“Scooters. Development. Traffic. Seven candidates are running for elected office in Santa Monica, and they have taken stands on hot topics like these. In interviews with Curbed (below), they’ve also laid out their priorities for the city.
It’s been a relatively quiet election season in Santa Monica. Still, if you’re a resident, your vote is important. Councilmembers make decisions on everything from mega real estate development projects to how to deal with e-scooters like Bird and Lime and how to regulate Airbnb.
Below are some key biographical details on each candidate and, based on finance disclosure forms filed with the city, information on how their campaigns are financed. There are also short Q&As. Each candidate was asked the same five questions; Himmelrich and Neri did not participate. The responses have been fact-checked and edited for length and clarity.
What is the most pressing issue facing Santa Monica?
That is the reason I am running for City Council. My son and I were victims. As far as I am concerned, this should be the top priority of the City Council, city manager, and police.
The police take their orders from the police chief, who takes her orders from the city manager (who, in turn, is directed by the City Council). They set the tone of police engagement with criminals. Yet, instead of directing the police to get the violent criminal transients off our streets, the City Council and city manager hired a “senior advisor to the city manager on homelessness” whose priority seems to be to make Santa Monica more welcoming and comfortable for the homeless.
City Council approved $100 million to build an addition to City Hall while our residents are being assaulted.
What solutions do you support for making it easier to move around Santa Monica?
Stop the overdevelopment of our city. End road diets. Move bike lanes off major arteries to side streets.
Recently, e-scooters were launched in the Santa Monica. While on paper, it’s great to have another method of transportation, the City Council and city manager were, at minimum, derelict in allowing these companies to have an unfettered launch.
Most likely, the City Council and city manager just looked at dollar signs wrapped in the flag of “green transportation” and ignored the likely consequences. It was completely foreseeable that releasing a new form of shared transportation without any community education or regulations would lead to chaos, which is precisely what happened.
The ill-conceived launch of the e-scooter businesses in our city is squarely the fault and failing of our City Council and city manager. They are either incompetent, or worse, willing accomplices.
Santa Monica is an incredibly expensive place to live, with some of the highest rental and home prices in LA. What’s your plan to make Santa Monica more affordable?
Home prices are set by market forces. As long as people find Santa Monica attractive, single family homes and condos will be expensive.
The same could be said for rental units. However, due to rent control laws, the rental market is more complicated.
If the residents want less development and want to keep Santa Monica a low-rise city, then prices will remain high. In order to make a slight difference in the high cost of renting, the residents will have to agree to build up.
My impression from living here for over 30 years is that not many people want to see the city filled with tall apartment buildings. The alternative is also not very attractive, namely, city-owned properties.
I am willing to hear debate on how we should approach rent control so that landlords have an incentive to stay in the rental business while still providing protections to renters.
When it comes to development in Santa Monica, there are two main camps: “slow-growthers” and pro-housing advocates. Where do you stand?
I have stated openly that I will vote down every development project until such time that crime is addressed in Santa Monica and has shown significant improvement. I believe all other issues are irrelevant if the residents are not safe in their own city. The resources of the city should be focused on resident safety, not on another mixed-use project that pretends to be “affordable housing.”
This summer, the city of Los Angeles adopted a plan to add density along sections of the Expo Line. Would you support a similar plan for Santa Monica? How would you add more housing along Santa Monica’s transportation corridors?
In theory, housing along major public transit corridors is logical.
However, anytime I hear the word “density,” I pause. That usually means the developer is going to give cover to the City Council by using the term “affordable housing,” get approved, and then never provide this elusive unicorn called “affordable housing.”
In general, I think Santa Monica has too many people already living here, and until crime is addressed, I will not support any further development.
How will you respond to the city’s growing population of homeless residents?
Arrest, prosecute, and jail all the criminals hiding within the homeless population.
Simultaneously increase police and fire recruits to fit the needs of the city and enforce all vagrancy laws that are already on the books.
Reevaluate Santa Monica’s response to homelessness by hiring an independent third party to review OPCC and other organizations that operate within Santa Monica to ensure they are providing a valuable service, not only to the homeless, but to the city and the residents of Santa Monica. This should include an analysis of their financial statements and tax returns (when allowed by law).
Offer our city’s homelessness experts, including our new senior advisor for homelessness, to all surrounding cities, like Pacific Palisades and Malibu, in order to help them to set up OPCC-like centers in their communities so that they can meet their stated goal of contributing to the solution.”