The Homeless Situation
Q: What steps should be taken to deal with the homeless situation in Santa Monica? [150 words]
Santa Monica has roughly 1,000 chronically homeless people in its streets, parks and open space on any given night. We need a compassionate but realistic approach to reduce chronic homelessness, and we need it now. First, we must recognize that homelessness is fundamentally a problem of housing. Focusing on housing has reduced chronic homelessness in over 20 cities nationally and can work in Santa Monica.
As we address the root causes of homelessness, however, we must also address the symptoms. This means:
• Having zero tolerance for abusive behavior
• Eliminating all food programs in our public space
• Prevent other cities from dumping their homeless in our city
Examples from other US cities prove it is possible to compassionately restore our quality of life and give our streets and parks back to our families.
The City of Santa Monica must continue to press for other local, regional and state governments to take responsibility for the homeless. While Santa Monica has services to extend a helping hand, it should not be penalized and burdened with the region’s homeless. A year ago, the Council hired former County Supervisor Ed Edelman to work with other governments to ensure other cities are taking responsibility for their homeless and not sending people to Santa Monica. A new Homeless Court is starting, and it has authority to mandate homeless are linked to services – rather than just returning them to the streets. I co-sponsored the law that limits the number of persons who can be fed by the outdoor feeding programs that come to Santa Monica. That law sustained legal challenges, and now programs are coming indoors, linked to services.
Three new programs to help the homeless, which I support, have just begun: Housing first for the chronic homeless (persons who have been on our city streets for a year or more) provides housing first, followed by appropriate social services. The Project Homeward Bound program provides a bus ticket home for the homeless person when his family and hometown social service providers agree to help. Homeless court can sentence a person to a rehabilitation program instead of jail.
Recently I have worked with our staff to reach an agreement that moves the two largest homeless feeding programs out of our parks to an indoor location. Finally, we must not allow social service agencies and programs to locate and expand in Santa Monica until neighboring cities provide the same level of service we do. We must work for a regional solution.
Stop fostering dependency, and use the enormous revenues targeted for administering services to create JOBS!
In prosperous Santa Monica, it’s sad to see so many homeless persons. I support the city’s participation in regional efforts to tackle this problem, and its plan to bring feeding programs indoors where both meals and social services are available. I believe that the housing first model that has been successful in many other cities is another good solution.
When homeless persons commit crimes, we should treat them as we would other criminals. The challenge is how do we respond to complaints from residents and businesses about the non-criminal but disturbing activities of homeless persons? Residents and businesses are frustrated because they feel they get no response to these complaints. The city should create a non-uniformed, well-trained homeless response team that can answer calls from residents and businesses in a timely manner and help move homeless persons from storefronts, parks and front yards to service centers, shelters and hope.
I’m for taking back our parks, and we are finally moving homeless feedings indoors to get unhoused and hungry people real help. Next, we need to relieve the burden on residents and our police and paramedics in other parts of our city. Homelessness is a national disgrace and a regional challenge, but we feel the worst impacts here in Santa Monica. On the Westside Cities Council of Governments, I enlisted our neighbor cities to work with us cooperatively on regional solutions. I represented Santa Monica this year at a national summit, and now with a federal grant we’re getting the chronic homeless off our Santa Monica streets in a program called “housing first.” Our new homeless court identifies the real criminal element for deserved prosecution, then gets other unthreatening street people out of a revolving-door criminal justice system unable to resolve their situation and into social services providing real solutions.
I intend to bring before the Council a proposed ban on the aggressive panhandling, and ask city staff and ask the city attorney to investigate the legality of making this a permanent ban. I will work to reduce the current 150 number that qualifies as “official feeding” to 10, thereby breaking down the infrastructure that continues to enable the vagrants and discourages them to seek help and jobs.
Q: If you were elected and had the chance to help direct the City’s future, what would you emphasize? [150 words]
Traffic in our city has turned our streets into glue. We need to plan for the long-term to make it easier to leave the car at home, while we target the worst intersections for immediate intervention. As an environmentalist and planning commissioner, I have a unique, long-range perspective. The Exposition Light Rail line must come to Santa Monica. It is projected to accommodate 75,000 daily trips when built.
Biking and walking in our city must also become safer and easier, as I have advocated for years. Bike lanes should increase from the current 3 percent of roads to the 30 percent recommended in our Sustainable City Plan to encourage more people to bike-commute. For relief now, we need to target the worst intersections. Streamlining the signals, providing traffic police at peak hours and moving cars can get traffic moving again in those trouble spots.
• Completion of the Land Use Circulation Element (LUCE) to protect neighborhoods and reduce traffic
• Completion of the Expo Light Rail Line all the way to Santa Monica
• Ongoing support of and expansion of sustainable/environmental programs (renewable energy, clean ocean, zero waste)
• Finish implementation of parks/open space plan (we’re halfway there)
• Support of lifelong learning through ongoing support of public schools, as well as for city library facilities and enrichment classes for public and private school students
• And support of programs for youth, including conflict resolution
• Maintaining a firm foundation: strong fiscal management; public safety; improving infrastructure (streets, sidewalks); responsive service
I will continue to work on ways to reduce the homeless population. I will encourage the city to work with developers to build work force housing for essential workers (nurses, teachers, police officers, firefighters, etc.). I will work to encourage new affordable housing to be built for disabled and elderly Santa Monicans who have been displaced by new, more expensive housing developments. I will continue to seek ways to get traffic moving and reduce the number of cars on our streets by improving public transportation.
