels of Caterpillar and Boeing announcing plans to move, as well.  The Citadel hedge fund headed by Chicago’s richest resident, Ken Griffin, is also relocating more than 2,600 staffers from their office in the crime-ridden city to South Florida.

“We have violent crime that’s happening in our restaurants … we’re seeing homelessness issues in our restaurants. We’re having drug overdoses that are happening in our restaurants,” Kempczinski said. “So we see in our restaurants, every single day, what’s happening in society at large.”

Business owners in Long Beach are holding out hope that city officials will make changes before they are in the same boat as Chicago.

“I love Downtown, I love Long Beach,” Mesna continued, “and it breaks my heart to see what’s happening.”


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