Nick Boles is running for City Council. The following answers were submitted in response to questions from the Daily Press.
Name: Nick Boles
Occupation: Non- Profit Consultant/ Entrepreneur
Neighborhood: Mid- City
Marital status: Single
Political affiliation: Democrat
Schooling: Montclair College Preparatory Highschool/ California State University, Chico/ Universidad Complutense de Madrid/ Santa Monica Community College/ Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs
Highest degree attained: Bachelors in Economics & International Relations
Hobbies: Ballroom Dance, Mixed Martial Arts, International Travel
Reading list: Good to Great, David and Goliath, Citizenville
How do you get to work? Walk, Bus, Car
Favorite place to have a quick, 1 on 1 meeting in Santa Monica? 18th St. Cafe
Favorite dinner spot: Fritto Misto Italian Cafe
Last sporting event you attended: Santa Monica High VS. Valencia (Football)
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’m running for Santa Monica City Council to bridge a generational gap in leadership. I want to make sure that there is a future for our next generation to plant roots and raise families; to support and cultivate the growing demographic of Santa Monica. Leading is serving the public. I come from a family of service as both my parents are teachers, and my brother was in the military up until his recent passing on duty in Afghanistan. I work as a nonprofit consultant leading passionate organizations forward with strategic planning and long term budgeting. I volunteer as a CERT member and am responsible for leading my surrounding neighborhood in the event of a major disaster. I completed the Coro Fellow Program in Public Affairs, a program dedicated to creating ethical and diverse leaders throughout the country. I was a corporate team captain for the ALS Golden West’s chapter. Serving as Director University Affairs, I funded additional academic assistance programs for at- risk students at my university. I mentored at risk youth through the Hermanos y Hermanas program.
As the only candidate under 40, I would serve the council with a long- term perspective on setting the city’s direction, approving programs, enacting ordinances, and reviewing the city’s budget. I believe that Santa Monica has a reputation for being an incubator for innovation and if we want to continue to be ahead of the curve, we need greater diversity of thought on the dais.
What are Santa Monica’s three major strengths and weaknesses? What will you do to ensure the strengths remain and the weaknesses are contained?
Santa Monica has a strong fiscal base and vibrant economy that provides excellent public good and social services to its residents, and it is an oasis away from the dense urban environment of Downtown Los Angeles. there has, however, been a decline in the civility of conversations about the city’s future, daily traffic congestion on our streets, and skyrocketing rental costs that are polarizing classes. In order to make progress, we must protect our current fiscal foundation to continue our wide array of goods and services, plan effectively for our future to create social equity and enhance the quality of life, and build a bridge of collaboration that connects the various components of our city in a constructive conversation about our future.
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?
After the departure of Shriver and Bloom, we have yet to see a new council-member step up and champion the homeless issue. We have a large population of chronically homeless and a solution can be reached through collaboration at a regional level. It is important to note that we no longer face the same issues in our approach to the homeless population. A large section of the population is suffering from substance abuse, mental illness, physical disabilities, or some combination thereof and are seeking services to better their situation. None of us want to live in desperation, and we must collaborate with nonprofits that provide those services such as Ocean Park Community Center and Chrysalis to end homelessness. Santa Monica provides excellent services to our homeless population, but does not have the space or resources to solve the problem on its own. We need to engage with surrounding cities to pick up the pace and put this topic to bed.
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?
Measure FS imposes a limit of $288 on Rent Board annual fees for every rental unit in the city. It also demands that landlords pay at least 50% of that cost. I believe this is fair as it reduces the burden placed on tenants. A strong majority of Santa Monica’s residents are tenants and it is the job of the city to protect as many of its citizens as possible. This measure would make Santa Monica more affordable and livable for its community.
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?
Water self- sufficiency is main priority for our city and were trying to get there by 2020 . We get 60%- 70% of our water from our own water wells that were bought from the city of Los Angeles. The remaining 30%- 40% comes from the Colorado River and Northern California, but with the drought it’s getting scarce. We need to maximize the yield coming out of the ground, focus on conservation and efficiency, and collect storm and waste water from our streets for lawns, parks, toilets, etc. In addition, we have the SMURRF at the pier that collects and treats runoff from the road. We are installing a mechanism that uses reverse osmosis to treat contaminated water and create drinking water. The City needs to explore further incentives and education for renters, who do not pay for utilities, to conserve our precious resource. The biggest impact in water conservation would come from adding an additional reservoir to store the large amounts of water that we are treating throughout our current facilities.
What should City Hall’s role be when it comes to the creation of affordable housing?
