By Councilmember Tony Vazquez
After an intense and exciting election season in November 2012, I am honored to be representing your interests as a member of the Santa Monica City Council. I’m thankful for the support of SMRR members and of our broader community. I believe the Council is off to a great start for 2013 but we have a lot of work ahead of us.
The issue of Santa Monica Airport’s viability is one that prompted me to run for election last November and one that I’ll be paying close attention to this year. The City’s agreement with the airport is not set to expire in 2015 but we need to lay the groundwork now for an acceptable solution. Should the airport be closed altogether or should we reduce the impact of the airport on its neighbors, reduce its footprint, and turn that space into a more neighborhood friendly use area? We have the opportunity to explore these options and do what’s best for the airport’s neighbors and our whole community and we need to ensure we negotiate the best deal possible.
As we move forward with zoning issues and planning for our city’s future, I will be focusing on maximizing the community benefits we receive from “responsible” development. For example, I want to ensure there is real public access to future development; real benefits that our residents will utilize and enjoy. Taller buildings should have viewing decks for residents and visitors. Open space areas like plazas need to integrate seamlessly into our streetscape without restrictions.
I also see numerous opportunities for the city to help employ our youth. In the 1990’s, I started a youth employment project and I would like to reinvigorate this endeavor. If we can coordinate our efforts, our youth can learn construction skills such as framing and electrical work that will help them secure high-paying jobs in the future. In addition, we shouldn’t approve any project that isn’t labor friendly. If we have good Project Labor Agreements, we can focus on setting significant goals for local hires and serve our city’s youth at the same time.
Lastly, we need strong language in our development agreements regarding monitoring and enforcement. Other cities utilize third party compliance monitors to act as watch dogs to make sure that development agreements operate successfully. I’d like to explore all of these opportunities for our community.
I have lived in Santa Monica for 28 years and love this city as much as you do. I am privileged to have the opportunity to support and protect your rights and do not take this responsibility lightly.
I look forward to us working together and encourage you to contact me directly to share your thoughts or attend a future City Council meeting.