Answers to The Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters questionnaire
Denise Munro Robb
1. Why are you running for office?
I am committed to making this city more democratic and more responsive to the needs of regular people rather than developers. Developers have run this city for too long and the council members have succumbed to the pressure and the money that they offer. In addition, tenants have long been ignored by the council and I intend to change that by lobbying for the repeal of Costa Hawkins, having meetings at night and providing child care so working people can attend meetings and most important, I intend to give neighborhood councils real power over planning and land use decisions. I am the only candidate who supports this idea and it will make all the difference in terms of quality of life issues, open space and ending corporate subsidies to those who harm our environment.
2. What are three to five specific tasks (e.g. specific legislation, policies, enforcement actions) you intend to accomplish while in office?
a) I intend to give neighborhood councils real decision making power and lobby to have a charter amendment so other council districts can enjoy the same local control.
b) I will fight for the creation of more open space, pocket parks, lobby against any subsidies such as Playa Vista and for the protection of all the Ballona wetlands
c) I will lobby the MTA (and attempt to get a seat on the board) for compliance with the Bus Riders Union consent decree, as well as creation of light rail, an increase in DASH buses, lower fares and a return of the red car. I believe if transportation is affordable, attractive, provides parking, is safe, and takes people where they need to go without too much trouble, people will be more inclined to use it.
3. What are the most serious environmental issues facing the City of Los Angeles?
Over development, loss of open space, loss of affordable housing, gentrification so people have to commute ever further to their jobs, pricing the working class out of the city therefore forcing long polluting commutes and urban sprawl, LAX expansion, threats to LA River.
4. What should Los Angeles City Council be doing about these specific environmental issues that it is not doing now?
a. Air quality. Convert city vehicles to clean burning fuels. We need a wheel tax like they have in Chicago that taxes SUV's and other large vehicles as a disincentive to owning them.
b. and c. Water quality and toxic
substances. As a City Council
member I would allocate additional funds for the inspection of contaminated
sites within the City of Los Angeles. I would further establish ties with and
request that the State Water Resources Control Board investigate contaminated
sites not only in the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys but also within the
Los Angeles basin. I would work for the establishment of a chrome VI drinking
water standard that adequately safeguards human health and safety. I also would
work for a ban on all use of chrome VI within the city.
In regards to perchlorate I would encourage that perchlorate in the groundwater be tested at the same time that the chrome VI is, as well as focusing around traditional areas of perchlorate use (i.e. aerospace facilities). I also would work for the mitigation of volatile organic compounds, chrome VI, perchlorate, MTBE, NDMA, and 1,4-Dioxane.
I oppose fluoridation of the water supply, as it is a by-product of aluminum production and fertilizer. There is a form of fluoride, which isn't hazardous, however, that is not the type that is going into our drinking water. Even if you're a person who thinks fluoride is good (which it isn't, I have hundreds of pages of scientific research to prove this) it is also an issue of freedom. I don't even think Vitamin C should be added to our drinking water, and I am an advocate of Vitamin C.
We need to continue installing storm water filters to filter polluted runoff before it reaches the ocean.
d. transportation (see 2(c) answer above)
e. land use. We need to preserve every bit of open space that is left. We have so little in Los Angeles compared to other cities. In my district, I would have preferred expanding Pan Pacific Park rather than building the Grove mall, another unnecessary shopping center that connects one Banana Republic store to another. I would support turning the Ballona Wetlands into a park and wildlife preserve and rescinding any bonds that have been offered to the billionaire developers that were granted public monies; I will work with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and state park department to preserve Cahuenga Peak which is currently owned by Forest Lawn Cemetery, the Estate of Howard Hughes and Jefferson Development. This could be a westerly extension of Griffith Park and it would finally connect Griffith Park on the west to the other parks in the Santa Monica Mountain Park system. Additionally, I would oppose up-zoning any vacant lots that could potentially serve as a neighborhood pocket park. Blacktop playgrounds in the city's public schools should be converted into active recreational parks. Under no circumstances would I support urbanizing what little open space we have left in the city. I support redevelopment of sub-standard, economically neglected areas in a community friendly, neighborhood sensitive scale.
Redevelopment is preferable to development and multi-use housing is a better use of land than single family dwellings. I support regional sharing of air traffic demand and oppose expansion of LAX.
f. Waste management.
I am concerned that the trash collectors are putting the trash and the recycling into the same trucks. I would strongly support better supervision to prevent this from happening. I also support recycling for businesses, something that is not occurring. For example, 3435 Wilshire Blvd., where the Sierra Club is located, does not recycle. The amount of trash that is discarded and not recycled in this building alone is obscene. The City of LA should not have re-opened the Sunshine Canyon landfill. Instead, the City should be recycling up to 90% of their trash instead of 50%.
