The Santa Monica Daily Press sent candidates for Supervisor, Congress and State Senate a list of four questions. Each candidate had up to 800 words to use as they saw fit answering some or all of the questions. We will print their responses, starting with Supervisor candidates over the next few days. Responses have been edited for spelling and punctuation.
Supervisor candidates were asked:
1) Given the controversy over the Santa Monica Airport, where do you stand on the proposed closure of the facility and how will you advocate for that position once elected?
2) How will you balance the economic development needs of unincorporated communities with Santa Monica’s interest in controlling traffic and congestion?
3) Santa Monica’s low elevation and location by the beach has forced the city to clean water polluted by inland communities. What will you do to ensure clean water district wide?
4) Who is best equipped to address the ongoing problem of homelessness in our communities? How can government agencies work together to find solutions and should there be more reliance on solutions from the private sector?
Yuval Daniel Kremer:
1) As for possible closure, I need to study the matter further to make a decision, and I’m sure the City and Feds will have a part in that decision. What I would certainly do is try to move the air traffic to LAX. We were given this question at a Mar Vista forum and another candidate proposed moving the jets out, but keeping the propeller planes … that may be a solution. The City of LA is intentionally running Ontario airport into the ground (to benefit LAX) and also is in charge of Van Nuys airport. I would like to see the City of LA properly running Ontario or losing control of it. I could see airline traffic shifted to Ontario, which would make LAX’s long-suffering Westchester neighbors happy. Then, traffic from Santa Monica could be shifted to LAX or Burbank.
2) I think I’ve shown over the last decade through various battles that I’m concerned about overdevelopment and its negative impacts on surrounding communities, as well as its destruction of the character and scale of neighborhoods. I’m more passionate these days about issues like saving dogs and cats at “shelters,” restoring Bus service cut by MTA, keeping MTA fares low, and stopping the financial mismanagement of our government. I’ve also come to believe that the benefit of new stores and restaurants nearby is a more walkable community, convenience, less need to travel outside your neighborhood for services. Development, in moderation, can improve the neighborhood, and fighting all development can sometimes lead to unintended negative consequences, besides the fact that development stimulates the (weak) economy and provides an alternative revenue source that is preferable to higher taxes, fees, and fines on residents.
3) One thing I’m passionate about is folks not wasting water on their lawns and the runoff that it creates. I’d also like more lawns to be replaced by drought-tolerant landscaping, so the County needs to provide more incentives to help folks pay for that. I’d also like to find ways for the County to provide incentives for less water use in general. We also need to do a better job providing trash cans so that folks don’t litter, putting in mesh filters on drains to the ocean, cleaning our streets and sidewalks responsibly, recycling, etc. We should also try to clean the water before it empties into the ocean … there’s a thought !
4) I would like the County to get more help from the State and Feds on homelessness, particularly more funding. The private sector can definitely help keep the costs down for LA County, whether it’s providing alcohol and drug rehab, mental health services, or even housing for the homeless community. LA County also needs to coordinate with its member Cities on homeless services, and it might be worth considering giving the small cities more money to provide those services, since LA County has a massive budget and doesn’t seem to be doing a very good job at it.
1) I support doing everything possible to convert the Santa Monica Airport to recreational and community use. I will work with our Congress members to help make that happen. If, however, they are not able to convince the FAA to close the airport, I will fight to insure that flights are reduced, flight patterns are changed and large jets are barred.
2) There are actually fewer unincorporated areas in the Third than in other Supervisorial districts. When I was in the state legislature I fought to keep the Santa Monica Mountains free of large scale development by working with Supervisor Yaroslavsky and then Assembly Member Fran Pavley to buy up large portions of the mountains and preserve them as recreation space. The Topanga corridor has a similar need for protection. In addition, I would examine current plans to redevelop Marina del Rey with particular attention to the traffic impact it would have on the surrounding communities, especially Santa Monica and Venice.
3) There is an ongoing struggle between the County and its cities as to who must bear the cost of cleanup and re-use of storm water. Courts are holding the County responsible, but it cannot dictate what cities must do to keep polluting waste out of storm water. We must create incentives so that all responsibility doesn’t fall on our beach towns. It looks as though a tax on residents and a tax on cities are both doomed to fail. I would support issuing bonds to provide cleanup all across the County with an emphasis on on-site cleanup through filtration and recycling.
