Where they stand
A city councilwoman since 2001, Jan Perry is a former council president pro tem.
The next mayor faces a projected $327-million budget shortfall in 2014-2015. The city’s budget advisor called last year for a new round of layoffs and for key city assets to be turned over to private operators. A former mayor has even suggested the city is heading for bankruptcy.
1. Do you support the March 5 ballot measure that would raise the sales tax by half a cent to generate $215 million a year for city accounts?
I do not support a sales tax increase at this time. I believe that the city should do all that it can to get its fiscal house in order before going to the taxpayers. The sales tax revenue will be used for employee salaries and benefits not for the restoration of city services for the taxpayers.
2. If you oppose the sales tax, what city programs would you eliminate or scale back?
I would seek public. private partnerships for operations at the LA Zoo and Convention Center and identify core city services as defined in the city charter that are General Fund obligations. These services include Fire and Police, Office of the City Attorney, Planning and Public Works and Recreation and Parks.
3. Is new revenue essential to fixing city finances? If so, what kind would you seek?
It may be necessary to consider new revenue as an option only after the city has done all that it can to stabilize employee pension and health care benefits. Our Fire and Police personnel contribute 10% for health care and 11% for their pension benefits, while other city employees pay 5%. This disparity in contributions should be corrected.
4. Do you support laying off additional city employees as a way to balance city finances?
I have voted to lay off city employees and if absolutely necessary I will support this option as a last resort.
5. To spur business activity, is it necessary to eliminate the city’s gross receipts tax? If that were done, how would you make up the revenue?
I do not support the elimination of the Gross Receipts Tax. The Gross Receipt Tax, Property Tax and Sales Tax are the three top sources of revenue for the city. Eliminating the Gross Receipts Tax would add $400 million more to our already strained budget deficit. At this time no suggestions have been made as to how we would replace that revenue.
6. Do you believe city employees should make additional concessions on employee salaries, pensions or benefits? If so, how? If not, why not?
Yes, I believe that city employees must understand our fragile fiscal condition and that if we do not correct course there will be greater job losses. We must meet current pension obligations and stabilize both our employee and the city’s contributions to pensions and health care.
7. Do you believe future employee retirement benefits for city workers should be provided through a 401(k) plan, as many private-sector employers have done? Why or why not?
No. I have not seen an analysis or actuarial study for a proposal of this kind.
8. What current services, if any, do you believe the city can no longer afford to provide?
I think that the city should fund core city services as described in our charter. These departments include Fire, Police, City Attorney, Planning, Rec and Parks, and Public Works. Departments that are fee based like Housing, Building and Safety, and operations at the city that are funded by grants and special tax revenue should have the resources to operate. We should look at non. essential services and operations at the Convention Center and LA Zoo as potential contract services.
Los Angeles’ 10.9% unemployment rate is still one the highest among U.S. big cities. And many of the post-recession jobs being created are part-time, low-skilled positions.
1. Do you have any plan to immediately bring jobs to the city, boost the middle class in particular and lower unemployment?
I will focus on getting projects that are in the pipeline completed, including the expansion of the Convention Center, the new stadium, the Wilshire Grand Hotel and the USC project.
Job numbers for these projects are:
Farmers Field Jobs:
First year 6320 jobs created
NFL generated jobs 2600
Construction 2600 jobs
Construction spending 14,000 jobs
Convention Center 711 jobs
It will create an estimated 7,300 new construction jobs and 10,900 direct and indirect permanent jobs, of which 9,700 would be net, new jobs above what currently exist on the project site.
USC Specific Plan
An estimated 12,000 new jobs (8,000 permanent and 4,000 construction jobs) over the life of the development.
I established Project Labor Agreements for these projects that require a 30% set aside for local hire and a 10%provision for low skilled workers. In places like south Los Angeles unemployment exceeds 25%. The focus for local hire is from areas within a five. mile radius of the project(s) with high unemployment.
We should continue to provide affordable housing opportunities for working families and individuals close to major employment centers like downtown Los Angeles. On going investment and development in downtown will continue to attract the services families want and need like new schools, child care centers, and grocery stores. This will boost the middle class in the city.
