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Housing, homelessness, and cars: Los Angeles City Council candidates weigh in

Here’s how candidates competing in March primary election plan to fix some of the biggest issues facing Los Angeles

Half of the Los Angeles City Council is up for election in March. If you live in a district with an open seat, voting for a city councilmember will be one of the most important ballots you’ll cast today.

City councilmembers exert much power and influence over the communities they’re elected to represent. They direct homeless camp cleanups and decide whether and where to build supportive housing and shelters. They give stamps of approval (or rejection) on large developments that dramatically shape neighborhoods. They install (or thwart) bike lanes. They set policies that directly impact renters.

The city is carved up into 15 electoral districts. This year, only even-numbered districts are up for election. Find out which district you live in by plugging your address into the city’s website. To win outright, a candidate needs to garner 51 percent of the votes. If that does not happen, the top two vote-getters in each race will advance to the general election in November.

Below is a summary of how much money each candidate has raised, the names of some of their biggest donors, and their responses to two questions from Curbed LA. (The eighth district is not included, as incumbent Marqueece Harris-Dawson is running unopposed).

Question 1: What’s the single most important law or program that you will fight for in your first year in office to increase affordable housing production and combat homelessness?

Question 2: The city’s Green New Deal aims to reduce carbon emissions by helping every Angeleno drive 6 fewer miles every day. How will you get cars off the road?

Council District 2

Paul Krekorian

Los Angeles City Councilmember

Donations 2019 to date: $132,723
Top donors include: California Hotel and Lodging Association Political Action Committee ($800); Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee ($800); Carl Daikeler, CEO, Beachbody ($800); Amazon, Inc. ($800); Hamlet Chragchian, director of construction, Adept Development ($800); Ronald Altoon, architect, Altoon Strategic real estate development consultants ($800)
Endorsements include: Los Angeles Times; Los Angeles County Democratic Party
Further reading: “2 challenge LA Councilman Krekorian in CD 2

Question 1 RESPONSE: Did not respond.
Question 2 RESPONSE: Did not respond.

Rudy Melendez


Donations 2019 to date: None reported.
Top donors include: None reported.

Question 1 RESPONSE: Did not respond.
Question 2 RESPONSE: Did not respond.

Ayinde Jones


Donations 2019 to date: None reported.
Top donors include: None reported.

Question 1 RESPONSE: Did not respond.
Question 2 RESPONSE: Did not respond.

Council District 4

Nithya Raman

Homelessness nonprofit leader

Donations 2019 to date: $293,196
Top donors include: Tina Fey ($800), comedian; Ellen Pompeo, actress ($800); Busy Phillips, actress ($800); Abhishek Gupta, global head of strategy and planning, Uber ($800); Chelsea Handler, producer ($800); Jimmy Kimmel, broadcaster ($800)
Endorsements include: Sunrise Movement Los Angeles; Democratic Socialists of America, Los Angeles

Question 1 RESPONSE: To combat homelessness, we need a network of Community Access Centers in every neighborhood across the city to help people get into housing and care. These are places where anyone can walk in, feel welcomed, drink a cup of coffee, and consult with a case manager. Outreach workers and mental health case workers will be stationed there, and will know every person experiencing homelessness in their neighborhood by name. By bringing services directly to the people who need it and allowing for long term relationships of trust, we can direct people into housing and services much more quickly than we have been doing. I co-founded a nonprofit that pioneered this model in our neighborhood, and I’ve seen it have transformative effects.

To build more affordable housing, I’d open up our planning process to allow for smaller apartment units and housing with shared facilities like kitchens and bathrooms — the kind of housing that used to provide shelter for so many more people in this city, but is now mostly forbidden by our planning code.

Question 2 RESPONSE: The most effective way to get people out of their cars is to give them an alternative to driving, and the best way to do that would be to make it much easier to take the bus. For people of all ages and abilities, buses are the most effective mover of people we have in LA. But while we have a good bus network, we’ve been losing ridership steadily for many years.

