Editorial: The Argonaut’s Election Endorsements

Posted June 1, 2016 by The Argonaut in Columns

Pragmatists warn us not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. That may be a tough principle for idealists to swallow, but it will come in handy next week at the ballot box.

Those who participate in local neighborhood council elections on Sunday, June 5, may have too many choices to make truly informed decisions and, due to sloppy voting rules, good reason to worry about the integrity of the outcome.

The choices before those who vote in local contests during the statewide June 7 primary, on the other hand, are too limited to inspire especially strong feelings about democracy in action.


Although voters who are angry with politics as usual and anxious about their economic prospects have every reason to look to outsider candidates, Donald Trump isn’t the answer. An attention-hungry egotist with few clear principles is probably great fun at a keg party (for a while), but not the guy you want behind the wheel on your ride home.

Bernie Sanders, though very far to the left, is nothing if not consistent. Despite the democratic socialist label, his people-first platform for greater economic equality inspires
voter confidence because he’s been supporting the same policies for decades. Whether Sanders can make them happen is another question.

Hillary Clinton is struggling to define her candidacy sandwiched between these two extremes. But her experience makes her the reliable horse in this race.

Vote for Clinton or Sanders. But those who vote for Sanders should also pledge to stay just as politically engaged over the next four years. Obama supporters rallied for change but went to sleep before the work began. If you think Obama had it rough, Republicans and Democrats alike would likely try to eat Sanders alive.


This is technically a nonpartisan race, but you wouldn’t know it from the campaign rhetoric.

Our big question: Can a business-friendly Republican do a better job of representing Marina del Rey residents facing an onslaught of development than an experienced and highly qualified liberal Democrat from a local political dynasty?

We were initially skeptical, but Steve Napolitano is worth a second look — even if you don’t always agree with termed-out Supervisor Don Knabe, for whom Napolitano is currently a field representative.

Others have rightly pointed out that Rep. Janice Hahn, who has also served on the L.A. City Council, has the stronger resume for a job representing two million people with the primary responsibility of delivering public services.

There are many good reasons to vote for Hahn, but Napolitano has demonstrated a better working knowledge of issues that directly impact marina residents and has promised a balanced approach to growth and development.

In responses to a candidate questionnaire, Napolitano pledges support for more green space in the marina, preserving “as many mature trees as we can,”
and fast-tracking public funds for transportation projects in order to mitigate traffic congestion.

Hahn did not respond to our questionnaire* (Editor’s note, June 3: We received responses after publication of our print issue. See below for the complete responses of both candidates). While she has expressed genuine concern about quality of life issues in the marina, it is uncertain whether she’ll give it special priority if elected.

Locals, meanwhile, often complain that county revenue generated in the marina too often winds up in the general fund. Napolitano has been part of efforts to keep more of these funds in the marina, and “it’s time to put them to use,” he writes.

Napolitano adds that he would “look to require” that developers of new projects provide public benefits such as improved pedestrian access to the waterfront, minimizing tree removals and requiring planting of new trees. We think that’s a good idea.

Judge each future development proposal on its own merits, says Napolitano, and we urge voters who prioritize local issues to judge the candidates on theirs. Vote for Steve Napolitano.


The contests for Congress and state Assembly are lopsided, with underfunded Republican challengers offering voters no reason to change course from Democratic incumbents. Depending on your district, vote for Reps. Ted Lieu, Maxine Waters or Karen Bass and Assembly members Autumn Burke or Richard Bloom.


We’re taking some flak for a story critical of lax voting rules that allow not only actual residents but anybody with a “substantial interest” in the community to vote in neighborhood council elections. While our critics appear to be focused on the story’s perceived anti-business bias, the underlying point is that it wouldn’t take much to game the system.

A Venice restaurateur not only encouraging employees to vote for certain candidates but providing them transportation to the polls and paying them for their time is not only happening, it’s totally legal, according to the citywide director of neighborhood council elections.

