Copyright 2014 Gruber for City Council 2014
Frank believes that for Santa Monica to be the best it can be, its policies must stand on Four Pillars: Good Paying Jobs, Affordable Housing, Excellent Public Schools, and a Clean and Healthy Environment.
By focusing on these principles, Santa Monica will be a healthful, safe and lively community, with thriving civic institutions and responsive services while remaining financially sound. It will remain a place for people of all ages – from children and young adults to families and seniors.
To achieve this, we need City Councilmembers who are not only committed to these values, but who also have a deep understanding of the issues. Nobody knows the issues better than Frank – and no one is better prepared to fill the open-seat on the Council than Frank. His positions are thoughtful and forward- thinking.
Public Safety and Social Services
Frank knows that protecting our pubic safety is the first responsibility of any elected official. But for Frank, what sets Santa Monica apart is we take care of our own – protecting our high level of city services even during the recession. Frank will continue in that tradition – finding innovate ways to cut waste and use tax dollars efficiently.
A strong supporter of the City’s “Cradle to Career” initiative, Frank will be an advocate on the council for programs to help at-risk youth, prevent gang violence and create a civic environment where all young people feel themselves to be valued participants in the life of the community.
Traffic and Transportation
Traffic congestion, particularly outbound traffic in the afternoon, has become so bad that we Santa Monicans feel cut off from the rest of the region from 3:00 on. While traffic congestion is a regional problem, Frank believes that we must start to think innovatively about how to reduce its impact on Santa Monicans.
We won’t fix traffic with conventional thinking. Conventional thinking says that widening freeways like the 405 speeds up traffic, but the reality is that wider freeways dump more cars on our surface streets. Traffic congestion also occurs throughout the region regardless of the density of development, and so we’re not going to fix traffic by controlling development (although there are other reasons to control development).
Santa Monica must examine where commuters come from, and think creatively how we can get them out of their cars. The Expo light rail will be a big step forward, but only a portion of people who work in Santa Monica live along the Expo corridor. The Big Blue Bus is wonderfully run, but it needs to become a system that better meets the needs of people who currently drive to work. The coming of Expo will present a great opportunity to expand crosstown routes to connect more Santa Monicans to the light rail. In general we need shorter wait times between buses, and more express buses (that, for example, can use the new carpool lanes on the 405) to bring commuters to their jobs in Santa Monica from around the region.
For 30 years Santa Monica has led the way in showing that public control over development is not inconsistent with economic prosperity. Frank believes that our city must control development for the benefit of all. Way before others were talking about it, Frank opposed the development of more office buildings in Santa Monica and believes the City’s Land Use General Plan must be amended to drastically reduce office development. Going back to 2010, he strongly opposed the development standards in the plan that allowed for the proposed and now defunct Hines project because all the office development would have worsened the area’s existing traffic nightmare. As a former Planning Commissioner, Frank has a keen sense of the planning process and a commitment to saying no to bad development, and he does not believe that a bad development can be made good by “community benefits.” As a Councilmember, Frank will be a leading voice for protecting the human-scale of our neighborhoods.
Renters Rights and Affordable Housing
Frank sees personally the value of rent control everyday when he visits his 93-year-old father in downtown Santa Monica. Rent control not only keeps seniors in Santa Monica in their homes, it also brings stability to a community like ours where 70 percent of our residents rent. Frank believes that this stability is crucial for our city’s progress and prosperity.
Rent control alone, however, is not a solution to the high cost of housing. With the end of redevelopment funding, new sources of investment in affordable housing must be found. Frank supports the real estate transfer tax that’s on the ballot as a means of creating revenue for affordable housing. He supports encouraging private investment in affordable housing, so that people who work in Santa Monica can afford to live here.
Santa Monica must remain a leader in protecting the environment and Frank is committed to building on that history and he has the record and knowledge to do so once on the Council. Cleaning the bay, protecting the beaches, and conserving resources like water are crucial, and Frank believes we must implement more policies that encourage less driving so that what we need or want is within a walk, a bike ride, a short bus trip, or a quick ride in the car. For Frank, the word “environment” doesn’t only mean the natural world, but also the world we live in – and that needs to be healthy, too.
Santa Monica Airport
The biggest environmental issue in Santa Monica today is the future of Santa Monica Airport. The residents of Santa Monica own the airport land. While there is a lot of misinformation out in the community from the well-funded aviation lobbyists who are bankrolling a phony campaign to preserve the airport, Frank supports closing the airport when the City’s agreement with the federal government expires in 2015 and then turning the land into a great park to serve us all. Frank believes Santa Monicans must have control over future use of the airport land.
The City should do what it can to close the airport not only because of the negative impacts of the airport, but also because of the opportunities the closing of the airport would create. Santa Monica has few parks compared to its population. Other than at the airport, there are no large parcels in the city that could become parks. The City, of course, already owns the land at the airport having purchased it in the 1920s using park-bond money.
Taking away noise and pollution that the airport creates and converting it to park and recreational facilities is all part of creating a healthy city.
Good paying jobs and a strong economy, especially in these difficult times, are a necessity to maintaining property values and a sufficient tax base. Frank has been a long-time advocate for living wages and the rights of working families.
While the character of our city makes it so attractive to businesses in the first place, Santa Monica must resist being overwhelmed by business growth. We are not and must never become another Century City.
Frank believes that protecting our special asset – the tourism industry – is critical. Tourism protects our city’s solid financial standing and has a low impact on the local environment.
Frank’s son Henry went all the way from kindergarten through Samohi in our local public schools. Even after Henry went to college, Frank worked hard to protect – and improve – our public schools. As a councilmember, Frank will be a strong voice for continuing the City’s commitment to helping fund our schools. He supports working in partnership with SMC and SMMUSD because he believes that great public schools shape great future leaders and are fundamental to the stability and special character of our community.
Like traffic, homelessness is a regional problem that Santa Monica cannot solve on its own. Many of the region’s 80,000 homeless people end up in or pass through Santa Monica. Nonetheless, we can be proud that our city has not turned its back on homeless people, but has developed a nationally-recognized network of nonprofit organizations that are the best in the business of getting the homeless housed.
In recent years the City and its service providers have utilized a “housing first” strategy aimed at the chronic homeless, those who have been on the streets for more than a year and who usually suffer from mental illness, alcoholism, or substance abuse. Frank will work with our service providers to expand this approach to more homeless people.
A special word should be said about the problem of homelessness among our veterans. While most homeless people are not veterans, and of course only a fraction of veterans are homeless, a shameful number of veterans are on the streets. Santa Monica needs to continue to pressure the Veterans Administration to do more, and specifically to use the VA Westwood facilities to house veterans who need care. As a council member, Frank will work to seek federal and regional funds for our local nonprofit partners to aid them, too.