Editor’s note: Santa Monicans have critical decisions to make come November when they will be asked to cast votes for candidates running for the City Council, SMMUSD school board, the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees and the Rent Control Board. To help make those decisions easier, the Daily Press created a questionnaire that asks candidates to give their opinions on key issues affecting the city by the sea. Here they are, published in the order in which candidates will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.
• Name: Daniel Cody
• Age: 41
• Occupation: Software alliance professional
• Marital status/children: Married, no children
• Your neighborhood? How long have you lived there?: North of Wilshire, 12
• Your mode of transportation/model, make and year of your ride?: I work from
home. When I do drive it is mostly to the airport in a ‘98 Volvo S70 and
around town on a 50cc Vespa or my bicycle (when not walking, which is the
majority of time).
• Own or rent?: Rented when we first moved here, now own.
• Do you support Measure Y, the half-cent sales tax increase? If so, do you think half of the money generated by the increase should go to local public schools?
No. I believe Measure Y is the wrong approach to cure the city’s structural deficit and tying it to education does not make it any more palatable. The school board should have placed the parcel tax on the November ballot and made the case to the voters. A regressive sales tax that falls disproportionately on seniors, those on fixed incomes and small businesses to subsidize Malibu is not the solution. There are better ways to address the school’s budget shortfall, including the highly successful recent efforts of Save Our Schools which raised $1.5 million and the expected Federal Education Jobs Fund contribution addressing either the city’s finances or the schools’.
• What are you reading?
“The Black Hole Wars,” by Susskind, and “Lords of Finance,” by Ahamed. One provides lucid explanations for complex ideas and the other explores how political failure can lead to economic cataclysm.
• Do you believe there is enough parking Downtown? If not, what do you plan to do about it?
I am not sure if there is enough parking. The mix of public and private lots appears to be sufficient. However, traffic flow still needs to be addressed and could be improved. During the height of holiday shopping there will never be enough parking. The current mix of private and public parking lots provide adequate parking during the week. However, traffic flow still needs to be addressed and could be improved.
• Now that the Broad museum is out of play, what should City Hall do with the Civic Center parking lot?
Build a new Target! It would provide revenue to the city and provide affordable shopping to residents. It would also serve as a nice compliment to the high-end luxury options across the street at the new Santa Monica Place.
• When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Merchant Marine. In all the stories I read they had a pretty woman in every port and spent their lives seeing the world. When I looked into it as a young adult it turned out to be lots of time on the water isolated from the world and an unending routine of tedium. I still like the way “Merchant Marine” sounds. Possibly consider president of the United States as an alternative answer? My father was a professor of political science and my mother a nurse, so obviously I wanted to be the president’s doctor. You only have one patient (or so I imagined), you travel the world and meet amazing people. Fortunately for all the president’s in the interim I didn’t go into medicine.
• Local businesses provide the majority of the city’s general fund revenues, yet Santa Monica has a reputation for being a difficult place to do business. How would you entice more businesses, different businesses, to open up shop? How can City Hall help those businesses that are struggling in the current economy?
All business processes of the city could be improved utilizing technology to improve productivity, increase user satisfaction and as a by-product enhance revenues as more entrepreneurs are able to more easily start their businesses here in Santa Monica. Simplifying and streamlining the current permitting and approval process would be a start. The amount of time it takes to start-up a new enterprise should be measured in weeks not months or years.
• L.A. recently greatly reduced patients’ access to medical marijuana. Do you support medical marijuana dispensaries in Santa Monica?
Yes. I also support Proposition 19. The current policy of prohibition has failed on every measure and its continuation only burdens our local, state and federal budgets. At a minimum, Santa Monica residents should have the same access to this medical resource that Los Angeles residents have.
• Should smoking be banned within apartments?
No. Santa Monica has already banned smoking in public areas including the beach, the Third Street Promenade and within 20 feet of public doors and windows. City Hall’s effort to regulate behavior in a person’s home is over-reach[ing] that smacks of Orwell [and is] counter to the culture of Santa Monica. Landlords can already choose to make their units non-smoking. Essentially the efforts of those on the council today is to make illegal in Santa Monica a legal substance that is sold in every gas station and grocery store in the city and already regulated by the federal government. Enough! I would support any city programs to assist smokers in their efforts to quit.
• What would you do to make Santa Monica more bike friendly?
