City Council (D4): Tara Bannister
I am running to represent the people of the Fourth District because I believe the City Council needs a bigger, bolder, brighter vision for Los Angeles. City government can do better on the basics, like safe communities, accessible sidewalks, quality roads and spurring new economic development. I believe that by working together we can reach even higher. I am committed to ensure that Los Angeles is the very best place in which to live, work and raise a family.
Top three goals
List the top three things you would seek to accomplish as a city council representative.
Once in office, I am committed to bridging the gap between residents and City Hall. Investing in infrastructure is investing in our future, so I will increase the quality and accessibility of our sidewalks. We also need to upgrade our Orange line to a light rail line, but in the meantime, we need to add express buses to save time and improve our everyday life in the Valley. Through collaboration and innovation, we can find ways to save taxpayer dollars and complete our projects faster. With my experience in government, business, associations and the community, I have and will continue to ensure that we create good paying jobs in our community.
Is City Hall doing a good job handling development projects? If so, why? If not, how would you change it?
The city has blundered handling of housing and commercial development projects. No place in the US including Hawaii does it take as long to build as it does in LA. Increased time is increased costs thus we have a supply shortage and much higher rents and product costs than we should.
The solutions are simple. First, we iron-out our arcane zoning code, which has put every project into the hands of politicians to negotiate deals. Our neighbors, neighborhoods and businesses need certainty and faith that the discretion of a politician is not the most paramount in decision making. Secondly, to accomplish this we need an honest, full discussion with our neighbors on where developers can and cannot build. Much of CD4 is built up and we will need to examine neighborhoods outside ours like those along the Expo line and in downtown L.A.
City Hall power
Do you believe any particular interest – labor, business, or something else — has too much power at City Hall? If so, how would you counteract that power?
I believe that residents do not have enough power at City Hall and we need to bridge that gap. Through collaboration and innovation, we can ensure that we streamline our ideas and resources within our district and make sure they are implemented in City Hall. All the ideas and solutions we need are here within our residents. In some cases Labor has had extra influence over decision making and in other cases the City has let certain businesses have more influence because the City needs their money. I will use techniques I have learned from association management to create collaborative partnerships that are win-win.
Council District 4 includes an unusual array of neighborhoods, from Sherman Oaks to Los Feliz to Hancock Park. Do you believe any parts of the district have been underserved, and if so, how would you rectify that?
CD4 is a great place to live, work and raise a family. Each of our neighborhoods has their own challenges. And each has been given the short end of the stick when it comes to collaboration with government to solve their own problems.
What do you see as the three biggest issues facing CD4, and what concrete proposals would you make to address those issues?
Three of the current big issues of CD4 are:
1) Crime has gone up in almost every neighborhood, rape as well as property crime. This scares me and my neighbors in every one of our neighborhoods. Toluca Lake solved the increase in crime by hiring their own security force but the City of L.A. should provide protection. As City Council woman, I would lead discussions with Chief Beck and the LAPD to best understand than I would vehemently advocate for whatever tools, training and funds are necessary for the LAPD to protect our residents and our property.
2) Traffic has always been a problem in all neighborhoods of CD4 because we have some of the most visited tourist attractions and we all must drive through CD4 to get through L.A. There are specific improvements that can be made by neighborhood. In Sherman Oaks and the communities of the Valley we should ASAP make the Orange Bus Line into a light rail line but in the meantime add express bus routes and re-route DASH routes. In the Miracle Mile/Grove neighborhood we should investigate a trolley between Wilshire and the Grove and up to West Hollywood and add more DASH routes. The Grove has 17 million visitors a year with almost everyone coming in cars. In Toluca Lake, Hollywood Hills and Los Feliz we need traffic calming methods and no turn signs to keep new phone apps like but not only Waze from sending cars though our neighborhoods.