Councilmembers can’t necessarily increase bus frequency unless they’re on the Metro board (although I would pressure them to increase it a lot!). But they have a lot of control over bus infrastructure—I’d build shelters for every bus station in the city and expand the city’s network of dedicated bus lanes. We’ve already got a strategy from city planning for building out bus and bike lanes: it’s called Mobility Plan 2035, and it’s time we started implementing it. Doing so would probably get us to the city’s Green New Deal emission reduction goals all by itself.

David Ryu

Los Angeles City Councilmember

Donations 2019 to date: $670,004
Top donors include: Buckingham Properties ($800); Ayahlushim Getachew, founder, T.A. Group real estate development consulting firm ($800); Ken Heo, architect, KSK Design ($800); Nelson Algaze, CEO, SAA Interiors + Architecture ($800); Michael Roth, publicist, AEG ($500); Ron Burkle ($800)
Endorsements include: Los Angeles Times; Los Angeles County Democratic Party
Further reading: “He ran as a City Hall reformer. His rivals say he’s fallen short on homelessness

Question 1 RESPONSE: Homelessness is the number one issue facing Los Angeles and my district. I have been working on this issue for 16 years–four on the City Council and 12 years before as a psychiatric facility director and county staffer–and I have been deeply frustrated that our city is incapable of treating this crisis with the magnitude it deserves.

That is why I have introduced a motion to amend the City’s charter to create a true emergency response and temporarily centralize the identification, approval and development of homeless housing and resources within the executive branch. The motion also calls for the creation of a Homelessness Response Division to expedite all new homeless housing projects. In short, our government structure limits the city by putting power in too many hands. When FEMA comes to town, one person is clearly in charge and accountable. We need voters to authorize that type of system in LA. When re-elected, I am committed to pushing this legislation through council, and putting it on the ballot for the voters in November.

Question 2 RESPONSE: To get cars off the road, our transportation network needs to be more convenient and accessible. That’s why I have championed several rail projects in my district, such as the Purple Line, the Crenshaw northern extension, the Orange Line upgrades and the Sepulveda Pass project. These projects will transform our region and augment personal mobility and rideshare options.

While we build our world-class rail system, I have also worked to make transit more accessible and attractive by: Passing legislation to legalize and regulate dockless bikes and scooters to help tackle the first/last mile problem; securing the contact between Metro and LAPD, so people feel safer when they take transit; expanding the city’s DASH system and supporting Metro’s NextGen Bus Study; and working on the new request for proposal (RFP) for bus shelters in the city of Los Angeles so that we can make sure every bus stop is easy to find, has shade and seating, displays accurate bus arrival times, and hopefully has solar powered WiFi and charging stations.

Sarah Kate Levy

Writer/women’s advocate

Donations 2019 to date: $197,842
Top donors include: Evan Smith, The Conservation Fund ($800); Guerrilla Tacos ($800); Justiniaan Jampol, director, The Wende Museum ($800); Boni Bryant, realtor, Compass ($500);
Endorsements include: CalBike; Women’s Political Committee Los Angeles

Question 1 RESPONSE: Our district saw a 53 percent spike in homelessness in one year—and it is simply unacceptable that we are allowing people to languish and die in our streets. I believe all Angelenos should be safely housed—but that’s impossible today, as we simply don’t have the housing. What we do have is 18.6 million parking spaces for 5.6 million cars in the county. That’s why I will establish safe parking and safe camping areas, with bathrooms, showers, and social services on-site. That will allow us to better serve our unhoused Angelenos, and also allow us to clear our sidewalks. I will also work to revise our parking minimum requirements for buildings on our transit corridors. Overbuilding parking slows down builds, and makes units much more expensive to deliver to market—plus it flies in the face of our vital need to make our streets safer, and address congestion, air quality, and climate change.