4) No one organization or government agency can end homelessness on their own. There must be a collaborative effort between and among the County, all of its cities, especially the City of Los Angeles, and non-profits, which are providing most of the housing and shelter options.
The best solution to bringing the chronically homeless off the streets is a strong commitment to building and maintaining permanent supportive housing. This action also provides the most cost-effective solution, as it saves the County money by reducing emergency room visits, incarceration expenses and coordinating mental health dollars.
Some families are not chronically homeless. They have simply lost their housing and do not need wrap-around services for drug addiction or mental illness. These families can benefit from “rapid re-housing” which is permanent, not temporary. The advantage to this solution is that it does not need to be concentrated downtown, but can be scattered throughout the County.
Los Angeles County has the largest population of poor people of any county in the country and, therefore, the greatest number of homeless individuals and families. Although the use of shelters has been widespread, they have not, in the long run, made a significant dent in the homeless population. In the past few years, a new and innovative model has emerged, one which I strongly support.
Home For Good, a collaborative, public/private, $200 million program, led by United Way and the LA Chamber, has found housing for almost 2500 chronic and veteran homeless in the past two years by working together to provide housing vouchers, health, mental health and substance abuse services, and move-in funds. These are not concentrated downtown but rather in several parts of the region, in scattered-site housing.
In 2013, 900 veterans were housed through the VA Supportive Housing Program (VASH), which coordinated the work of local non-profits with the VA. With over 6,000 homeless vets in LA, I would fight for more VASH vouchers for Los Angeles County to house more veterans immediately.
I would also advocate aggressively for more Section 8 vouchers and would support setting aside current Section 8 vouchers specifically for the chronically homeless.
In addition, the County Department of Health has a program called Home For Health, under which health department dollars are used to create permanent supportive housing for the most chronically homeless in an effort to lower the costs associated with their frequent visits to emergency rooms. The program has been shown to save as much as $32,000 per person placed.
In my 17 years of experience before I ran for office, both as Chair of the Board of the Ocean Park Community Center (which provides homeless services on the Westside) and the Sojourn Shelter for Battered Women and Their Children (which we founded after learning that domestic violence had rendered thousands of women and children homeless as they tried to escape), I learned that the County could make a big dent in the homeless population by adopting a strong program to bring concentrated services to the homeless, designed to help them choose to leave the streets. This must be coupled with providing a permanent place to go, supported by services. Other counties have done it and we can, too.
1) I supported the Residocracy petition drive when the elected City Council didn’t listen to the community and will support the community when there is a clear understanding of the pros and cons of complete closure.
We live under the flight path. I’m for reduced aircraft use including banning jets and flight student controlled take-offs and landings. I also believe quiet airplanes save airports. Modifications to reduce exhaust noise decibel levels should be mandatory now.
My grandfather flew free medical missions. I am an Emergency First Response Instructor and a tsunami survivor. When a disaster strikes the airstrip is our local lifeline. Without it we will not have a local emergency relief air support location.
Regarding other uses they should be recreational, not housing. I thanked Planet Granite for not converting the Culver Ice Rink into a climbing wall/yoga studio and suggested a better location might be SMO.
Downsizing airport operations and increasing recreational uses might be a compromise we all can live with. If elected my office will act as mediator, assisting and siding with the community and their needs. Not the politicians, the FAA, or the City Council.
2) By adhering to smart growth principles with every development proposal that comes before me. With over a decade of land use planning and policy experience, reviewing the County and City general plans (GPs) for consistency and concerns will be a priority. The GPs identify economic development opportunities. The circulation elements identify level of service (LOS) grades for roadways. The Board of Supervisors (BOS) is known for approving projects that are inconsistent with GP policies by “independent judgment” or “overriding considerations” that exceed as set LOS standard.
I’m opposed to breaking the rules and increasing project densities above what is currently allowed that would impact Lincoln Boulevard, PCH, and the 10 Freeway.
The unincorporated communities will grow. Making them pedestrian friendly, adding more bike lanes and paths, expanding light rail, work at home, and other solutions to reduce daily single occupant per vehicle trips are essential.
