CCCC – Helping voters make an informed choice

Even though we went through an endorsement process, we want to support all voters in making an informed choice.  We are very pleased to see Culver City Live recording all the candidate forums.  We are taking the time to help you navigate through the videos through the group of blogs.

Here the links to each of the videos and the post where we share the questions and the point in the video where the answers start.

Sunkist Park

Kids Forum  – questions and answers

Culver City Action Network

Fox Hills video –  questions and answers

Senior Center  – Part 1 

Senior Center – Part 2

Chamber of Commerce

Culver Crest

Downtown Business Association

Heart of LA Dem Club

Culver City Democratic Club video – questions and answers

Tellefson Park Part 1

 

CCCC endorses Daniel Lee and Alex Fisch for City Council

Culver City Community Coalition has endorsed candidates Daniel Lee and Alex Fisch in their bid for election to the Culver City City Council. Both candidates provided extensive written answers to Community Coalition’s questions. Their responses can be found in the following links: Daniel Lee Responses, Alex Fisch Responses.

Lee and Fisch are among four candidates vying for two City Council seats in a race that will culminate Tuesday, April 10, election day.

All candidates were invited to take part in Community Coalition’s endorsement process. Daniel Lee, Alex Fisch and Marcus Tiggs participated; Albert Vera did not.

“It is an honor to receive the endorsement of the Culver City Community Coalition, whose vision and goals I wholeheartedly support,” Daniel Lee said. “In particular, I am committed to making the health and safety of residents regarding the operation of the Inglewood Oil Field a priority. Equity and representation of all Culver City residents in our local governance is another value I know we share. We can make real inroads in addressing the need for affordable housing in Culver City, with appropriate leadership on the City Council. And, we must also explore the development of a ‘renters bill of rights’ to realize a Culver City that prizes economic and racial diversity.”

In learning of his endorsement, Alex Fisch said: “Culver City Community Coalition embodies my belief that our city’s greatest assets are our diverse and talented residents. “Community Coalition’s passionate members strengthen our community by supporting improved access to affordable housing, sustainable environmental policies and increased participatory democracy. I’m honored and grateful for the Coalition’s support in the upcoming election. As a council member, I look forward to working with the Coalition to pursue better housing and transportation options, protect our community from the health and safety threats posed by the Inglewood Oil Field, and eradicate homelessness from Culver City.”

School Board member Dr. Kelly Kent expressed her pleasure at the endorsement.  “What an honor it is to be able to endorse both Daniel Lee and Alex Fisch personally as well as in partnership with this intelligent and strong team of Culver City activists, the Culver City Community Coalition.

“These two candidates are my picks for our council because I know they care as much as I do about two very pressing issues: the effects that our very own urban oil field has on the health and well-being of our children, and the effects that our home affordability crisis has on our students and their families.

“Since January of this academic year, no less than 65 Culver City Unified School District families have been forced to move outside our city in order to be able to afford rent. This has caused educational instability for the children and trauma for the families.”

“I look forward to working with both Alex and Daniel on a future that does not pose health risks to our students’ vulnerable bodies, due to fossil fuel extraction. And a future when families can plan for their children’s entire K-12 experience to be spent right here in our excellent school district.

Former Culver City Mayor Gary Silbiger, a Community Coalition member, recently described what makes an outstanding elected official:

“Since setting policy is a major part of a Council member’s responsibility, a candidate should have taken the time prior to the election to publicly provide meaningful suggestions to Culver City’s burning issues, such as the Culver City Oil Fields, the City’s General Plan update, development, and affordable housing, just to name a few.  Likewise, a valuable City Council member will be compassionate towards all residents.

“Alex Fisch and Daniel Lee,” Silbiger said, “stand out as leaders in Culver City who have already been positively tested by our community through their valuable contributions, and their brilliant ideas for improving life in Culver City for all who live, work, attend school and visit here.”

Among the members of the Community Coalition endorsement committee were Deborah Weinrauch, Prisca Gloor, James Province, Carlene Brown, and Patricia Bijvoet.  They were interviewed shortly after the endorsements were made.

The dangers posed by the Inglewood Oil Field are of particular concern to Attorney Deborah Weinrauch, a Raintree resident and parent. “The problems surrounding the Inglewood Oil Field are serious and involve potentially deadly issues of public health and safety,” Weinrauch said. “Daniel Lee and Alex Fisch understand the dangers of the Inglewood Oil Field and will work tirelessly to protect and ensure the welfare of every Culver City resident.”