As the rules are currently written, employees who are genuinely interested in community affairs deserve as much of a say as anybody else; what disturbs us is there aren’t safeguards in place to make sure claims of employment are legitimate, or to otherwise prevent abuses of “substantial interest” voting.

Another concern is voter information. With nearly 70 candidates competing for 21 seats in Venice, there’s just too much action happening at once to expect a large number of fully informed voters. There’s just no need for every seat on the council to come before voters, whoever they are, all at once.

Steve Napolitano’s Responses to Our Candidate Questionnaire:

1. Is the county’s Marina del Rey Visioning Plan moving Marina del Rey in the right direction?

Yes, the Visioning Plan is another step in the right direction and it was a step determined by the marina community and stakeholders. The County committed to doing a Visioning Plan as part of an amendment to the Local Coastal Plan that was approved by the Coastal Commission in 2011. The Visioning Plan was developed through an extensive public process that involved the local Marina del Rey community, residents, businesses and major stakeholders including the boating community and recreational groups. Dozens of public meetings were noticed and held. It is a product of consensus and should be seen as a beginning step for future development and usage. The Visioning Plan sets goals and guidelines for future development and public use of the marina, but it is not an approval of any specific project or redevelopment. Each project will still be evaluated on its own merits, with an environmental review and lots of other levels of public review. The purpose of the Visioning Plan was to take an overall look at the marina to avoid piecemeal redevelopment and provide a more comprehensive vision as to how the marina will look and how people will be able to use it and get around in it. Such a look was long overdue.

2. What elements of the plan, especially those related to growth and development, do you have the strongest positive or negative feelings about?

Development is always controversial and we need to take a close look at all future projects as to how the fit into the marina. We’ve been able to shelve several proposed projects already that were too much for the area, so going forward the question is one of balance–allowing for the redevelopment and revitalization of several parcels whose leases are ending and need improvement, such as Fisherman’s Village, while preserving the close-knit community feel of the area. I would also move up transportation improvements now, rather than waiting for future projects to pay for them, as the marina is impacted a great deal by the City’s pass-through traffic. We also need to preserve as much of the existing landscaping as possible, including as many mature trees as we can. Developments should be right-sized to their surroundings, and we should strive for more open space and park space. I would love to turn a portion of the parking lot next to Marina Beach into green space. I think the mobility plan included in the visioning statement is a big leap forward. Whatever negatives there are fall between doing nothing and doing too much–we need to avoid both, while finding a consensus in the middle for any proposed projects.

3. What is the ideal balance between visitor- and revenue-serving land uses vs. resident-serving land uses?

Balance is the key word and I’ve been working to maintain balance for the 25 years I’ve been in public service, first as a 3 term Mayor in Manhattan Beach and as Senior Deputy to Supervisor Knabe since 2005 and working on all things MdR. Of course, the marina’s greatest asset is the water, and we need to make sure it’s accessible to all County residents for use. That includes making sure our boating community is supported through our yacht clubs and public amenities, like the public boat launch and Water Taxi service that we fund. The leased properties in the Marina help support and fund the waterside amenities we have, as well as many other County-wide programs. They provide housing, including affordable housing, and commercial activities that are enjoyed by marina residents as well as residents from all over the County who come to the many restaurants and businesses that are now thriving there. We also want to make sure there are enough services in the area locally so residents don’t have to get in the car, but can use alternative transportation such as bikes or the Water Taxi to get around. I think the ideal balance is when residents and visitors alike all feel welcome to live, work and play in the marina, and they’re happy to do so. The challenge is maintaining what is special and unique about living in and visiting the marina, when we’re surrounded by so much development around the marina, which is controlled by the City, not the County of Los Angeles.

4. How would your vision for growth and development in Marina del Rey positively and/or negatively impact residents, visitors and the business community?

