In order to better get to know the candidates for San Leandro offices, I sent out a questionnaire with questions provided by San Leandro residents and relevant to San Leandro. I will be posting the answers as I receive them. Mia explains that she skipped some of the more complicated questions, but will send her answers soon.
City Council Candidate Questionnaire
1- Do you have a website, Facebook, or Smart Voter page with more information about you and your platform?
2- What is your political philosophy?
Progressive Liberal, who believes our citizenry is smarter than we’re usually given credit for. I’m deeply concerned about open government, social justice, economic equity, and human rights
3- How do you evaluate when to stick by your principles and when to compromise?
Compromise does not imply abandoning one’s principles. If and when it DOES mean that, that’s when you don’t compromise.
4- How often have you attended City Council meetings in the last year and what, if any, issues have you spoken out about in such meetings?
I’ve attended 10+ in the last 12-18 months, speaking in support of:
- medical marijuana dispensaries
- legalizing backyard hens and bees
- having independent oversight of data from police surveillance
- enacting a nuisance ordinance to allow police on the streets to cite property owners who receive a sufficient number of police visits within a
- specific time limit
- spending city funds to fight blight in the North Area
and speaking against
- red light camera data retention
- the initial draft of the Housing Element Update to the Geneal Plan
- ban on smoking (including medical marijuana) in multi-unit complexes
- police grant for BEARCAT armored military vehicle
That’s all I can remember right now.
5- The San Leandro City Council is no longer producing full minutes of its meetings, and instead produces an audio/video recording and a record of its votes (but not comments/discussions). Would you restore full minutes?
Yes. I absolutely believe full written minutes should be restored. Many people don’t use computers so can’t access the digital video and audio recordings. And even if they did have computer access, video/audio recordings can’t be easily searched for subject matter.
6- Do you support a sunshine ordinance in San Leandro? Be specific as to terms.
I believe it’s sound policy, just like the ethics pledge our City Clerk asked candidates to sign when filing paper to run for office. Having a City Council vote for an ordinance that establishes open and inclusive behavior as a goal speaks to the ethical soundness of our governing body.
7- Do you believe the City Council should censure Vice-Mayor Benny Lee for lobbying the Oakland City Council against renewing its $1Billion garbage contract with Waste Management? San Leandro collects $500K in taxes annually from WM’s transfer station.
Yes. This was an obvious conflict of interest. Even if Councilmember Lee was not aware of the potential fiscal impact to our city, the fact that he had any relation at all (even if only as a minor acquaintance) to the leadership of California Waste Solutions means that it would be unethical of him to lobby on behalf of that company.
8- What’s your position on measure HH?
We need the money. A nearly 75% majority of residents support the measure. At $1 for every $200 spent on taxable items ($5 for every $1,000), it’s a drop in the bucket for the wealthy among us. People who can buy a $20,000 automobile can afford an extra $100. However, I know it can be more difficult for the lower-income workers. That’s why it’s so important we enact a Livable Minimum Wage policy. When people earn a living wage, they have money to buy goods and services, and they can afford that extra $1 for their $200 in taxable purchases. And that money will go a long way toward fixing roads and keeping open our libraries and parks.
9- Do you support continuing or making permanent the business license fee holiday for new businesses? Why or why not?
It’s a great enticement, and it’s not a permanent waiver. It helps bring business in so we can increase our tax base and provide a stronger foundation for future revenue generation.
10- Do you support pension reform in San Leandro? Be specific.
11- What are your plans for increasing revenue and/or cutting costs in San Leandro? Be specific.
Increasing our tax base by attracting new high-tech business and implementing a living wage ordinance. Both of these actions will increase our tax base. Improved working conditions and job quality for low wage workers stimulates the local economy by generating additional consumer spending and demand, with minimal impacts on price. And when people have a decent income, the strain not he city’s social services will be reduced, allowing for more funds to be diverted to other needed areas.
12- San Leandro is about to lose millions of dollars in taxes and development fees, due to Waste Management losing its garbage contract with the City of Oakland. What would you have done to prevent that situation from occurring and what will you do in the future to support San Leandro businesses?
I think more relevantly I could say what would I do to try to prevent that type of situation in the future. And it seems to me that more intensive ethics training is required. Elected officials don’t have the luxury of acting as ordinary citizens. They must avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest so must consider very carefully before deciding to publicly influence the governing body of another jurisdiction. Under no circumstance should elected officials lobby on behalf of any company with whom they have a personal relationship or from whom they have received money.
13- San Leandro has invested on creating a fiber loop and is trying to market itself to high tech manufacturing. What would you do to promote these efforts?
Our Chief Innovation Officer Debbie Acosta was a significant move in that direction. And finding enticements that aren’t a permanent drain on our budget. Waiving 1st year business license fees for new businesses is a decent incentive for larger businesses because they get a small break without the promise of a free ride. Advertising a stable housing situation and a living wage community increases our desirability, as companies want to please their employees.
14- What are your thoughts on redevelopment in general? What should the City do to spruce up downtown and the South part of town?
The traditional economic model of waiting for the federal or state government to throw money our way no longer exists. We must look for more public/private partnerships, such as the one with OSI Soft that brought us Lit San Leandro, or the formation of the Business Improvement District.
15- What are your plans for the development of the Marina? If they include dredging, who should pay for it? Be specific as to what you will work to see happen.