5. If elected what will your role be in these efforts?
I will propose legislation and vote in accordance with the above stated principles and for issues where the state holds the key to change, I will organize our city council and other city councils around California to form a coalition to lobby for issues that we have common ground on.
6. Describe an area in the 4th District or Los Angeles overall that suffers from one or more significant and localized environmental problem. How will you address them?
Pan Pacific Park is an example of how developers' needs have superseded the needs of the residents of my district. The City granted permits for the creation of a mall, which is not needed since we have a plethora of shopping malls in the area (Beverly Center and Beverly Connection are walking distance from the Grove). I would have expanded Pan Pacific Park instead and created a recreation center in the park for children to have afterschool activities, perhaps a partnership with LAUSD and LA's Best program to work with school children in the area so they would have a place to participate in sports. The park is not big enough and is very crowded on the weekends. There is also currently no recreation center. I would also expand Griffith Park as mentioned above.
7. Please describe the processes by which the Los Angeles City Council handles environmental issues.
Very poorly. Developers apply for subsidies and upzonings and appropriate EIR's aren't conducted. Then an environmental group or a neighborhood group, if they have the money, hires a land use attorney and sues the city and/or the developer. After many years, there may be a victory. However, not before the entire community has been torn apart and is exhausted from having to become experts in issues that they shouldn't have had to become experts on. Usually the developer wins. If the area is mostly tenants, there is usually not a fight at all, and the project proceeds, causing more loss of open spaces and affordable housing, and general traffic and pollution congestion that will have negative impacts in perpetuity.
8. What do you propose to do to improve the Council's environmental protection and enforcement records?
See 4c. In addition, I will always vote in the best interests of the environment, regardless of economic consequences because I strongly believe that whether or not a project creates jobs, if it is harmful to the public, in the long run it is a dead end. We must think seven generations into the future when making decisions, not just for the immediate needs. In addition, many jobs can be created for the use of more solar energy. I want to create solar energy corridors and subsidize solar in the way that San Francisco just voted to, by assisting in powering 50,000 apartments using panels and creating a partnership with community colleges to train people in installation, something that is truly needed now.
9. What do you consider to be your greatest environmental achievement?
I worked with many others to achieve an end to the creation of nuclear power plants and an end to underground nuclear weapons testing at the Nevada site (where they now bring chemicals and explosives). I also was successful, along with my organization the Miracle Mile Action Committee in down zoning our historic and affordable neighborhood and preventing more oversized, cheaply made buildings from destroying our neighborhood. We were able to get more open space requirements in the Wilshire Plan, which was just passed by the Planning Commission a few weeks ago. Additionally, I was part of the fight to save Parcel C of the Ballona Wetlands from the Playa Vista developer and support it becoming part of a state park. We may have more victories to claim in the near future. Stay tuned.
10. How do environmental issues fit into your campaign?
They are central and I talk about them at every debate. At the last debate I laid out a plan for a solar and alternative energy corridor. Also I am the only candidate who is refusing developer money.
11. Why do you want our endorsement?
Because your organization is well respected and I am an environmentalist. It's a natural fit. I've also been endorsed by the Chair of the Sierra Club's Angeles chapter, Dr. Gordon LaBedz and other prominent Sierra Club environmental activists.
Specifically address how you will use it in your campaign.
I will put it on all my literature. I also would like to borrow your membership lists to get your members to volunteer on the campaign, vote and donate money. I will be your ally at City Council.
12. Please list here the names of your campaign consultant and manager, your fundraising target and funds raised to date and a brief description of your campaign strategy.
My campaign consultants are Bill Pietz, Matthew Glasser, Ross Frankel and John Ulloth. My campaign manager is Bill Cody who was instrumental in getting Eric Garcetti elected.
We were the first to turn in our signatures and now our focus is on precinct walking, phone banking, advertising in various media including cable TV, tabling, debates, making the most out of organizational endorsements, and some surprises along the way as well. We were on the news Saturday night on every channel because we held a press conference on renter's rights. I also have been interviewed by the LA Times and other papers. We have hundreds of volunteers who are extremely dedicated and a paid staff as well. We are on our way to getting the $25,000 which will be matched by the city. After our benefit concert this Sunday we may reach that goal.
13. Please list here names, titles/affiliations/agencies and a current phone number for the person or people who helped you with this questionnaire.
These responses are all mine.
The knowledge that I have about these issues comes from having worked with many experts in education, transportation, water, etc. over the past few years.