I would like to see neighborhood preservation become the top consideration in all land use and development policies. Residents repeatedly have expressed their desire to protect the character and scale of our neighborhoods. We can accomplish this by strategically tailoring land use decisions to maintain and create affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households and resisting efforts to overbuild.
We also should support the businesses that serve our neighborhoods. In my 20 years in Santa Monica, I have lived in several different neighborhoods. These neighborhoods share a common element in the presence of restaurants, shops and other businesses that serve the neighborhood and add to the sense of community. I think the best way to preserve this delicate balance between residents and businesses is to make the goal of preservation of vibrant, diverse neighborhoods the touchstone of land use and development decisions.
My record as a Councilmember proves my priorities. First and always, protect our existing affordable housing stock and our quality of life. I’m endorsed by Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, but also by Santa Monica homeowners like State Senator Sheila Kuehl. When developers proposed 25-story condo towers downtown, I was the first to say no. I’ve been the Council leader on the environment, clean air and water, protecting our beaches. Being safe in our homes means having the very best police, fire and paramedic services. I’ve made sure of that for you and your family.
I’ve also significantly increased our playfields and open space, while negotiating successful new regional cooperation on homelessness. My commitment to excellent education is unmatched – I work for our local school district. We must all join together citywide to end youth violence. Enforcement is part of the solution, but I’m also working with neighborhoods, schools and parents on violence prevention and gang intervention.
I would bring back the middle class and fight for for-sale affordable housing to maintain our community’s essential diversity. Traffic and commute times can be reduced with my support for smart growth policies and mixed-use development. We must provide affordable for-sale housing so our police, firefighters and city workers can live where they work.
Quality of Life
Q: What quality of life indicators are most important to you?
1) Environmental and Public Health
3) Economic Development
4) Open Space and Land Use
5) Housing and Human Dignity
6) Community Education and Participation
1) Safe city for all, especially youth
2) Housing security
3) Sustainable city, clean environment, clean ocean
4) Access to education, arts, culture
5) Thriving local economy
1) A safe and peaceful Santa Monica.
2) Quality public schools.
3) Significantly reduced number of homeless persons.
4) Beautiful parks and beaches, well maintained.
5) Police, Fire and Paramedics, second to none.
6) The end of jet aircraft at Santa Monica Airport.
1) Commitment to schools, quality childcare and lifelong learning.
2) Preservation of the diverse character of residential neighborhoods and the businesses that support them.
3) Continued improvement of public safety by alleviating homelessness and preventing youth violence.
4) Reduced traffic through thoughtful planning and increased availability of public transportation.
5) Land use policies that prevent overbuilding in terms of both building scale and density.
6) Reduced air, water and noise pollution.
1) Happily engaged, educated children and residents
2) Public safety
3) Secure housing for all income levels
4) Mobility and access for work, play and services
5) Clean air, water, parks and beaches
6) Social justice and economic equity
1) Enforcement of existing laws
2) Early childhood education
3) Local employment
4) Moderate income for-sale housing
5) Water quality
6) Traffic, public transportation and parking
Santa Monica Pier
Q: In 100 words, please explain what you would do with the SM Pier.
The Pier should act in harmony with the civic center. It should have fewer cars and more life. It should protect our ocean ecosystem, and the city should restore the water quality and habitat around the Pier. The Pier’s great history should be represented in all changes made to the Pier. It should be a center for the arts and culture and a great place for lifelong learning about our ocean, our community and each other. Finally, it should be a safe place to visit and a place where parents feel comfortable bringing their children.
The Pier is one of Santa Monica’s most special places. It’s rooted in history with the National Historic Landmark Carousel building/carousel as well as the iconic Pier Bridge sign. It’s been about 15 years since strategic planning was conducted, and this year a community process begins to envision the future of the Pier. The ongoing challenge is the blending of the old and the new. The Pier needs to continue this evolution to identify ongoing and new amenities that blend with the historic – and are sustainable and environmentally sensitive.
I would make some improvements. I want the Pier bridge widened so the sidewalks could be wider and people wouldn’t have to walk in traffic lanes. I want a ramp from the Pier to the parking lot below to allow easy parking when the lot on the Pier is full. I want a landing at the end of the Pier so we can return day fishing boats to the Pier.
We have to renovate the Pier ramp to make it safer for pedestrians. I like the mix of boardwalk games, rides, restaurants and fishing opportunities on the Pier. I appreciate the fact that the Pier is family-oriented and that there is a range of dining and entertainment options. I do not support bringing boating back to the Pier, unless we can do it in a manner that does not have a negative impact on the ocean and the beach.
Our Pier must remain a unique and charmingly funky gathering spot. The needed restoration of the protective breakwater opens options for the return of small boats, to further help people enjoy and appreciate our ocean. I will work with Heal the Bay to develop a model, environmentally friendly boating program called Green Sail. I envision a fleet of ecologically pledged sailors unfurling the coveted Santa Monica Green Sail, creating a memorable iconic representation of our community’s commitment to clean beaches and clean water. Letting residents enjoy our Bay in new ways will increase willingness to fund responsible stewardship, and Santa Monica will pioneer environautical boating.
I believe we should have a comprehensive upgrade and expansion of the aquarium. I would also promote vacancies be filled with businesses such as production companies and small businesses.