I’m pleased to announce that I’m running for a seat on the Santa Monica City Council.
I’m making the announcement today, July 9, because this afternoon UNITE HERE Local 11, the union that fights for the rights of hotel and other service workers in Santa Monica, began its endorsement process for the November election, and I threw my hat in their ring. As a supporter of the union’s organizing efforts since the ’90s, I am seeking the endorsement of the local’s hardworking members.
It’s fitting that I am making my announcement to run on the day that Local 11 begins its endorsement process. I base my politics on the classic four pillars of progressive policies: Jobs, Housing, Education, and the Environment. When it comes to jobs, Local 11, along with its community supporters, has been at the forefront of the fight to bring Santa Monica’s service workers into the middle class. (It’s exciting to see that a movement, for a living wage, that had its start almost 20 years in Santa Monica and a few other places, is now sweeping the nation.)
What about the other three progressive pillars?
As for Housing, there is no greater need at this time in Santa Monica, the Westside, and the region, than for housing that is affordable not only for working and retired people at all income levels, but also for those who have extremely low incomes, including the disabled and others who are homeless or who might find themselves homeless. For the 20 years I have been involved in Santa Monica politics, one of my primary goals has been to get residential development built on commercially zoned land. Not only because we need housing, but also because new residents do not materially add to traffic congestion, especially when compared to commercial development. More homes can even make our traffic situation better, because more employees can live near their jobs.
What about Education? The City of Santa Monica has a proud history of supporting our local schools and providing for early childhood education. I have always been not only a fervent supporter of these policies, but also a grateful recipient, as my son went K-12 through our local public schools. Like so many Santa Monicans, I’ve taken courses at Santa Monica College. In times of economic uncertainty it’s important that Santa Monica maintain its financial strength to continue to support our schools.
Education, however, does not begin or end at the schoolhouse door. It begins at home and continues throughout life. That’s why I support programs like Cradle to Career, Lifelong Learning, and other programs the City supports that enrich the lives of all children so that everyday when they attend school, they are ready to learn, and when they finish their educations, they can and will lead productive lives.
“Environment” is a word that encompasses so much. Not only the big picture physical environment, and issues like Global Warming, water quality in the Bay, or California’s water crisis, but also the smaller environments we live in – our houses and apartments, our sidewalks and streets, our parks and our plazas, our neighborhoods and historical landmarks. Our quality of life.
City services are crucial for quality of life. While it’s easy to attack small failures that come out of City Hall, our city government, and the people who work for the city, deliver services at the highest level in the region. Not only basic services we all depend on, like police and fire, paramedics, sanitation, and the like, but also a great bus system, libraries, and human services that are a credit to them and to all of us. City workers can do this because of the support we in the community give them. We need to make sure that these services, and our quality of life, continue to receive the funding that is required.
The biggest single environmental issue in Santa Monica is the fate of Santa Monica Airport. Sitting in the middle of neighborhoods, the airport is a huge source of pollution and noise. It’s also dangerous. I’m proud to have been one of the leaders of the movement to turn the airport into a great park for the benefit of everyone.
In Santa Monica, one cannot separate environmental issues from issues about development. Santa Monica has a 40-year history, going back to the defeat of plans to build an island in the Bay, of managing development for the public good by balancing economic and social needs. Mistakes have sometimes been made over those decades, but overall Santa Monica stands apart from the rest of Southern California, where development has been much less controlled.
One mistake Santa Monica made was to approve, back in the ’80s, too much office development without getting housing built for the new employees and their families. This mistake was compounded in the new Land Use and Circulation Elements (LUCE) adopted in 2010. I argued then, almost alone, that the LUCE called for too much office development and not enough housing in the old industrial areas near Bergamot Station. These policies add to our rush hour traffic jams, caused by commuters into Santa Monica. Santa Monicans find they can’t leave the city in the afternoon. One plank of my platform will be to amend the LUCE to radically reduce new office development.
I’ve lived in Santa Monica since 1983. I love the place. I’m running for City Council to ensure that Santa Monica’s best days are still to come.
I hope I will have your support. Thanks.