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Meet the Candidates for Santa Monica City Council:Bob Seldon



Frank Gruber for Santa Monica City Council

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Re-elect Robert Kronovet for Rent Control Board

Pico Business Improvement District
7th Annual Pico Festival
Sunday, October 28th


October 2, 2012 -- This is the first in a series of posts that provides the answers to questions by candidates in the November 6 race for Santa Monica City Council. The answers from the candidates will be posted in the order they were received.

Name: Bob Seldon

Profession: Attorney

Birth place: Connecticut

Running for: City Council

Status: Married

1. How long have you lived in Santa Monica? 26 years

In what neighborhood do you live? Northeast (“college streets”) area

2. Describe yourself in 10 words or less. Slow growth activist;

Electric vehicle driver/proponent since 1997

3. What was your first job? Prior to becoming an attorney, I was an electrical engineer.

4. Describe your history of community involvement, if any, in 75 words or less.

*Co-founder/past Chair - Northeast Neighbors;

*Former Judge Pro Tem in Santa Monica courts and others;

*Save Our Beach Initiative- stopped construction of hotels west of Ocean Ave., including luxury beach hotel at 415 PCH, preserving site as community beach club;

*Oaks Project - placed successful Initiative on ballot prohibiting City officials from accepting financial benefits after leaving office from parties that benefited by more than $25,000 in any 12 month period from the official’s decisions;


5. How would you rate the current City Council? Poor.

What particular decisions stand out for you that made you form that opinion?

Increasing density with Development Agreements to avoid zoning protections; failing to enact protective zoning ordinances pursuant to LUCE; Miramar and hotel at 7th/Wilshire; inept traffic management contributing to gridlock, including lane narrowing, median strips; wasting $45,000,000 on park opposite City Hall instead of rehabbing auditorium; unnecessarily rearranging downtown for rail.

6. What is the most frequent complaint you hear on the campaign trail?

Traffic; overdevelopment.

What do you plan to do about it?

Moratorium on commercial and large residential projects. Interpret LUCE to enact zoning codes that protect residents and neighborhoods, downzoning where appropriate. Ending the crush of overdevelopment, gridlock and use of Development Agreements to circumvent zoning protections! Synchronizing traffic lights and removing meridian strips, restoring wider lanes as shared lanes.

7. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement:

There are already enough jobs in Santa Monica, so the city doesn't need more commercial development. Agree

8. Should Santa Monica residents be allowed to vote on major development agreements? Yes

Why or why not?

Residents deserve to vote on projects changing the City’s character and quality of life. I support an ordinance requiring a vote on all projects exceeding a predetermined size or causing the City to exceed an annual maximum increase. Newport Beach’s initiative created such an ordinance in 2006 to control run-away development.

9. Do you believe developers have undue influence on City government? Yes.

10. How would you solve the traffic problem in Santa Monica?

This is very complex. There is no one single solution. The use of one-way streets with synchronized traffic lights to divert neighborhood cut-throughs may be a partial solution. It is imperative we find a consultant with a track record of success in other cities that did not negatively impact residents.

11. If Santa Monica has the authority to shut down the airport, should it do so? Yes

12. With which statement do you agree more:

  1. Tourism is an important part of Santa Monica's image and a major revenue source and should be encouraged.

  2. There are too many tourists in Santa Monica and businesses are catering to tourists at the expense of locals.

The City needs to strike a balance between tourism and residents that favors residents. We do not need more hotels at the expense of neighborhood degradation and increased gridlock, or to spend as much public money as we do on a visitor’s bureau.

13. True or False: Santa Monica has become Beverly Hills by the Sea.


Beverly Hills has much nicer architecture. We have its prices.

14. With which statements do you agree. You can pick more than one.

Affordable Housing:

  1. Creates blight and brings crime.

  2. Pays back hotel and restaurant union workers for their political support in the past

  3. Creates more tenants to vote for Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMMR) candidates

  4. Addresses a legitimate need, especially in Santa Monica

c-d. (Perhaps b, but that is based on hearsay; I am unaware of any factual evidence.)

15. In the past ten years, the number of laws passed by the Santa Monica City Council has increased from 32 in 2002 to 48 last year. This is:

  1. A reasonable response to the concerns of residents.

  2. A council that tries to please everyone

  3. A council that believes it knows what's best for the city and likes to impose its will.

The offered choices don’t fit my take on this. As you increase density and gridlock, you need to regulate more, and can tolerate less. It is not a matter of reasonableness, pleasing everyone or imposing one’s will. It is a consequence of overdevelopment and our becoming a “destination city”.

16. Santa Monica's contribution to employee pensions has risen from $10 million a year a decade ago to $40 million and growing today. To help pay for its growing contribution Santa Monica should:

  1. Lay off workers

  2. Generate more cash by increasing development

  3. Increase local taxes.

  4. Other

d. Eliminate campaign endorsements by, and campaign contributions, from the police and firefighters unions and from the public employees’ union, owing to the inherent conflict of interest involved, and run the pension program as the private sector would: a defined contribution plan or SEP/IRA

17. Do you support Measure ES, a $385 million bond to build and improve Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District facilities?

No. Homeowners already pay $1000/year or more for educational bond measures; adding to that burden at this time is unwise. My understanding is there are unspent tens of millions of dollars from prior bonds. ES was hastily undertaken without an objective assessment of need. We need better teacher/student ratios…not facilities.

18. Has Santa Monica successfully addressed the homeless problem?

It’s doing the best it can in view of Constitutionally-guaranteed rights and past court decisions. However, we need to compel adjoining communities to do their part financially and in providing food and shelter combined with programs aimed at getting people off the street.

19. Do you believe Santa Monica is a segregated city? No.

20. Do community groups play an important role in Santa Monica?

Yes, but they’re hamstrung by their inability to endorse candidates owing to their formation under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code, and should convert to 501(c)(4) status even if it means losing City grant money. Neighborhood associations are credible information sources; grassroots candidates need them to compete with developer-backed candidates/incumbents.

21. Which of the following statements do you agree with.

Santa Monica is:

  1. Doing enough to encourage biking

  2. Not doing enough to encourage biking

  3. Doing too much to encourage biking

Santa Monica should be making biking safer and more inviting.

22. Do you support a law banning smoking in apartment and condo units?

Here, a basic right to engage in legal activity where one lives conflicts with a serious health issue; I cannot support the banning of smoking in a person’s own unit. Options: permitting apartment owners to designate buildings/units as “non-smoking” and/or mandating installation of filters meeting City specifications for eliminating smoke/toxins.

23. What is your favorite place in Santa Monica? My home

Least favorite place?

The gridlocked streets of Santa Monica. I have loved this City for 26 years, and watching this wonderful beach town morph into a gridlocked high-density developers’ nirvana makes me cringe!

24. What is the last piece of music you bought?

I don’t recall. I haven’t bought any music since I started streaming Pandora about 3 years ago.

25. If you were emperor with absolute authority for a day and could do one thing for Santa Monica, what would it be?

Stop development for two years and let the dust settle so we can figure out where we are and where we want to go.

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