VOTE LOCAL Q AND A – What Can and Should Santa Monica Do About Climate Change



Last month, Santa Monica Next reached out to all 10 candidates for City Council with an 11 question questionnaire. Some questions were written to give voters an idea of the candidates personality, others on their positions. So far, six candidates have responded. We would like to thank (in order of response) Terry O’Day, Gleam Davis, Mende Smith, Ted Winterer, John Mann and Terrance Later for their responses.

Responses will be printed in random order so that each candidate gets a chance to have their answer printed first. Each candidate will also get at least one of their own meme pictures highlighting one of their answers.

You an read about the candidates’ thoughts on the SMC Bond Measure we published last week by clicking here, how to improve the experience of our seniors here, and about a recent trip each had taken on their bicycle here.

We hope to hear from Mayor Tony Vazquez, Armen Melkonians, Oscar de la Torre and James Watson so we can share their answers for the remaining eight questions.

Today’s Question : What role, if any, do you believe cities like Santa Monica should play in addressing the root causes of global climate change? In what ways do you think Santa Monica is doing its part? In what ways do you believe Santa Monica should be doing more?

Gleam Davis – 

With sea level predicted to rise by 3 feet by 2015 and with our weather patterns already being disrupted, every city must address the root causes of climate change.  All development and transportation decisions must be viewed through the lens of “does a plan or proposal increase or decrease regional and city greenhouse gas emissions”. 

Santa Monica certainly has been in the vanguard of sustainability measures.  We adopted a green building code that requires every new development to have solar panels on the roof.  Our mobility plans are designed to make it safe and easy for everyone to use transit or other forms of non-automobile transportation.  We also encourage the use of electric vehicles by giving them special parking privileges and creating charging infrastructure throughout the City.  We recently voted to close the airport as soon as possible. 

Now that the Environmental Protection Agency (finally) has found that aircraft emissions pollute the environment and add greenhouse gasses to our atmosphere, the airport must be viewed as an environmental liability.  In the future, Santa Monica needs to find ways to provide more frequent and more convenient Big Blue Bus service.  We also need to think about other forms of transit such as shuttles or circulators that residents can use to move easily around Santa Monica.  Finally, we need to adopt green building patterns that turn automobile-centric streets and neighborhoods into compact, complete streets and neighborhoods that provide neighborhood serving businesses and activities and that are pedestrian and bike friendly.

Jon Mann – 

Our city council and staff loves to brag about what a sustainable city we are as traffic continues to grow.  We are able to create over paid positions with fantastic pension plans and other benefits jobs, rather than actually doing  building a desalination plant like Torrance.

Terrance Later – 

As they say, we must think globally and act locally. In Santa Monica, we have a great responsibility not only to ourselves and our children to protect our environment, but also to the rest of the world who loves to travel here for their holidays. Santa Monica should be a shining example for the world to see of how a community can reduce emissions, protect the environment and also have a booming economy. The recycling bins on every corner is an excellent sign of our commitment to our green initiative, continue to encourage walking as we are with Vision Zero, and increase bike lanes while reducing development (and waste byproduct) that is currently increasing at a breakneck pace by adopting Measure LV.

Roughly 25% of Santa Monicans are between 18 and 35 years old (2010 census). What should the City do to prepare for their needs as they enter the workforce and form families?

We need to find ways to keep money in our city instead of going to developers, contractors, designers, etc. that are outside of Santa Monica. Currently, it seems our priority is drawing in more tourism as thus more development. While tourism is an excellent source of revenue for our city, it is time to re-direct our efforts back to benefitting those who live here, reinstating our commitment to community – especially for the future of our city, the youth.

Mende Smith – 

Santa Monica is a high density, beach community. Although this means that solar and wind power will be limited, it does not mean we should be lax in implementing and promoting it. We are in a climate emergency. Santa Monica should be aggressive in exploring the emerging technologies (improving SMURFF asap) and providing incentives for its residents to install solar tech, especially in the lower density urban areas.

Terry O’Day – 

Bobby Kennedy Jr. has said that pavement is the number one enemy of the environment. Our challenge is to manage development to reduce our environmental footprint and global warming pollution, and demonstrate what a city that leads can do to balance quality of life, environmental stewardship, and economic justice.

Ted Winterer – 

The 2015 Paris climate accord acknowledged the significant role municipalities must play if we are to reduce GHG emissions worldwide. Here in Santa Monica we will soon be updating our Climate Action Plan to set new, more ambitious goals for reducing our city’s carbon footprint. We are making great progress with land use policies which put housing near jobs and transit; mobility strategies which emphasize lower-carbon and no-carbon modes of travel such as mass transit, walking and biking; requirements for solar power in new construction and substantial remodels; and a possible Community Choice Aggregation with nearby cities to provide renewable electricity citywide. Going forward we need to transition the BBB fleet to run on locally generated renewable energy; add miles of dedicated bike lanes; add many more publicly-accessible EV charging stations; and rely solely on local water which requires much less energy to deliver.

Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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