Los Angeles County, CA November 7, 2000 Election
Smart Voter

The League of Women Voters of Santa Monica Questionnaire

By Donna Block

Candidate for Member of the City Council; City of Santa Monica

This information is provided by the candidate
Donna Block's answers to the League's Questions.
1.Donna why are you running for Santa Monica City Council?

I am running for City Council because I love Santa Monica and I do not feel that our community is being fairly represented by our city council. Santa Monica is driven by machine politics; there is one viewpoint only that prevails in all decision making. The people who make this town the wonderful place it is deserve leaders who respect their views and needs. Our community is uniquely diverse; we need to stop dividing the community and start working together to make Santa Monica an even better place to live. With the vast resources Santa Monica has to tap into, we will all benefit by getting back to basics and focusing on the real challenges that we face as a community.

2.If elected, what kind of growth do you favor in the coming years and what do you think about park space?

I believe that Santa Monica is sorely lacking in available open space and parking. Already, money and space has been approved for park land. We have the resources, now we need the leadership to carry out those plans. I feel that in many circumstances, both open space and parking can be combined by building parking lots underground with parks and playing fields above ground. It may be an expensive undertaking, but we have only an eight square mile area to accommodate all of our needs. Land is scarce in this community and we are continuing to grow. We need to start looking outside the box and stop looking at either/or solutions. Necessity is the mother of invention; with an open mind we can create new options.

Commercial development has gone unchecked and unplanned for 20 years. Our current council continues to waive building and zoning codes on new developments. There has been an abundant surge in the mixed-use housing market that allows projects to exceed our current standards for development. Because housing is considered a priority need, requirements for parking, height, and density are being waived; these increase the impact on our community.

The Planning Commission, the most important commission in this city, has been stacked with political appointments. None of them have any expertise or experience in the area of city planning, architecture, or building . We now have a writer, a marketing executive and an attorney, along with other unqualified people of unrelated backgrounds for this commission.

3.The City Council made education its number one priority in this year's budget. From your perspective what does this mean?

It is an election year and machine politics will bring forth promises that the public wants to hear but we will still have to fight for funding and accountability in our school district. In the past, we had one of the finest school districts in the state; we no longer hold that ranking. In spite of the fact that our city continues to give the school district additional funding, we still fall far below the national average. While we continue lobbying the state to raise the amount of funding per pupil, we need to continue to raise our academic standards in our classrooms. We have to demand fiscal and academic accountability from our school board. That will not happen until the school board becomes non-politicized and accountable to the community.

I believe child care and after-school programs have become an extension of what is considered today to be education. Our children live in a new world that requires an additional focus. We have to look at the quality of what is available to them between 3pm and 6pm. For most children these hours are crucial and need to be addressed with more urgency. I designed and ran an after-school program at my daughter's elementary school. I know what the majority of the kids in this community need and want. In a nutshell: Supervision, athletics, the arts, and help with homework. I never turned a kid away and I operated in the black from day one. It can be done if we are committed to our youth. All kids are at risk.

4.There appears to be a growing shortfall of affordable housing in Santa Monica. What do you see as the impact on the community and how would you address this issue?

The leading cause for a shortfall of affordable-housing in Santa Monica is supply and demand. Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Malibu, and a host of other desirable communities have a lack of affordable-housing. However, I see many ways to utilize our resources if we are truly committed to an increase.

Our city budget provides for funds that go into housing, but they are not directed towards projects for the residents of Santa Monica. Seniors and families that already live here have to be placed on waiting lists, and compete with applicants from all over the nation who wish to live in Santa Monica. The inability to prioritize applicants occurs because we co-mingle state, federal and city funds, for all affordable-housing projects.

If we truly were concerned with providing for the residents of Santa Monica, we would fund housing that would allow us to prioritize our own residents. I believe the quality of the services we provide to the community outweighs the quantity of services

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