Urban planner Patricia Bijvoet, formerly  chief designer with the Physical Planning Department in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, has been participating in community conversations and Community Coalition’s efforts around affordable housing. “I’m greatly encouraged by Daniel Lee and Alex Fisch,” she said. “They are dedicated to achieving a Culver City that works for everyone. They have thoughtful proposals for solutions to some of our greatest needs. For example, both are highly knowledgeable about land-use, housing and traffic and stress their interconnectedness. They realize the need to change transportation, not only because of traffic congestion, but also because of its effect on global warming.”

The effects of the increasing cost of homes are a focus of Prisca Gloor, a psychologist. “The housing crisis in Culver City is real; people experience it, “Gloor said. “Homelessness increased by 85% in our city in 2017! Both Daniel Lee and Alex Fisch have valuable ideas to tackle this situation. Both want to expand housing units for low-income residents, increase the number of accessory dwelling units, and see the Rental Assistance Program expand. And more! Daniel Lee and Alex Fisch have the experience, the intellect and the heart to lead our city through this pivotal stage.”

James Province, a social worker and father, has spoken out publicly against police drones and surveillance cameras. “I support Daniel Lee and Alex Fisch for Culver City Council because they have demonstrated a commitment to civil liberties and privacy in both Culver City and the region,” Province said. “They understand that police drones and license plate cameras pose a potential threat to those liberties, and they are committed to safeguards and thorough accountability for their use and for the information and data that are collected.”

Gun violence, both nationally and in Culver City, have been a focus of educator Carlene Brown. “As a teacher concerned about the proliferation of shootings across the country, I was pleased to learn that both Alex Fisch and Daniel Lee had researched this issue and are proposing specific actions our City Council could take to maximize safety from gun violence in Culver City,” Brown said. “That is the kind of council member I want to see governing our city, not one who says this is someone else’s problem. Both Alex Fisch and Daniel Lee see it as their responsibility to propose and enact public policy for the common good.”

Daniel Lee is a social worker who received his graduate degree from UCLA. He is also an alumnus of ​USC and a veteran of the US Air Force and Air National Guard. He has volunteered for 14 years with Culver City students, and continues to serve on the Culver City Martin Luther King Celebration Committee.  The only renter among the four candidates, he has resided in Culver City for 15 years.

Alex Fisch is a California Deputy Attorney General specializing in environmental law. A graduate of UC Berkeley and UCLA Law School, he is chair of the Culver City Committee on Homelessness. He sits on the board of the Rancho-Higuera Neighborhood Association, and is a member of BikeCulverCity.  He is the father of two children who attend CCUSD schools.

Readers can also visit the candidates’ websites: www.danielwaynelee.com  and www.alexfisch.com .

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Suzanne De Benedittis: City Council, kindly extend the EIR comment period, in the name of democracy and love for our Mother Earth

City Council Members, City Attorneys, and City Manager,

Inviting folks to come to City Council to comment on the Inglewood Oil Field EIR, I find myself in an awkward position as residents vent disgust, denigrating some of you by name, saying you’re being paid off by the oil company, etc. These comments sadden me as they do not reflect kindness. I do not support them.

Current national & local elections show that more and more of the public is demanding a voice in matters that affect the people directly. So too in Culver City! I have witnessed this trend for participatory democracy growing stronger year by year, especially so in our last local election as you will note from an analysis of the number of votes each winning candidate received vs. their financial expenditures.

Today’s well-educated populace wants their voice respected by those they elect to govern. And rightfully so. The collective wisdom of our citizens is in fact a brain trust, a pool of resources that by collaborating we can take the hard work done by the EIR prep team and make it even stronger while assuring it defendability if challenged. Is that not the intent of the EIR CEQA requirements?

Let’s be honest. The purported statement from the dais about the EIR being 700 pages is a gross miscalculation. The entire document – EIR, Specific Plan and appendices are over 1900 pages. So if you value the legacy you wish to leave, if you value democracy, please realize that your citizens have requested and need a 60 day extension on the comment period. Anything less is a slap in the face of democracy!

Thus, I humbly ask you, as officials, are you truly committed to respecting the will of the people?  to promoting democratic process on which we can build a City of Kindness?

Know that what impels me to write you is a sacred mandate: to love my neighbor as myself.   An even greater love I have is for the one on whom our very life depends,  our Mother Earth & its atmosphere,  who feeds & sustains you and me with clean air and fresh water. My passion for Mother Earth/our common home is what drives my behavior. I hope you, our elected officials, will share what principles motivate your decisions.

I invite you to dialogue with us, your public regarding the moral and/or democratic principles that inform your logic, reasoning and decision-making in matters that will affect our health and our lives.

