By Lookout Staff
Editor’s Note: The Lookout News sent several questions to the 10 candidates running for Santa Monica City Council. Eight responded. Each answer was limited to 150 words. The Lookout is publishing the candidates' answers over several days.
October 25, 2016 -- Today's question: What is the most common complaint you hear on the campaign trail? What can be done to remedy this problem?
Ted Winterer, incumbent
I'd say traffic downtown is the most frequent concern. We will soon be adding real-time wayfinding signage to the perimeter of downtown to direct visitors to available parking, especially less expensive spaces further from the downtown core, which should reduce congestion from hunting for spaces. We're also looking at the possible virtues of one-way streets in the DCP EIR. And we continue to encourage people to travel to downtown in less carbon intensive and more convenient ways than cars, as once someone's tried transit, walking, biking or ride sharing they learn it's much less of a hassle than driving and parking. Finally, we need to reconsider large-scale events which draw big crowds into our downtown area.
Jon Mann, challenger
Corruption, conflict of interest and greed by a city council who ignore what residents want from city hall.
Mende Smith, challenger
From the farmer's markets to the neighborhoods, voters in SM are fed up with the local government. I have garnered much support from residents seeking new representation "from the bottom up" and many folks believe that voting out the incumbents is the only way to accomplish this. It is possible that with a minimum of two or three new faces at the table, we can accomplish much needed reform. Having initiated meetings with a few local government officials and/or organizations on these matters, it is also a concern for future plans and programs regarding resilience and long game goals. For all of those who agree that the city council could benefit from some new ideas and new personalities, I must say I agree with them.
Gleam Davis, incumbent
The most frequent complaint I hear is that "overdevelopment causes traffic" However, when I ask people what project has been built in the last 5 years that they think is "overdevelopment," they point to the building of housing in the downtown area. While I understand the frustrations with traffic and parking that drive the debate about development, I do not believe that building housing in our transit-rich downtown area is responsible for the traffic downtown. We have traffic in our downtown because Santa Monica is such a desirable place to live, work and visit and we have not been as successful as we need to be in getting people out of cars.
Terence Later, challenger
Parking tickets are $65 love notes from the city and this is our most common complaint aside from traffic. 350,000 - 500,000 visitors come to Santa Monica on a daily basis and we need to be collecting the money from the outside visitors and not be the sole resource of this revenue.
Armen Melkonians, challenger
Residents are fed up with overdevelopment and the ever increasing traffic congestion in Santa Monica. We are rapidly losing our low-rise character and transforming into a high-rise, unaffordable, ultra-luxury beach city. Ellis evictions for rent-controlled apartment units are on the rise. Uncontrolled overdevelopment is now destroying our neighborhoods. The current City Council is doing nothing to protect Santa Monica and they are approving every development project in front of them. They seem to listen carefully to developers while completely ignoring residents. "It's time for a real change" is what Santa Monica residents are saying to me. They can't understand how our City Hall is so dismissive of residents' deep concerns. The solution to the problem is simple: Vote YES on Measure LV and elect a leader who puts residents first – Armen Melkonians.
Terry O'Day, incumbent
The high cost of housing and housing security. Santa Monica is an infill city and our region continues to grow. The city graduates about 900 students from high school each year, yet produces less than 200 housing units annually. To illustrate the impact: next door to me is a family that has lived in Santa Monica for over 50 years. They have two adult children and five grandchildren living with them. Across the street is another family of over 50 years residency with an adult child there. We are forcing the decision to keep our children at home or have them move to places like Antelope Valley, where housing is more affordable, to commute here. The only remedies are to produce more housing and fund affordable housing development.
Tony Vazquez, incumbent
Traffic congestion in the city is probably at the top of the list because it personally affects so many residents, as well as visitors and tourists. We have been working diligently to support and design mobility alternative programs including the opening of both the Expo Line Extension and the California Incline, the Breeze Bike program, adding Zipp cars and other ride sharing programs and helping to make Downtown Santa Monica pedestrian friendly. We are looking forward to developing a downtown circulation plan that will help ease gridlock in our most congested areas.