• Name: Gleam Olivia Davis
• Age: 56
• Occupation: Attorney
• Neighborhood in which you live: North of Montana (although in my 26 years in Santa Monica, I have lived in Ocean Park and Wilshire/Montana neighborhoods as well)
• Own or rent: Own
• Marital status/kids: Married with one son, Jackson, age 15
• Obama or Romney: Obama
• Education: Where did you attend and what degrees do you have? Harvard Law School (J.D.); USC (A.B.)
• 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?
As a council member, I try to be fair-minded and to listen and be respectful of differing points of view. I have been able to build consensus around important issues such as public safety and education and, in my two years as mayor pro tem, I have improved my leadership skills. I hope to build upon that experience in my next term.
• What are Santa Monica’s three major strengths and weaknesses? What will you do to ensure the strengths remain and the weaknesses contained?
Santa Monica’s strengths are its commitment to maintaining a safe, sustainable, educated and engaged city; its social diversity; and its vibrant local economy. We can preserve them by remaining committed to affordable housing, public safety and environmental measures such as the polystyrene food container and plastic bag bans. We must support our outstanding local schools, encourage community input and participation and maintain diverse revenue streams by keeping the city an attractive place to work, visit and do business.
The city’s three weaknesses are traffic, parking and road safety. Traffic is a regional problem and I support regional solutions such as increasing mass transit. To reduce local traffic, the city is completing its signal synchronization program, improving Big Blue Bus routes and adopting a transportation impact fee that will require developers to pay for infrastructure improvements that will reduce traffic and encourage alternate modes of transportation. Different neighborhoods need different parking solutions. In downtown, we should build a large pool of centralized parking. In other areas of the city, where residents must compete with businesses and their employees for scarce street parking resources, every development — residential and commercial — must have sufficient parking. To improve road safety, we must implement the safety strategies in the Bike Action Plan, develop a pedestrian safety plan, and continue to encourage safer driving habits by focusing on unsafe driving behaviors through stepped up informational and enforcement efforts.
• 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?
I support our housing-first approach that finds shelter for homeless persons and then connects them to services. The HELP program, which pairs the police with social service agencies, also is very successful. These programs have reduced homelessness and saved money by reducing the number of police and emergency medical calls relating to homeless persons.
• Where do you stand on the City Council’s decision to increase the campaign contribution limit from $250 to $325?
I support it. The $325 remains relatively low, but does account for the increased cost of printing, postage and other campaign expenses.
• 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 do not support a smoking ban in existing multi-family housing because it might force current residents to move out of their homes. I will support a ban on tobacco smoking in all new multi-family residences.
• If elected, would you allow medical marijuana dispensaries to set up shop in Santa Monica?
No. Los Angeles is not enforcing its ban on dispensaries so there is no need for us to act.
• 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 support Santa Monica’s commitment to become water self-sufficient by 2020 and to increase the city’s use of alternative and renewable fuels.
Who has time for hobbies? I try and make my son’s football and lacrosse games.
• What are you reading?
The Santa Monica Daily Press of course. I also just started Hilary Mantel’s “Bring Up The Bodies” about Tudor England.
• 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?
The City Council already has prioritized senior housing vouchers, the Civic Center parks, the Pico Neighborhood Library, traffic signal synchronization, Expo station enhancements and the Colorado Esplanade (which integrates Expo with Downtown). The city continues to work with the state to preserve as much money as possible for affordable housing. Without additional funding streams, I could not agree to additional projects.
• 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?
Excellent public schools are good for the whole city. Communities with good schools (including preschool and after school programs) are more civically engaged, safer, healthier and more respectful of the environment. Good schools provide every student, regardless of background or economic resources, the opportunity to reach his or her full potential.
• 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?
I would love to ride with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Congressperson Barbara Jordan and discuss how the world would be different if more women held elected office.
• Where do you stand on the Santa Monica Airport?
I support making the airport a better neighbor by reducing operations (particularly jets), airport-related pollution and flight school operations. If the FAA will not agree to these measures, then I think that the city should consider closing the airport in 2015 when its agreement with the FAA expires.
• 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 benefits include infrastructure benefits (such as wider sidewalks), local benefits for nearby residents (open space creation or improvement) and community-wide benefits (affordable housing, child care subsidies). Every development should provide some community benefits and larger developments should provide substantial benefit packages that encompass all three types of benefits. I have no problem with creating a list of benefits that can guide developers of smaller projects and add some predictability to the system. For development agreement, the council alone decides if a project provides adequate benefits and whether it should be approved.
• What is your definition of overdevelopment and what is your plan to prevent it?
All development should make our city a better place to live, work and visit. If it doesn’t, we shouldn’t allow it. We must be mindful about development impacts on our community when we adopt the new zoning ordinance, the Bergamot Area Plan, and the Downtown Specific Plan. We also need to improve the development process and make sure that every voice is heard.
• 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?
The city and its employees have negotiated prudent compensation packages that acknowledge the economic challenges the city faces. I believe they will continue to do so. I am proud that, in these difficult times, Santa Monica still offers its employees a good compensation and benefit plan.
• How do you get across town during rush hour? Any tips or shortcuts?
Because I don’t want to add to our traffic problem, I try to avoid driving at rush hour.
• What should City Hall’s role be when it comes to the creation of affordable housing?
Proposition R, adopted by Santa Monica voters in 1990, requires that 30 percent of all new multi-family housing be affordable. We need to meet this goal to maintain our culturally diverse and vibrant community. With the loss of redevelopment funds, the city will have to look for innovative ways to fund affordable housing.