Zoe Muntaner. Photo by Asa Mathat.

Zoë Muntaner is running for City Council. The following answers were submitted in response to questions from the Daily Press.

Name: Zoë Muntaner

Age: 45 Occupation: Founder & Chief Compassion Officer of Compassionate Santa Monica, Chief Strategy Officer of New Moon Media, Writer & Blogger, Pilates & Yoga Instructor, Expert Fundraiser.

Neighborhood: Mid City

Own/Rent: Rent

Marital status: Single

Political affiliation: Independent

Schooling: UPR, UCLA, Sarah Lawrence and RADA Highest degree attained: I want more, still working on that!

Hobbies: Cooking, Gardening, Jogging, Decorating

Reading list: The Journey Home By Radhanath Swami, Woman Code by Alisa Vitti, Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, Beloved by Toni Morrison, A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson.

How do you get to work? Walking

Favorite place to have a quick, 1 on 1 meeting in Santa Monica? Swinger’s Diner Favorite dinner spot: Il Ristorante di Giorgio Baldi

Last sporting event you attended: Malibu Triathlon

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 am running for City Council because I do not recognize the city I left in 2005. Although I understand that cities are living organisms that grow and evolve, the pace and disregard for resident concerns and wishes has been erased from the dialogue. I am qualified because I have 25 years of business experience and have an understanding of community building and organizing. As many of you know, I am the Founder and Chief Compassion Officer of Compassionate Santa Monica, and made Santa Monica the first city in LA County to sign The Charter for Compassion. We have two indexes of wellbeing in our website to gather data and metrics and work with City Council to develop programs that will transform our city into a Model City of Compassion that will build the rest of LA County. My role is of a community leader not a politician as you can see in my Facebook page. I want to bring the residents to the table and give them a voice and a role in the growth and development of the city. Government should be the servant of the people NOT the ruler of the people. I am committed through my fundraising efforts to take private interest money out of politics, it is the moral challenge of our days and we are the generation we have been waiting for.

What are Santa Monica’s three major strengths and weaknesses? What will you do to ensure the strengths remain and the weaknesses are contained?

Our people is our biggest strength. The citizens of our community are passionate advocates for environmental policies and political discourse. This is what set us apart from the rest of the cities in LA County. Our geographic location is another of our strengths, to live, work and play by the Ocean is a blessing, we must protect at all costs. Another of our strengths is the Sustainable? Green movement that is putting us in the map as one of the leaders in the green movement. We must be vigilant not to use buzz words and be authentically green, is not a Public relations initiative it must be respected as a true environmental initiative.

In the weakness department we have a City Council that has destroyed the trust of its residents in government, a City Council that that has ignored the plight of its people for protection of their rights as renters and have been the servants of the rich. Another weakness is a police department that has been slowly but surely criminalizing the black and Latino population creating a narrative of prejudice and distrust. It is a polarized city where compassion is utterly absent and desperately needed. The Pay2Play politics has had a terrible corrosive effect on the city. The final weakness is the lack of effective treatment of our homeless population, we are failing in providing the tools to get them of off streets. By throwing money into the problem and not closely monitoring and auditing the organizations managing the city treasury we have failed them greatly. At the end of the day these are people too. They might have issues but we cannot sweep them under the rug. They are our brothers and sisters. and until we get into the root of the problem, it will keep growing to disastrous effects. They scare tourists, visitors and residents alike because they don’t have the real tools to effect change in their lives.

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?

Please refer to the previous answer.

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?

Funding a bureaucracy is not a good idea. Measure FS is not a fair alternative to solve the problems of renters and landlords. The cost of administering the program is a city expense that should be paid for by city revenues. The solution is to increase city revenues across the board not to permanently fund separate bureaucracies.

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 owns 75% of its water from its own ground water sources. 25% of its water its purchased. The only alternative to purchase water is desalination. I believe far more efforts should be made to recycle and conserve our own water. A 25% reduction in water use is possible from an aggressive purple pipe program that will reuse as much grey water as possible. Much more public education is needed. I met Santa Monica Sustainability Manager for the Sustainability & the Environment Office of Santa Monica, Dean Kubani at The Green Literature Awards last week and asked questions about energy and water that he answered to the full house auditorium on our Main Library

What should City Hall’s role be when it comes to the creation of affordable housing?

Santa Monica should facilitate access to public land such as parking space at the Santa monica Airport and and it should increase density policy by allowing smaller units to be built. Eliminating land cost and making smaller units available for rental housing will help greatly.

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?

The issue of legal authority is moot. There will likely be an airport of some size for some time. The issue is to limit its scope and to use available unused land wisely.

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?

Community benefits equal appropriate scope and size, public spaces, shared resources, like renewable energy, affordable housing, and common areas.The issue is fundamentally about structuring win-win solutions.

What is your definition of overdevelopment and what is your plan to prevent it?

Overdevelopment is unplanned, improperly controlled use of space and resources. It represents out of balance use of both. It is the result of money in politics. Our very own Pay2Play. Take the money out of politics and the issue will be substantially resolved.

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?

Our City Council is to blame for a lack of transparency and accountability. What should happen on the site now is a more balanced and appropriate development which is a genuine public private partnership after full disclosure and participation of a resident advisory board.

What are your guiding principals for evaluating development in Santa Monica? Balance, Compassion, win-win solution and residents advisory board participation.

Where should the City look for future revenue sources to support the level of service that residents are accustomed to?

The city should be considering every avenue for spending reductions such as interest savings, water savings, and energy savings. Ultimately revenues will be increased by having effective public-private partnerships that are structured as win win solutions.

What are the top skills, abilities and personality traits you will look for in a new city manager?

Transparent, Compassionate, Fearless, Passionate, Consensus builder, charismatic, accessible, the ability to be a visionary but also able to implement the vision at a granular level. In other words: me!

Do you trust the current city staff to provide council with information that is transparent, accurate and represents the people?

No, we have a history and a pattern that establish City Council has not been provided with accurate information to influence their vote. Transparency should not be a buzz word, it should be a way of doing business.

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?

None of them.

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 attitude towards business is hostile. The city should welcome businesses and look for every opportunity to create win win solutions with its private entrepreneurs. It should look for every way possible to cut red tape. I make things happen and I make things happen fast. That is what sets me apart from the pack of other candidates.

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