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Los Angeles County, CA March 8, 2011 Election
Smart Voter (online newspaper)

By Lucy M Martin

Candidate for Council Member; City of Calabasas

This information is provided by the candidate
Candidate Lucy Martin Q & A
1: Why did you decide to run for City Council?

I first got involved in city government to improve our schools for my two children and to give back to a community I dearly love. As a City Commissioner focusing on education, I have had the opportunity to boost resources for Calabasas classrooms, to strengthen the partnership between our city and the school district and to facilitate grants for effective city programs. I am currently the Vice Chair of the City of Calabasas Parks, Recreation and Education Commission and president of the Greater Mulwood Homeowners Association. I am also Calabasas High School's current PFC president and previously served as a founding member of the City of Calabasas Education Foundation and as PFC president at A.C. Stelle Middle School. I am running for City Council to continue in this spirit of service and bring Calabasas together to solve problems based on consensus and mutual respect. I am not a lawyer or an incumbent or an issue-specific activist. I am a local mom, wife and volunteer whose kids grew up in Calabasas and who is passionate about serving our community.

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

We need to strengthen the city's partnerships with schools, promote fiscal responsibility, protect our ridgelines and open spaces, and keep working on traffic improvements. All too often the developers control the agenda, which has the potential to overburden our infrastructure, strain our services, overcrowd our schools, and congest our streets. We have a city government that continues to place undue restrictions on its residents, most recently through onerous building codes, while at the same time conducting raids that expose us to costly legal fights. We need to stop favoring special interests and restore a common sense, less confrontational approach.

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?

Limiting development has the broadest green effect because development so closely correlates with air, water, sign, light, and noise pollution. Acquisition and preservation of open space is the best way to accomplish this. An ordinance to subtract environmentally sensitive habitat areas from acreage totals before building densities are calculated would help prevent development on properties not suited for it while still allowing for reasonable economic use of a property. Also, organic fertilizer and weed control on city properties and installation of solar panels on municipal buildings are viable investments and models for a sustainable future. Preserving our ridgelines in the Santa Monica Mountains is crucial. We need council members in tune with residents' concerns, who don't owe favors and who are on board with protecting our open space despite pressure from developers.

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

Calabasas is home to many active and involved citizens, in our schools, on our commissions, and in our Homeowners Associations. In fact, a group of 300-plus concerned citizens have mobilized to keep cell phone towers away from schools, parks, and homes. These are informed residents seeking a voice in City Hall and we should encourage this kind of civic participation instead of discouraging it. Finally, we must restore the voice and role of our commissioners as advisors to the City Council and as representatives of our residents by increasing the frequency of meetings, and changing the quality of commission agendas to more substantive work.

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

I would re-empower our commissions and then work to restore transparency and trust. No more deals negotiated without public participation. No more placing the interests of developers and special interests before those of our residents. No more resident targeting. We need a City Council that represents its citizens, is accountable for its actions, and works together to solve problems. If elected, serving the community will be my full time job and I will be able to devote myself to studying issues, communicating with residents, and building consensus and partnerships to keep Calabasas on track.

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?

I do not and have never supported the septic system ordinance as it was enacted and enforced. It seemed to be manipulated to reach a foregone conclusion that it would be necessary to lay sewer lines into Old Topanga that would cost taxpayers millions of dollars to service only a handful of homes. That conclusion seemed designed to open a rural area to development. The goal of enforcement is compliance, not punishment. Citizens should feel they are part of the process, not victims of it. Providing a viable loan program to assist the few homeowners whose septic systems need improvements is a much more effective use of resources and accomplishes the goal of public safety while protecting one of our most historic, scenic areas.

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?

Calabasas is a semi-rural, bedroom community with a strong fiscal base and maintaining those qualities is a priority for a large majority of Calabasans. Our home values are directly tied to our community's scenic beauty and our ability to protect the environment and preserve open space. Prudent interpretation of the goals of our General Plan, zoning restrictions, and the North Area Plan's concept of letting the land dictate its use is needed to prevent over development, while providing for a reasonable mix of services to meet residents' immediate needs.

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

I have supported the Old Town senior citizen housing development from the beginning. The community will be within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and the movie theater of The Commons, which is not only convenient for seniors but also environmentally responsible. Other areas have greater limitations, however, and population growth must be balanced carefully with the impact on existing residents, such as traffic concerns, environmental quality, and the availability of services and facilities.

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

While meaning well, we have seen Council policy diminish the voice of our residents and the role of our commissions. We have seen developments proposed by the city itself, or approved over strong objections from the community. We have seen a government that mistakenly pushed a sewer issue, resulting in a draw on resources away from our city services. And we have seen an inexplicable move by Council towards the adoption of overly restrictive building codes. My approach will be more collaborative and less confrontational. Rather than continuing with business as usual, we have an opportunity for a fresh start + it's time to rebuild trust between residents and City Hall.

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 can help generate some additional revenue for the City?

While the City of Calabasas may be financially more well off than other LA County cities, we have seen our reserves diminish due to wasteful spending on things like sewers and water parks that no one wants. I will work to restore our reserves, to collaborate with the community, and to spend efficiently on the things our residents say they need. Bringing in developers cannot be our default means of increasing the tax base, because that necessitates additional spending on infrastructure and services while diminishing the quality of life Calabasas residents have come to treasure. A look east testifies to this economic reality. Together, let's keep Calabasas ours.

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