Question 2 RESPONSE: I ride our buses and trains as much as I can, and I have developed a great sense of our current challenges with—and opportunities for—providing safe, convenient, and accessible alternatives to traveling in this city by car. I’ll fight for DASH service in every neighborhood, running at much more frequency than we see now. I’ll fight for protected bus lanes on every street that used to have a streetcar and make our bus stops safer and more comfortable, with benches, shade, and accurate arrival/departure noticing. I am committed to doing my part to build out a protected bike network across our city. I will also advocate for our city to get serious about building density on our transit corridors, and supporting local business in those corridors, so Angelenos can access the services and products they need closer to home.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that Levy received a $500 donation from Todd Wexman, chief principal of 4Site Real Estate. She returned that donation.

Council District 6

Bill Haller

Music studio owner

Donations 2019 to date: None reported.
Top donors include: None reported.

Question 1 RESPONSE: We need a regional homelessness czar to execute a 100 percent plan that is efficient, of course, comprehensive. The plan should also include a more-than-honest discourse with city taxpayers. Or at least a discourse that treats the taxpayers like working adults instead of children with a trust fund. Let us know how much it will cost and what the actual program costs are before issuing a bond for funding. We also need funding from state and federal programs as the cost burden—probably in the area of $1.6 billion annual—is now too big for Los Angeles to go it alone. Our city council spent too many years ignoring the problem or trying to criminalize homelessness while exhibiting no real interest in spending money on the infrastructure needed to combat it. Now we are severely behind with a full-fledged humanitarian crisis on our hands. We have all sorts of captains pointing in different directions for the ship to sail, and we are wasting time and millions of dollars.

Question 2 RESPONSE: Wow, doesn’t sound like much of a deal, to be honest. Replacing every car stuck on the freeway with an EV doesn’t solve mobility. I was state chair of Sierra Club California air quality committee for several years. I was in Sacramento to advocate for Pavley’s 2006 Global Warming Solutions bill (AB32) and was helpful in pushing then-Gov. Schwarzeneggar’s pen to the green side on rolling smog check bills, engine smoke bills, etc. Never lost a priority bill during my tenure. But having testified in front of CARB, USEPA, Cal EPA, SCAQMD and various diesel truck and construction workshops during those years, I can say that the kinder, gentler, “voluntary” aspect of cleaning the air doesn’t work. At all. On one hand, regulation is key, but on another hand, “mobility competition” would clean the air, save the climate (a bit) and save LA drivers a helluva lot of time and money. We solve mobility first by prioritizing dedicated bus lanes, protected bike lanes and pedestrian rights. In the short term, yes, every family needs a car in LA—but not a car for every kid, cat and dog in the household. LA has focused on the car for too long, and now we are stuck in traffic.

Nury Martinez

Los Angeles City Councilmember

Donations 2019 to date: $257,193
Top donors include: The McCourt Company, Inc. ($800); Greater Los Angeles New Car Dealers Association ($800); Glenn Freeman, real estate broker, NSB Associates ($800); Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee ($800); Various executives at Jade Enterprise ($4,000 total); Jay Schulman, CFO, JRK Property Holdings ($800)
Endorsements include: Los Angeles Times; The Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters
Further reading: “LA City Council President Martinez faces two challengers in her east Valley district

Question 1 RESPONSE: Did not respond.
Question 2 RESPONSE: Did not respond.

Benito Benny Bernal

Community advocate

Donations 2019 to date: $3,850
Top donors include: Bernal has collected two $800 donations, from a teacher and a scrap metal dealer

Question 1 RESPONSE: Did not respond.
Question 2 RESPONSE: Did not respond.

