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Long Beach CUPA

Long Beach CUPA


Long Beach CUPA

2525 Grand Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90815

Long Beach CUPA, One of a Kind

The Certified Unified Program Agencies (CUPA) were established in 1993 with the passage of Senate Bill 1082 with the first CUPA certified in 1996. In those formative years there was some passionate and lively debate as to what agencies should be certified to administer this new program. Local Fire and Health agencies that were already engaged in regulatory affairs stated their cases as to who was better prepared to implement this complicated regulatory effort. Well we have learned a lot in the ensuing years and the CUPA program has matured and is now a model regulatory program which has improved compliance, consistency, consolidation and coordination across California.

There are currently 119 agencies implementing the CUPA program and it is an even split between local fire and health agencies. Long Beach is a city with a population of 470,000 located 20 miles south of Los Angeles. Long Beach is one of eight CUPAs in L.A. County. The Long Beach CUPA is one of the most unique models in the state. They have divided the implementation of the program between their fire and health agencies. In order to learn more about the long Beach model I recently Zoomed in to Long Beach and got the scoop on it from Linda Kolinski. Linda is the CUPA Program Coordinator for Long Beach Bureau of Environmental Health and has been for the past twenty plus years. In addition to administering the Long Beach program Linda is also a long time CUPA Forum board member, conference contributor and was recently appointed the CUPA Forum Trust Chair.

Long Beach has a history of being independent and unique, the 2000 census identified it as the most ethnically diverse city in the country, they are one of only three cities in California to have their own health dept., they have their own Municipal water Dept., Oil and Gas Dept., a municipal airport and they even have their own seaport, so they really do like their independence. That is why it is no surprise that their CUPA program is special. The Long Beach CUPA has a staff of 13 with four inspectors in the fire agency performing the UST, AST and Business Plan inspections and four inspectors in Environmental Health performing Hazardous Waste, Tiered Permitting and the Cal ARP program plus Linda the Program Coordinator, one supervisor, a CUPA Manager and one clerical staff each at Fire and Health. Long Beach has harnessed the best of both worlds by blending their inhouse Fire and Health resources.

Long Beach is home to the 2nd busiest seaport in the nation and regulates more than 1500 businesses. As a seasoned regulator Linda knows the key to a high rate of compliance is excellent outreach and education. The Long Beach staff pride themselves on customer service, getting out in the field, educating and developing personal relationships with business owners and that is what gives this program a small-town feel. This approach has led to operators being more willing to ask questions and ultimately a higher rate of compliance. The California CUPA model has improved compliance and made businesses and people safer while protecting the environment.

The Pandemic has certainly affected their inspection program. All staff were working from home from March to May. Initially a major effort was made to capture email addresses for non CUPA facilities to enable communication on a mass level. They were also able to catch up on CERS reviews and Cal ARP audits. All UST and AST inspections have continued to be conducted during the pandemic since these inspections can be performed while practicing social distancing. 2020 will be an aberration for all the CUPA agencies in the state. Public and employee safety is a priority and public health guidelines i.e. stay at home orders, business closures and social distancing have made in person inspections extremely challenging if not impossible, so no one is going to meet their inspections goals this year. 2020 was the year to catch up on CERS reviews, Cal ARP and other administrative tasks. What Long Beach also has done is to improve the communication with businesses via emails, phone contact and education and outreach.

The Long Beach CUPA, while it is a unique model with a blend of Fire and Health staff, they have the same goal for every business and that is compliance and safety. Linda and her staff have forged a mutually beneficial relationship with the regulated community by focusing on education, outreach and interpersonal relationships that create trust and assistance. The business community is fortunate to have an agency they can count on to provide accurate information and guidance. Long Beach is a model CUPA in many ways and they did it their way. In fact, in addition to implementing the CUPA programs, their staff also respond to hazardous materials incidents 24/7 everyday of the year, they perform business license, medical waste, body art and community noise inspections and also provide site mitigation/clean up (non-LOP) assistance, now that is efficiency

So if you are ever in the area and want to take in some of the most beautiful sights in California visit Long Beach and you will not be disappointed. You will find 11 miles of gorgeous coast line, the Aquarium of the Pacific and the Queen Mary, you can also be sure that the Long Beach CUPA will be on duty to protect the people and the environment.