As Mayor how will you work to unify the Council members and residents in the newly created districts to work together for the good of Whittier?
Mayor role will be different.
Teamwork: Mayor and Council working as one team.
Mayor will work with each council member in different ways.
- Meet with each member to ascertain their district needs.
- To the extent the council member has a function in the district, support the council member by being there.
- For example, if the council member has an event at a church, be there to support the council member and listen to the constituents’ needs.
- Mayor and City Manager formulate City Council agenda
- Mayor works with council member to make sure district issue is agendized.
- But citywide issues are also agendized.
What proposals do you have to encourage the residents and the City administration to adopt more environmental programs such as increased water conservation and use of renewable energy?
The City has been quite active on the renewable energy and water fronts and needs to act as a model for its residents.
- Those desiring solar permits go to the front of the line in getting their permits over all other projects.
- City looking at solar – costs & benefits.
- State/local energy codes have been updated.
- Our codes are the most stringent in the nation.
- Energy Network contract for $2.4 million.
- With this contract, we are replacing 1600 street lights to LED.
- City Hall and other City buildings will be LED.
- City Hall will change out the HVAC to make it more energy efficient.
- Four year pay back on the money expended.
- Looking at new Uptown parking structure to go solar.
- Cover at landfill
- Go green with the use of a solar blanket as we phase closure of the landfill
- Solar blanket will have solar voltaic cells in the blanket which will generate electricity
- Our new water pumping plant is energy efficient.
- We are moving towards more efficient water meters.
- Water Infrastructure Replacement Program
- We are actively replacing the infrastructure to repair pipes and closeout any leaks.
- Water Conservation
- Whittier must reduce water usage by 20% (statewide is 25%).
- For the last 3 months we have been at average of 20%.
- Recycled Water
- Use of recycled water at Palm and Guirardo Parks.
- Looking at using recycled water for the green belt on the north side of Whittier Boulevard as well as on the Greenway Trail.
How can the City provide more services and funding to aid in the transition of the homeless to permanent supportive housing?
We, like all other Southern California communities, have a homeless problem, but the homeless population is varied with different needs for different solutions.
- Mentally ill
- Substance abuse
- “New” homeless
Mentally Ill / Substance Abuse/Recovery
- State initiative – recent new legislation
- County coordinated homeless strategies with cities (2/9/16)
- Bigger problem than the City
- VA – stepped up big time and now providing homes for our homeless vets
- Award winning First Day for those who want to change and get off the street – great program
- Mothers or fathers with children living in vehicles – lost job, etc.
- Abused mothers
- Whole Child
- Temporary and permanent housing
- Women and Children’s Crisis Shelter
- Temporary housing and support
What does City of Whittier do?
- $180,000 to fund these three wonderful organizations
- No more redevelopment money – straight from general fund
- Gateway COG and LAHSA (Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority)
- New WPD / County Mental Health “PET” Team
- Specialty trained PD officers ride with County Mental Health workers to assess the individual and put them in a recovery system and out of the criminal justice system.
Local churches working together to provide physical, social & spiritual needs of the homeless
So Whittier is actively working the issue but there continues to be so much more to do.
In light of the current state of inaction on the Nelles site development, what would you propose to make the project Into a more positive neighborhood especially considering historical significance, public access, ease of access to schools, green space and neighborhood services?
The Nelles site has been anything but inactive. Let’s recap…
Lincoln Specific Plan
- Originally only two buildings saved but City pushed for more buildings.
- Went through
- Planning Commission
- City Council
- Days of testimony and thousands of pages of analysis.
- Entitlements approved.
- Now in litigation
- Suit against Brookfield and State to trial in April.
- Suit against City and Brookfield possibly to trial next fall.
- I hope that all sides will sit down and discuss resolution.
- But developer has an approved project.
- Not up for negotiation to change project unless developer wants to do so.
- On a very large project such as this, we must balance ALL the competing concerns.
- City and school district revenue needs
- Housing needs for singles, young families, active adults
- Historical preservation needs
- Job needs
- On the historical vs economic balance:
- At one point we had redevelopment money that could have been used to backfill for more buildings.
- When money was gone, the project had to stand on its own.
- We had an analysis from Brookfield, from the City’s consultant and my own analysis
- It became clear that economically on the plan in front of us, only 4 buildings could be preserved without a subsidy
- And there was no refutation of this analysis
- Do I wish we could do more? Yes!
- At the end of the day with all the balancing of these difficult needs, we end up with a very nice project for Whittier
- No more blight; a productive asset for us.
- Close to GWT, close to Uptown, close to PIH
- And what about a people more system from PIH, through Nelles, to Uptown and the College?
- It will be a very attractive, cohesive, “green” project where people will be able, at one location, to Live in Whittier, Work in Whittier, and Shop in Whittier.
Why do you want to be Mayor of Whittier?
Whittier is at a crossroads. Our new form of government can be a blessing or a bust. I believe that our new districts potentially provide district residents closer and better access to the City Council. However, if not properly guided, the new district form of government can splinter Whittier into four competing jurisdictions vying for individual attention at the expense of the overall good of the community. As mayor, I will be responsible to provide vision and leadership to lead all of Whittier forward together into the future. And I’m excited to do it!
You were already Mayor, why don’t you let someone else have a turn?
Under our former government, each council member elected citywide was given a one year term as mayor. My mayorship took place at the height (or perhaps depth) of the Great Recession under our former form of government. With our new form of government and in a different economic time (2008 vs. 2016) the Office of the Mayor takes on very different challenges for a very different Whittier.
What do you see as the most important responsibility for the Mayor?
The most important responsibility for the Mayor will be to keep the city together as we move forward into the future. This means providing leadership and proactive vision. And it means not allowing our love for Whittier and its best interests to be splintered into four special interest districts that are only interested in the wants of that district without considering the best interests of the whole city. With districts, there will be a temptation to only look at the needs and wants of the district and not the whole of the city. It is up to the Mayor to work with each district council member to ensure that the needs of that district are being addressed but at the same time, make sure that the best interests of the whole city, east to west, north to south, are cared for.
What makes you prepared to successfully perform these new tasks?
The ability to work with each council member regarding the uniqueness of his or her district and at the same time to look at the good of the whole city is challenging but goes to the essence of balance…making sure that the districts are cared for but the whole of the city is also cared for. Throughout my tenure on the City Council, I have worked hard to look at competing concerns and do this exact same balancing process. It’s also been very important to me that the City Council work together as a team notwithstanding individual differences in philosophy and governance. I grew up in the era of Coach John Wooden and his emphasis on teamwork/working together. I will work hard at empowering our Council to find that balance for the good of all the community.