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Meet the Candidates for Santa Monica City Council: Armen Melkonians

Frank Gruber for City Council

Ted Winterer for City Council 2012

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Re-elect Robert Kronovet for Rent Control Board

Pico Business Improvement District
7th Annual Pico Festival
Sunday, October 28th

October 18, 2012 -- This is the 13th in a series of posts that provides the answers to questions by candidates in the November 6 race for Santa Monica City Council. The answers from the candidates will be posted in the order they were received.

Name: Armen Melkonians
Profession: Civil and Environmental Engineer
Birth place: Tehran
Running for: City Council
Status: Married Happily

1. How long have you lived in Santa Monica? In what neighborhood do you live?

I have lived in Santa Monica for 1.5 years now but I have worked in Santa Monica for 5 years. I live in the Wilmont neighborhood.

2. Describe yourself in 10 words or less.

2 words is enough. People Oriented.

3. What was your first job?

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers student Intern - Working on Flood Control for U.S. Waterways.

4. Describe your history of community involvement, if any, in 75 words or less.

I have been providing community services from behind the scenes in my day to day job. I have designed hundreds of K-12 School improvements, parks, community centers, playfields, and the infrastructure which services our communities. I have provided real world working solutions to remove pollutants from millions of gallons of storm water from entering our Santa Monica Bay every year.


5. How would you rate the current City Council? What particular decisions stand out for you that made you form that opinion?

The push from Council has been the restructuring of the underlying fabric and foundation of Santa Monica. Our quality of life is being cast into to the Sea to make way for large developments. The adoption of the 2010 LUCE and its "Vision" contradicts the "Vision" of the Residents.

6. What is the most frequent complaint you hear on the campaign trail? What do you plan to do about it?

Traffic. As a civil engineer I will provide real world solutions to alleviate bottlenecks. The only long term viable solution is to get people out of their cars. An incentivized Traffic Demand Management Plan for businesses and a reliable City Dash Bus with 25 cent fares will be a start.

7. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement:

There are already enough jobs in Santa Monica, so the city doesn't need more commercial development.

The City has not effectively managed the existing commercial development and its traffic impacts to our community. We can not consider or begin to discuss additional commercial development until the traffic impacts from the prior overdevelopment has been effectively managed.

8. Should Santa Monica residents be allowed to vote on major development agreements? Why or why not?

Development Agreements should be removed altogether. Development Agreements cannot work. Any community benefit a developer is willing to negotiate will never off-set the overall adverse impact the project leaves on the community. Its a matter of dollars and cents - A developer will never give more than he can take.

9. Do you believe developers have undue influence on City government?

Yes. Look at Santa Monicans United for a Responsible Future (SMURF), completely funded by developers, raising more money than SMRR. To claim that an independant expenditure fund like SMURF does not influence decisions would be like saying that SMRR has no influence. My opinion - SMRR influences positively - SMURF negatively.

10. How would you solve the traffic problem in Santa Monica?

Stop Development Agreements. As a civil engineer I will provide real solutions to alleviate bottlenecks. The only long term solution is to get people out of their cars. An incentivized Traffic Demand Management Plan for businesses and a reliable City Dash Bus with 25 cent fares will be a start.

11. If Santa Monica has the authority to shut down the airport, should it do so?

Yes, An airport does not belong in a City. As a society, we have learned too much about the real health impacts that an airport has on its neighbors not to shut down the airport. The health concerns of people outweigh any other argument that can be made.

12. With which statement do you agree more:

  1. Tourism is an important part of Santa Monica's image and a major revenue source and should be encouraged.

  2. There are too many tourists in Santa Monica and businesses are catering to tourists at the expense of locals.

a. Tourism is critically important. The traffic impacts however need to be managed more effectively to increase our quality of lives as residents. As a Civil Engineer I have the skills to implement real world practical solutions.

13. True or False: Santa Monica has become Beverly Hills by the Sea.

I still enjoy the pedestrian experience in some parts of the City, but yes Santa Monica is heading towards Beverly Hills by the Sea.

14. With which statements do you agree. You can pick more than one.

Affordable Housing:

  1. Creates blight and brings crime.

  2. Pays back hotel and restaurant union workers for their political support in the past

  3. Creates more tenants to vote for Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMMR) candidates

  4. Addresses a legitimate need, especially in Santa Monica.

15. In the past ten years, the number of laws passed by the Santa Monica City Council has increased from 32 in 2002 to 48 last year. This is:

  1. A reasonable response to the concerns of residents.

  2. A council that tries to please everyone

  3. A council that believes it knows what's best for the city and likes to impose its will.

c. Le Lys Rouge, a French author and winner of a nobel prize in literature said it the best "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."

16. Santa Monica's contribution to employee pensions has risen from $10 million a year a decade ago to $40 million and growing today. To help pay for its growing contribution Santa Monica should:

  1. Lay off workers

  2. Generate more cash by increasing development

  3. Increase local taxes.

  4. Other

17. Do you support Measure ES, a $385 million bond to build and improve Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District facilities?


18. Has Santa Monica successfully addressed the homeless problem?

19. Do you believe Santa Monica is a segregated city?


20. Do community groups play an important role in Santa Monica?

Yes. But they are increasingly not having a voice ever since the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United.

21. Which of the following statements do you agree with.

Santa Monica is:

  1. Doing enough to encourage biking

  2. Not doing enough to encourage biking

  3. Doing too much to encourage biking

22. Do you support a law banning smoking in apartment and condo units?


23. What is your favorite place in Santa Monica? Least favorite place?

24. What is the last piece of music you bought?

25. If you were emperor with absolute authority for a day and could do one thing for Santa Monica, what would it be?

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