WHY I'M RUNNING
Strong communities do not happen by accident. I am running for City Council because I believe the challenges and opportunities over the next decade are significant and powerful voices are required for our vibrant town to continue to thrive.
I have worked in housing and community development in Southern California for almost 18 years and lived and raised my family in El Segundo. I see an opportunity for El Segundo to set the example of what it means to be a small town in a robust economy — one driven by community and financial stability. We can be proactive in our approach and focus our efforts in a way that is true to our community's defined goals and objectives.
I am thrilled to be running for El Segundo City Council!
My Key Positions
My key positions reflect my background in community development and experiences as a resident, Planning Commissioner, and parent in El Segundo. Through proactive leadership and a commitment to open community dialogue, we can advance the safety, vitality, and long-term stability of El Segundo for all residents.
I have over 18 years of professional experience in housing and development in California. From for-sale residential builders to multi-family, senior, and affordable housing developers, I have worked with an array of providers and understand the challenges and opportunities of designing housing options in a layered community.
The cost of housing in Southern California has increased significantly, outpacing corresponding growth in income. This story is certainly familiar in El Segundo, where the overall desirability of our community in a constrained land market continues to put upward pressure on our housing inventory. Home to the second highest number of Fortune 500 companies in California, El Segundo is renowned for its accessibility to the coast, parks and recreational facilities, and excellent public education, all uniquely encapsulated in a small town feel.
At the same time, the State is placing increased responsibility on local municipalities to supply housing. In the 2014-2021 cycle, our Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) required the construction of 69 new homes. For the 2022-2029 cycle, this number will be close to 500. I support a proactive approach to housing across multiple income levels and product types. This means preserving our R1 (single-family) and R2 (duplex) zones while creating opportunities for additional housing in the R3 and Specific Plan zones, such as along the Pacific Coast Highway. The Pacific Coast Commons project, approved by both the Planning Commission and City Council, will be the city’s first new apartments constructed in over 40 years.
The strength of our local businesses and commercial tax base is impacted by our ability to house young professionals, service industry personnel, and executives. Creating opportunities for our police officers, fire personnel, teachers, and healthcare professionals to live in town is hugely beneficial. Moreover, the fabric of our community is enriched by housing solutions targeted to our senior population as they age.
I believe this can be accomplished with a two-prong approach: First, we must create development standards for underutilized sites west of Pacific Coast Highway and revisit Smoky Hollow to include housing; and second, we need to formally study mixed-use zoning east of Pacific Coast Highway, with the decision ultimately left up to El Segundo residents to vote on in a future ballot initiative.
I will work diligently with City staff, fellow Council Members, and business leaders to chart a course for smart growth and development to our public benefit.
Capital Improvement Projects
Maintaining our vibrant community requires an increased push to improve our streets, parks, and facilities. As we look ahead, addressing the city’s capital improvement needs would be one of my primary budgetary goals. These projects include taking care of our numerous parks, El Segundo Teen Center, Joslyn Center, and aquatics facilities as well as ensuring necessary maintenance and upgrades to our streetscape and water and sewer systems. While there has been discussion of a major design and spending initiative to enhance gems such as Recreation Park, I am a proponent of allocating money and public works resources to tackle such projects individually and in real time. We need to move these projects forward quickly as delays only add to costs!
Additionally, we must budget first and design accordingly. Recent projects from the Plunge renovation to the Gateway Sign at Imperial and Main have been authorized without setting a budget direction. The result is runaway and wasteful spending.
The city has identified $120M in necessary improvements over the next 20 years. Smart spending will get us part of the way there. Realistically however, there will be a financing gap and either businesses, residents or a combination of the two will be asked to plan for our future. Residents can vote on a Capital Improvement Project bond that would create a one-time capital raise and be paid by El Segundo residents over a fixed period of time. Alternatively, residents may vote to increase local sales tax from 9.5% to 10.25% and earmark that incremental increase to long-term funding of our public amenities and public work projects. Note that the vast majority of sales tax revenue is currently generated by non-residents shopping and dining in El Segundo east of PCH.
My position is that both alternatives should be discussed with the community over the next two years, seeking feedback as to which route is most aligned with our goals and objectives. Ultimately, El Segundo residents deserve the right to vote on the best approach as a ballot initiative in the November 2024 election.
In the interim, I will promote smart spending by 1) designing to a budget and 2) limiting our reliance on third-party consultants who drive project costs up Let’s be diligent with our funds and deploy money already allocated for improvements so we can continue to enjoy our wonderful public amenities.
El Segundo is a safe haven in a big city, and I am committed to preserving and enhancing our public services. We, as El Segundo residents, consistently rank the provision of Police and Fire services at the top of our annual satisfaction surveys; it is listed as the number one thing our city does well. And that is not by accident. A recent report generated by our consultant, Revenue Cost Services (RCS), noted that El Segundo has the highest Police and Fire capabilities per capita amongst the last 18 comparable cities they studied. (Additionally, we have the highest ratio of park acreage per 1000 residents!) As a community, we continue to prioritize the provision of public services.
A recent increase in local theft as well as county-wide crime rates has generated a call for an even greater level of local services. Recently, the current City Council addressed this concern by allocating an additional $450K in discretionary funds to the police department to increase the number of patrol services. As the city has little jurisdiction over penalizing crime, acting as a deterrent is our greatest line of defense.
