The Santa Monica Daily Press sent candidates for Supervisor, Congress and State Senate a list of four questions. Each candidate had up to 800 words to use as they saw fit answering some or all of the questions. We will print their responses, over the next few days. Answers from Supervisor candidates ran on May 28. Below are the responses from candidates running for State Senate who responded to our requests. Responses have been edited for spelling and punctuation.
State Senate candidates were asked:
1) Given the controversy over the Santa Monica Airport, where do you stand on the proposed closure of the facility and how will you advocate for that position once elected?
2) Santa Monica is in the midst of a serious debate about affordable housing. How can the State facilitate construction of affordable housing options and should the burden of developing affordable housing be shifted from cities to the state?
3) Who is best equipped to address the ongoing problem of homelessness in our communities? How can government agencies work together to find solutions and should there be more reliance on solutions from the private sector?
4) The dissolution of Redevelopment agencies was pitched partly as a means of increasing funding to local schools. However, local schools continue to struggle with funding, increasing class size and new educational standards. What can the State of California do to stabilize educational funding and guarantee that all children are afforded the same opportunities?
Below are Sandra Fluke's responses:
1) With an increase in jet operations and the development of schools, daycare centers, parks and residential neighborhoods in the surrounding areas, we must protect the health and safety of our community by closing the airport.
Federal standards mandate a 1000 foot runway safety buffer, a requirement that the FAA waved for this airport, putting the homes and residents living just 300 feet from the runway in grave danger. Since the airport started accommodating jets in the 1980’s, there have been 80 accidents, many of which ended in serious injury and death.
I am also concerned about the health consequences. Due to a recent growth in the number of jet operations at the airport, a study was done to explore the health impacts to the neighboring communities. They found that jet take-offs and landings are contributing to elevated levels of black carbon and other harmful pollutants in the surrounding area, which can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular disease, decreased lung function, and cancer.
I share many of the community’s concerns about the airport, the most significant being the health and safety of Santa Monica and surrounding residents. While as a State Senator I won’t have the ability to directly impact the decision on the airport, I will use my position to strongly advocate for its closing and to ensure that its place is taken by community-oriented businesses. We must replace the economic activity generated by the airport, but not through overdevelopment that doesn’t respect the character of the community.
2) There is a great need for affordable housing in Santa Monica and throughout the 26th District. This is illustrated by the fact that the City of Santa Monica Housing Division received over 33,000 applications in 35 hours for the wait list for affordable housing programs. Such wait lists are so extensive because funding for affordable housing is needed to replace that lost through federal sequestration and other cuts. In addition, counter intuitively, more affordable housing could be created and preserved by reforming SB 1818, which was ostensibly passed to encourage affordable housing development. Currently, SB 1818 provides bonuses for developers who include affordable housing within their project, but there is no requirement that the number of affordable units created be greater than those eliminated by the development. Thus, our communities are sometimes left with fewer affordable units than prior to the development. I also support reform to ensure that low-income renters are not forced from their homes through abuse of the Ellis Act. I believe both the state and cities play a role in ensuring affordable housing. We must work to provide affordable housing throughout the district and the state while allowing cities that are able to make greater progress the freedom to do so.
3) Because of the clients I have represented, I have seen first-hand that welfare reform merely camouflaged the poverty in our country without eliminating it. Instead, it made it more difficult for families to lift themselves out of poverty because they are continually ensnared in bureaucratic requirements. I believe that a housing first strategy coupled with investment in services is the right path forward. We must also address the underlying causes of homelessness by reinvesting in our social safety net after years of cuts: extending long-term unemployment benefits, and increasing funding of mental health services, addiction treatment, veterans assistance, and services for survivors of violence. Particularly vulnerable groups like gay teens and trans folks require specialized outreach programs as well. Obviously, there is much to be done and this work requires the involvement of the private sector, non-profit and charitable organizations, as well as all levels of government. Private sector involvement is desirable and should be encouraged, but our entire society, and thus our government, is ultimately responsible for the welfare of these most vulnerable residents, and cannot shirk that responsibility. Because we have faced the challenge of homelessness for far too long, we do have data and research on the most effective solutions, and agencies must be guided by these best practices in working cooperatively.
4) We’ve made good initial steps toward restoring funding to public education, but there’s much more to be done to adequately equip our schools to meet the challenges they face. Proposition 98 funding alone is not adequate. I support increasing per pupil funding, via an extension of Proposition 30, to increase California’s ranking well above our current place at the bottom of the state rankings.
Early childhood education, including subsidized universal pre-school and mandatory kindergarten for all five-year-olds, would go a long way to equalizing educational outcomes. Early childhood education is crucial in adequately preparing students and helping to close the achievement gap for children from lower-income families. However, we must fund these efforts without compromising funding for K-12. As a member of Raising California Together, I have been an active proponent of increased investment in early childhood education.