I would also work to establish storefront opportunities for new business startups and connect this effort with emerging businesses in the fashion, technology and creative industries. We have underutilized commercial property in places like downtown and Van Nuys. Los Angeles is home to great universities and we should do what we can to harness the talent, help house them affordably and get their businesses operating.
I have established special tax districts where a portion of tax revenue is used for investment in the district. I would seek opportunities to continue this practice to incentivize new business startups.
2. Apart from construction jobs and the movie industry, do you have any plan to grow the job pool by drawing new industries to the city?
Emerging industries here include fashion, new technology, creative industries and green energy. I would seek ways to get them working together to support growth in each field. Los Angeles is home to FIDM, the Fashion Institute, and offering new designers the opportunity to work and develop their talent here makes sense. It also makes sense to get the technology teams helping them grow their industry.
We have lost a good deal of our manufacturing base in Los Angeles yet we have places like the Good Year Tract in South Los Angeles that should be fully activated and operational. This would be a great infrastructure project and I would seek federal resources to improve and modernize it for this purpose.
3. Do you believe Los Angeles must provide tax subsidies or exemptions to attract new development?
For capital projects yes, I have used these tools to attract investment in Downtown Los Angeles. I believe that these incentives must be linked to job creation.
4. Do you believe in fostering transit-oriented development?
Yes, I believe that this is a positive trend in areas of the city that want and accept higher density. We created a transit. oriented district at the USC Jefferson Station. We will have a jobs. housing balance and encourage more neighborhood serving retail for the area, through transit. oriented development. This is a positive trend when we consider the lack of planning around the development of the Blue Line, when it was built over 20 years ago.
The availability of affordable workforce housing and public transportation have been cited by Gensler as two reasons they chose to relocate their operations in downtown Los Angeles. The development of the new Exposition Light Rail Line that provides a new east. west connection will prove to be a very important factor in the coming years. Gensler is the first major International Corporation to move into Downtown in over 25 years.
Looking at the Exposition Light Rail, it is obvious that access to light rail is stimulating development. Further, public transportation options give people a real alternative to car use.
5. Business leaders complain that the City Hall permit and inspection process continues to be a tangle of red tape. What would you do to make it easier for businesses to come to, and operate in, the city?
There has been billions of dollars invested in Downtown Los Angeles. I established the Downtown Street Standards Committee allowing developers to sit down and meet with several city departments simultaneously to ensure consistency where policy is applied to projects. This included Planning, the CRA, Transportation and various bureaus within Public Works. This saved time, standardized the process and offered developers the information they needed to qualify their projects for entitlement. This is now an accepted standard for development in Downtown Los Angeles and can be applied to other parts of the city.
We need to improve and coordinate the inspection process. I worked with the business community to streamline the inspection process for new restaurants. And I will work to coordinate Planning, DOT, Building and Safety, and the DWP so that project construction and sign off along with power and water services are completed at the same time.
6. How important do you think AEG’s downtown stadium plan is to the city’s overall development?
The new stadium will provide significant employment opportunities and as a catalytic project will encourage more investment and development in both downtown and surrounding communities.
Los Angeles needs revenue for core city services. It is anticipated that the new stadium and convention center expansion will provide $200 million in new tax revenue for the city over the next 20 years. The convention center expansion will allow for increased activity and move the facility from 15th to the 5th national position for exhibition space. It is anticipated that downtown should develop five more hotels to accommodate this level of activity. New tax revenue is greatly needed and this is a good way to assure that the city has the revenue it needs to operate.
7. Do you believe that having a professional football team would bring in new revenue and not just move revenue from one type of entertainment to another?
Yes, I believe having a football team will increase activity in Downtown Los Angeles and that this will benefit the city.
Some say the expansion of the LAPD has strained budgets to such a degree that the city must lay off additional civilian employees. Lawsuits continue to dog the LAPD. The fire chief blames budget cuts for declining response times, which he admits he cannot reliably track.
