CITY OF CALABASAS COUNCIL CANDIDATE FORUM
- SPONSORED BY THE CALABASAS PARK HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION -
Taped on February 9, 2005

Candidates Opening Statements

Question 1 - Within the past several years, a report was performed on the feasibility of building a community theater in Calabasas.  The report concluded that there was insufficient demand for such a facility and that, if built, it would be underutilized.  Mayor Harrison used this report to oppose including a community theater in the plans for the new Civic Center.  An organization called "Spotlight the Arts" was formed to advocate a theater at the Civic Center and raise private funds.  They are also asking the city to donate land in the civic center for this purpose.

Recently, at the Mayor's request, the City Council agreed to consider this project on the Civic Center land if sufficient private funds are raised.  The Mayor and another council member have gone so far as to suggest that significant city funds be used to supplement private fundraising efforts for the project.

Do you support the proposed theater at the Civic Center?  Do you believe the City Council should spend any public funds on this theater project without first submitting it to a public referendum?

Question 2 - The Spolin Report (issued in December 2003) was a critical investigation and audit into the City's spending practices and fiscal mismanagement in connection with the legal fight against the Ahmanson Ranch project.  The report found that "the insufficient management of the litigation by City staff, lack of control by the City Council and inadequate supervision by the City Attorney ... combined to create an overall circumstance that was unfavorable to the financial interest of the City."  This report led to a complete overhaul of City government in Calabasas.  If you were a member of the council in the years leading up to this report,  do you believe you bear any responsibility for its findings?  And, if you were not a member, what professional or business management experience would you bring to the council to prevent this from happening again?

Question 3 - Recently, the City Council voted to suspend the City's waste-reduction initiative, and shortly thereafter voted to raise council members salaries.  If you are on the Council, how did you vote on these measures, and why did you vote that way?  If you are not on the Council, how would you have voted on both these measures, and why?  Can a councilmember who votes to suspend the City's anti-waste initiative and to raise his or her own salary be considered a "fiscal watchdog"?

Question 4 - Several years ago, the Calabasas City Council hired a facilitator to help council members get along better and make decisions more effectively.  Despite having received this professional counseling, some on the Council have disappointed residents with their continuing lack of civility and rude behavior toward each other and the public.  Recently, The Acorn newspaper wrote: "Unlike the Councils of some cities, the Westlake Village City council has always been characterized by civility."

What steps would you take to promote a more collegial and positive atmosphere on the Council? 

Do you believe it is possible for council members to forcefully debate the issues without resorting to personal attacks.  Rudeness and incivility?

Question 5 - Recently, the City Council voted to approve an agreement to remove a planned new school from behind the gates of the New Millenium-Oaks community.  Do you personally favor or oppose such a relocation? ... And state your reasons why.  Did any of you ever favor relocating the school to the golf course, and, if not, where do you think it should be relocated?

Question 6 - Many residents believe that traffic is the number one issue facing Calabasas, but often we only hear platitudes on how to alleviate the problem.  Can you give a few specific ideas on how you could reduce traffic congestion and reckless driving within the City?  Also, what, if anything, can a councilmember do about traffic on the Ventura freeway?

Question 7 - Just as a City Council would not be authorized to decide whether a police officer could make an arrest for drunk driving, many cities require that professional Engineers, not council members, make safety decisions.  For example, if the City Engineer determines that a traffic signal is warranted at a particular intersection, the City Council would have not choice but to accept his advice.

Do you believe that traffic safety decisions should be made by professionals rather than by political decision makers on the Council?

Question 8 - How committed are you to preserving Old Town Calabasas?  If annexation of the Los Angeles City portion of Old town is not currently feasible, would you work with Los Angeles to create a joint use overlay zone to enforce the "Old West" architectural guidelines and ambiance of old town?  More than a year ago, Los Angeles City council member Denis Zine (who represents the Los Angeles City portion of Old Town) indicated his willingness to enter into such a joint agreement with Calabasas.  If you are currently a council member, please explain why this joint use overlay zone has not yet been adopted to protect Old Town form incompatible development?

Question 9 - In the last year, the City of Calabasas enacted a rental registration program.  If elected, what do you see as the next step to ensure affordable housing in the City of Calabasas?

Candidate's closing statements