3) Crumbling, pot-holed and dangerous sidewalks, roads and alleys are a horrendous problem in CD4 (as they are in the City) but with millions of visitors to our tourist attractions, shopping districts and general walkability of our neighborhoods we also are blessed with many homeowners, businesses, homeowner associations and BID’s that should have free permitting and be allowed to immediately fix abutting sidewalks and alleys without accepting responsibility and without permit fees. Government needs to get out of the ways and we will fix our neighborhoods quickly. Furthermore, our roads have been recently re-surfaced with much fanfare to only be re-torn within months. Someone in CD4 office needs to watch-out for wasting tax dollars and protecting our roads.
The Hollywood sign is our icon that every tourist and new resident must get their picture taken with and post it on social media and send it home and to all their friends. It’s L.A.’s Eiffel tower. We need to create Hollywood sign tourist attractions and vantage points outside our residential neighborhoods. If we create magical Hollywood sign vistas throughout the City then we eliminate the desire for tour busses to interrupt our residents in their neighborhoods. Then, we create new business opportunities, jobs and tax income for our City while protecting our residents and neighborhoods. No residents should suffer.
What three steps would you take to help balance the city budget?
Once I am a city councilwoman, to immediately increase city general fund revenue, I will:
1) Treat all new app-marketing businesses like current businesses and in a very short timeline will collect city taxes owed, including but not limited to taxing AirBnB-like hotels and Uber-like taxis. The longer government waits to study the problem, the more missed taxes. Business and the economy changes fast, city government must move fast or we lose revenue.
2) I will promote the city suggest that LACERS prioritize investing in L.A. companies and building projects that provide a safe but high rate of return rather than investing outside the city. Building projects return a very high rate and are not risky investments, and investing in the projects and L.A. businesses also promote high-paying jobs, business taxes and make our businesses stronger.
3) Make decisions quicker to bring revenue quicker. For example, an 18-month moratorium on mansionization kills jobs and tax revenue when a decision should be made in no more than 90 days. All decisions should be examined through a lens or job and tax growth even if we choose to an opposition path.
Are there any major decisions in CD4 over the past three years that you would have opposed?
There are many things I would have done differently, they include:
1) The elimination of the Barham exit off the 101 should have been discussed with the neighborhood residents long before the decision of Caltrans was final. If it makes real sense, our neighbors would have understood rather than be bamboozled with a last minute fait-accompli. To be completely clear, I would have organized community discussion and presentations, but I could not guarantee as Council woman I could absolutely change the decision of Caltrans. This exit is going to add precious minutes and hassle to our neighbors commutes.
2) I would have prepared and organized traffic and noise mitigation for the Mid-Wilshire neighborhood that is suffering heavy daily traffic and noisy days and nights due to the Purple line construction. Traffic along Wilshire can be horrendous but when I try to drive 6th Street there are no changes to safely speed traffic. This was majorly bad planning to an obvious problem. Speaking with traffic experts and neighborhood leaders, we missed an opportunity for collaboration and implementing simple standard traffic mitigation methods.
3) I would have acted extremely differently in regards to the Greek Theatre management decision. We should have discussed as a community how much revenue the City should receive, how much traffic, garbage and noise is acceptable and what range of renovations we want. Once the community has discussed this than we would not have had such differing plans and the community would have 2 reasonable choices.
4) The Hollywood sign traffic has ruined the quiet enjoyment of the neighborhood and needs innovative solutions, not just an expensive gate. I would have collaborated with the neighbors before it got out of hand and begun the process to meet with business leaders to suggest a Hollywood Sigh Tourist attraction outside of our residential neighborhood. By now that tourist attraction would be near completion and there would not be the same desire to drive into our neighborhood.
In such a crowded race, what makes you different?
My bolder, bigger, brighter vision separates me from my opponents. My background is unique, and makes me the best candidate in this race.
When I moved here 25 years ago to attend USC, I immediately fell in love with Los Angeles and knew I could find my California dream here. I love our city’s rich diversity, ingenuity, and welcoming people. After receiving a degree in political science, my work ethic and bold vision propelled me through various campaign roles and eventually to my role as senior advisor to a former Governor of California.
In addition to strong public sector experience, I’m also a committed community advocate. I have worked with non-profits advocating for awareness and prevention of HIV and AIDS, both locally and abroad in partnership with the United Nations.
