Not Clearly Pro or Con: "It's impossible to say 'yes or no' about any particular development until we have environmental review and know what the designs will be. While impact on the immediate neighborhood is of utmost concern when considering any project, I am open to considering more hotel development (assuming that the new jobs will be good paying jobs), for several reasons: revenue from tourism helps fund vital services in Santa Monica and we must nurture this industry if we are to continue to enjoy the high level of services we are accustomed. Also, hotels bring in far less car trips per day than office buildings and malls. Yet, as a major travel destination, we haven’t had a new hotel built in Santa Monica in almost 20 years."
Pro: "Given market pressures on housing, for 30 years it's been clear that to maintain Santa Monica's historic economic diversity we need dedicated affordable housing. Many Santa Monicans depend on the City’s affordable housing programs and we must do everything in our power to preserve affordable housing units and explore ways of expanding affordable housing opportunities so that Santa Monicans can remain in the city. More affordable housing does not necessarily or always mean more development. Through the purchase of run-down buildings, non-profit housing corporations could can renovate these structures and increase the affordable housing stock in the city. Every single person on the council recognizes the need for more affordable housing, and it may mean some new development, as we must be looking for ways to increase the affordable housing supply so that that police, firefighters, teachers and other workers can afford to live here. Ultimately, this will also minimize commuters and car trips, reducing traffic."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "Aside from height restricting views, we must view height restrictions in terms of overall size of a building and the subsequent traffic a particular use will generate. Finding real solutions to traffic is paramount. Stopping all development is not the answer, but only allowing certain development, after close scrutiny, is necessary. Clearly, height limitations enacted 30 years ago prevented downtown Santa Monica from evolving the way places like Glendale and Burbank evolved. Coupled with zoning changes in the 90s that encouraged residential development on formerly commercially-zone lots, they helped create the thriving residential areas we have on Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Streets downtown. However, 30 years is a long time and we must look at the impact of height restrictions in more central areas of downtown, where open space is at a premium. The quality of design is also even more crucial than usual when it comes to height."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "I can't say I'd approve or disapprove of the project until we've had environmental and economic review (the latter in particular because this is a City-owned site). I testified at City Council in favor of proceeding with analysis of this project at the 148-foot height because I don't believe a building at that height at that location would necessarily be a bad project, but again, I also need to understand how many more car trips and driving it will generate or other impacts it will have. I also have questions about the mix of uses (whether the office uses could be replaced with residential, for example) that need to be analyzed before I could make a decision."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "Depends where. It's been shown convincingly by both studies and by practical experience that the City does not need to increase the number of parking spaces downtown (because of the availability of privately-owned spaces and the effectiveness of better pricing strategies), but there are other places in the city where it might make sense to build parking that would be shared and used more efficiently."
Con: "Unfortunately, after the 1984 General Plan was enacted, 9 million square feet of offices were built, with virtually no building of housing for all these new employees. Ever since I got involved in local issues, with the Civic Center Plan 21 years ago, I have been opposed to more office developments. The huge expansion of offices in Santa Monica, together with the same thing happening on the whole Westside, resulted in the shifting of commuting patterns that have made traffic congestion such a big problem in Santa Monica. Unfortunately, when the new Land Use and Circulation Elements (LUCE) were adopted in 2010, they also called for more office development in the old industrial district around Bergamot. I opposed this then, but my warnings fell on deaf ears. Now one plank of my platform now is to amend the LUCE to drastically reduce the amount of office development permitted under it."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "Some elements of the City's plans are good, such as the use of Traffic Demand Management (TDM) programs, and through the Big Blue Bus’s agreement with Santa Monica College many more students have switched to transit. Nonetheless, the City needs to use the BBB to create real alternatives for the many who commute to jobs here by car from all over the region. The BBB needs to develop express, 'point-to-point' bus routes that connect our job centers directly with the areas in the region where commuters live. These services, modeled after the private bus services used by high-tech companies in the Bay Area, can use the new HOV lanes on the 405 and other freeways. We also need to encourage bike programs and better bus routes to our public schools so students will be able to bike or take the bus to school, further reducing traffic."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "As one who has commuted by bike to my office in downtown Santa Monica for 20 years, I can certainly say that cycling has relieved traffic for me. For me, a bike is the best way to get around Santa Monica for most trips, and what I’ve seen is that more and more people are using bikes. Does that relieve traffic? Unclear, but that's not the point. The point is that if you create alternatives to driving, more people can get around the city without driving, which itself is a good thing. The best way to relieve traffic is to create a city that is convenient -- where people can do most of what the need to do on foot, by bike, by transit or in short trips in the car."