I’m a big believer in smart growth. Properties will continue to be redeveloped in the marina over time, but they must be done responsibly and through an extensive public process. The Visioning Plan is a good point of departure, but just because something can be built a certain size doesn’t mean it should–that’s why there’s no longer a proposal to build a 19 story hotel off Via Marina. Future development should be a product of consensus and bring a number of positives to the table that help mitigate any negatives. Again, it gets back to balance. Future development should ensure a more liveable and accessible Marina–enhancing and expanding the boardwalk, providing for bicycle racks and bike lanes, sufficient parking and meeting the needs of motorized and non-motorized watercraft, including rowers, kayakers and stand up paddle board users. We’ve had a lot of investment on the private side and we need more investment on the public side for mobility enhancements, like wider sidewalks and expanding the Beach Shuttle service. I will make public improvements my top priority–civic art, traffic improvements, park improvements. I worked successfully to more than double the amount of funds that stay in the marina for improvements and it’s time to put them to use.

5. What efforts would you make to mitigate for residents the impacts of current and future development in Marina del Rey?

A lot of this is answered above, but I will look to require that new development provide public benefits, including improving access to and additional waterfront promenade (pedestrian improvements), minimizing tree removals and requiring planting of new trees. Also, prioritizing the development of an additional park space, in addition to improving our existing public open spaces, Chace Park, Marina Beach, and Burke Park. Housing affordability is being addressed in new residential developments that must comply with the County’s Mello Act Policy and there may be more opportunities in the future to address housing affordability in the Marina.

6. What is the most important difference between you and your opponents that voters in Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey and parts of Westchester should consider?

My experience, knowledge and dedication to our Fourth District communities sets me apart. I’ve lived in Manhattan Beach all my life and used to ride my bike to these communities as a kid, and then playing in volleyball tournaments, and now as Senior Deputy for Supervisor Knabe for more than 10 years. I know how the County works and how it can work better. I’ve worked to create balance and consensus in the MdR, Westchester and PdR communities, which is why I have the endorsement of the LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce. I’ve attended the local Rotary and Kiwanis functions, I’ve judged the boat parade, I know these communities and I come from a background of fighting to preserve a small town atmosphere and low profile development. My main opponent, Janice Hahn, is an LA City/Washington DC politician who voted in favor of both Playa Vista and the expansion of LAX, which I fought.


Rep. Janice Hahn’s Responses to Our Candidate Questionnaire (received after publication):

1. Is the county’s Marina del Rey Visioning Plan moving Marina del Rey in the right direction?

While most of the development has already been implemented, I believe that there are a few pending projects that could benefit from more transparency and community input. I believe that in moving forward, we need more transparency and should involve the community that this plan is going to directly impact so that the process is more inclusive, collaborative, and reflective of local neighborhood concerns.

2. What elements of the plan, especially those related to growth and development, do you have the strongest positive or negative feelings about?

I have concerns with the demolition and redevelopment of both Fisherman’s Village and Mariner’s Village. Fisherman’s Village is a charming historical part of the community of Marina del Rey that does not need to be overhauled. Mariner’s Village is the last community of affordable housing and redeveloping this area may potentially push out many members of the community.

3. What is the ideal balance between visitor- and revenue-serving land uses vs. resident-serving land uses?

I believe it’s important to strike a prudent balance between visitor/revenue-serving land use and resident-serving land use. We need to ensure that development for visitor/revenue-serving purposes does not impede or overshadow residential areas. Marina del Rey residents deserve land designated for communities, parks, green space and residential neighborhoods.

4. How would your vision for growth and development in Marina del Rey positively and/or negatively impact residents, visitors and the business community?

My vision of growth would acknowledge that Marina del Rey has historically been part of the Ballona Wetlands and deserves to be treated with environmental consideration. I recently co-sponsored a bill (HR 4871) which would conduct area studies to determine how the region should be protected. I support allocating funds to refurbish, and not completely overhaul areas of historical preservation. I believe that Marina del Rey is an area worth studying and preserving and that all development should be done with the historic and natural identity of the region in mind.