By your collaborating with the brain trust within our city, together we can have even stronger protections that the EIR documents were intended to provide. Working together as a caring community, as a City of Kindness, I am morally certain that Culver City’s final EIR & regulations can be invincible!  So let’s collaborate! Yes?

Respectfully,
Dr Suzanne De Benedittis, PhD

Habitat for Humanity’s Housing Project on Globe Avenue is a good start.

The Culver City News wrote this great article about this project., supporting the fundraiser that Councilwoman Meghan Sahli-Wells will be hosting on March 22nd

We extend our support to Meghan, the strongest advocate for affordable housing on the City Council.  “We are in such great need of more affordable housing, so I’m really happy to be doing this,” Sahli-Wells said the news article.

She is holding the fundraiser to raise $7,000 for air filtration systems to make sure the 10 news homes are as safe from pollutants as possible, since the homes are located next to the freeway.

Daniel Lee also spoke eloquently about this project in the article:

Daniel Lee, a Culver City resident and organizer, agrees that the Globe Avenue homes are a good start.  At a Jan. 28 town hall on affordable housing in Culver City, Lee, who came within 243 votes of winning a seat on the City Council in 2016, was pleased to hear the number of residents who talked about the importance of more low and moderate housing. “I think the need and the recognition about affordable housing is there but I’m not sure that the political will is,” said Lee, who was one of the few candidates who talked about the need for rent stabilization on the campaign trail.

Michelle Weiner: Garden Cottages, increasing Culver City affordable housing, one little space at a time

 

I’m excited about the prospect of making and keeping housing affordable in Culver City. Why am I interested in this issue?  I live in a single family home in a lovely CC neighborhood – where once we had the youngest children on the block, now my husband and I are among the elders in the neighborhood. The stock of nearby housing has increased since we purchased our home in 1986; the adjacent Studio Drive-in property called Heritage Park, holds 57 homes, a school and pocket park. Multi-use buildings along Washington Boulevard have also increased the number of housing units.

So why should I be concerned about affordable housing?  My now adult children cannot afford to live here, nor can any of their friends. Our local teachers, police officers, firefighters, and many City staff members often find it difficult to find affordable housing in Culver City.  A number of young families I know who rent apartments find it beyond their reach to buy a home here and have no security when it comes to the threat of displacement. And, we have only one transitional housing program to serve our entire community for families who are homeless.

Because providing enough affordable housing is a complicated problem impacting cities and rural areas across the country, Culver City requires an array of strategies.  One solution that could be applied in neighborhoods like mine:  garden cottages, also known as secondary units. State lawmakers found the solution worthy of legislation and voted to ease restrictions on building additional housing in single family backyards. (See http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-fi-small-houses-solution-20160725-snap-story.html.) The new State law requires that applications for garden cottage permits be processed within 90 days. It also eliminates the requirement for an additional electrical hook up from a utility provider.*

While not a sole solution to the challenge we face in Culver City, if 10% of homeowners added garden cottages to their properties, we could increase our housing stock by approximately 700 units. Tiny houses, similar to RVs in size, either on wheels or built on a foundation, are smaller versions of garden cottages and are permitted in a number of California counties. (Reference http://www.curbed.com/2016/9/22/13002832/tiny-house-zoning-laws-regulations.)

Encouraging the construction of backyard units increases housing diversity, bringing community benefits such as less traffic, more stability, and engaged residents especially in neighborhoods near schools, parks and public transportation like mine. Garden cottages increase the potential to keep our working families and retirees local, enriching economic and age diversity in our neighborhoods and improving the quality of our community.

I plan to attend the Community Conversation on Affordable Housing hosted by Culver City, Saturday January 28, 9 am – 12 pm, in the Multipurpose Room at Veterans Memorial Complex, corner of Overland Ave. and Culver Blvd. You can view the meeting agenda here:  http://www.culvercity.org/Home/Components/Topic/Topic/286/925

I hope I see you there.

Daniel Lee: Housing? Here’s How

As a 14 year resident of Culver City it is encouraging to see current city staff and elected officials tackle difficult and sometimes thorny or loaded issues. This weekend’s community conversation around affordable housing is a prime example of matching forward thinking with substantive action. When I ran for city council last year I often spoke about affordability as a large concern not from a sense of self perseverance but because of the wide number of stories I’d heard from friends and neighbors who either had to move away or whose adult children had to either live at home or at a great distance from their families. I have high hopes for the outcome of the meeting on Saturday but it is just the start of a larger process. The planned rewrite of the city’s general plan and the eventual completion of a sustainability plan are part of this larger process I hope to see continue in Culver City.

