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: Kevin McKeown

• Age: 62

• Occupation: Apple technology consultant for our local public schools.

• Marital status/children: Married Genise in December! Helped raise a teenager in a previous relationship.

• Your neighborhood? How long have you lived there?: Near Lincoln Middle School, 34 years.

• Your mode of transportation/model, make and year of your ride?: 2001 Prius hybrid and a well-maintained 1977 10-speed from Helen’s Cycles.

•Own or rent?: Rent, same apartment since 1976.

• 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?

California state government has cut school funding drastically, and recently took $21 million from City Hall’s coffers. We can still make our local city and schools work by guaranteeing local revenue that Sacramento can’t grab. Measures Y and YY create that ongoing, locally controlled revenue stream, and I support both, as well as renter protection Measure RR.

• What are you reading?

Resident e-mails, and I answer them!

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

We cannot simply build our way out of parking shortages. Downtown land is too important for us to turn even more of it over to dedicated parking structures, and even if we had more parking spaces our streets couldn’t handle the congestion of more cars.

We know from last year’s Walker Study of Downtown parking that while parking is scarce in the core of Downtown, under-utilized parking exists just a block or two away. We can move employee and other long-term parking to the nearby alternatives, keeping more spaces in the core of Downtown available to residents and visitors.

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

I worked on both the Civic Center master plan and the Creative Capital blueprint for the arts in Santa Monica. Both encourage cultural facilities, and the general enthusiasm for an arts museum was made clear by our flirtation with the Broads. If you’re a hugely wealthy arts patron who’d love a prime location, call me at home.

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

A fireman. When I was 3, a neighbor had just had a small kitchen fire.

• 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?

Our business community, particularly retailers, has paid the price of success in inflated commercial rents. Deep-pocketed corporate chains have driven out our locally-owned, neighborhood-serving smaller businesses. I’ve worked to keep the small markets in Ocean Park, increased outdoor dining opportunities for restaurants along our neighborhood streets, and led the council to repeal the small home business tax — encouraging residents to work here, where they live, rather than commute and pollute. I’ve fought successfully to streamline the planning and permit processes for new businesses.

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

We have two major hospital campuses in Santa Monica, and medical marijuana is legal in California. Dispensaries may be prohibited by current zoning, but as we create new zoning to implement the recently adopted Land Use and Circulation Elements, I want to consider appropriate locations for responsibly managed dispensaries near the existing concentrations of medical offices.

• Should smoking be banned within apartments?

I remain extremely hesitant to cross the threshold and police legal activity within someone’s home. The reason I’ve supported smoking restrictions in Santa Monica is the health impact of smoke on others. We have already banned smoking in common areas, most recently including patios and balconies, so that smokers can’t light up near someone else’s window or door.

Smoke that travels within buildings, between apartments and condos, does remain a problem. Once we have strengthened renter eviction protections by passing Measure RR on the November ballot, I have pledged to look into ways to identify “smoking units” and eventually separate smokers from non-smokers so both can live in peace.

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

Ride more. As streets are increasingly shared between cars and bikes, motorists will get used to seeing cyclists in traffic. We need to reverse the “car culture” assumption that roads are meant for motorists alone, while we create safe routes to schools, work, and recreation that use both streets and dedicated bikeways.

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

Traffic, much of it caused by commercial overdevelopment. In the process of passing the Land Use and Circulation Element, I consistently voted for less height, more housing, and less office space.

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

By aggregating key properties formerly controlled by various owners, City Hall is creating opportunities for community-serving land uses that could never have happened with divided ownership and control. The top priority at ground level is neither parking nor housing, but pedestrian-friendly civic plazas and exciting new entertainment and commercial opportunities to keep Downtown vibrant. For the first time, we may see a park in our Downtown. We know we need to upgrade and modernize our movie theaters. By combining small parcels under City Hall stewardship, we make it more economical to add underground parking, and transit-close housing on the upper floors.

• 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 have championed the banning of fast jets from an airport never designed for them, taking the Federal Aviation Administration to court on that issue. I was part of a delegation to U.S. Rep. Waxman’s office to get federal help in moving flight paths from over Sunset Park and Ocean Park.

Having butted heads with an FAA administrator at council meetings, I know the federal bureaucracy has little interest in modifying airport operations. When the current agreement expires in 2015, Santa Monica will have to speak with one unified powerful voice to overcome the FAA.

I support a proposed study by the RAND Corp. to assess the economic issues involved, and the convening of an informed public process to determine the community’s will on the airport property’s future.

The current flight paths over our neighborhoods are intolerable. It was my idea to use a scheduled four-day runway closure to measure baseline noise and pollution on days without planes overhead. If the FAA refuses to do a full environmental study of their flight path changes, I will vote to sue for our residents’ right to safe and peaceful enjoyment of their homes.

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

We clearly must rethink benefits in general, but we cannot simply renege on retirement commitments made to past and existing employees. Healthcare benefits are part of ongoing bargaining unit contract negotiations, which should be conducted in good faith, not in the newspaper. I am the city’s strongest supporter of universal single-payer healthcare for all, which would save City Hall alone about $6 million a year compared to the present insurance-industry mediated system.

• 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?

We have not required enough of many past developments in Santa Monica, and inadequately policed the agreements we did have. I have moved decisively to change that. For future development, we need to negotiate the balance of benefits that will continue to fulfill the community’s needs.

In some cases, commercial development’s greatest negative impact may be on traffic, and we must demand mitigations that improve road congestion overall. In other situations, losses of existing affordable housing may argue for creation of new living opportunities along established transit corridors and near existing neighborhood amenities.

• 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?


• 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?

I was an early advocate of housing first, after attending a national homelessness conference four years ago, and it works. Housing first does “get people off the streets immediately,” and has helped lower the number of people suffering on our streets by 19 percent, the second consecutive annual reduction.

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

Some Santa Monicans are still vulnerable to evictions without just cause. We all deserve security and stability in our housing, particularly seniors, those terminally ill, and persons with disabilities. Join me in working to pass Measure RR!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.