Without a billionaire angel to fund it, we cannot dredge the marina. The current proposal for a mixture of commercial and residential, along with aquatic recreation will be just as enjoyable as our current shoreline. And it’s feasible.
16- What type of affordable housing requirements do you support for new developments?
17- How should the City and the School District collaborate regarding any new housing developments?
18- What is your specific plan for repairing streets and sidewalks in San Leandro?
19- Global warming threatens to raise sea levels. What should the City be doing to help prevent rising bay waters from damaging property?
20- What’s your position on a “tree preservation ordinance”? Please be specific as to any ordinance that you would support.
21- Should the City offer incentives to encourage property owners to install solar systems or other alternative energy sources? Be specific.
22- What will you do to make San Leandro more friendly for pedestrians and cyclists?
SURVEILLANCE & LAW ENFORCEMENT
23- What’s your position on red light cameras and why?
I oppose red light cameras. The city gets about $75 of the $450 fine; that doesn’t even pay for itself. Studies to date show no evidence that accidents decline because of the cameras. According to our contract with the provider, our red-light cameras costs $6300/month in 2012, $6426/month in 2013, and $6554/month in 2014. That’s a minimum of $78,000 per year. Do you think we really issue 1,000 tickets/year to cover that?
24- What is your position on public/police operated public surveillance cameras?
Surveillance cameras can help track down criminals, no question. And they may even be a deterrence, but they don’t prevent crime – not the way that neighborhood watch, improved street lighting, and increased social justice do. And the cameras document an enormous amount of very personal data with no guarantees of privacy protection. I support the use of public cameras ONLY IF we have very strong privacy protections, specific terms for data storage and sharing, and citizen oversight of the enforcement of such terms.
25- SLPD operates several mobile and static license place readers which photograph millions of license plates and cars. Do you support an ordinance that will restrict how long these records are kept and who they are shared with? Be specific as to terms.
I do support such an ordinance; I haven’t yet personally formulated specific terms for storage and sharing, but strongly support citizen oversight of the enforcement of any terms.
26- How would you tackle the increasing militarization of the SLPD? Do you believe that the SLPD should continue to operate its SWAT team?
I don’t have an informed opinion regarding whether or not to continue operating our own personal SWAT team, but I strongly oppose increasing police militarization. When police response is more frightening than crime they’re responding to (as was described in a public comment by San Leandran Jessica Bartholow at the September 22 City Council meeting), it’s time to rethink our whole law enforcement protocol.
27- What are your public safety priorities?
- Increased emphasis on neighborhood watch
- Reducing blight
- Implementing non-threatening strategies such as improved street lights
- Increased collaboration with residents and sworn officers rather than moving the officers away from their community liaison positions
- A Living Minimum Wage, because when people have money in their pocket, crime is reduced, and it reduces stress on our social services, allowing us to help others.
28- When the City Council passed an ordinance allowing citizens to keep bees with a permit, it provided that in order to get that permit citizens had to agree to waive their 4th amendment right to warrantless searches of their properties. What’s your position on this type of requirements? What will you do specifically with the requirement in the “chicken & bee” ordinance?
I spoke publicly against many of the civil rights violations in the ordinance that was eventually passed, through I did support it with the Council’s proviso that it be reviewed in a year. I believe the Council should review the impacts over the past year, and consider moving the ordinance out of the purview of the Police Department and back to the Planning Department.
29- What do you think are the City’s responsibilities vis a vis ensuring that everyone in San Leandro has access to food, housing, health care and other necessities of life? How will you meet such responsibilities?
30- How should the Council promote community health in San Leandro?
31- Will you support an ordinance to increase the minimum wage in San Leandro? If so, to what amount.
Absolutely. The City has already declared $14.57/hour as the living wage it requires its contractors to pay their employees, but I support a collaboration between leaders of labor and business to formulate a Living Wage Ordinance for all San Leandro workers.
32- Do you support reducing development fees, zoning entitlements and construction permits in order to make housing more affordable?
I don’t know enough about the overall status or consequences to make an informed decision. ’m certainly open to the idea
33- What should San Leandro do to aid its homeless population?
(1) First, focus on rapid re-housing, whereby someone gets into housing immediately and THEN we deal with trying to solve their accompanying problems (unemployment, pregnancy, mental illness, violence victim, etc.).
(2) Map our resources and centralize the bureaucracy of the varied services available not only in our City but throughout the County (food banks, shelters, job assistance, health care, etc.) so that people can access the services even if they’re not in a shelter (not always possible now). Many services exist, but homeless people don’t have access or can’t provide required bureaucratic information. We need to map resources, needs, and assets in the region to make the accessible, as well as streamline the bureaucracy; I mean, how much proof do we need that someone is homeless?
(3) Develop mobile outreach clinics to provide case management and ensure the inclusion of single people who are not families.
34- Do you support an ordinance that would stabilize rents and impose just cause requirement for evictions? Be specific as to what proposals you would support/oppose.
Absolutely. As a member of the Rent Review Board, I am more acutely aware of the seniors and low-income families losing their homes in the name of increased profit. What does it avail our city to gain an economic boom but lose our soul?
35- What’s your position on having medical marijuana dispensaries in San Leandro?
It’s a no-brainer. They’re legal. A local dispensary would benefit our lower-income patients who may have difficulty traveling to other towns to get their medicine. And it would be of major economic benefit, adding significantly to the city’s tax base.