3) Get elected so projects that actually benefit water quality and the economy can be done. Over 25 years ago Sheila Kuehl authored SB 1381 creating the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission that has failed to do an enhancement project within the Bay or a project that creates revenue. SB 1381 also created the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Account within the State Treasury to provide transparency. Ironically, the Account has never been used. All of the publicly funded grants and other monies go directly to the non-profit The Bay Foundation where Kuehl’s assistant Laurie Newman is the president. Heal The Bay (HTB), founded through my father Dr. Rimmon C. Fay’s challenging a sewage treatment waiver, has also failed to meet expectations. Even though Bobby Shriver claims he cleaned the waters under the Santa Monica Pier, it continuously gets an F on the HTB Report Card.
I will expose others who are failing to perform and suggest improvements that bring tangible results. For years I have stated segregating wastewater and urban runoff treatment facilities must end. It is cheaper and significantly better for the environment to recycle water within the municipalities where it is generated. Reuse and aquifer storage and recovery policies need to be implemented countywide. Clean water projects = local jobs.
Quality control oversight of sanitation, public works, flood control districts, and the general public regarding trash and urban waste is an issue I will relentlessly advocate for including through developing education and performance based incentive programs. Zero waste must be achieved.
4) I am. Bobby Shriver did not end homelessness while serving in Santa Monica. The career politician Sheila Kuehl and the current BOS have not ended homelessness. Government agencies must work with the private sector to implement programs and solutions that are viable and ensure they are funded. I have personal friends that are professionals in fields of mental health, faith based healing, housing, social services, community service, law enforcement and other areas.
The ongoing problem isn’t homelessness in our communities, it’s dividing our communities and associated family values that is the problem. As humanitarians, my wife and I have collected and sent thousands of educational books to schools with underprivileged children in the Philippines. As environmentalists, we are fighting to save the only dedicated Bird Conservation Area in LA County from mismanagement of the BOS and their intent on further diminishment of the habitat value, favoring recreational and increased flood control uses.
There is a strong correlation between actions by elected officials and an increase in the homeless population including insufficient affordable housing, healthcare, and job opportunities.
First, you need to start a relationship with the homeless. When they gain your trust, treat them with honesty. It works.
4) All of the issues raised in your questions are crucial, but none is more important than the issue of homelessness, for it contributes to every aspect of County life. The number of Los Angeles County residents who are homeless increased by 23.5% since 2012 to a staggering 57,735, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Renewal. This is an embarrassment and great moral failure. It is also self-destructive from an economic and public health perspective.
The good news is that there are a few County initiatives showing promise. Director of Health Services Mitch Katz’s program to provide 56 units of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals is saving lives and money (by keeping residents out of the ER), and that plan should be expanded. The recently developed Family Solution Center program, a kind of one-stop shop for accessing County services, is also promising.
The bad news is that the County’s homeless policies are not part of an effective coordinated strategy directed by a single accountable individual. Instead, there are several departments in the County each vying for funding from the Supervisors for their own initiatives. This often pits departments against one another and results in an inefficient, highly political process that unfortunately repeats itself annually. The victims of this uncoordinated system are, of course, the homeless.
I propose that the Supervisors create a new position responsible for overseeing all efforts related to homelessness – a kind of General Manager or Executive Director. He or she should bear responsibility for the outcomes of the County’s many efforts to fight homelessness. Ultimately, though, the buck has to stop at the desk of the Supervisors, who would be charged to appoint someone to fill the new position.
For the above reform to actually get done, there will have to be a Supervisor on the Board who possesses sufficient skill and tenacity to bring order to the various silos of LA County’s enormous bureaucracy. I truly believe that I am the only candidate in this race who has demonstrated the capacity for bringing about that level of change. Over the past three years, working as a private citizen, after hours from my day job, without the benefit of official access, I have brought to light several instances of major governmental mismanagement, if not malfeasance-failures which have cost the taxpayers millions of dollars that could have been spent serving the public, including the homeless. As a Supervisor, my effectiveness would be greatly increased, because my access to information would not be blocked to the same extent as it is now.