1. Should the LAPD continue to hire officers to replace those who resign or retire, keeping staffing levels the same? If not, should the department be larger or smaller? If you believe it should be larger, how would you pay for that?
Maintaining public safety as a priority is important and should be funded at a rate we can afford and sustain. I do not advocate reductions at LAPD. Expansion beyond where we are now would be difficult. We need to have a good understanding about deployment and priorities. At the same time this has strained our resources and it is important that we find efficiencies and work to address our structural deficit. There must be an understanding about what operations can be done by civilian personnel.
2. Will you ask Police Chief Charlie Beck to serve a second term?
I do not see any reason not to ask Chief Beck to serve a second term.
His job is too important to the city to politicize it. The commission will conduct a thorough review process of his performance. This process is important and I support it.
3. Do you agree with Chief Beck’s decision to make it easier for unlicensed drivers — many of them illegal immigrants — to keep their vehicles from being impounded for long periods?
Yes, I support the chief’s and now the Police Commission’s decision. People that drive in our state should be identified and trained to be good drivers.
4. Do you believe the LAPD is doing enough to lower the cost and frequency of use-of-force, harassment and traffic-related lawsuits against the department? If not, what should be changed?
We need strong civilian oversight of the department and to employ every measure to learn from the lawsuits that have been filed against the city. I will work with the Commission and Inspector General to ask for a review of training practices and how assessments in the field are used to assist officers in alternative use of force. Risk Management should be looked at as it pertains to traffic related issues. We should assure better service and safety to the community and avoid traffic related incidents. Use of force should continue to be evaluated by the commission.
5. Do you believe police officer disciplinary hearings and records should be open to the public or kept secret?
I support the state legislation that protects personnel records and any penalty assigned to an officer. The discipline of police officer is a personnel matter.
6. The city will soon begin negotiating a new contract for the LAPD’s 10,000 officers. Should that contract continue to require that officers take compensated time off in lieu of overtime pay? If so, how much?
The department must practice restraint in its budget and we should not defer comp time to future budgets. The city should pay the maximum amount of overtime that we can afford. It is a false savings not to pay as it will be owed to officers when they retire. These dollars must be allocated as part of the police budget. Paid overtime is essential.
7. Do you have confidence in the administration of Fire Chief Brian Cummings?
There has been significant transition in leadership in the Fire Department in recent years and the department has seen reductions in their budget. Chief Cummings is fairly new as Chief, has been straightforward in his dealings with the city, and is doing a great job. He has shown that he has the knowledge to operate the department. I will use the current charter system to evaluate his performance as it should not be politicized.
8. Do you support a plan to convert LAFD dispatch-center employees from 24-hour shifts to a 40-hour work week?
Eight. hour shifts provide for a better turn around and better access to your personnel.
9. Should the LAFD dispatch center be staffed by civilian workers instead of sworn employees?
I believe with the right training and sworn oversight this is possible. This would be similar to how LAPD’s dispatch center operates and I believe it is a good model.
10. What would you do to speed response times, especially in those parts of the city — such as hillside communities and around the city’s border — where responses are slowest?
To understand response times we should look at all elements to determine how a call is dispatched. From there we can determine true response times. We need to constantly evaluate response times and should employ GPS to deploy responders closest to an incident location. LAFD should continue to develop Mutual Aid cooperative agreements to dispatch responders as close to incidents as possible. We should look at upgrading and dispatching from a universal system.
The Measure R sales tax is generating billions of dollars for road and rail construction, including a Westside subway extension, but efforts to speed work with additional money have fallen short. There is still no rail to LAX, and traffic on the Westside has even caused President Obama to express dismay.
1. Do you believe Metro should try again to win an extension of Measure R, similar to the Measure J ballot proposal that failed in November?
Not at this time. We need to complete projects and demonstrate to the voters that their money is effectively being used to mitigate traffic in the city.
2. Do you agree with advocates who call for changing the voter threshold for taxes on transportation projects to be lowered from two-thirds to 55%?
It is clear that voters want improvements in local transportation. But it seems to me that if we are to ask voters to lower the threshold for transportation we should apply it to education and law enforcement as well.
