Small Businesses Pessimistic On California’s Future, But Not Their Own
The majority of small business owners in California believe the state’s business climate will worsen over the next few years, according to an annual survey conducted by advocacy group Small Business California. The 2018 report, released this month, surveyed 528 small businesses across all 52 counties in the state. Over 51% of respondents believe that California is headed in the “wrong direction,” and over 58% felt that its business climate would become “somewhat worse” or “much worse” in the next few years. The majority of small business owners responded that their revenues stayed the same or increased over the last 12 months, and 84% reported that they maintained or increased their number of employees during the same period. Less than 30% of respondents reported that their revenues had decreased in the last year. Almost three-quarters of the respondents expected to be in business in California in three years.

Long Beach Councilmember Al Austin Joins Crowded Race For State Senate Seat
Eighth District Councilmember Al Austin has joined fellow Councilmember Lena Gonzalez in an increasingly packed race to fill newly sworn California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara’s seat, representing California’s 33rd District in the State Senate. Austin officially announced his candidacy on Monday, but according to the most recent campaign finance reports filed with the Secretary of State, his campaign has been fundraising for the race since at least last year, when his filings showed a remaining campaign budget of close to $15,000. The councilmember received endorsements from Long Beach Vice Mayor Dee Andrews and Long Beach Councilmembers Suzie Price and Daryl Supernaw, as well as former vice mayors Doris Topsy Elvord and Val Lerch.

California Coastal Commission Seeks Public Comment
The California Coastal Commission, which oversees land use and public access to the state’s coastal zone, is seeking input for its strategic plan. The agency is asking for comments and ideas relating to its goals, objectives and actions for the next five years. Comments addressing any of the commission’s planning functions are welcome, including: climate change, coastal resources, e-government, enforcement, environmental justice, local coastal program planning, public access and engagement. Comments may be submitted to the commission’s website through January 31 at the following link:

Aquarium Announces May Opening For Pacific Visions Wing
The Aquarium of the Pacific’s Pacific Visions expansion is scheduled to open to the public on May 24, the institution announced today. The new wing is the Aquarium’s first major expansion since opening in 1998 and features the 300-seat immersive Honda Pacific Visions Theater, live-animal exhibits, an art gallery and exhibition space. Programming within Pacific Visions will focus on environmental issues. The inaugural art installation, designed by Germany-based design company Convivial Studio, uses a video installation and soundscapes to immerse visitors in sea life. Theater content is being developed by the Aquarium and Cortina Productions, in partnership with leading scientists, filmmakers, storytellers and digital artists. The inaugural film “investigates human production and use of food, energy, and water as resources.” The wing’s 5,000-square-foot culmination gallery was designed by Bowman Change Inc. and Cortina and features game tables, a 50-foot-long interactive wall, displays and live-animal exhibits.

Water Department Conducting Improvements For 2nd & PCH Project
The City of Long Beach Water Department is conducting scheduled work on water lines as a part of the development project on 2nd Street and Pacific Coast Highway, according to Long Beach Water Department General Manager Chris Garner. New water lines are being added, old water lines taken out and a large domestic pipeline installed. The water department is working with the public works department to lessen the impact of traffic in the area. The work on water lines is expected to be finished by the end of this month, according to Garner. To find out more about the work being done and its schedule, call the water department at 562/570-2390. (Editors note: This brief was revised from an earlier version.)

Local Nonprofit Steel Magnolias Announces Its 2019 Executive Board
Steel Magnolias, a Long Beach nonprofit that helps children and families deal with conditions like autism and learning problems, announced its new executive boardmembers for 2019. Founder and president of TGIS Catering Sofia Riley is serving as the organization’s president with Denise Dahlhausen as president-elect. Other boardmembers are: Dane Hickerson, VP, golf tournament; Erin Berry, VP, home tour; Carmen Bubar, VP, finance; Liz Krummell, VP, membership; Elizabeth Borsting, VP, public relations; Anthony Gagliardi, VP, signature event; Stephanie Davis, corresponding secretary; Susan Kendzierski, recording secretary.