In some cases, pulling together an effective, coordinated policy towards homelessness will require a firm hand. This is certainly the case with the Community Development Commission (CDC) and Housing Authority (HACOLA), a County agency which, though it oversees some worthy programs, at present charges the very government to which it belongs extremely high commissions for carrying out the projects it oversees. I will work tirelessly to put an end to that fleecing of the taxpayers if I’m elected Supervisor. I’m already in that fight-and my most influential exposure of County government malfeasance on KCET’s Socal Connected was directly focused on the CDC.
The upshot is that to tackle the challenge of homelessness, we need a “mover and a shaker” Supervisor. Even the other candidates will acknowledge that I have that quality when it comes to LA County government. I am fond of the other folks in this race, but when Bobby Shriver says he is running to “shake up” County government and Sheila says she will be the best agent for change, I want to ask: “Where have you been these past few years? You don’t have to wait for an election to talk about change. I’ve been trying to effect change every Tuesday for the past three years. The truth is that, however good their intentions, none of the other candidates have the burning desire or energy to really reform County government. They are in some respects different versions of Zev Yaroslavsky – Zev-lite. And if an admired Supervisor like Zev Yaroslavsky wasn’t able to make the changes everyone feels are crucial, what makes you think they will?
Different times demand different types of leaders. And what’s needed now is the kind of leader with a proven record of major reform. I have no doubt that I am the person for that job. I am best able to serve effectively the residents of Los Angeles County and thus I ask for your vote on June 3rd.
1) I am not in favor of a proposed closure of the Santa Monica airport and if I were elected I would advocate for the retention of jobs at the facility as well as responsible operational safety guidelines that are responsive to the neighborhoods impacted by the facility and its operations
2) I would advocate for “low cost improvements in transportation such as flow boulevards and improved technology designed to eliminate congestion and bring affordable land use improvement patterns that reduce vehicular miles traveled”
3) I am advocating to enforce California’s current litter laws and to educate the public regarding the consequences of litter, garbage, trash, pollution, storm water treatment and the negative effects associated with contamination of the LA bay and the environment and the costs associated with cleanup
4) I support the blueprint of “home for good” and their approach to “utilize public & private dollars by focusing on solutions that end homelessness rather than manage homelessness” a system designed with strategy for success and accountability
1) It seems overwhelmingly clear that the residents of Santa Monica would like the airport to close and I support the residents of Santa Monica’s decision. Santa Monica airport is one of the only airports in the country built in a residential area. The airport creates pollution unsafe to residents and the noise decreases quality of life.
2) We need to work to preserve the natural beauty of the Santa Monica Mountains for future generations. Decreasing traffic congestion in the incorporated areas around Santa Monica is an issue I am passionate about. We need to expand public transportation, like expansion of the MTA subway system and a new line along Santa Monica Boulevard. These projects will make our public transportation system easier to use and create more jobs to bolster our county’s economy.
3) Water is one of the most pertinent issues in all of California, but especially in our county. Keeping our water sources clean is a large aspect of the water issues. I will work with local Santa Monica government to clean up the Santa Monica Bay. We also need to work to decrease storm water runoff to create safe and clean water.
4) As with all major problems facing Los Angeles County, we need to build partnerships that work together to deal with homelessness. I am committed to working to end homelessness in Los Angeles County and I support finding creative solutions to get as many people off the streets as we can and help them get back on track.
Many people that are living on the street are victims of mental illness or addiction. Los Angeles County needs to increase funding to alcohol and drug rehabilitation and recovery programs. There also needs to be more space in mental illness facilities in the county and better mental health treatment in the county’s jail system.
In the City of West Hollywood, we have worked to carefully balance the feeding of the homeless with impacts on neighborhoods. The City has supported the feeding programs through various non-profits who have the mission of feeding the poorest in our communities. However, we have also balanced these feeding programs with outreach programs to attempt to move these citizens into homeless shelters and housing with supportive services to get them safely off the streets. These are examples of the same programs I would support across the county.
Pamela Conley Ulich:
1) As an elected official, my job it to advocate for and serve the people in Santa Monica. Given the numerous public safety issues surrounding the airport, it is imperative that we do all we can to avoid a catastrophe. Even though the Board of Supervisors has no authority over the Santa Monica Airport,, we can use our voice to help organize grass-roots efforts to insure that our voice is heard by the decision makers. As Malibu City Councilmember, I successfully worked with our community to stop not one, but two LNG facilities from being built off our coast.
