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Anti-Airport Activist to Run for Santa Monica City Council

Phil Brock For Council 2014

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Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors BureauWhen one lives in a city as breathtakingly beautiful and unique as Santa Monica, inevitably that city will be shared with visitors.

By Daniel Larios
Staff Writer

July 11, 2014 – Former Lookout Columnist Frank Gruber – a leading advocate of shutting down the Santa Monica Airport -- announced Wednesday that he will run for City Council in November.

Gruber, a leader of Airport2Park, a group that wants to turn the century-old airport into a park, made the announcement in order to qualify for the endorsement of UNITE HERE Local 11, the hotel and service industry union.

 “This afternoon UNITE HERE Local 11… began its endorsement process for the November election, and I threw my hat in their ring,” Gruber said in a statement. 

“As a supporter of the union’s organizing efforts since the ’90s, I am seeking the endorsement of the local’s hardworking members,” he said.

A weekly columnist for The Lookout for more than a decade before running for council in 2012, Gruber will likely be part of a crowded field of candidates vying for three open council seats.

In his campaign announcement, Gruber – who finished eighth among 15 candidates two years ago-- laid out a four-issue progressive platform -- jobs, housing, education and environment, which includes shutting down the airport.

“When it comes to jobs, Local 11, along with its community supporters, has been at the forefront of the fight to bring Santa Monica’s service workers into the middle class,” Gruber said.

Gruber cited a need for more housing and less commercial development, which he believes will decrease the traffic problem in Santa Monica.

“One of my primary goals has been to get residential development built on commercially zoned land,” said Gruber, who served on the Planning Commission in the 90s. “Not only because we need housing, but also because new residents do not materially add to traffic congestion, especially when compared to commercial development.

“More homes can even make our traffic situation better, because more employees can live near their jobs.”

He also calls for amending the Land Use Circulation Element (LUCE) to reduce new office development, which he says only adds to the growing traffic problem.

Although City Council has little to do with the school system, Gruber said he supports city initiatives aimed at Santa Monica youth and parents.

“Education… does not begin or end at the schoolhouse door,” said Gruber, whose son attended local public schools. “It begins at home and continues throughout life.”

He concluded with his positions on local environmental policies, most notably the closure of Santa Monica Airport.

“The biggest single environmental issue in Santa Monica is the fate of Santa Monica Airport,” said Gruber.  “Sitting in the middle of neighborhoods, the airport is a huge source of pollution and noise. It’s also dangerous.”

Gruber became the sixth candidate to officially announce his campaign in the November 4 council race.

Physical therapist Ken Robin and Parks and Rec Commission chair Phil Brock both announced their respective bids for Council in February.

Peace activist Jerry Rubin announced he would mount his sixth campaign for City Council since 2000 in April.

In May, Planning Commissioner Richard McKinnon announced he would run for council after failing to win a seat in 2012.

And former mayor Michael Feinstein announced his return to Santa Monica politics last month at a campaign launch event in Tongva Park.

Both Planning Commissioners Sue Himmelrich and Jennifer Kennedy are expected to announce their respective bids for a council seat in the upcoming weeks.

Incumbents Pam O’Connor and Kevin McKeown have yet to officially announced their candidacies but are expected to run for reelection. 

Some political observers speculate that Councilmember Bob Holbrook will not seek a record seventh term, likely widening the field of candidates vying for a rare open seat.

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