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Los Angeles County, CA March 8, 2011 Election
Smart Voter

Interview with Martha Fritz

By Martha "Fritz" Fritz

Candidate for Council Member; City of Calabasas

This information is provided by the candidate
This is a Q & A done by local online newspaper, The Calabasas Patch. It gives my possition on many commonly asked questions.
1: Why did you decide to run for City Council?

I decided to run for Calabasas City Council to protect our quality of life here in Calabasas. I've been dedicated to doing this on the Planning Commission for eight years and I have the experience to continue this legacy. In addition, I get personal satisfaction from using my creative problem solving talents to help people. Working in the schools, bringing art to City Hall and reviewing development applications for the Planning Commission give me a strong sense of purpose.

2: What do you think are some of the biggest issues Calabasas will face during your first term if you are elected?

Calabasas will need to be very well positioned to deal with the fiscal challenges of a recession. State budget issues will have a negative impact on us locally and we will need creative solutions to keep our City strong. One of our biggest challenges will be dealing with the application of state and federal mandates like the clean water act and the housing requirements. I have in depth knowledge about these requirements and am the best candidate to help mitigate their impacts. The city will have to continue to seek ways to improve public participation in our government. There are many opposing points of view on all kinds of issues. If we maintain a civilized and impartial approach to creative problem solving, we can handle any and all problems that come before us.

3: Calabasas has been the leader of the pack when it comes to communities that try to be green and environmentally friendly. The second hand smoke ordinance is a good example of that. Do you have any green endeavors you would like to pursue if elected?

One of the biggest areas we can be environmentally friendly is in the schools. As a member of the Lupin Hill Green Team, I participated in the effort to reduce lunch time waste from ten receptacles to one. Changing behavior patterns comes through demonstrating alternatives and following through to see what works. When we teach our children about being good stewards of the environment through making better choices, we achieve long term results. Our Green Team won the Carl Gibbs award for environmental excellence by helping to green Lupin Hill Elementary. We led the way and can help other schools reach similar goals. One more way we can achieve great results is by promoting in-home energy analysis so that home owners can discover ways to save money by being efficient and green. I have many ideas to raise awareness and promote voluntary home improvements which improve our environment.

4: Do you have any suggestions for encouraging public participation in local government?

The city can reach out to the residents to make them more aware of the many resources on the City's website, such as the electronic notification system. This is an innovation I encouraged as Planning Commissioner, but many residents don't know it exists. There are additional low-cost ways we can communicate with the citizens using interactive technologies. For example, we can use webinars or online workshops which would allow convenient participation any time of day. I also recommend we hold a yearly town hall meeting to allow greater interaction with the people of Calabasas. It is possible that a Building and Safety Commission could help solve citizen concerns with code issues. Finally, I would seek ways to improve the existing Commissions and their relationship to the Council. With regard to safety issues, we should work with the Sheriff and Fire departments to ensure that we have pre-coordination with the public to enhance our emergency planning.

5: What's the first thing you would like to do if elected to the council?

The first thing I would do if elected is examine the potential impacts of the State budget crisis on our city so that we are prepared and can mitigate any negative impacts.

I will focus on: maintaining our financial strength by protecting strong businesses and supporting wise budgetary priorities; improving public safety and maintaining our high level of service from the Fire and Sheriff's departments; partnering with LVUSD to support our local schools; and continuing our efforts to be good stewards of the environment.

6: The council came under fire this year for its onsite water treatment system (septic system) ordinance. Some residents called the septic system inspections invasive and that it will leave homeowners with a bill in the thousands to repair their faulty systems. What is your take on the ordinance? Did you agree with it?

The city came out strongly to protect the water quality in the streams. This is important because the State law mandates it and Calabasas residents care about protecting streams. However, I think we can meet the intent of the state while protecting our residents from an overly intrusive approach. When dealing with property and privacy rights, the city needs to be very respectful in working with its residents. I would seek ways to solve these problems in the least intrusive manner. I plan to review the septic ordinance to see if we can find a better solution.

7: What is your stance on development in the city? Do you think Calabasas needs more of them or do you think the city is at its status quo when it comes to commercial or non-residential developments?

On the Planning Commission I have sought balance in our community. We have already proven that we can preserve our local environment while also recognizing property rights. We can maintain our quality of life while also protecting our businesses which provide the revenue we use to purchase our open space and maintain the priorities of safe neighborhoods, great parks and excellent schools.

8: How about residential developments? Would you like to see affordable housing units built in town?

The law is very clear on requiring the city to zone for low-income housing. I am in favor of finding creative ways to encourage high quality projects which meet the legal requirements and at the same time, have the lowest possible impacts to our schools, traffic and lifestyle. To foster the least impactful housing, the city needs expert and experienced staff, Planning Commissioners and Councilmembers to implement our housing policy as described in the 2030 General Plan. As a three term Planning Commissioner and the current Chair, I have participated in making hundreds of legal decisions which have reduced impacts to our City, preserved open space and provided creative solutions to reduce the impacts of housing in Calabasas. I have a Master's Degree in Architecture and Urban Planning from UCLA and am the most qualified candidate to handle this complex issue.

9: What do you think of the job the current council has done in the last four years? Would you have done anything differently?

Calabasas is the nicest place to live in our area because it is well run and protects a great set of priorities. Other cities try to copy our fiscal management and environmental leadership. We are one of the safest small cities in the State. Councilmembers have found creative ways to get money from Calabasas to our local schools and have supported the LVUSD. We have been a cutting edge city and we can continue to lead the way. Certainly if I am elected I will bring new ideas, as discussed in answers to the other questions. Had I been on the council before, I'd have worked towards better community involvement earlier in the decision making process. Because I have been so involved, I know how this can be achieved and I will work toward this goal if elected.

10: Calabasas is fortunate in that it is financially more well off than many LA County communities. However, more revenue never hurts. Do you have any ideas or programs in mind that could help generate some additional revenue for the city?

We can pursue greater economic diversity and work regionally on economic development strategies which will help Calabasas. Currently, almost half of Calabasas revenues come from our local auto dealers. I would like to see us seek innovative ways to attract different revenue producing businesses. These strategies will no doubt include reducing red-tape and streamlining processes to make ours the best City for business in the area.

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