• Name: David Ganezer
• Age: 50
• Occupation: Local newspaper publisher
• Marital status/children: Married with a daughter and son
• Your neighborhood? How long have you lived there?: I have been a proud Wilmont resident since 1998. Before that, I lived in Ocean Park for more than 10 years
• Your mode of transportation/model, make and year of your ride?: 2001 Toyota Prius with 187,000 miles
• Own or rent?: Rent (from my father in law).
• 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?
I do not support the measure because this tax hurts small businesses and the working class. City Hall needs to make real cuts in the budget, and not put the burden on the people it is supposed to serve. However, I do support the advisory measure. If this tax passes, I would prefer half the money go to the school district rather than City Hall.
• What are you reading?
The Santa Monica Observer.
• Do you believe there is enough parking Downtown? If not, what do you plan to do about it?
The latest parking study from non-City Hall experts showed that the city can increase available spaces by using what we have more wisely rather than building new structures. Since building structures is expensive and the experts say we don’t need new ones, why would we build them? However, demolishing a parking structure to build a movie theater as City Hall plans to do is not a bright idea.
• Now that the Broad museum is out of play, what should City Hall do with the Civic Center Parking Lot?
That is still a prime spot for either a museum or some other world-class cultural facility. We need to see what’s out there. But it must be something of excellence like the Broad museum would have been. We should stand for nothing less in Santa Monica.
• When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
President. Now, I’ll settle for City Council.
• 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?
A good start would be not to propose half-cent sales taxes that will drive away customers.
• L.A. recently greatly reduced patients’ access to medical marijuana. Do you support medical marijuana dispensaries in Santa Monica?
I sympathize with those who have illnesses that require the use of medicinal marijuana to reduce the pain. But all one has to do is look at Los Angeles to see the chaos that medicinal marijuana dispensaries create in this early stage of their existence. For now, this is not something we need in this city. Those who need medicinal marijuana have choices nearby just outside the city boundaries. We need to work with other cities on a regional approach to this issue. After this is accomplished, then we can consider bringing dispensaries here in a responsible manner.
• Should smoking be banned within apartments?
Absolutely not. I do not advise you smoke in your apartment because it is not healthy, but if you want to do it, that is your choice. The late Councilman Herb Katz, a great man who I respect, said that it is impossible for smoke to escape through the walls of an apartment as these junk science proponents are trying to make you believe. He was an architect, and I take his word for it.
• What would you do to make Santa Monica more bike friendly?
Santa Monica is one of the most bike friendly cities in the nation. We should continue on the path that we are on. I support responsibly creating new bike lanes in areas that will not cause public safety dangers.
• What’s the biggest threat facing the quality of life in Santa Monica?
Irresponsible development and the traffic that comes with it.
• Downtown properties owned by City Hall. Should parking be the top priority or should housing come first?
We do not need any new parking structures for now as long as we better use the parking opportunities we already have. We do need more low-to moderate-income housing in this city so that we can encourage more local employees to live here, which will in turn reduce traffic.
• 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?
That is a federal government decision. How I feel as a city official on this is irrelevant to the FAA. I know some people believe we can just close the airport, but it is not that simple. Rather than focus on that, let’s concentrate on forcing the FAA to be a more responsible partner.
• Do you believe in pension reform and should Santa Monica employees contribute more toward their health care and retirement benefits?
Yes, rising costs for pensions and healthcare is a huge burden on the city budget. I have to save my own money and I have to pay for my healthcare as well as the healthcare of my family. I am not even asking city employees to do that. I am just asking for them to give a little.
• 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?
Parks and traffic management programs. This city needs more parks for our children and we need to reduce traffic. Affordable housing is a good thing because it too reduces traffic, but it should not be the lone priority with development agreements. Developers are getting the right to build in our beautiful city. They need to be willing to contribute to it to make it a better place for the residents who live here.
• 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?
Last weekend, I went on a bike ride with my children.
• 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?
We need to work on regional approaches with other cities. The burden should not be on Santa Monica.
• Free form: What’s putting a burr under your saddle?
Our current city government gives itself awards for sustainability, then enacts a $255 million unsustainable budget. A small city running a $13 million annual budget deficit is not sustainable. Only living within your means is sustainable. Cuts need to be made carefully so that important programs do not suffer. More money could be spent on schools and education, and less on regulation and litigation. I’d like Santa Monica voters to ask themselves two questions: Would life here be better with more regulation? Who do you trust to represent you, appointed incumbents who were selected by the other members of the City Council, or someone you elect to serve your own interests?