Albin Gielicz: Gielicz is a Recreation and Parks Commissioner and business advisor. Courtesy photo

All candidates were given an opportunity to provide written answers to a set of questions provided by SMDP and two sets of answers will be printed each day. Answers are also available online alongside additional information from each candidate. To hear interviews with the candidates, visit www.smdp.com/pod.

What is your justification for using government authority to require private property owners to subsidize inflation, fees, utilities and other costs for rent controlled tenants?

We must ensure that our post-Covid economic recovery is equitable and sustainable for all who live in Santa Monica. It is the duty of government to maintain stability, keep people housed, and push back against the growing pressure of inflation and affordability issues.

Meanwhile, California is in a period of aridification, which means stricter water restrictions and possible rate increases. It is the role of government to ensure that all people and animals have easy access to clean, potable water.

That said, for every provision or subsidy made to renters, there should also be a commensurate government program to support or reimburse property owners (rebates, tax breaks, low interest loans, grants, etc.) to ensure compliance.

Do government subsidies of homeless services do more to get people off the streets or attract more individuals to the city? Depending on your answer, why should that money continue to flow to service providers or be reassigned to other needs?

These services effectively help those experiencing homelessness by guiding them towards supportive housing, career resources, as well as mental health and addiction related services. We are known for our compassionate approach to homelessness, but without our infrastructure we would face even greater challenges.

We need to keep investing in and amping up our Homelessness Action Plan by increasing the number of available shelter beds, mental health specialists and addiction services. To do this, we need to be more assertive in going after county, state, and federal funds, as well as encourage our regional neighbors to do their fair share.

Why has Santa Monica become a hub of transit innovation including scooters, self driving cars, delivery drones and zero-emission vehicles and is this industry one that should be encouraged to grow here? 

We embrace creativity, innovation, and sustainability because they align with our values. Santa Monica is a great testing ground for technologies that will change our future because we are small, high profile, and seen as trendsetters even within California. We should always encourage more of these ideas and businesses to start and stay here. This will diversify our local economy and make us more resilient as a community, especially if we ever face another pandemic or unexpected disaster.

What specific technological, policy or regulatory ideas do you have to address resident concerns about a declining quality of life in Santa Monica?

I believe that this sentiment comes from the perceived decline in public safety and cleanliness due to Covid 19 and the challenges that accompanied it. Once we see more sustained progress fighting crime and helping those experiencing homelessness, we will feel safe and clean again. Also, as we continue to recover economically and restore more essential city services, those concerns will likely subside. 

What role does tourism play in Santa Monica’s culture, economy and government? 

This is our #1 industry and vital to this city. Without a robust hospitality sector, we would not be able to sustain our high quality of life, provide as many employment opportunities, be an innovation hub, and stay true to our values. We got a bitter taste of what it would feel like if tourism went away during the pandemic when we saw our tax revenues plummet, massive layoffs occur, businesses close for good, and essential city services cut. The $70M+ we get from the transit-occupancy-tax and sales tax associated with tourism pays for much of what we need to keep Santa Monica economically strong and culturally diverse.

Does Santa Monica’s approach to law enforcement need to change and if so, what would you do to alter the department to meet the needs of the city? 

I believe that our police department needs to be fully funded to keep Santa Monica safe for everyone who lives, works, and visits here. I am not aware of any problem in recorded history that has ever been solved with fewer resources and less attention. Currently, the department is understaffed, and though we have just hired 17 new officers we still need another 20-30 more to have a full department.

We must ensure that all members of law enforcement complete thorough sensitivity training and are fully prepared to conduct themselves in a humane, compassionate, and constitutional manner that is in adherence with our values.

Some more ideas:

·   Increase the number of CRU street teams and extend their hours to 24 hours a day

· Invest in cutting-edge technologies to enforce our laws and ordinances

·  Adopt proven best practices from other jurisdictions that have tried alternatives to traditional policing

How do street vendors impact the experience of using Santa Monica’s public spaces?

We have a licensed street vendor program for the Pier that works very well.  It’s the unlicensed vendors near the pier and in Palisades Park that have had a negative impact on public health and safety. With a career in creative marketing management, I have many ideas about how to improve and develop this program further so that it is clean, safe, fair, equitable, and representative of our community.

Do you think residents fundamentally trust local government and what can be done to address the feelings many residents have regarding local politics?

With over 15 years of community experience, I know that the more one gets involved in their community and in government, the more one realizes all the effort it takes to get anything done. For this reason, I will always encourage more community involvement and civic engagement.

That said, trust in government is indeed very low. One reason is the erosion of civil and respectful discourse on the dais, online, and at board and commission meetings. There is a growing divisive feeling of “Us” vs. “Them” rather than “We,” which tends to get personal. This stalls meaningful change and creates distrust.

It’s for this reason that I will always focus on common ground rather than common disagreements.