Council District 10

Mark Ridley-Thomas

Los Angeles County Supervisor

Donations 2019 to date: $633,783
Top donors include: Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council Political Action Committee ($800); Lonnie Bunkley, real estate developer, Bunkley Investment and Development ($800); Tom Penn, co-owner, Los Angeles Football Club ($800); George Weaver, consultant, Common Cents Development Corporation ($800); James Silverwood, CEO, Affirmed Housing ($800); Jimmy Silverwood, acquisitions and development, Affirmed Housing ($800); Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee ($800); Jackson Schuyler, real estate broker, Fralin Commercial Inc.; Marvin Jarmon, real estate developer ($800); Tylka Realty Services ($800); Committee to Expand the Middle Class, Supported by Airbnb, Inc. ($800); Brad Gluckstein, Apex real estate development ($750)
Endorsements include: Los Angeles Times; Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters

Question 1 RESPONSE: There is no one silver bullet that is going to solve our crisis of homelessness and the shortage of affordable housing. We must move on multiple fronts: building more affordable housing, providing services to those who need mental health treatment—but also creating aggressive tenant protections and eviction defense strategies and programs to keep residents from falling into homelessness. For example, in partnership with the City, I’ve worked at the County to create a $10 million annual fund to help defend low-income tenants who are facing eviction. Currently we’re directing those resources to the zip codes where we see the highest rates of homelessness.

We have to push on multiple fronts: keeping people from falling into homelessness while we re-house those who already have. That’s why I am pushing for a comprehensive crisis response. As I said, there is no one program, law or silver bullet. We have to have a comprehensive approach to this strategy and treat it like we do our natural disasters. That means government, nonprofit organizations and the private sector working together.

Question 2 RESPONSE: Weaning Angelenos from their cars isn’t just a matter of creating new regulations—we need to reimagine our urban planning strategies to seamlessly integrate development with our transit system. And we need to ensure there are safe alternatives to cars—more pedestrian-friendly streets, safe biking lanes, and safe transit.

I’ve been doing this work—creating best, last-mile strategies with the Link Shuttle, focusing on areas where we’ve seen the highest rate of traffic collisions and building well-lit streets with safety-enhanced designs. Also, I have worked to create thousands of acres of park lands and open space, including the new, 13-mile Park to Playa hiking and biking trail that will link South LA to the beach. Another such project, Rail to River, will span 10 miles and convert an existing railroad right-of-way into a pedestrian and bicycle corridor.

We can have a greener, healthier and less traffic-choked city. Millions of Angelenos would love to leave their cars behind and walk, bike, or ride to their destinations. It’s the job of the government—and my intention—to make that happen.

Melvin Snell

Human rights activist

Donations 2019 to date: $306

Question 1 RESPONSE: As a human right activist, I am compelled within my first year to advocate changing our dated law of putting our citizen last rather than first. Between the city and the county, there is already enough owned land and properties by both municipalities to build affordable housing using prefabricated material at a low cost to accelerate the unnecessary crisis we are experiencing. I will address the wrap around services needed to stabilize the mental ill homeless for their sustainability.

Question 2 RESPONSE: I have studied and have been certified in reducing our carbon foot print in solar, emission pollution and how it effects our lives and environment . Increasing massive transit power by solar. Their are other means of fuel, that can be used which doesn’t pollute automobiles, which reduces our dependency on facile fuel. I know we can move people by overhead monorail, like in Disneyland that is powered by solar. This process is less costly than digging subterranean rail system in some areas.

Channing L. Martinez

Community organizer

Donations 2019 to date: $21,056
Top donors include: Barbara Lott-Holland, associate director, Labor Community Strategy Center ($500); Robin Kelley, professor, UCLA ($500); Eric Mann, director, Labor Community Strategy Center

Question 1 RESPONSE: I am a community organizer. I support the Strategy Center/Bus Riders Union Free Public Transportation, Stop MTA Attacks on Black Passengers, Affirmative Action for Black Jobs, Cut LAPD Budget by 50% Campaign—and LA City and County built residential housing for very low-income people. For Black people, they are driven out of Los Angeles altogether: 750,000 Black LA residents in 1970, 350,000 today. MTA raised the monthly pass from $42 to $100, is arresting and harassing low-income passengers for “fare evasion” (50 percent or more of tickets are to black passengers), and the LAPD and ICE are making life a living hell for black and Latino communities. If we don’t stop ICE and LAPD, if we don’t have free mass transit and an end to police brutality, and if we don’t challenge an urban plan based on racism and gentrification capitalism no single “reform” will pass let alone solve interrelated problems. My campaign offers an integrated set of radical structural demands that can first change the debate, then change the policies, then change the city itself.