To promote this idea, I would want to assure the transit using public that they will see the direct benefit of new funding.
3. Will you give rail development the same emphasis that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has?
I served on the Exposition Light Rail Construction Authority and completing our rail network is important. We must improve linkages for bus riders to our rail and intermodal connections as well.
4. Mayor Villaraigosa was sometimes criticized for prioritizing rail projects over the county’s bus system. What role do you think the bus system should play?
Having represented South Los Angeles it has been apparent to me that there are glaring gaps in local bus service. In fact bus line services have been reduced in many transit dependent communities. This makes getting to work more challenging. We need a citywide focus on local transportation needs. We will not get people out of their cars unless we have a well integrated transportation system.
5. Do you believe rail is the most cost-effective way to improve transportation in the city?
In terms of daily ridership it is cost effective. The Gold Line has 25,000 riders daily. How many buses would be required to transport that many people? We know that if we need to absorb more ridership we can add more trains. Our challenge is to move people from Point A to Point B locally.
6. Do you believe that a “subway to the sea” — the Westside subway extension — is necessary?
Yes, it is a much. needed east. west connector. The Westside has the greatest traffic challenges and we need to offer alternatives to car uses. The subway to the sea will alleviate the need to use an automobile to connect the west side to downtown Los Angeles.
7. What route should Metro select for the Westside subway as it passes through Century City?
In the course of my work on the Exposition Light Rail Authority I have worked to find a balance between local interests and development interests. In the case of Beverly Hills I believe that more studies should have been conducted to determine the preferred route.
8. Should more toll lanes be placed on Los Angeles freeway carpool lanes?
We now have a federally funded demonstration project on the 110 and 10 East Freeways. We should see the results of the study of this effort before implementing more toll lanes.
9. For decades transit officials have debated an extension of the 710 Freeway through South Pasadena. Should it be built, and if so, how?
No, this battle has gone on long enough. The only way that connection could be made it to go underground, a cost prohibitive option.
10. Do you favor moving the north runways at LAX closer to Westchester? If so, why?
The airport staff has made a recommendation and I am looking at the recommendation and will wait to make my decision following the conclusion of the public comment and response to the public comment period.
There are several configurations under consideration with a plan to release the final EIR later this month. The matter will come before the city council for a vote after the Airport Commission finalizes its process. I support the process as it will provide me with the time and analysis I need to make an informed decision.
11. What improvements are still needed at LAX?
Future improvements are included in the current EIR process. The modernization should proceed. LAX needs major upgrades to improve their ability to move both people and goods. Ground transportation in and around the airport should be improved with linkages to all transportation systems including bus and rail. I also support offsite parking facilities and an intermodal transit center. I want our airport to be welcoming to both our residents and visitors and improved in a manner that reflects the best our city has to offer.
12. Would you sell or give up control over Ontario International Airport? If so, why?
I believe that we need to maximize the use of Ontario Airport and the systems we need to get people there. We need to utilize Metro Link as a means to do so. We need more information to determine the economic interests and I will bring in a third party to analyze whether it is in the city’s best interests to continue to operate Ontario Airport.
13. Do you think the city needs to privatize its parking garages?
I think we can look at public private partnerships for the management of our parking garages as that is not a core city service.
14. The city has a growing bicycle movement. What are your feelings about bicyclists in L.A., and what needs to be done/not done to accommodate them on L.A.’s roads?
I hope to see greater bike usage in the city and as a member of the MTA Board I will see that bike interests are well represented. Los Angeles has been connected to the automobile culture for so long that the transition to bike and pedestrian uses must be supported and made safe. This will require a greater emphasis and investment in public education and information and having departments carefully assess and plan for the needs of bike and pedestrian users as part of their overall planning process. As mayor I will ensure that both the Planning Department and Department of Transportation continue to develop the network and systems to accommodate bike riders.
15. At least 42% of the city’s sidewalks are in poor shape, and lawsuits may force the city to spend huge sums to repair them. What would you do to fix the city’s streets and sidewalks?