5. What efforts would you make to mitigate for residents the impacts of current and future development in Marina del Rey?

While growth and development in Marina del Rey is potentially beneficial to the region, we need to take into account the residents and local neighborhood concerns. In order to mitigate impacts, I’m open to possible consideration of delaying the Fisherman’s Village and Mariner’s Village projects until we bring the projects to the people, enhance transparency in the process, and find common ground through collaborative efforts with the developers and local neighborhood residents.

6. What is the most important difference between you and your opponents that voters in Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey and parts of Westchester should consider?

I believe that my experience and track record serving local communities outshines that of my opponents. I first and foremost understand that each community has unique needs that deserve to be addressed. That is why I created Neighborhood Councils years ago in Los Angeles’ City Charter to bring government closer to the people, to make it more responsive, effective and transparent. Beyond being hyper-focused on local neighborhood issues and ensuring all parties have a voice in the process, I am the only candidate endorsed by the Sierra Club and the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters. They’re supporting me because they know I’m firmly dedicated to environmental protection, clean air and clean water, more green space, conservation efforts, and more policies that enhance local neighborhoods quality of life.




    Mad Voter

    To the Democrats: eventually you run out of other people’s money

      William Hicks

      In my experience, the majority of people don’t want “other people’s money” — whatever that means, since in a democracy like ours is supposed to be, money is created for the public good. What people do want is to be paid fairly so that they don’t need the democracy fighting for their healthcare or retirement. Also, the more money that people have, the more they spend, which helps the economy, especially local small businesses. This is just smart economics, it’s not a party issue. I’m not sure who you are, but I doubt that you pay anymore taxes than anyone else. Bottomline: if people weren’t so darn cheap with their workers, then we could actually be a lot more libertarian…and they can’t blame their cheapness and greediness on competition and keeping the lights on…that’s just an excuse for being cheap and greedy; enter government.

    Marcia Hanscom

    I’m surprised you did not receive comments returned from Rep. Janice Hahn, who is running for Los Angeles County Supervisor and who is clearly the person to support for people caring about our natural areas, including the Ballona Wetlands, the Great Blue Heron rookery at Mariners Village, parklands, coastal forests and the concerns of the community.

    The County Supervisor’s office – including Steve Naplitano, who is running for the same seat, claimed that more than 700 trees had to be killed to “build a better basin” – or create a “park space” at Oxford Lagoon. They claimed the trees were diseased and that an arborist’ report said so. As we pressed the issue, it turned out there was no arborist’ report and the trees weren’t diseased.

    On the Admiralty Way medians the trees were said to need replacing so that “native trees” would be planted. Guess what? Not one native tree there now.

    Sorry, but Steve Naplitano has been central to this problem of ecological illiteracy on the Los Angeles coast and turning a back on the community’s quality of life.

    While most of his campaign donations are a secret because he plans to raise that money later to pay his significant campaign loans back to himself, in the few contributions that are listed, revealing are donations from Chevron and the wife of one of the Marina’s long-time development lessees.

    Janice Hahn is my choice for County Supervisor. And after a thorough vetting of the candidates and their specific positions on issues we care about, Janice Hahn is the choice of the Sierra Club, which has enthusiastically endorsed her.

      William Hicks

      Yes, Marcia, Oxford Lagoon was a complete disaster in my view, and if Steve was involved then he should be ashamed of himself. He and I are both Manhattan Beach natives and I can’t imagine a fellow MB native rubber-stamping that travesty. It was most likely Knabe’s doing since he is a transplant from Texas living in Cerritos…no offense to Texans or Cerritos residents. In any event, we need to press the whole “diseased” issue, because cutting down 650 healthy trees is inexcusable and those responsible should be held accountable for the destruction.

    Marcia Hanscom

    Janice Hahn is firmly opposed to the expansion of LAX, but is supportive of modernization efforts. This has been her position since at least 2009.

Leave a Reply