Question 2 RESPONSE: The Strategy Center and BRU has advocated for free public transportation and no cars in LA since our Future of Transportation Conference in 2003. We led the fight for bus-only Lanes in 2011 that was passed but sabotaged by Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and Condo Canyon yuppies so we never got a long enough stretch and violators face no penalties. We are calling for auto free zones, auto free days, auto free rush hours along with free public transportation and 24/7 frequent service. The MTA now proposes “better” service by cutting and eliminating rapid bus instead of adding to it. Did you know that during the BRU Consent Decree (1996-2006) MTA ridership went up 25 percent and after the MTA sabotaged its provisions after it expired MTA ridership is down more than 25 percent and auto use is up 400 percent among low-income people. I am running to bring a radical program to the voters to change minds and change policy. We need you to support my candidacy and support our campaign for urban and climate transformation.

Aura Vasquez

Former Los Angeles Department of Water and Power commissioner

Donations 2019 to date: $101,452
Top donors include: Glen Curado, Ceo, World Harvest Charities and Family Services ($800); Magna Consulting & Design, Inc ($800); George Pla, CEO, Cordoba Corporation ($800); Sun PAC California Solar Energy Industry Assn. ($800)
Endorsements include: Sunrise Movement Los Angeles
Further reading: “Fossil fuel money is toxic for some L.A. council candidates

Question 1 RESPONSE: In order to combat homelessness, Los Angeles needs to create more affordable housing opportunities for its residents. As a renter, I worry that one day I won’t be able to afford a place to call home in the city I love. In my first year in office, I will fight for our own “Homes Guarantee” in Los Angeles which will ensure safe, accessible, sustainable, and permanently affordable housing for Angelinos. The national Homes Guarantee plan focuses on creating new social housing, reinvesting in existing public housing, protecting renters and bank tenants, repairing centuries of racist housing policies, and ending real estate speculation and de-commodifying housing. Fighting homelessness is going to require bold leadership and for all of us to work together to make sure residents have an affordable place to call home. Enacting a Homes Guarantee in L.A will help us keep residents in their homes and provide solutions for our current affordable housing crisis. I was proud to take this pledge.

Question 2 RESPONSE: We have huge boulevards all over our city that don’t have safe crosswalks. We have unprotected bike lanes where bicycles and scooters ride in the flow with traffic, and drivers who don’t respect the rules of sharing the road with them. I will fight to make the city safer for pedestrians and bikes, which will encourage walking and riding to take advantage of public transportation. I will fight to make mass transit itself more reliable, more sustainable—and free. All of these initiatives will greatly reduce motor vehicle traffic and the pollution it spews. I’m proud to support the Los Angeles Green New Deal and have the endorsement of the Sunrise Movement L.A. We must find ways to reduce pollution that is making us sick and most affecting people of color in our city.

Grace Yoo

Community leader/attorney

Donations 2019 to date: $188,431
Top donors include: Ada Simpfenderfer, Berkshire Hathaway ($800); Scott Yang, builder, Mackone Development, Inc. ($500); MKC Appraisal Inc. ($800); Ki Cooks Tires ($800); Hubert Mart & Liquor ($800)
Endorsements include: United Teachers Los Angeles; East Area Progressive Democrats

Question 1 RESPONSE: The most important step we can take immediately is to amend or temporarily suspend the rules and ordinances that prevent people from being housed. The city of LA has a complicated web of laws and rules that make it difficult to get anything accomplished quickly.For example, churches and community organizations want to open their parking lots at night for people who are currently living in their cars. They will provide security and bathroom facilities. Let’s remove as many barriers as we can to enable them to do this. We need to treat our housing situation as a crisis just as if we were dealing with a natural disaster. We, of course, want people living in safe, affordable housing. But we cannot let people continue to live on the streets while we search for the “perfect” solutions instead of immediately moving forward with something that works now while we continue to develop long-term, housing that fits all incomes and all needs including more facilities to treat people with mental illness and drug addiction.

