2802 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
|Home||Special Reports||Archive||Links||The City||Commerce||About||Contacts||Editor||Send PR|
PART I: City Council Candidates on Crime and Why They Are Running
By Lookout Staff
October 11, 2018 -- The Lookout asked City Council candidates to answer a series of questions that address the most pressing issues facing Santa Monica -- from crime and development to homelessness and pay at City Hall. Here is the first installment with their answers.
1. Why are you running?
I hope to be at least one voice on the Council who works with the new Police Chief and her officers to empower them to make arrests to address the rampant criminal activity that happens every day in Santa Monica.
I hope to be at least one voice on the Council who says "NO" to the outrageous development that has occurred and continues to occur. I hope that I (and maybe other non-incumbents) can be the start of an eventual majority that takes back the City Council from the money interests. I am running to be a Resident Advocate.
I ran for City Council to ensure that the City’s historic commitment to affordable housing was not being subverted by neglect or ineptitude and because I was troubled by the absence of government controls such as an audit committee, the lack of lobbyist regulation, and staff’s resistance to requests for information or alternatives.
I will continue to seek improvements in the City’s transparency, such as checkbook-level detail in City finances and more resident involvement in policy discussions. Most of all, I want to see Santa Monica remain an economically diverse, progressive, and livable city with great schools, great services, and compassion for vulnerable people and families, rather than a playground for the 1 percent.
Yes, that’s an ambitious list of “things to do” after twenty years, but I haven’t lost my passion for making Santa Monica a safe, inclusive, and sustainable city.
I’ve made progress on all the goals listed above, but there is much yet to be done. This February, as Santa Monica’s Director on the Board of the Clean Power Alliance, I’ll be bringing the option for 100 percent renewably sourced electricity to every Santa Monica household and business or institutional customer.
One task that never ends is protecting renters from harassment and even eviction. Economic pressures have increased on our remaining affordable housing, and I am committed to protecting our neighborhoods from gentrification, condomania, and further commercial intrusion.
I am running to bring new, energized and engaged leadership to City Hall -- so our city can remain diverse, equitable, sustainable and transparent. I believe my skills and experiences as a financial consultant, small business owner, parent and bridge-building civic leader can help our city face find holistic, forward-thinking solutions to our challenges -- of rising crime and homelessness, of sustainability, of affordable housing and of neighborhood preservation.
Our parks should be playgrounds for our children, not campgrounds for transients. Our current leadership has utterly failed in the most important obligation of any governing body, which is to ensure a safe, orderly and clean environment for the citizens it governs.
Our leaders have not been adequately responsive to the residents of Santa Monica, who are crying out for relief, and they are beholden to a number of powerful special interest groups that have had a decades-long stranglehold on power in our city. The stranglehold needs to be broken and the time is ripe for change!
I come from a family with a strong history of public service -- my father was a decorated Chicago police officer. I bring this commitment to public service to City Hall. As a civic leader and as a working woman, I know how to build our community’s resilience so that we can grapple with emerging challenges and invest in making our community an even better place.
Outmoded and outdated solutions will not help us solve these problems. I have a fresh vision and a new perspective to address these issues I was extremely privileged to have been born and raised in Santa Monica. As a result, I recognize the importance of what Santa Monica truly represents.
Santa Monica is one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in the world. But as a community, we are more than that. Here, we embrace the values of social justice, economic fairness, environmental protection, tolerance for others, and equality regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. I wish to protect these values while serving my community.
2. According to police and FBI statistics, violent crime in Santa Monica rose almost 50 percent in 2017. To what do you attribute the increase? What should the Council do to address the issue?
* The early release of prisoners under the Governor's criminal justice reforms;
* The Expo train, which is literally a free ride for criminals and transients from all over to come to and stay in Santa Monica; and, most importantly,
* The current City Council and City Manager actively inviting vagrants to our city while simultaneously tying the hands of law enforcement, preventing them from enforcing vagrancy laws and other criminal statutes that significantly impact the quality of life of residents.
I believe that, as councilmembers, public safety in the broadest sense is our #1 responsibility, so the continued increase in crime is simply unacceptable. I have spoken at great length with our police chiefs, old and new, and our city manager; we have authorized funding for additional sworn and unsworn police officers; and I have stressed the need for a police presence on the streets in the areas where the violence is concentrated.
Prevention of crime obviously must be our priority. We need to improve community awareness of how we can avoid becoming victims and improve police response to violent incidents. We also need to acknowledge the difference between harm to people and loss of property.
But I also believe that it is imperative that we as council members acknowledge the truth of unpleasant conditions, such as rising crime and growing homelessness, inform ourselves about solutions that were effective in other cities, and implement those solutions.
The recent crime increase warrants more officers on our streets. We’ve sworn in four new officers recently, with six more next week. Our new police chief, Cynthia Renaud, has advised us that she’ll assign the expanded force to increase daily neighborhood patrols and street presence.
In endorsing my re-election this year, our public safety employees themselves say I have consistently voted as a Councilmember to provide resources “to ensure that Santa Monica residents continue to receive the high quality of public safety services they have come to expect.” I shall continue to do so.
Still, it’s a basic right to feel safe at home and on the street, and it's the Council’s first priority to ensure that our police are fully staffed and have the resources they need. The city has increased funding to address our shortage of police, and as that process rolls out, it will reduce crime. I believe neighbors and the police must work closer together to make us safer.
Violent crime has increased because our city’s leaders have not been vigilant and are not properly allocating enough of our city’s immense financial and human resources to crime prevention and deterrence.
Money is being wasted and squandered on public projects, such as the $2.3 million dollar restroom being built at Clover Park, that must be subordinated to the interests of public safety and law enforcement. Our city council needs to ensure that our police force is fully staffed and funded (it is not) and implement measures that some of our neighboring communities have adopted.
Specifically, we need to contract with private security firms, as the City of West Hollywood has done, who can create and maintain a constant security presence at a fraction of the cost of public law enforcement. In most cases, I believe we can deter and prevent crime simply by having more “eyes and ears,” rather than “guns and badges,” on our streets, in our parks and other public areas.
While unemployment is low, many higher paid jobs lost during the Great Recession were replaced by low-paying service jobs. Increasing the minimum wage helps some, but stagnating wages offset a pay raise. Lack of affordable housing and escalating costs lead to overcrowding and homelessness.
The Council needs to support a wide variety of policy initiatives including supporting production of affordable housing and providing supportive services to families in need.
Also funds need to be available to hire police—and to pay their pensions. The City needs to ensure a stable fiscal foundation to support these personnel. Also the Council needs to provide safety personnel with the tools and technology to do their job.
As to reversing this crime rate trend, I would like to increase the number of officers we have on the street each day by hiring additional officers. I also think we should bring back volunteer officers as my softball coach growing up was a weekend SMPD volunteer officer.
We should also conduct surveys of our public areas (especially walking and biking paths) to see if they are adequately lit and patrolled at night as well as landscaped properly to ensure that there are not hiding places for potential criminals.
|copyrightCopyright 1999-2018 surfsantamonica.com. All Rights Reserved.||Disclosures|