I’ve collaborated with several entrepreneurs to start successful businesses, so I understand what it takes to start and grow a business. I am also the founder of several associations, including the California Apartment Association Los Angeles and BizFed. At the moment, I am on leave from the National Apartment Association, where I directed all affairs for the western 15 states.
Once in office, I am committed to bridging the gap between residents and City Hall. Investing in infrastructure is investing in our future, so I will increase the quality and accessibility of our sidewalks. We also need to upgrade our Orange line to a light rail line, but in the meantime, we need to add express buses to save time and improve our everyday life in the Valley. Through collaboration and innovation, we can find ways to save taxpayer dollars and complete our projects faster. With my experience in government, business, associations, and the community, I have and will continue to ensure that we create good paying jobs in our community.
What steps would you take to address L.A.’s failing pipes and other aging infrastructure, and how would you fund those steps?
We could fund our infrastructure upgrade in many different ways not just one.
1) Incentivize businesses, homeowners, HOA’s and BID’s to fix their abutting sidewalks and alleys.
2) Work with all city departments to stop wasting tax revenue by planning the proper phasing of our construction, repaving and pipe installation. The city controller completed an excellent audit had provided perfect guidance. We should implement this immediately.
3) We investigate innovative financing mechanisms before we ask our taxpayers for approval to float a Bond.
Do you support increasing the citywide minimum wage, and if so, to what amount and by what year?
Raising the minimum wage is not to be taken lightly. One third of Angelenos are currently living on the minimum wage, and for many it is not a living wage. However, we also know that raising the minimum wage will burden small businesses heavily, as well as make moving a business to a neighboring city more appealing. Any action that is taken on minimum wage needs to be taken with careful and strategic consideration.
Do you think the city should reduce or eliminate its gross receipts tax on businesses? If so, how quickly should it do so, and how can the city replace the revenue it provides?
Small business and large businesses’ agree that eliminating LA City’s gross receipts tax would improve their business and all of the leading business groups agree that eliminating LA City’s gross receipts tax would help LA attract and keep business in the City. With this expert advice, of course, I believe that LA City should eliminate its gross receipt tax.
However, before the City eliminates the gross receipts tax on business, we must responsibly replace it with new revenue. For example, our City is very short on hotel rooms and the City should allow the creation of more hotels and hotel rooms quickly. More hotel rooms will increase several categories’ of revenue. Also increasing residential construction along the Expo line will also increase revenue.
Lastly, switching to a net receipts tax before eliminating business tax would promote purchase of equipment and demonstrate that our City wants to keep small and big businesses. It would also assist creating/maintaining good paying jobs and help new businesses focus on growth.
Do you support returning control of LA/Ontario International Airport to the city of Ontario? Why or why not? Should the airport be sold or simply be transferred back? If you support a sale, what do you think is an appropriate price?
The Ontario Airport should be managed locally but first the cities must decide on its value like a company is valued. First, you figure out all forms of revenue it can bring in such as bag handling fees, food services, parking, vending rents, hangar fees, plane docking fees and then you subtract all the costs. Costs include capital expenditures, maintenance, property tax, environmental taxes, etc. Then it must be discounted at an appropriate rate likely a cost of debt since airports are nearly 100% debt financed. Now, I am no expert, but if the airport can make more money and it is draining L.A., the city might have reasons to sell it to Ontario other than out of principle. But officially, I have no opinion yet.
Which company do you believe should be awarded the Greek Theatre contract – Nederlander-AEG or Live Nation? Why?
The city blundered this process because we did not collaborate with the neighbors to discuss what we wanted from the next manager of our precious Greek Theatre. Without proper planning of what fee the city needs to receive, how we need traffic, crime, garbage and noise handled and what renovations are needed, we got 2 very uniquely different proposals. For city budget revenue we should choose Nederlander-AEG and for neighborhood peace, we should choose Nederlander-AEG. But Live Nation has beautiful upgrades that wowed the committee. If we cannot redo the process, I have no choice but to agree with the neighborhood residents and go with the team that pays the city more, which is Nederlander.