Question 2 RESPONSE: The best way to get cars off the road is to give people viable alternatives to driving. Ride sharing, light rail and other existing options must be affordable, reliable, and safe. We also need to incentivize employers to offer work-from-home options, employee van pools, and public transportation programs for employees.

I also support a pilot program that would provide free public transportation for the elderly and differently-abled, expanding later to seniors and the very low-income. Once we can show that free public transportation works, we expand it to all riders. If Metro can get people to work faster than driving can, people will be more likely to use it.

Council District 12

John S. Lee

Los Angeles City Councilmember/father

Donations 2019 to date: $234,313
Top donors include: Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater Los Angeles Political Action Committee ($800); California Real Estate Political Action Committee ($800); HEM Properties, Inc. ($800); Seth Ring, regional president, Toll Brothers ($800); Chris Pearson, vice president, Hudson Pacific Properties ($800); Lynn Feintech, real estate developer, Liberty Building Company Investment Properties ($800); Sharon Evenhaim, CEO, California Home Builders ($800); Dorit Evenhaim, partner, Deels Properties ($800); Central City Association Political Action Committee ($800); Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee ($800); Anheuser-Busch Co., Inc. ($800)
Endorsements include: Los Angeles County Business Federation; Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
Further reading: “As March LA City Council election nears, John Lee’s challengers are emerging in the northwest San Fernando Valley

Question 1 RESPONSE: Did not respond.
Question 2 RESPONSE: Did not respond.

Loraine Lundquist


Donations 2019 to date: $209,277
Top donors include: Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project Los Angeles County Action Found ($800); Women’s Political Committee ($800); GFC Courage Committee-San Fernando Valley Chapter ($800); Brian Wilson, architect, Dake Wilson Architect ($800); Edward Begley, actor ($800); Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters ($800); Jonathan Deutsch, homeless services, LA Family Housing ($500)
Endorsements include: Los Angeles County Democratic Party; Sunrise Movement

Question 1 RESPONSE: There is no single panacea solution when it comes to our housing affordability and homelessness crises, but I am interested in digging into legislation currently on the table, such as Councilmember Mike Bonin’s “Homes Guarantee LA” package of proposals. This builds on a nationwide campaign for “safe, accessible, sustainable, and permanently affordable housing for all.” For residents in Council District 12, this would mean relief from rent gouging by tying rent-controlled buildings’ annual increases more closely to inflation and cracking down on speculative real estate purchases by creating new disclosure requirements. And rather than fighting about local control, we should be working with legislators to create a model for new housing and reinvestment in existing public housing. Assemblymember Santiago of LA has proposed a $2 billion state fund in this year’s budget, and the Homes for All Act would provide federal funding for social housing. I would fight for more state and federal money for housing, as well as the intersecting challenges of mental health and healthcare.

Question 2 RESPONSE: First, I would set an example by biking and taking public transit to work and events as much as feasible. Leadership starts with our City Council. Next, I would focus on ensuring that residents in Council District 12 feel safe and comfortable using active and public transit. A majority of trips are 1 to 5 miles—visiting family and friends, going to school, going shopping, or enjoying entertainment. With safer streets and more reliable public transportation, more people will choose to leave their cars at home, opt not to pay for parking, and frequent local businesses. This means prioritizing all forms of transportation in Council District 12 which will result in fewer traffic injuries and fatalities, more revenue for local businesses, and a healthier community. If we pair this with more high-quality long-distance transit including frequent and fast Metrolink and LADOT Commuter Express service along with a zero-emission Orange Line, we provide the solutions and alternatives to driving.

