Whitney Scott Bain is running for City Council. The following answers were submitted in response to questions from the Daily Press.
Name: Whitney Scott Bain
Neighborhood: Sunset Park
Marital status: Single
Political affiliation: Democrat
Highest Degree Attained: MFA
Reading List: Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Clive Cussler
How do you get to work?: Walk, Bike, Bus, Car
Favorite Dinner Spots: Rae’s Diner, Big Dean’s, Chez Jay
Last sporting event you attended: Dodger’s game
Why are you running for City Council, what makes you qualified to lead, and what role do you see yourself playing on the dais if elected?
I’ve lived in Santa Monica for 44 years and have seen some great changes and others for the worse. I am interested in not only listening to want the people of Santa Monica wants, but listening to them. Should two opposing views come to a standstill, let’s meet in the middle and negotiate the best deal for both parties. Unlike past council members, I will be in my office available to the public.
What are Santa Monica’s three major strengths and weaknesses? What will you do to ensure the strengths remain and the weaknesses are contained?
Strengths- Tourism, the pier and the mall.
Weaknesses- Overcrowding, homelessness, transportation.
Strengths- Offer incentives for feature film and TV shows to film here. Ask the citizens of Santa Monica want they want and act on it.
Weaknesses- Put the brakes on development, build an ice rink at 5th and Arizona instead of another high rise, create a crosswalk from the Ken Edwards center to the mall to ensure the safety of our seniors, educate the homeless with Santa Monica College students who will gain extra credit and experience in the work force while giving them minimum, part time jobs with the city so that will benefit and get back on their feet. Some people laugh at this concept, but when a man or a woman is given a chance to improve themselves, they gain back the self-confidence they’ve lost which points them towards becoming valuable members of the community we all live in.
Homelessness used to be considered the City’s major problem but the topic has dropped from the public debate. Has the City solved the problem? Where does homelessness fall in the City’s list of priorities and why isn’t it a more common topic this year?
The city has not solved the homeless problem. In fact, there are more coming here everyday and when the Metrolink arrives, it will get worse. All you have to do is look at the weekly police blotters in the newspapers. The majority of crimes are by the homeless in this city. The city council has placed a band-aid over a large, gaping wound believing that this will fix it. Sadly, homelessness has become a common, everyday event in view of the politicians. Why should anyone on the city council be concerned? Somebody else will deal with it.
Measure H and its companion HH will increase taxes on the sale of property over $1M to support construction of affordable housing. Do you support these measures?
Is Measure FS fair to all residents?
California is in the midst of a historic drought. Where does Santa Monica get its water from? Where can the City find more resources? Has the City done enough to conserve water? Has it done enough to educate consumers and incentive saving by residents?
Santa Monica gets its water from the Joaquin Valley and the well we have. The city hasn’t done enough to conserve water. My plan is to build a desalinization plant at Tongva Park. We have an entire ocean at our disposal we should use it. This way, not only can we take care of the needs of the citizens of Santa Monica by being sustainable, but ensure that our California farming community has enough for their crops. It would generate income for the city as well as helping out our farmers.
What should City Hall’s role be when it comes to the creation of affordable housing?
Affordable for who? Certainly not for the young man or woman that wants to start out on their own that live with their parents in this city. Certainly not affordable for the middle class that live in Santa Monica struggles day-to-day to meet their bills. We need to take care of the people that live here first, not people that don’t. A single apartment costs a minimum of $1,495.00 a month. How can someone earning a part-time, minimum wage job, going to school afford that on their own? Lower priced units for the people that live here should be an objective for us.
Do you think the City has the legal authority to close the Santa Monica Airport? Is it a wise use of municipal funds to continue with litigation over the airport given the City’s history of losing? If the airport closes, what should be done with the property? If the City can’t close the airport, what steps should the city take?
