Ashley Powell

Name: Ashley Powell

Age: 29

Occupation: Nonprofit Event Planner, Nonprofit Consultant

Neighborhood of residence: North of Montana

Own or rent: Own (reside with my parents)

Marital status/kids: Engaged no children, we each have a niece and nephew

Party affiliation: Democrat

Who has the best cheeseburger in Santa Monica?

Hillstone/R+D #1, Hiho great, and Umami Burger is also a favorite.

What is the city doing to anchor promising startup companies to Santa Monica and secure local jobs?

I am not sure that we are doing enough.  We currently have some very promising startups headquartered in Santa Monica including Bird, Patient Pop, Snapchat. I know people who work at all three, which is why I chose those three in particular.  Santa Monica is a great place to work. We must ensure that startups know this and feel comfortable coming to Santa Monica. Also, people who work there need to be able to afford to live where they work. We have a lot of work to do in regards to that aspect.

Have you been the victim of a crime in Santa Monica in the past two years and what happened?

No.  I consider myself very fortunate.

What Santa Monica service or professional organizations do you belong to? How many hours per week do you volunteer inside Santa Monica?

I belong to the Planned Parenthood Action League of Santa Monica (prior to this election cycle I was one of their most dedicated volunteers and I attend their events/meetings/phonebanks when I can now) and the Santa Monica Democratic Club.

In LA County I am a lay leader for the Anti-Defamation League, member of Los Angeles County Young Democrats, Advocate for the National Council of Jewish Women, and an original community outreach member of Swing the Seven.  I am also a Board Member for United in Harmony and I frequently volunteer at the Westside Democratic Headquarters.

Prior to the campaign, which has greatly reduced the amount of time that I have to volunteer, I would typically spend 10-20 hours a week doing volunteer work of some kind.    

Do you have an account with Bird, Lime, Jump, Lyft, Uber and/or Breeze for scooters and bikes? Which one do you use most frequently?

I have an account with Lyft and with Uber.  I use Lyft nearly every day. I have tried Bird and found that it was awesome.   I would ride an E Scooter but I am unfortunately not able to ride one because of my back condition.

My doctors have told me that it would be dangerous for me as I am also not supposed to ride a bike outside due to the risk of accidents.

What, if any, is the connection between crime and homelessness?

There is some connection according to studies.  As someone who has worked professionally with homeless populations, I want to reiterate how important it is that we not scapegoat any group of our fellow citizens.  Increases in homelessness can often lead to increases in crime because the homeless provide a much more vulnerable target for common criminals. It is much easier to prey on the homeless than others because they often lack security and do not have places to store their money and valuables.  Desperation makes one an easier target for those who want to scam people out of what little they have.

It is important to remember that the homeless people are our fellow citizens, neighbors, and Santa Monicans too.  By protecting and caring for the homeless, we will ultimately reduce crime.

Which three local businesses know you by name?

Again I need to name more than three:

Bread and Porridge (I was just there yesterday)

Frozen Fruit Co (I am obsessed)

The Brixton SM (they have awesome food and drinks)

The Gables (they also have awesome food and drinks and are a new hotspot)

Texture (this is my grandmother’s favorite clothing store for sweaters)

What does it mean for the City’s traffic mitigation efforts if BBB is considering replacing buses with cars on some routes?

I think it could be a sign that we are getting smarter about our targeting of resources in order to mitigate traffic.  Bus routes that do not receive high ridership are not going to be effective for mitigating traffic.

How will the City’s economy survive the continued decline in retail sales?

I believe that we have to look at repurposing our retail spaces for the new economy.  I do not believe that traditional brick and mortar retail is destined to become obsolete as online retail continues to expand.  In some cases, once online-only outlets have begun creating brick and mortar shops of their own. Shopping centers have been looked upon as dying but those that reinvent themselves locally (like Century City and the Beverly Center) have continued to thrive and even expand.  As a city, we will have to think like that in order to protect brick and mortar retail.

Several downtown projects (the Fairmont, the Gehry project and 4th/5th and Arizona) are still working through the city process. What does the final buildout of downtown look like?

Some people may dislike this answer but the final buildout of downtown will look denser and taller and include more residential housing including more affordable housing.  Santa Monica cannot become the playground for the rich but instead must remain a city where people from all economic backgrounds can afford to live. Our downtown is the best place to build affordable housing, which is so important for the future of Santa Monica.

Were the changes to the pier concerts a positive for the shows, the pier and the community?

I believe so, but we need more time to tell.

How do you define progress for a community like Santa Monica?

Santa Monica is a very progressive community.  However, Santa Monica cannot solve all the world’s problems on its own (as much as I and so many others really want to).  In that regard, progress for Santa Monica is being a leader and staying ahead of the curve in recognizing injustices and confronting new challenges in progressive ways.

Santa Monica residents feel besieged homelessness and many are tired of being told solutions are coming or need to be at the regional level. What will you do from the Council dais to directly improve the quality of life for citizens concerned about this issue?

The biggest crisis felt in our City is homelessness. I have served the homeless for over a decade, and it is time we start making impactful decisions from the top of our city’s government to address the issues staring us in the face as we get off the freeways, as we wait in traffic under the overpasses, as we walk with our families down third street or visit our beaches.

Homelessness is a complex problem, but not so complex that we can’t have an effect on it.  

With collaboration between the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, we can significantly reduce it.  

We should take a leading role in solving homelessness at the local and regional level.

We should create parking lot safe zones for homeless individuals who possess automobiles.  Many are unaware but a significant portion of the homeless population have automobiles which become their primary residences when they no longer have a traditional place to call home.  This creates problems in a multitude of ways. First, homeless will park in neighborhoods and create unwanted blight and take away available parking spaces for residents and their guests.  Second, this can lead to increased crime because those who are living out of their cars are extremely vulnerable. We should also have more access to mobile changing, storage and restroom facilities.  This will protect the homeless and help our neighborhoods.

We should also use temporary accommodations, the airport hangers at the Santa Monica Airport to house the homeless, while we build more transitional housing and shelters.  Once we gain back full control of the airport property, we will be able to do this. Any new development of the airport site must include the development of affordable housing including housing for the homeless.   We can’t just have parks without housing because homeless people reside in our parks. Housing first works, let’s put our city forward by reducing homelessness together.

We know the police department needs to hire more people and state laws have put more criminals back on the streets but what will you do to at the local level mitigate the increase in crime?

I would implement more foot patrols and bike patrols for our police officers. I also will push for building police substations at our Expo Line stations (and hopefully stations in all future rail line developments. I support extending the Purple Line down Wilshire Boulevard and I believe that some type of Lincoln Boulevard rail line is inevitable).  We should also conduct surveys of our public areas (especially walking and biking paths) to see if they are adequately lit and patrolled at night as well as landscaped properly to ensure that there are not hiding places for potential criminals. I will also work on creating neighborhood watch groups. We should bring back volunteers for SMPD as my softball coach growing up was one.  We utilize SMPD to police things like handicap placards and scooters–we could have volunteers do that and have faster response times for our officers to address the crime increase.

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