Council District 14

Raquel Zamora


Donations 2019 to date: $19,212
Top donors include: All donations were less than $800 each.

Question 1 RESPONSE: The single most important program that I would like to implement is two-fold: First, I would like to advocate for workforce housing that allows for working professionals such as teacher, firefights, and law enforcement to be able to purchase a home within CD 14. Secondly, I would like to work with the county of Los Angeles in getting General Hospital to be converted into housing and bed space coupled with wrap around services to address each homeless individual needs for employment, substance abuse, metal health and housing.

Question 2 RESPONSE: After conducting a series of listening tours in CD 14 and listening to constituents; I have learned that each part of the district is different and have special needs in different areas. For Downtown Los Angeles, I envision the following: To reduce carbon emissions we need to encourage more carpooling, and buses stoping less in traffic. I would like to provide monetary incentives to city employees for carpooling. I would like to look at a model that is being implemented in San Francisco and other cities called Tactical Bus Lanes. It calls for a dedicated lane in the heart of the city that has its own lane void of traffic. It would increase bus usage and avoid idling buses emitting gas emissions. I would also like to encourage bike lanes safety and usage in DTLA.

Cyndi Otteson


Donations 2019 to date: $52,239
Top donors include: Otteson has collected one $800 donation, from Timothy Wang, founder, TDW & Co.
Endorsements include: United Teachers Los Angeles, Sunrise Movement Los Angeles

Question 1 RESPONSE: First, the City Council needs to change its way of thinking. We should treat renters as a constituency, giving them the same priority we give homeowners, and see people experiencing homelessness as a neighborhood of 50,000 Angelenos, spread throughout the city. Only then can we feel the empathy and urgency that creates real change. Next, we need to accept and act on all of the City Controller’s recommendations about how to fix the cost overruns with Prop HHH housing. Only then can we begin one program that can get us closer to our goal: a vacancy tax, tailored to Los Angeles, which includes commercial vacancies. If a big landlord or investment group wants to keep a space vacant while waiting for a renter to pay a price that the market can’t bear, they should be expected to contribute to a fund that helps us build affordable housing, and provide assistance to renters to keep them from slipping into homelessness, right now.

Question 2 RESPONSE: By making every school walkable. By building housing near transit. By investing in small businesses and local economies. By providing alternatives to cars that are safe, clean, and fast, so that people don’t want to drive. With LA’s Green New Deal, we have an opportunity to rebrand Los Angeles as a city of walkable, bikeable neighborhoods connected by public transit, rather than a chain of suburbs accessible only by automobile. How else can we clear our streets, and clean our air? Make public transportation emission-free and fare-free—for everyone. Make walking on our sidewalks an attractive and safe family activity, not a risk of life and limb. Another idea: Elect councilmembers who don’t take donations from the fossil fuel and real estate industries, and who have the guts to fight for what’s right. Transit-oriented development, rapid bus lines, and bike lanes are not the end of the LA lifestyle, they’re the future.

Kevin De Leon

Teacher/environmental policymaker

Donations 2019 to date: $763,018
Top donors include: Onnik A. Mehrabian, car dealer, Auto Speed Inc. ($800); Donald E.K. Monroe III, director of acquisitions, Roman Group LLC ($800); Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles Political Action Committee ($800); David Hart, architect, Steinberg Hart ($800); ABS Properties, Inc. ($800); Christopher Pak, architect, 2CGPAC LLC ($800); Jung Kim, real estate, JK Investments ($800); NREA-TRC 700 LLC real estate investment trust ($800); Edward Norton, filmmaker ($800); Daniel Weinstein, housing Developer, CTI Housing ($800); Ocean Development ($800); Ferris Wehbe, real estate, F and D Properties ($800)
Endorsements include: Los Angeles County Democratic Party; The Sierra Club, Angeles Chapter
Further reading: “Kevin de León moves campaign event following complaints from homeless activists”; “Former state legislator Kevin de León looms large over the Council District 14 race