Con: "I have been a leader in Airport2Park, the movement to turn the airport into a park for the benefit of all. It's been well-documented that the airport is a source for pollution and noise, and there have been many plane crashes associated with the airport. Aviation businesses also are a minor contributor to the city's economy, and for many years airport operations have been subsidized by the City's general fund. The amount of jet traffic at the airport has increased dramatically over the past 20 years. But even if planes were pollution-free, silent, and never crashed, and even if the airport broke even financially, I would still favor closing the airport because this valuable asset owned by the people (and mostly purchased in 1926 with money from a parks bond) should benefit everyone, not just a few. Vote Yes on LC, and No on D."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "It's hard to argue that Santa Monica is not business-friendly given how many businesses want to do business in Santa Monica, but it's also clear that many businesses are frustrated by the City's regulatory climate. While many procedures in can be looked at and improved, the fact is that one reason businesses want to locate in Santa Monica is that over 30 years Santa Monica has become more and more attractive as place to live. A good place to live is also a place to do business. The difficulty is finding a balance between making a place attractive and making it so attractive that we lose sight of what was attractive in the first place."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "The residents of Santa Monica, at the ballot box, have shown that they don't consider marijuana to be a threat to public safety, and I agree with that. I also agree that ultimately we should have a policy to allow dispensaries. However, I'm concerned that we don't yet have a good regulatory framework for doing that, because SB 1262, giving cities more local control, didn't pass this year. Part of the problem also comes from the federal government, with its restrictions on non-cash payment options, which creates local law enforcement problems. Hopefully with real legalization proceeding in Colorado and Washington, federal policies will change. Ultimately California needs to learn from the experiences in those states and enact a new law legalizing marijuana and allowing reasonable regulation, much as alcohol is regulated."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "I fully support our public safety departments, and I'm proud of my endorsement by Santa Monica police and firefighters. However, 'Yes' would imply that Santa Monica is unsafe, which is not the case. Santa Monica is much safer than it was when I moved here in 1983. There have even been significant improvements even in one of our most intractable problems, that of gang violence, where a combination of active and intelligent policing and effective social services has reduced the level of violence significantly."
Pro: "The City has over 20 years, often through trial and error, achieved a good balance of providing effective social services to get homeless people off the streets and into housing (particularly with the 'housing first' model), and enforcement of standards of behavior that must apply to everyone."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "Because of its history as the original city on the Westside, and because of its role as the most accessible beach for the region, Santa Monica provides services that most cities of its size don’t provide. We have our own bus system, for instance, and our own water and sanitation utilities. Similarly, some cities reduce their number of employees by contracting more services out, but that can be counterproductive, as cities need employees who are loyal to the city. For these reasons, it's not helpful to consider the absolute number of city employees as a measure for anything meaningful. However, as a council member, I plan to be very skeptical about all decisions to add programs that would add employees. It's important for government to focus first on core services that can only be provided by government."
I'm running for City Council to make Santa Monica an even better place to live.
I will work to create a city where all residents flourish and the environment is enriched; a community where government is responsive and financially sound. I'm a progressive, "jobs housing education environment" candidate who believes in using government for the common good: like by turning the Airport into a great park for us all to use.
I know Santa Monica, its people, its problems and its promise. My wife and I have lived here since 1983. We sent our son to our public schools. I practice entertainment law in a 1929 building on Fourth Street downtown. I served on the Housing and Planning Commissions, as well as a School District bond oversight committee. I was a founding member of Community for Excellent Public Schools. For eleven years I wrote a weekly column about Santa Monica, taking on every issue and never afraid to speak out for common sense.
We need to be innovative to attack problems like traffic congestion. I want to amend the general plan to drastically reduce the amount of office development.