No, the FAA will file a lawsuit the day they try to close the airport. This not only will cost the city millions of dollars to defend, but conceivably will go on for ten years in litigation while the airport still functions as it is. It will be a waste of the taxpayers money and the city’s time. I’ve studied the problem and looked into the FAA on building sounds buffers at both ends of the tarmac as well as soundproofing the homes who request it in the Sunset Park area. The money is available and was available, but our current city council turned it down. Clearly, the subterfuge of building a mile long park with mixed use is nonsense. Its 227 acres of prime land that the developers are licking their chops over to build housing on and based upon the Tongva Park overpriced construction on 6 acres at approximately $7 million dollars per acre, the beginning cost would be $1.5 BILLION DOLLARS, excluding the $270 Million dollars the airport makes for the city yearly. We are the only municipal airport in the United States that charges take off fees. Why is that? This is why voting for Measure D is so important to put the decision of the airport in the hands of the Santa Monica citizens, not in the hands of the city council as Measure LC clearly states.
Community benefits as part of development agreements: what is your definition of a benefit? When should the City Council demand benefits and to what degree? And should some be part of a checklist that developers can choose from, or should the council always have complete control in negotiations with developers?
Where all parties mutually agree on a topic everyone gains. The city council we have now is full of hubris and hyperbole. A new city council is needed. With new people, come fresh perspectives. Too long have we suffered the same routine with the “atta-boy club” for the past 30 years. The new council needs to take responsibility for its actions, not bury them under the rug. They need to listen to the people’s voices and their concerns first then working with the developers second. Then and only then, can both parties come to a happy medium.
What is your definition of overdevelopment and what is your plan to prevent it?
Too many empty apartment buildings. Make them truly affordable for those of us who live here first focusing on the seniors, Afghan/Iraqi war vets coming home, middle class families and young people wanting to start out on their own with jobs for those people that our city can offer.
Who is to blame for the Hines fiasco and what can be done to prevent a repeat of the issue? What should happen at the Hines site now?
The city council is clearly in bed with the developers. Leave the Hines/Bergamont site solely for the art community. We cannot afford to lose our cultural haven of amazing artists. Once it’s gone, where will they go? Downtown L.A.? It’s already overcrowded. There are plans for a hotel on the site. Who is going to stay in a hotel without a view, next door to the homeless shelter, across the street from the sanitation division where the garbage trucks are stored as well as the recycling center when they can pay the same amount or even less while staying in the downtown area or the beach?
What are your guiding principals for evaluating development in Santa Monica?
All plans must be approved by the public first and responsible architects like Ron Goldman and his group need to be involved.
Where should the City look for future revenue sources to support the level of service that residents are accustomed too?
Again, I cannot emphasize the need of a desalinization plant in our city to benefit our citizens while helping our California farmers.
What are the top skills, abilities and personality traits you will look for in a new city manager?
Honesty, trustworthiness, integrity.
Do you trust the current city staff to provide council with information that is transparent, accurate and represents the people?
No. The city council is deceptive.
Santa Monicans for Renters Rights had different goals, priorities and membership from the City’s newest political party, Residocracy. Which of these groups has the best vision for the future of Santa Monica?
I choose neither. Special interests groups like these have their own agenda especially when they thrive on paid membership. SMRR never came through to help my late mother who drastically needed their help when she was victimized in her rent controlled apartment. Try to get a hold of them and you have to listen to a tirade on the phone and leave a message. They offer advice, yet they don’t personally get involved, you’re not allowed to know who they are, what their background is or what they do. There is no physical address for them. They are all bark and no bite, so I can’t say much about their integrity. Residocracy has stopped the Hines deal, yet the city council is railroading three different hotel projects to be built on the site and I haven’t heard Residocracy speak up on that.
Business in Santa Monica have to navigate a complicated legislative environment that can include development agreements, multiple permit processes and stops at several commissions. Is the City a welcoming place for new businesses and does the city have the right attitude towards businesses?
No. The city welcomes big business benefiting through them with waxed fat taxes while ignoring the mom and pop, independent businesses that need their help the most.