Question 1 RESPONSE: Our current approach to homelessness simply isn’t working. Tackling this humanitarian crisis demands a network of policies that focus on keeping people housed, and rapidly providing shelter for unhoused families. On day one, I will cut red tape by building a list of pre-approved structures that can be immediately greenlit for construction; our most badly-needed projects will jump straight to the front of the line. Also on day one, I will pass a motion to identify all unused or underutilized city land. We will build on those properties first. I will work with federal and state partners to increase the value of Section 8 vouchers and create master leasing programs to stem inflows to homelessness by helping Angelenos keep the roof they already have over their heads.

We must also focus on expanding access to mental healthcare services for those in chronic homelessness. I’ll focus on housing opportunities that include trauma-informed, wraparound services tailored to support the complex needs of those struggling with mental illness, physical disabilities, and/or substance use.

Question 2 RESPONSE: One of the greatest hurdles to changing our city’s car-centric mindset is a lack of viable public transportation. Eight freeways choke the 14th district with horrendous pollution. Walking or biking has become extremely dangerous, and Metro is shedding riders as transit-friendly neighborhoods get more expensive and traffic gets worse. Our Metro system should be free for Angelenos younger than 25, making it easier for the next generation to adopt public transit options. I’ll focus on building transit-oriented housing, to make getting on the bus or train as convenient as hopping into your car.

With Complete Streets projects like Rock the Boulevard and Broadway Streetscape, we can create welcoming public spaces where Angelenos can safely walk, bike, or even ride an electric scooter. We should triple the number of charging stations in our neighborhoods, to encourage the use of electric vehicles. Every neighborhood deserves well-kept sidewalks, sufficient lighting, bike facilities, shade trees, and a safe, reliable transit system. Accomplishing these goals will support small businesses and ensure foot traffic is sufficient to keep neighborhoods safe.

John Jimenez

Nonprofit organization executive

Donations 2019 to date: None reported.
Top donors include: None reported.

Question 1 RESPONSE: Did not respond.
Question 2 RESPONSE: Did not respond.

Monica Garcia

School board member

Donations 2019 to date: $232,577
Top donors include: Richard Katz Consulting, Inc. ($800); Thomas Safran, chairman, Thomas Safran and Associates development company ($550); manager, Xyvest Inc. real estate holdings ($800); Macy Lai, developer, Livingston La LLC ($500)

Question 1 RESPONSE: To end overcrowded schools and forced busing, as the leader of the LAUSD, I helped pass an unprecedented $28 billion in school bonds. With these bond dollars, we built 131 modern campuses. We created 350,000 good paying construction jobs. This provides a model for what we can do with housing production. To build more we need to demonstratively better people’s lives. Promises are not enough. To build the political will to produce more housing, we need to produce more housing that working people can afford to rent.

The present system is broken. We need nonprofit and community oriented apartment developers to flood the market with hundreds of thousands of affordable units. On the City Council, to rein in rents and build units that fit working people’s budgets, I will organize a coalition to pass an unprecedented multi-billion dollar housing bond. To do this we need bigger bonds than we have done heretofore. We should pay for these bonds by taxing multi-million dollar property owners who have bid up the cost of land.

Question 2 RESPONSE: We need to build housing throughout the city that fits the budgets of working people. Service workers should be able to walk or bike a short distance to work, not have to travel across the city. People should be able to do their errands without getting in a car. We need to make our streets safe for bikes and walking. We need zero pedestrian deaths at crosswalks. We need people to feel safe from crime at night.

We need to make buses and the Metro a better choice. Both services should be free, or near free, so it is affordable for everyone. We need to expand routes, run at greater frequencies, and ensure more timely transfers between lines. We need the middle and upper classes to choose public transit as an alternative. We should explore how to reduce traffic in and around Downtown LA while dramatically increasing foot traffic as businesses continue to boom in Downtown. Bike shares and scooter shares should also be readily available and affordable in every neighborhood of the city.