Daniel Lee responses to Endorsement Questionnaire

Daniel Lee

  1. What is your single greatest reason for wanting to serve on the Culver City City Council?

I come from a family dedicated to service. The primary reason for wanting to serve is my belief that as a small, diverse, and innovative town, Culver City can set the standard throughout Los Angeles County for sustainable development, community inclusiveness, and equitable governance. If elected, I will bring all my leadership skills to bear on this effort.

  1. What in your experience prepares you for serving as a Culver City city councilperson?

All of my experiences have shaped me into a person who values empathy, as my mother and grandmother taught me. I believe that everyone has a right to be heard, and that only by listening to each other and cooperating can we achieve results that benefit the entire community. I am committed to listening to the people of Culver City, and making sure that the opinions and experiences of everyone are valued, and that the institutions that help govern our lives, including our local government, are truly representative of the people who live here.

I have lived in Culver City for 15 years, and have grown to love and admire this community. I value the opportunities I’ve had to use my skills and passion to make our city and the surrounding area better for everyone who lives, works, and visits here. Building on my experience as a progressive activist in the areas of media, education, the environment, and political reform, I believe my unique background as an organizer and advocate who has worked in non-profit organizations and has had experience in the military, equip me to serve on the Culver City Council with skills others who have served on our council in the past do not bring to the role.

  1. Describe your vision for Culver City by sharing your top three goals for the city.

a)  Environment

We must ensure the health and well-being of our residents by working tirelessly to maintain the safety of our water supply, our air quality, and the health of our soil. We need to pursue participation in a Community Choice Energy Program with enthusiasm. Culver City is in dire need of a new City Plan , which will help us to make the most out of our municipal budgets by informing infrastructure and service investments. And, we need a comprehensive Sustainability Plan , so that we can balance demands for growth with the need to protect the environment and prepare for the consequences of climate change. Finally, we need a host of healthy transportation alternatives and policies that support the movement and safety of pedestrians, wheelchair users, bicyclists, bus riders, and train passengers, as well as motorists.

b) Accountability

In order for Culver City to continue to be the safe and welcoming city we love, we must take action to guarantee that all of us – families that have been here for generations, newer families with young children, college students, seniors, and all the vibrant ethnic and religious communities here – have the opportunity to fully participate, celebrate and thrive as integral parts of our City culture and government. Our elected officials need to be more representative of the wonderfully diverse community they serve. We must also make efforts to protect the undocumented population in our community as they face greater threats under the current federal administration.

Beyond City Hall : We can increase civic engagement by finding new ways to involve more individuals and community groups throughout the city. Holding regular community forums in neighborhoods around our town would help our elected representatives be more responsive to the concerns of all residents. Quarterly meetings outside of City Hall in various parts of the city could be used to solicit public input. Community town halls would provide elected officials and city staff the opportunity to address items that are on city council meeting agendas, and could serve as forums for issues that are not found on official agendas.
c.) Fairness

Culver City is made up of both homeowners (54.1%) and renters (45.9%), and during the past five years, the number of renters has been on the rise. Some of these renters are students who attend colleges and universities in the area. Others are working adults, couples, families or seniors with deep roots in Culver City, like many homeowners. As we commit to developing new housing to address the crisis of affordability in a responsible way, we must protect our neighbors from rents that rise too rapidly .

Many of Culver City’s municipal and school employees cannot afford to live here. We need to keep the wages that we pay competitive by auditing our yearly budgets to assure that funds are being spent wisely, and provide incentives for employees , like our teachers, firefighters and police, so that more of them are able to call Culver City home. As the housing crisis that has gripped Los Angeles County for over a decade continues, Culver City must be actively planning to provide services for those without stable housing and also prevent individuals and families at the lower end of the income spectrum from becoming homeless. In 2017, homelessness increased by 85% in Culver City.

Understanding that solutions will need to come from the state and county, as well as individual cities, I believe that municipalities, including Culver City, bear some responsibility to address this crisis which impacts all of us.

  1. Explain and describe one of the challenges facing this city and its residents. What policy proposals do you have for meeting that challenge?

Affordable housing is one of the most pressing issues facing Culver City, LA County, California, and the nation.

Here are some of the policy proposals I would like to explore and pursue with vigor as a member of the Culver

City Council:

  • Adopt Inclusionary Zoning ordinances that require a significant percentage of new housing construction to be affordable for people with low to moderate incomes.
  • Develop policies and business incentives to create more affordable housing.
  • Expand the Rental Assistance Program.
  • Place social workers at the Senior Center, Culver City Police Department, and elsewhere as needed, who have training in de-escalation strategies to help defuse challenging situations with homeless people and others that are struggling (with mental health issues, substance abuse, etc.) Social workers are equipped to connect people in the community to needed services, alleviating suffering and preventing harm. It is wrong to ignore, stigmatize, or criminalize those who are hurting in our community.
  1. Do you believe that the City of Culver City can play a role in improving the affordability of homes, in particular rental homes, in Culver City? If so, describe that role. If the city cannot play that role, explain the reason.