I have proposed sidewalk, street lighting, and landscaping assessment districts. Property owners living within a district would vote to or not to assess themselves for improvements and maintenance. Currently there are street lighting assessment districts. I would combine it into one. Owners would be assessed the fees on their property tax bill.
The largest school system in California struggles with low test scores and graduation rates. LAUSD teachers and administrators disagree on evaluation methods. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa attempted a takeover but settled for running a limited number of campuses.
1. How would you describe the state of the Los Angeles Unified School District?
LAUSD is in transition. The past decade the district has undergone major change with the development of new schools and the establishment of charter schools. The district is huge and struggles to meet education demands. For decades kids in South Los Angeles were bused away from their home schools. Local schools went year round, were overcrowded and had high dropout rates. We fell terribly behind. What took decades to create is going to take longer than a few years to correct.
2. Will you continue to oversee the nonprofit that runs Mayor Villaraigosa’s 15 schools?
The next mayor should be involved and seek better education outcomes for our students. I will appoint a Deputy Mayor of Education and seek help from the best available experts in the field of education I can find. My office will be involved in the oversight of the nonprofit.
3. Will you try to have the same level of political involvement and influence over the school board by fielding candidates and helping to pay for their campaigns?
In my first term my primary focus will be the City of Los Angeles. As mayor I will do my part to create effective partnerships with the school district to ensure safe routes to schools, support programs that improve education outcomes and work to help our students find success. As a council member I have had an Education Deputy to forge strong relationships with our schools, connect students with cultural activities and use city services to promote safety and the successful development of new schools.
4. How would you evaluate the performance of Superintendent John Deasy?
I have not been in a position to evaluate John Deasy’s performance as Superintendent. There is a process in place for the Board of Education to evaluate the superintendent. It is not the mayor’s role to evaluate his performance. The mayor can work in partnership with the school district and advocate for the best possible outcomes for our students.
5. Mayor Villaraigosa has said that student test scores should account for at least 30% of a teacher’s evaluation. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
My focus has been to seek the best and safest environment for our kids to go to school. I worked with LAUSD and Charter Schools to establish 30 new schools in my district. I believe that we succeed if we prevent kids from dropping out of school and that every student is educated in a manner that will help them qualify for college. Evaluating teachers and helping them succeed is important. Measuring student test scores should be one element of many used to evaluate performance.
6. What are the top three things you could do to help improve the school system as mayor?
My priorities are to focus on Middle School students to strengthen the safety net and keep them in school. This is where we lose too many students.
Offer school choice for students and parents and maximize funding for the classroom.
We should continue to fund after school programs, summer programs and adult education programs to reconnect young adults with education and job training opportunities
7. Should every charter school have a teacher workforce that is represented by a union?
No, teachers that choose a career in private or charter schools make that choice.
8. How many additional charter schools should LAUSD allow?
LAUSD should continue to partner with charter school organizations when this option promises the best education outcomes. We should welcome charter school development. School competition is good and provides parents and students with school choice.
Power costs are rising as the DWP moves from coal to renewable fuels. The Supreme Court is weighing lawsuits over the port’s clean-truck program. Advocates for green spaces say more parks are needed. Developers are pushing back at state environmental impact laws.
1. Some projections provided to the city forecast that the DWP will have at least 10 consecutive years of rate hikes as the utility complies with regulations and moves toward more renewable power. What would you do to address these rising costs?
We have to look at the cost of operations and maintenance and ensure the DWP is fulfilling its commitment to ratepayers. As the chair of the Energy and Environment Committee I fought for transparency at the DWP. This required a third party audit and resulted in the establishment of the Office of Accountability and Rate Payer Advocate. Ratepayers should know how their resources are being used and what they are paying for. What percent of their bill is going toward renewable energy, what percent for infrastructure, what percent for salaries and benefits?
We are no longer competitive with other municipal or privately owned utilities and will continue to need strong oversight and analysis. We need to balance the interests of both our ratepayer’s and our workers. A municipal utility should be fair in its rate structure. We need to reduce operational costs at the DWP. By that I mean employee compensation.
