• Name: Bob Seldon
• Age: 65
• Occupation: Attorney
• Neighborhood in which you live: Northeast (College Street area)
• Own or rent: Own
• Marital status/kids: Married; 1 son
• Obama or Romney: Obama
• Education: Where did you attend and what degrees do you have? B.S. in electrical engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, Mass.); Juris doctor at New England School of Law (Boston, Mass.)
• 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?
This is a critical time for Santa Monica and its residents. The city of Santa Monica is on a collision course with residents’ needs. Traffic is already gridlocked, parking is scarce, residents are already cut off from enjoying and shopping in their own city, and new zoning codes will be formulated shortly pursuant to LUCE.
We need members on the City Council who are there to vote for residents, and whose first question is “how will this enhance the residents’ quality of life in Santa Monica?”
LUCE makes development agreements the standard procedure for development. Without a City Council that acts in the best interests of the people who live here, LUCE will be responsible for a huge increase in permissible heights and densities. Strictly enforced resident-friendly zoning codes must be enacted pursuant to LUCE, even down-zoning where appropriate.
It’s time to take our city back. We need council members who understand that residents are constituents, not supplicants; council members who see residents as the reason why city government exists, and not as nuisances getting in the way of the dreams of developers and city planners whose resumes are enhanced by every project they get built.
I have an engineering degree and a law degree. I read technical and legal documents and understand them. I have been a practicing attorney for over 30 years and was a judge pro tem in the courts of Santa Monica, Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. I was a co-founder and two-year chair of Northeast Neighbors, the neighborhood association for the northeast section of the city. I participated actively in the Save Our Beach movement that placed a successful Initiative on the Santa Monica ballot that blocks hotels from being built on the beach and stopped a luxury beach hotel from replacing the beach club at 415 PCH, the site of the community beach club which all can enjoy.
My goals are:
• Supporting a moratorium on commercial and large residential construction so we can see where we are and where we want to go.
• Protecting residents from the increasing crush of overdevelopment and resulting gridlock generated by the current City Council’s developer-friendly attitude.
• Ending the casual use of development agreements to circumvent zoning protections.
• Down-zoning where appropriate.
• Removing the meridian strips that are endangering pedestrians hidden among the signs and trees, and converting the recovered area into safe bicycle lanes by appropriately re-striping the streets.
• Synchronizing traffic lights to move traffic at safe speeds posted for driver awareness.
• Placing residents’ concerns and quality of life above developer profits.
• What are Santa Monica’s three major strengths and weaknesses? What will you do to ensure the strengths remain and the weaknesses contained?
Strengths: climate, beach, schools.
Weaknesses: overdevelopment, congestion, a City Council arrogantly out of touch with its residents.
• 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?
City Hall is doing OK in view of Constitutionally-guaranteed rights and past court decisions. But more effective programs are needed than are being currently providing. I have great admiration for the people who work with the homeless to shelter, feed and protect them while helping them to find employment and a place they can call their own. I also have great admiration for West Coast Care, and its team leader Ron Hooks, in implementing Project Homecoming, a program that has had a 95 percent success rate in re-uniting transients with their friends and family back home, off Santa Monica’s streets.
There are many causes of homelessness and each cause requires a different approach. However, it is unfair for Santa Monica residents to shoulder far more than their proportionate share. This is a regional issue, and we need to ensure that other communities are doing their share and not overloading our residents.
• Where do you stand on the City Council’s decision to increase the campaign contribution limit from $250 to $325?
• Will you sponsor a local law banning smoking within multi-family residential units, i.e. condos and apartments? If not, what would you support?
Here, a basic right to engage in legal activity where one lives conflicts with a serious health issue. As an attorney, I find it difficult to Constitutionally support the outright banning of smoking in a person’s own unit. However, I support mandating installation of filters meeting city specifications for eliminating smoke/toxins, and also permitting apartment owners to designate buildings/units as “non-smoking.”
• If elected, would you allow medical marijuana dispensaries to set up shop in Santa Monica?
Yes. Existing pharmacies depend on DEA licensing and fear violating federal law. I also support strictly enforced ordinances (including zoning ordinances and conditional use permits) to control location and appearance, and require that a professional operation be maintained that was not a nuisance to the surrounding area.
• 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?
• Substantially limit development. It makes no sense to force residents to reduce water and energy use so that others can move into Santa Monica and use that water and energy.
• Support an expansion of the city’s current energy upgrade programs that administer grant money toward making homes and businesses more energy efficient.
• Support requiring all new construction to be pre-wired for both solar panels and electric vehicle chargers, with solar systems and chargers being, perhaps, mandated for multi-family and commercial/office projects.
No answer provided.
• What are you reading?
No answer provided.
• 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 prioritize by asking “which of these projects will most benefit the people who actually live here.” I would rehab the Civic Auditorium, work out a sharing arrangement of Samohi’s athletic fields with residents in return for city revenue, and get traffic flowing again with widened lanes, synchronized traffic lights, some one-way streets (or streets with more lanes to one direction than another), and removal of meridians that are creating gridlock, impeding turns by protruding into intersections, and masking pedestrians who are trying to cross.
• 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?
• 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?
No answer provided.
• Where do you stand on the Santa Monica Airport?
At a minimum, detach the westerly portion of the airport land from SMO, taking away 2,000 feet of runway to eliminate jets and large aircraft. Also, limiting or eliminating flight school operations. If the right majority is on the City Council to preclude burdensome development, close the entire airport if possible.
• 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?
“Community benefit” is one of the “buzz words” that is completely meaningless, and have not benefited residents. The greatest community benefit will be a cessation of density-increasing development.
• What is your definition of overdevelopment and what is your plan to prevent it?
Overdevelopment is an increase in development beyond what the infrastructure can handle and resulting in degradation of quality of life. I support zoning regulations and measures making substantial density-increasing development an exception and rehabbing current structures instead.
• 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?
Defined contribution plan.
• How do you get across town during rush hour? Any tips or shortcuts?
I’m a transit commuter
• What should City Hall’s role be when it comes to the creation of affordable housing?
Complying with law.