2) Economic development approvals must address the traffic and congestion that will result. We need to be responsive to the needs of Santa Monica to insure we keep traffic flowing and our economy growing.
3) I will work with all inland communities to institute best practices for storm water collection and reduce urban runoff.
4) Homelessness is one of the biggest issues facing Los Angeles. I believe that public and private sector partnerships can best address this issue. We must give opportunities for those who are homeless to contribute to society. Instead of just food handouts, we must work to give them educational and vocational opportunities so they can rejoin the work force and get off the streets. In addition, we must collaborate with the private sector to provide mental health and other addiction related support services to insure the underlying systemic reason why they can not work is addressed. Finally, the County must work reduce red tape and provide economic opportunities to businesses who can offer employment opportunities to all.
1) I voted to make the FAA address the safety and air quality issues that arise from an airport placed next to a residential neighborhood. I will continue to raise those issues.
2) While on Santa Monica City Council, I supported Measure T to balance traffic and congestion and new development. I will continue to listen to all communities, balance traffic concerns with new development and support healthy neighborhoods.
3) One of the most important short-and-long-term issues for the County is a clean and sustainable supply of water. Both lawsuits as well as potential federal fines are only going to increase the cost of what we should be doing already: preventing billions of gallons of stormwater from polluting our oceans and beaches and capturing and cleaning stormwater for local use. Acting now could potentially save money and create a path to drought-proof LA County. This cannot happen without voter approval, which means that we need to demonstrate success. Santa Monica led the way with Measure V to clean up the bay. I was a leader on that campaign and we built the project on time and on budget and cleaned up the bay. Recently, the netting to protect from bird droppings was damaged and the bay water quality suffered as a result, further proving the need to remain tenacious about water quality and the technology we use.
As Supervisor, I will be a leader on cleaning our beaches and storm water as I have been in Santa Monica. We can move the County forward and collaborate with other cities and make clean, local water a reality. We spend about 20% of all energy use statewide in order to pump water into Southern California rather than improving our local water supply. This is not sustainable, and we need a regional solution that does not put the burden only on coastal cities some of whom have led in this effort. I will also lead on cleaning the toxins out of the large aquifers under the San Fernando Valley and incentivizing businesses and residences to install water-capture tools and permeable surfaces on-site.
4) It is going to take everyone, the County, cities, the VA, with help from the state and federal government all working closely together to solve homelessness. I am passionate about solving this issue and have been working on developing partnerships and solutions that work.
Our region has the largest population of homeless veterans in the United States. I fought for years to get the VA to house and serve our local veterans on the west LA campus. I finally had to sue them and we won and are now moving forward. I will work tireless to ensure that all of LA County’s veterans, low income families, seniors, and youth are decently housed.
While on the Council, I helped to hire former Supervisor Ed Edelman who is supporting me in this race. We worked to adopt the best practices for addressing homelessness, including a housing-first approach, which seeks to get people into supportive housing first and then attempts to address their other mental and physical health issues. This model is what we need to offer to veterans. We should be offering them housing and at the same time the services to address physical and mental health needs.
People who have been living on the streets for a short time can benefit from temporary shelter and rapid rehousing, but the chronically homeless need much longer-term support. The case workers and services attached to this type of housing-medical and mental health treatment, substance abuse prevention, employment counseling, and life training-enable people to stay housed and live better lives. Consider cost of the alternative: paramedics’ and police officers’ time, plus the continuous cycle from the streets to emergency rooms, hospitals, and jails. Throughout the county, we are wasting a lot of money and not getting much for that money. Supportive housing is actually much cheaper than leaving people in the streets-studies in Los Angeles say 40% less costly. It has been effective in cities all across the country. Phoenix and Salt Lake City have ended veteran homelessness, why can’t we?
We also need to prevent homelessness by working to preserve and build affordable housing. The California Housing Partnership Coalition recently released a report underscoring how serious the affordable housing crisis has become in L.A. County. There is currently a shortfall of 375,000 units for extremely low-income people, which places them at significant risk of homelessness. As Supervisor, I would work to commit a significant percentage of the county funds from the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agencies to affordable and supportive housing.