• Name: Armen Melkonians

• Age: 41

• Occupation: Civil and environmental engineer

• Neighborhood in which you live: Wilmont

• Own or rent: Rent

• Marital status/kids: Married

• Obama or Romney: Obama

• Education: Where did you attend and what degrees do you have? UCLA,  B.S. in civil and environmental engineering.

 

• Why are you running for City Council, what makes you qualified to lead, and what role do you see yourself playing on the dais if elected?

 

The next four years will be critical for Santa Monica. The Expo Light Rail is arriving and the future of the airport will be determined. Both of these pivotal events will change the look, feel and livability of Santa Monica for generations to come, and developers are already jockeying for position with the help of City Hall and the Planning Commission. Right now there are 24 development agreements on the Planning Commission case list, including the Miramar “Las Vegas” project and the Village Trailer Park project. Both projects have been proposed by developers as a direct result of the 2010 LUCE, a document with a clear “vision” opposite to the vision of the residents of Santa Monica. It’s time to stop the nonsense and the scramble at City Hall and at the Planning Commission. It’s time to elect someone with no political ties, agendas, or motives, someone with real sustainable solutions, not political ones.

I am a civil and environmental engineer and I have first-hand experience in designing the communities in which we live and in successfully confronting the challenges presented to us by our built environment. Through my 20-plus years of experience, I have seen what has worked and what has not. I have seen development projects add value to our communities — and those that detract from it. Through my experience, I have developed a new revolutionary sustainable and responsible growth policy — netZAID, which stands for net Zero Adverse Impact Development. If elected, I will make netZAID a reality for Santa Monica.

Twenty years ago, my first project as a civil engineer was to write the infrastructure element for the L.A. Framework Master Plan — L.A.’s equivalent of the Santa Monica 2010 LUCE. Twenty years later, the L.A. Framework has failed our neighboring city. L.A.’s City Council and Planning Commission sold the Framework as a “vision” that would work, with targeted growth areas centered around Metro stations, which were then arriving. Twenty years later, traffic has gotten worse and L.A.’s infrastructure continues to operate at above capacity levels — worse than before. Santa Monica is now on the same path with the 2010 LUCE, and again it will not work. The path can be corrected, but this election is the time, before it’s too late.

Santa Monica zoning codes are currently being rewritten by the Planning Commission and will be adopted by our next City Council. These zoning codes are being written with the “vision” of the 2010 LUCE and we have seen precursors of this “vision” with the proposed Miramar and Village Trailer Park projects.

New developments, which are not subject to rent control, have been approved by City Hall and the Planning Commission and are now being built. The proposed Village Trailer Park project rips the very fabric and foundation of Santa Monica, displacing one of the lowest income groups in our community, while providing giant profits for developers with the aid of City Hall.  Proposed luxury condo’s at Miramar are planned in order to subsidize the developer’s bad business decisions of buying overpriced real estate and finance the construction of the revitalization of the hotel while leaving adverse traffic impacts, which cannot be mitigated with any development agreement donation or benefit.

My netZAID policy will replace development agreements, which do not work. Santa Monica is a built-out city and development agreements fail to address this. If our city is a bucket, it is full. We cannot increase the size of our bucket. We must insure that our bucket doesn’t overflow. This is netZAID.  Development agreements defy zoning codes and cause the bucket to overflow — decreasing our quality of life. NetZAID recognizes our bucket is full and enhances our quality of life — the only job of the City Council. Zoning laws are developed through community input and physical constraints and are meant to preserve our quality of life. The ability of a city to adequately service its residents and businesses through its existing infrastructure (i.e. traffic/congestion, fire, police, schools, sewers, etc.) is not addressed through the development agreement policy. NetZAID will ensure that all development projects leave a net zero adverse impact on our community, or they will not be built.

 

• What are Santa Monica’s three major strengths and weaknesses? What will you do to ensure the strengths remain and the weaknesses contained?

 

No answer provided.

 

• Homelessness continues to be a significant concern of many residents and business owners. How would you rate City Hall’s response over the last four years, what will you advocate for and does that mean more or less funding ?

 

No answer provided.

 

• Where do you stand on the City Council’s decision to increase the campaign contribution limit from $250 to $325?

 

I am not raising or accepting any campaign contributions. This speaks for its self.

 

• Will you sponsor a local law banning smoking within multi-family residential units, i.e. condos and apartments? If not, what would you support?

 

I support the ordinance banning smoking for new tenants.

 

• If elected, would you allow medical marijuana dispensaries to set up shop in Santa Monica?

 

Yes.

 

• What policies will you support that will enable Santa Monica to deal with the increased competition for resources and the need to be sustainable, particularly when it comes to water and power consumption/generation?

 

I would support the development of the Sustainable Water Master Plan (SWMP) to achieve water self-sufficiency by 2020. I would support the conversion of the airport property to a park with integrated solar and wind power generation facilities.

 

• Hobbies

 

Late night walks with my wife or a friend reflecting on anything and everything.

 

• What are you reading?

 

“In Search of Lost Time,” by Marcel Proust

 

• The loss of redevelopment agency funds dealt a serious blow to the City Council’s ambitious plans for the Civic Center, Samohi, and the park in front of City Hall, among other projects. If elected, what projects would you prioritize and how would you finance them?

 

I would work tirelessly to finally get our four-legged community an off-leash dog park at the beach. I do not believe that Fido will pollute the ocean — as has been argued by State Parks and Rec to stop Santa Monica’s efforts to unleash the beach. I will personally use my skills as a civil and environmental engineer to mitigate any concerns that Parks and Rec has so that we can have a ribbon chewing ceremony within the next four years. If I am not successful, I will not run for a second term.

 

• City Hall already provides the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District with millions in exchange for access to campuses, mainly athletic fields. Do you believe this deal is good for the city, or should it be revisited and modified? If so, in what ways?

 

No answer provided.

 

• If you could ride the Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier with three people in history, who would they be and what would you want to talk about?

 

My grandmother and grandfather that passed on before I was born. I would ask about what their definition of love and happiness was, and I would listen.

 

• Where do you stand on the Santa Monica Airport?

 

Simple, it’s time City Hall smells the “avgas” and hears the noise. Close it down.

 

• Community benefits as part of development agreements: what is your definition of a benefit? When should the City Council demand benefits and to what degree? And should some be part of a checklist that developers can choose from, or should the council always have complete control in negotiations with developers?

 

No answer provided.

 

• What is your definition of overdevelopment and what is your plan to prevent it?

 

My netZAID policy (see above).

 

• The sputtering economy and the rise in pension contribution costs have forced some cities to file for bankruptcy. Santa Monica is doing better than most, but if nothing is done to trim costs, deficits will become reality. What’s your plan for controlling public employee pension costs?

 

No answer provided.

 

• How do you get across town during rush hour? Any tips or shortcuts?

 

Ocean [Avenue] going east-west, might as well enjoy the view. North-south — Hah!

 

• What should City Hall’s role be when it comes to the creation of affordable housing?

 

No answer provided.