The DWP needs to work to establish mutual goals with the ratepayers with the understanding that moving towards renewable energy will cost more. Right now ratepayers are charged for saving energy through a surcharge. Water conservation did not result in reduced payments as ratepayers pay to support the cost of the systems that deliver water and energy.
The Ratepayer Advocate should provide the cost analysis for the public and demonstrate how our city is working to meet our regulatory, conservation and renewable goals. Moving the city towards greater use of renewable energy is an important goal. Rate increases will be more acceptable to ratepayers if they know that we are doing everything possible to reduce operational costs at the DWP and to stabilize pension and benefit costs.
2. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pledged to wean the DWP off coal by 2020. But the DWP’s projections show the utility will still be receiving 28% of its energy from coal by that date. Would you uphold Villaraigosa’s pledge? If so, how would you achieve it?
We need to continue to focus our efforts in this direction and maintain our commitment for renewable energy uses at reasonable costs to ratepayers. We need a long. range plan on how to improve our chances at achieving our renewable goals.
3. The Supreme Court is poised to consider challenges to the port’s clean-truck program, particularly as it relates to regulations on owner-operated trucks. Do you support the program as passed by the Harbor Commission?
I support it as a means to achieve our clean air and environmental goals.
4. Do you support the Southern California Intermodal Gateway project in the Port of Los Angeles? How would you address concerns from activists that the project would significantly harm neighbors, both in terms of air quality and traffic?
The Port of LA is now working on their 5 year, $1.5 billion capital improvement plan. The future promises a new lease agreement for rail connections at the port. Rail transport provides cleaner operations as the use of rail for goods movement will reduce truck traffic. This type of lease agreement must be balanced with environmental concerns of surrounding communities.
Again this becomes a matter of balancing regional interests with local interests. The expansion of operations at the port will be a major job generator. Mitigation measures must be implemented in response to community interests. I would rely on the environmental review process for the best measures and mitigation effort to address community needs.
5. Should the California Environmental Quality Act be rewritten, as many real estate developers have suggested, to reduce the financial impact of legal challenges over environmental impact reports? If so how?
The state has used its legislative mechanisms to address CEQA for some development projects to shorten mediation times. I concur with Governor Brown and many state legislators that we should look at modifying the law in a manner that supports more development and investment and at the same time supports environmental objectives.
6. Anschutz Entertainment Group, the developer of a proposed downtown football stadium, received special state legislation that allowed its project to have an accelerated environmental review process. Should every business receive such treatment? Why or why not?
I believe we need to create some degree of certainty in the entitlement process. I believe we should create that certainty and use the mechanisms of government to accomplish this.
The main purpose of SB 292 was to expedite any legal challenges to the stadium, not to undermine environmental protections under CEQA. SB 292 does NOT include any exemptions from environmental laws, but would allow legal challenges to the stadium’s environmental impact report (EIR) to be heard immediately in the California Court of Appeal, which would then come to a decision within175 days. The expedited process would bypass the Superior Court and avoid protracted litigation.
In exchange for an expedited legal review, AEG pledged to build a carbon. neutral stadium with more public transit users than any other stadium in the country and has committed to making Farmers Field one of the only stadiums in the country to have a net. zero carbon footprint.
SB 292 inspired AB 900, which would allow a variety of statewide big. ticket projects such as stadiums and arenas to apply to the governor for similar expedited legal challenges while also holding them to the same strict environmental measures. Gov. Brown signed both bills and they received overwhelming bipartisan support because California’s unemployment rate is currently at 12 percent, the second. highest of any state, and fast. tracking construction on proposed stadiums and arenas has the potential to create thousands of much. needed jobs and spur economic development.
I agree that there are some capital projects that qualify for this effort.
7. Advocates for green space contend that Los Angeles needs more parks. Yet the city has been struggling to maintain the parkland that it already has. How would you improve the maintenance of those that already exist while adding new parkland in coming years?
This is another opportunity to look at public. private partnerships as a possible means of funding our parks. I want to see more parks developed at the local neighborhood level and believe that partnerships and sponsorships for parks is a reasonable approach to offset maintenance costs.