Emphatically, yes! Inclusionary zoning needs to be embraced in Culver City. Specifically, inclusionary zoning that requires developers to reserve a portion of housing units for low-income residents as a condition of permitting approval.

We need to explore both mandatory and incentive-based inclusionary zoning. Incentives can include density bonuses, expedited permits and approvals, relaxed design standards, or and/fee waivers. Additionally, our rental assistance program, which is essential for some of the most vulnerable families in Culver City, could be expanded as it is a relatively small program. If we prioritize expanding the program in the city’s budget, we can prevent an even larger number of people from being displaced and having to move away from their families, friends and the community they love and contribute to.

Finally, a renters bill of rights must be developed and adopted, as currently, Culver City offers no protections for renters.

  1. What step/s, if any, can the City take to better protect renters from ever-increasing rent?

See answer to #5 above (developing a renters bill of rights and inclusionary zoning), with the addition of adding to our existing housing stock with increased density that is strategic and appropriate according to each neighborhood.

  1. What are your views regarding drilling in the Inglewood Oil Field? If you see drilling there as problematic, what are a few or all of the concerns you have?

a.) We must demand a 2500 ft. setback from for homes and business to protect people from the Inglewood Oil Field drilling/production/maintenance operations.

b.) Culver City should require a 2.5 billion+ dollar bond to protect homes and business in the event of a human cause or natural disaster.

c.) A new excise tax would allow the city to hire a dedicated city employee or a consultant to make sure that IOF regulations passed by the City Council are adequately enforced.

  1. What steps, if any, should the City take to protect its residents from oil and gas drilling on the Inglewood Oil Field?

In addition to those mentioned in my response to #7, health studies, as well as air quality studies should be used to monitor health and safety while drilling and remediation take place, so that residents and the City have data on which to base decision making.

  1. Some residents have stated that they would like to see the oil field used for purposes other than oil drilling. Do you agree? If so, how would you like to see the oil field used?

Ultimately, I believe the Inglewood Oil Field should be turned into a renewable energy site dedicated primarily to the generation of solar power. Eventually, after intensive remediation (paid for by IOF operators), portions of the field determined to be appropriate and safe for recreational use, could be opened up as park land.

  1. Name and describe two opportunities afforded the City by creation of a new General Plan

a) Enshrine sustainability and climate resilience policy statements and goals in every portion of our General Plan (the elements of which are: land use, housing, circulation, conservation, noise, safety, open space, and environmental justice).

b.) Develop and adopt policies that encourage the creation of affordable housing and the safety and health of our existing housing stock.

  1. What are your views regarding the value of election consolidation?

I support election consolidation without equivocation; we must consolidate elections to increase voter turnout and have an electorate that is truly representative of the city’s population.

  1. What means do you suggest for encouraging residents from all areas of the city to participate in civic life?

I would advocate for roving city council meetings. At the present time, if you live in Downtown Culver City, the threshold for regular civic participation is fairly low because of your proximity to most government meetings (almost all of which are held in our City Hall).  If we rotate the location of city meetings on a quarterly basis, we could extend the convenience of attending to a much more geographically and economically diverse portion of the city. The city could also go beyond its proprietary video platform for broadcasting city hall meetings, and also make them available on Facebook Live, YouTube and other live streaming options.

  1. Describe any policy you would want to create or support that would improve the quality of life for the City’s children.

The City needs to continue to seek Safe Routes to Schools grant funding to improve bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, particularly around the tri-school area (Culver City High School, Culver City Middle School, and Farragut Elementary School).

Our current Council agreed to the Vision Zero and Complete Streets concepts, and I am in favor of advancing the improvements they offer. Also, developing a Sustainability Plan and a Climate Action Plan to help us shift to renewable energy, would continue to improve the quality of life for children in our city specifically and regionally.

I welcome the opportunity to coordinate joint City Council/School Board efforts whenever feasible, to support work being done to improve the quality of life for the children, youth, and adults we all need to serve, as well.

  1. Describe any policy you would want to create or support that would improve the quality of life for the City’s seniors .

One of the things that we can do to support the quality of life of seniors in the community is to draft policies that allow elders to age in place and to remain mobile, as much as possible. This includes drafting affordable housing policies that allow seniors to stay in their homes (by limiting the amount that their rent can be raised) and connecting the existing bicycle and pedestrian + wheelchair infrastructure, so that there are many different safe options for travel for seniors when they choose to drive, walk, bike or bus, as possible.

I would also like to actively reach out to seniors in our community to hear from them what they would find helpful. Roving City Council meetings could be held at our Senior Center from time to time, and we could host Town Hall meetings specifically to solicit input from elders in the community about what would be beneficial to them.