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Long Beach, Calif., Mulls Emergency Declaration Over Cyber Incident

The City Council will meet at noon today to decide whether to ratify the city manager’s push for emergency powers to help the city respond to a cyber incident that struck its systems Tuesday.

Cybersecurity: Managing Risk
Long Beach, Calif.’s City Council meets today to decide whether to ratify City Manager Tom Modica’s declaration of a local emergency, following Tuesday’s “potential cybersecurity incident.”

The city said it took several systems offline “out of an abundance of caution” after detecting a network security incident on Tuesday, Nov. 14. Those systems will remain offline until the city is certain they can be safely reintroduced to the network. As of Nov. 16, the city was anticipating that could take several days.

Police and fire emergency response and the emergency communications center are operational and believed to be unaffected, but residents may experience delays with some non-emergency systems and services until the incident is resolved, per city announcements. The city’s main public website is offline, and utility payments cannot be processed online or in person, a city spokesperson told the Long Beach Post. Officials would not tell the outlet whether any critical city data or personal information belonging to residents or businesses had been compromised.

The city’s Technology and Innovation Department has been collaborating with a contracted cybersecurity consultant firm to investigate the cause and extent of the incident, as well as identify potential vulnerabilities and useful safety measures to adopt.

Modica issued a Proclamation of Emergency which, if the City Council adopts a resolution to ratify it, would provide the city with more authorities and options for responding to new circumstances. Per the city, “Emergency powers are needed to quickly deploy the city’s personnel, to facilitate additional contract authority if specialized services are needed to be procured quickly, to ensure continuity of the city’s operations, and to raise the level of purchase authority available to the city manager to $1 million, and the purchasing agent to $500,000, to be in the best possible position to respond.”

In a public notice emailed out Friday, Nov. 17, the city elaborated on the incident’s impacts:

Disrupted/impacted processes include:
  • Utility payments are unavailable. The utility call center is down, preventing residents from paying onsite, by phone or online. As a result, the city has halted billing late fees and shutoffs for nonpayment. Previously scheduled customer service operations may be delayed but will occur.
  • Library online services like e-books, public computers, public printers and catalog services are unavailable. Locations remain open and books can be checked in and out with an offline method.
  • Health and Human Services’ Resource Line is experiencing difficulty receiving live calls, but staff will return voicemails.
  • Environmental Health operations are delayed but continue. Some records related to permit fees are also currently unavailable.
  • The city’s COVID-19 testing clinic at Martin Luther King Jr. Park will only provide rapid testing until the system is restored.
  • Public Works permit application approvals will have “minor delays.”
  • The Go Long Beach mobile app is operational, but there will be minor delays in service fulfillment.
  • Online permitting and licensing are unavailable. Residents can receive drop-in services in person at the Community Development Department Permit Center at City Hall, however. Payments may be possible with credit card, cash or check, depending on the type and size of the transaction; in some cases, payment can be deferred until later.
  • New inspection requests must be made by phone at 562-570-5223 and customers are encouraged to wait, if possible, until Nov. 27 to submit new requests. Previously scheduled inspections will still be conducted and those needing immediate assistance can expect help, although there may be delay.
  • Parks, Recreation and Marine class online registration and online facility registrations are unavailable, but can be made in person.

Unaffected systems include:
  • Public safety and emergency services
  • Long Beach Airport
  • Street sweeping
  • Refuse and recycling collection
  • Flu and COVID-19 vaccine administration
  • Gas and water dispatch centers. Gas leaks can be reported to 562-570-2140 and water leaks to 562-570-2390.
  • Long Beach Animal Care Services’ pet adoptions and license services.

Residents can learn more about the incident by visiting the temporary website or city social media or by calling the public information line 562-570-INFO. They are also invited to attend the City Council meeting today, either via Zoom at or via phone by calling 213-338-8477 and entering meeting ID: 958 2523 6717.