I ride my bike every morning and I think Santa Monica is already very bike friendly. I particularly like the Santa Monica Bike Map provided by City Hall which highlights the various bike lanes, bike paths, bike valet parking, etc. around the city. However, we could possibly increase the number of bike parking areas in places like the promenade, parks and beaches and we must be mindful that any future development enhances, rather than harms our city’s bike friendly atmosphere.
• What’s the biggest threat facing the quality of life in Santa Monica?
How do we protect our city against the consequences of rapid over-development while also avoiding the urge to over-regulate every aspect of daily life? Getting the right balance between development and over-regulation is critical. We live in an urban environment surrounded by Los Angeles, one of the nation’s largest cities. In that sense we do not really entirely control our own destiny but need to work with other communities to address issues like traffic, development, homelessness and environmental issues. As a City Council member I will make sure that each decision weighs the balances between the need for economic growth and livability, development and regulation.
• Downtown properties owned by City Hall: Should parking be the top priority or should housing come first?
Development of each city-owned property should be carefully evaluated on its own merits to determine the benefits provided to the residents. In some instances it will make sense to focus on the need for parking if the parking need is increased by the intended use of the property. In some cases, housing may be more of a focus in order to balance other more commercial developments. I believe it depends on the property. The larger issue is why City Hall appears to be the largest developer in Santa Monica and what return on those assets the citizens are receiving. In Downtown, City Hall could accomplish both by creating housing atop parking structures that provide more spaces than needed by the residential development.
• Do you support the closure of Santa Monica Airport in 2015? If so, what would you like to replace it with and how would you make up for the loss in revenue generated by airport operations, lease agreements?
I do not support the closure of the airport in 2015. The airport is an integral part of the economic diversity of our city and our history for 80 plus years. A discussion about how to make the airport safer is fine but I don’t believe that is what any of the opponents are interested in discussing. I do support having City Hall work with residents, the airport administration and the FAA to make SMO as safe as possible.
• Do you believe in pension reform and should Santa Monica employees contribute more toward their healthcare and retirement benefits?
The reality is that we have allowed our elected officials at all levels to make promises to public employees that cannot be met over the long term. In the recently adopted budget, staff and the council acknowledge that the majority of our structural deficit is related to increased pension expenses including healthcare. The public sector employees cannot expect the public to fund benefits not available to them in the private sector in perpetuity. Unaddressed these obligations will eventually crowd out funding even basic services, which is of course absurd.
• When it comes to getting public benefits from developers, what should be the top priority: affordable housing, public art, cash money, bike lanes or carpooling?
Each development should be evaluated on its individual merits. For instance, a development that is going to increase traffic dramatically should be responsible for ameliorating that with additional parking. The main benefit we as citizens receive is a vibrant diversified local economy that can support the quality of services we have come to associate with Santa Monica — nice great parks, clean streets, wonderful libraries and beautiful beaches.
• Would you support placing a limit on the amount of time council members can speak on a particular item during meetings?
I support all efforts to allow the council to more efficiently conduct the city’s business. I am not aware that unlimited discussion has risen to that level as yet. But hope to have a more informed opinion once elected to the council. Council meetings are long and exhausting for all involved, but artificially limiting discussions will not improve decision-making. Changing the decision-makers, however, could.
• When was the last time you rode a bike or took Big Blue Bus?
Yesterday for the bike. Last month for Big Blue (I take the 10 downtown to join my wife for events there in the evening and we drive home together).
• Does the housing-first model work for addressing the homeless issue or should we focus on building more emergency shelters to get people off the streets immediately?
The housing first model appears to be achieving its aims. Concentrating on the chronically homeless who use a disproportionate amount of the services is the right approach. Again, homelessness is best addressed in concert with our big neighbor, the City of Los Angeles and the county.
• Free form: What’s putting a burr under your saddle?
The Fourth of July! I can’t understand how we as a city think it is appropriate to celebrate the Fourth of July in June. It is ridiculous. The Fourth of July is a day reserved on our nation’s calendar when we come together as a community to celebrate. I completely understand the concerns around traffic and crowds and the past history of gang violence. However, we still get the traffic and crowds that day because we are the premier beach destination in L.A. County and we should not allow gangbangers to dictate how we celebrate our nation’s birthday. I also believe we have a great police department that is capable of dealing with any who do not know how to behave in public. Great cities celebrate and Santa Monica is a great city. We just have to start acting like one!