Like many cities in across the US and in Southern California our building codes have not been modernized in many decades. An approach that embraces comprehensive change will allow the city to create affordable housing while modernizing other infrastructural elements. In the City of Los Angeles in November measure JJJ, an affordable housing measure, was voted in by Angelenos. The measure has various provisions but basically requires developers who apply for various waivers to build a percentage of affordable housing OR pay into an affordable housing fund. We will see how well the policy works in practice but Culver City should deeply study the elements of JJJ and other similar initiatives around the country that could provide the framework for an upgrade of our housing operating system.

Some potential elements to consider:
1. Allow for the building of smaller garden cottage homes on large lots.
2. Provide for increased density in various locations around the city (such as close to public transit corridors and freeways).
3. Requiring larger new residential developments to provide an increased percentage of affordable housing.
4. Study the feasibility the installation of solar panels and other renewable elements on city owned buildings. If the savings that accrued to Culver City School District in two short years are duplicable for the city the savings could be used to fund affordability initiatives.
5. Incentivize the Installation of Grey and Purple Water Systems in the building code.
6. Incentivize commercial and residential developments that incorporate or are built to facilitate the installation of solar and wind elements.
These are just a few of the plethora of potential options to consider. I sincerely hope to see many of the bright and professional Culver City community members who can share other ideas and expertise at the meeting this weekend.

Our Community Survey about Affordable Housing

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In preparation for the Community Conversation on Affordable Housing, we are writing a series of blog posts to help raise awareness and hopefully, get more people to join in the conversation.

As part of this effort, we also wanted to survey our neighbors on how they feel about the problem of housing affordability and a few ideas to start addressing it.

Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey by clicking here, and if you want to, go ahead and share this post with your Culver City friends and neighbors so they too can weigh in!

Affordable Housing: a serious problem and no easy solutions…

There is no disagreement that we have a housing affordability problem not just in Culver City, but across the state.

Earlier this month, Governor Brown released a  report entitled California’s Housing Future: Challenges and Opportunities spelling out the nature of the problem. Remember how, in our last post, we talked about how affordability is defined by the federal government? To be affordable, it must only represent 30% of a household’s income.

In California,

  • more than 3 million households pay more than 30 percent of their income toward rent, and nearly one-third — more than 1.5 million households — pay more than 50% of their income toward rent.
  • Homeownership rates are at their lowest since the 1940s.

These are just two ways to measure the problem, but we know there are many related consequences.  The report details other consequences:

“As affordability becomes more problematic, people “overpay” for housing, “over-commute” by driving long distances between home and work, and “overcrowd” by sharing space to the point that quality of life is severely impacted.

In extreme cases people can become homeless, either visibly on the streets or less visibly as they experience housing instability and cope with temporary and unstable accommodations.”

  • California is home to 12 percent of the nation’s population, but a disproportionate 22 percent of the nation’s homeless population.

“..high housing costs — and related housing instability issues — also increase health care costs (for individuals and the State), decrease educational outcomes (affecting individuals, as well as the State’s productivity), and make it difficult for California businesses to attract and retain employees.

The housing affordability problem in California is very serious.  According to the Governor’s report:

  • From 2015-2025, approximately 1.8 million new housing units are needed to meet projected population and household growth, or 180,000 new homes annually.

Brown has made it clear that the way that cities use their ability to manage and plan the use of their land is the most important part of the solution, and this report is part of his effort to help educate the public.

Earlier last year, he proposed a plan to stem the housing crisis by making it easier to build houses, by eliminating local hurdles to construction.The plan would have exempted urban development projects that have at least 20% of their units set aside for low-income residents. For developments near transit, the projects would only need to have 10% of their units designated affordable to qualify.

The plan was not met with approval, the Legislature did not even vote on it.  In the proposed budget that he just released, the $400 million dollars that he proposed investing were removed.

Governor Brown remains clear in his intention. But now it looks like he is playing hardball with Californians.

“We’re not spending more on low-income housing because it’s too expensive to build.”

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday (Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

“We’ve got to bring down the cost structure of housing and not just find ways to subsidize it….What we can do is cut the red tape, cut the delays, cut whatever expenses we can afford to do without to make housing more affordable and therefore increase the stock and therefore hopefully bring down the costs”.  (LA Times, 1/10/17)

Please take a minute to visit this user friendly website  (The Cost of Affordable Housing: Does it Pencil out?). It is very helpful if you want to understand what happens when you try to make affordable housing happen without subsidies.

It’s time to pay attention, we can no longer look away.

As we prepare for the Community Conversation we must realize we are not going  to talk about where in Culver City we are going to build affordable housing.  Instead, we are going to have to focus on what other options are available to moderate the rising costs of housing.