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: Ted Winterer

• Age: 53

• Occupation: Writer

• Marital status/children: Married; 9-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son

• Your neighborhood?: How long have you lived there? Ocean Park since 2000; Santa Monica since 1992

•Your mode of transportation/model, make and year of your ride?: My wife and I share a 2009 Kia Rondo and walk, bike and ride the Big Blue Bus. One of these days I’d like to get an electric car to charge with my solar panels

• Own or rent?: Owned since 2000; rented prior

• 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?

Yes and yes.

• What are you reading?

“Green Metropolis” by David Owen, and “Traffic” by Tom Vanderbilt.

• Do you believe there is enough parking Downtown? If not, what do you plan to do about it?

Yes, City Hall’s Walker study shows we have sufficient parking; we just need to manage and price it much more intelligently and promote the underutilized inventory. For instance, there are often plenty of unused spaces at the Main Library and in private Downtown lots and garages.

• Now that the Broad museum is out of play, what should City Hall do with the Civic Center parking lot? 

We should offer space to another cultural venue and use the remaining land per the Civic Center Specific Plan for a playing field, unless a joint use plan with Samohi yields a ball field open to the public at the high school.

• When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Yankees centerfielder.

• 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?

We need to do much more to support the locally-owned small businesses that are essential to our economy, are involved in our community and spend income within our borders. And we should discourage the displacement of these businesses by large chains which export profits and aren’t as likely to support our schools and charities. To that end our land use policies should promote shallower and smaller retail frontages with more affordable rents and create incubator spaces within our industrial zones. And City Hall’s burdensome regulations and red tape should be streamlined so that, for instance, a simple application for tenant improvements isn’t a lengthy and costly process. Finally, the Chamber of Commerce does a fine job of helping potential businesses: City Hall should be enabling these efforts and seeking feedback on how to further assist them.

• L.A. recently greatly reduced patients’ access to medical marijuana. Do you support medical marijuana dispensaries in Santa Monica?

Yes, if they are appropriately regulated, taxed and sited (i.e. away from schools, day care, etc. and within our medical district).

• Should smoking be banned within apartments?

Only with adequate protections for tenants.

• What would you do to make Santa Monica more bike friendly?

The short answer is a lot, as I know from riding a bike around town we’ve suffered from a failure of vision in this area. For instance, I recently rode my bike to a meeting at the Public Safety Building and found no rack for bike parking outside. How is it our public buildings don’t accommodate cyclists better? And when I realized that there was inadequate parking for bicycles at our Sunday Farmers’ Market on Main Street, as president of the Ocean Park Association I persuaded city staff to implement the hugely successful bike valet program that has since spread to other venues in Santa Monica. Every time I meet with residents I hear they would like to bike more but are scared to do so. So to make our city more sustainable we need to compensate for years of neglect and make our streets safe and accessible to cyclists. First, we have to create a dedicated revenue stream for enhancing bicycle amenities. Then we need to leverage that revenue, just as L.A. Metro would like to do with its 30/10 initiative, and accelerate construction of cycling improvements in our city and implementation of our new Bike Master Plan. The result? More construction jobs, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, less traffic congestion and a fitter population. Who can argue with that? Finally, we need to change the zeitgeist at City Hall so that cycling is a priority: cycling improvements should be a public benefit from new development; when roads with bike lanes are resurfaced, the lanes should be painted green for greater visibility; create a citizen task force to advocate for cycling; etc.

• What’s the biggest threat facing the quality of life in Santa Monica?

Growth which yields both residential and commercial gentrification threatens Santa Monica’s beach town character and its closely woven sense of community. New development should be predominantly residential, intelligently located, and appropriately scaled with minimized traffic impacts. Neighborhoods and neighbors should be preserved. And singular small and locally-owned business should be both nurtured and protected.

• Downtown properties owned by City Hall: Should parking be the top priority or should housing come first? 

I’m a fan of Structure 9: parking down below, housing on top.

• 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?

Yes, I support closing the airport. And it’s important to note that doing so would not cause a direct loss in revenue, as the airport operates as an enterprise fund separate from the City Hall’s General Fund: airport revenues pay for the operation of the airport and nothing else. However, we should analyze the indirect contributions the presence of an airport has on our local economy and make sure any new uses of the land do not require budget-breaking subsidies. We might, for instance, create a new park, playing fields and community gardens supported by mix of housing and clean tech jobs with aggressive transportation demand management.

• Do you believe in pension reform and should Santa Monica employees contribute more toward their healthcare and retirement benefits?

I believe in reforming the growing income disparity between the haves and the have-nots in our society. I also believe every American should have affordable health insurance. So to that end I do not think public employees who earn moderate to low incomes and who cannot participate in Social Security should be asked to contribute more. Instead, pension and health benefits reform should focus on higher paid public employees.

• 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? 

Affordable housing. But we should require more than one benefit from projects.

• Would you support placing a limit on the amount of time council members can speak on a particular item during meetings?


• When was the last time you rode a bike or took Big Blue Bus?

As mentioned above, my wife and I share a car so we ride the BBB and bike all the time.

• 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?

Studies have shown that supportive housing to help the less fortunate costs taxpayers much less than providing emergency services to those without a permanent home.

• Free form: What’s putting a burr under your saddle?

City Hall is adept at enforcing minor code violations such as residents putting dog poop bag dispensers in the public right of way or store owners advertising with sandwich boards. So why weren’t development agreements audited for compliance for over a decade? How is it that deed-restricted housing was leased to non-qualified tenants? Why are large businesses allowed to violate our laws on short-term rentals and use valuable housing as de facto hotels without paying our bed tax? I say it’s time to revisit our priorities.

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