City hall plays a pivotal role in the creating and protecting of affordable housing. The city has the Department of Housing and Economic Development, which is responsible for administering all affordable housing programs, including affordable housing development and preservation, as well as rental subsidy programs for low-income households. City Hall should also collaborate with residential developers to ensure incoming housing projects accommodate a diverse array of socioeconomic backgrounds.
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?
At this point in time, the city does not have the legal authority or leverage necessary to completely shut down the airport. Currently, I support a partial closure measure LC. The city needs more leverage in negotiating future contracts with federal agencies that might alter operations at the Santa Monica Airport. With greater leverage, the City will have a better understanding of the legal battles and carefully avoid costly losses. If it were shut down, a decision would need to be made as a community on how to utilize the new land. Regardless of the City’s success in closing the airport, we need to cut down its capacity and limit its operation. We need to limit the classifications of aircraft that are permitted to use the facility, specifically with regards to jet aircraft. We also need to further restrict and regulate hours of operation, noise pollution standards, and alternate fuel source requirements. City Council needs to continue to fight this airport and strive for its closure.
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?
A benefit is something that improve the quality of life for our residents and helps move the city toward its vision of its future. The city should ask for benefits that balance the gain on the private interest with the gain of the community. A checklist would be a viable idea as long at it were updated to reflect the city’s most pressing concerns and needs on a perpetual basis to ensure our most needed benefits are addressed.
What is your definition of overdevelopment and what is your plan to prevent it?
Overdevelopment is excessive growth that has adverse impacts on the environment, creates social inequity, and lowers the quality of life for citizens. We can prevent it by ensuring that our infrastructure can support continued growth, implementing strong environmental and sustainability standards on incoming projects, investing in middle- class housing standards to prevent polarization of class, and encouraging community benefits for all residents.
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?
I believe that the Hines fiasco was a result of an undesirable ratio of office space to residential space, fuzzy math on traffic impacts given the uncertainty of effects from the incoming light rail, and lack of community agreement. The existing site should look at creating a new project that involves mixed- uses, an emphasis on housing, focus on multi- modal transit, and community benefits.
What are your guiding principals for evaluating development in Santa Monica?
Whether or not the community benefits as much as the developer, the long term implications on the city’s livability, and the architecture’s character in accordance to the city’s.
Where should the City look for future revenue sources to support the level of service that residents are accustomed to?
Generating more revenue to fund our social needs will come through collaborating with our top five industries, integrating technology into government, improving inter- departmental collaboration, making smart investments, collecting unreported taxes, and revamping individual benefit services.
What are the top skills, abilities and personality traits you will look for in a new city manager?
The City Manager will be in charge of a very unique city, thus will need to have a skills, abilities, and traits that are different from your standard pick. I would love for someone who is comfortable working with a wide range of operations, constantly asks questions and listens to the various department directors, not a “nice” guy, well connected on a regional level, and ready to work with a lot of city employees being represented by a myriad of unions. He/She should have extensive experience in the finance of municipal services, a deep understanding of city revenues and expenditures, and a commitment to preserve successful polices. The new city manager should exhibit a willingness to embrace civic engagement and believe that the local democratic process makes the best decisions. Finally, I would look for someone who has high- energy, doesn’t sleep, is constantly in discussion, and is an adept listener and negotiator.
Do you trust the current city staff to provide council with information that is transparent, accurate and represents the people?
The city staff’s job is not to represent the people. The staff’s job is to follow the policy set fourth by the council and carry out its desired direction for the city. The staff is picked in accordance with the Council’s approval and act as advisers. So any misrepresentation of the residents is a direct result of their chosen elected officials.
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?
Residocracy was founded on the principle of direct democracy from the residents. Because of its emphasis on representing a diverse range of citizens and its relatively new formation, the group has yet to illustrate a cohesive vision for the future of our city. On the other hand, Santa Monicans for Renters Rights has a long history of protecting residents within Santa Monica, but has not built a bridge across our new generation. The concerns of many new residents and future community leaders are not addressed because of the age gap in leadership. Like I’ve stressed before, 70% of Santa Monica are renters. This is a huge population that needs to be protected and accurately represented. I strive for collaboration between these two ideals. We need to represent the diverse range of citizens that is Santa Monica, but do so with cohesion and foresight into the future.
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?
It all depends on the type of business. Santa Monica has a vibrant economy that incubates the technology, retail, entertainment, hospitality, and medical sectors. We have a large amount of consumers with purchasing power, great public safety, and groundbreaking fiber infrastructure to help business thrive. However, it can also be extremely difficult to navigate the permitting process as a small business owner entering the market. A few of the challenges are the myriad of codes, tight time windows for inspection appointments, and process for approval. The overall process to start a new business here in Santa Monica generally favors larger corporations with the resources/experience to navigate complex city environments, and bogs down small local business because of inexperience and lack of budget.