As City Council Member, I would continue to support preserving city control over public services and would not look to the county to provide services as some of our neighbors have. I would also promote an open and transparent dialogue with Police Chief Bermudez and Fire Chief Lee and support the hiring and retention of the highest level of trained officers and personnel.
El Segundo for Everyone
I firmly support a strong role for the City Council in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in El Segundo. As the City Council works with the City Manager, Department Heads, and Staff to set both the tone and the strategic direction for our city and establish El Segundo as a business-friendly community, I believe we have an opportunity to embrace growth in our human capital.
As a City Council member, I will proudly and publicly state that our town will exemplify what listening, learning, and growth looks like. We have a shared responsibility to determine the character of our community and ensure El Segundo is a safe and inclusive environment for all who live and work here.
While establishing a DEI Committee is a solid, practical step towards this effort, Council can further these efforts by speaking to their importance and encouraging questions, promoting transparency and offering opportunities for public discourse. As a Council member, I will gather support for and organize a public forum series on DEI. Conceptually, it might include a roundtable with ESPD, ESUSD, City Staff, Council, and Community Members. I welcome and encourage your feedback on this subject.
While these are my key positions, I look forward to learning from the community on these and other issues and welcome constructive dialogue. El Segundo has defined what it means to be a small town in a modern era. As a City Council member, my priority would be to continue to push us forward, advancing the safety, stability, and vitality of El Segundo for generations to come.
On July 11, 2021, the City of El Segundo experienced an environmental crisis as a result of the gross malfunction of the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant. Seven months later, a report shows multiple equipment failures, ignored alarms and insufficient staffing at the city’s largest wastewater treatment facility are the likely causes of a “nearly catastrophic” flood. This negligence resulted in 17 million gallons of untreated sewage dumped into the Santa Monica Bay. Today, residents are still experiencing negative impacts. The smell lingers, physical symptoms persist and the path to accountability and remediation is vague at best.
While the system of oversight is intentionally bureaucratic, residents have attempted to navigate it through the efforts of a few very well informed community members and the assistance of the Public Works department. A phone tree system of reporting complaints to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) was set up in order to generate citations, and there is continued pressure on local representatives. The legal process is in motion, yet it will take years for agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to determine a monetary penalty and enforce injunctive relief.
How do we as El Segundo City Council members drive action? I support hiring an environmental lobbyist to advocate for El Segundo with our state and federal representatives. They can hold City of LA accountable for necessary plant improvements by controlling the funding the local jurisdiction receives. To facilitate change, we must exert pressure from the top down. Additionally, it is the role of Council to draw attention to the issue while keeping residents regularly informed of the actions occurring at every agency level.
During the Covid pandemic, there were regular briefings on the LA County Public Health mandates and the traceable occurrence in El Segundo. This took place at Council meetings but was also widely communicated through other channels (city email, social media, etc.). Public updates on Hyperion should be delivered in the same way. This would allow the residents to stay informed and active in contacting our representatives to drive change.
Personnel training and system updates are still needed at Hyperion. These improvements, along with clear and effective risk management best practices, will be necessary to keep El Segundo safe in the future. As elected officials, our job is to commit to continuing to pressure Hyperion and the agencies affiliated with this disastrous event. We must be vocal advocates to ensure monitoring and capital improvements are underway and this will never happen again.
Business License Fee/Sales Tax Update
On the November ballot, residents will have an opportunity to vote on an overhaul of El Segundo’s Business License Fee program which has not been updated since 1992. Business license fees and sales tax revenue make up 32% of our General Fund contributions (2021-2022). The changes proposed as a ballot measure are intended to bring the business classification language in line with the businesses and service models that exist in today’s economy. This includes updating base tax, square footage, and per headcount calculations, as well as the classification of hotels, apartments, and nonprofits.
Additionally, this initiative will amend the Annual Sales Tax Credit program to add a sunset clause as currently those credits have no expiration timeline. Such changes would represent $3-$4M in additional annual funds while bringing El Segundo in line with our neighboring communities. On this city-sponsored initiative, I urge residents to vote yes!
Retail Cannabis Sales Initiative
The local retail sale of cannabis has been a top issue in the past several months driven by a public petition by a third-party organization to put the topic to vote on the November ballot. That group ultimately withdrew their initiative at a late stage. There are now two ballot measures for El Segundo residents to vote on this election cycle related to retail cannabis sales:
1. City of El Segundo drafted ballot initiative (Measure W) – If passed by the majority of voters, this measure would legalize the retail sale of cannabis in limited, pre-designated areas east of the pacific coast highway. I am a no vote on Measure W.
2. Cannabis Business Tax (Measure Y) – This city-initiated ballot measure creates a tax in the event a cannabis business ever becomes legal in El Segundo. The cannabis tax would fund general municipal expenses such as police, fire, streets, and parks. Regardless of opinion on the above initiative, this is a MUST for the city. In the event the retail sale of cannabis is approved this election cycle or in the future, the City of El Segundo must have a mechanism to capture retail revenue and provide the necessary public services that accompany it. A YES vote on the cannabis business tax measure is imperative.