City of Los Angeles Mayoral Candidates Answer Questions Vital to Voters Age 50+

Posted on 05/24/22 by Priscilla Orpinela-Segura

AARP is committed to ensuring voters have the information they need to cast their ballot. That is why we are sharing how City of Los Angeles Mayoral Candidates plan to act on critical issues important to 50-plus voters if elected. These issues include affordable housing and homelessness, public safety, and services for older adults.

AARP has a proud history of nonpartisan voter engagement and does not endorse or oppose candidates or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. All certified Los Angeles Mayoral Candidates were invited to participate in this questionnaire.

Candidate responses are listed below in alphabetical order by last name.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING & HOMELESSNESS

  1. For many older adults, the cost of housing in Los Angeles is an extreme burden. Senior homelessness is on the rise and even older adults who can afford to stay in Los Angeles are losing their support networks as family, friends, and caregivers leave due to the high costs of housing. As Mayor, what are your specific plans to increase affordable housing in the city?

Karen Bass – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

We have a housing crunch and an affordability crisis. Without addressing the lack of affordable housing, people will continue to be forced into homelessness, and the city will be increasingly unaffordable. We need to double down on building more affordable housing.

As Mayor, I will be aggressive in making it easier to build in Los Angeles, and will do it in a way that protects our existing housing stock and prevents the displacement of Angelenos – including seniors – from their homes.

I will cut through red tape, expedite approvals, waive development fees and work with the community to build more affordable housing. Existing structures should be used to the full extent possible, and zoning-compliant permanent housing projects and 100% affordable housing projects should be approved for immediate development.

I’ll consolidate all review and clearance functions within a single unit dedicated to approving 100% affordable projects. The city should never be the obstacle standing in the way of progress.

While we build, we must also preserve existing affordable housing and protect tenants from being pushed out of affordable units. I will expand access to free legal counsel for tenants facing eviction and support investments in community land trusts to keep housing affordable for the long-run. I’ll also prevent abuse and ensure accountability in PACE programs, whose use of door-to-door sales, especially in working-class communities and among seniors, has resulted in alarming predatory practices. It is imperative that we protect homeowners from being exploited by these bad actors.

Rick Caruso – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

We must build more housing, of all types, in all neighborhoods, in a smart and community-appropriate way. I won’t tolerate creating more density in places that can’t support it, but I will advocate for more density and height in corridors where it is appropriate. You can read my full plan here (https://carusocan.com/issues/homelessness/).

As mayor I will:

Leverage City’s Borrowing Power for Housing. Draft legislation to enable the use of the City’s borrowing power to purchase and carry land costs for affordable housing projects with unit counts over 100.

Waive Fees on Affordable Projects. Immediately direct the creation of legislation to waive or eliminate all fees for projects that agree to 30% affordability ratios for unit counts and sign covenants that restrict rental rates for 30 years.

Cut Down on Frivolous Lawsuits Stopping Housing. Mandate the disclosure of CEQA challenge payments by labor unions, environmental groups, and any other groups who regularly use CEQA challenges to unfairly and disingenuously leverage development projects. Mandate a $15,000 application fee for all CEQA challenges to reduce frivolous CEQA challenges that impede sensible development.

Expand Section 8. Reduce or eliminate all fees and regulations for Section 8 housing voucher projects where 75% of units or more are dedicated to Section 8 voucher recipients. Work with the federal government to triple the allocation of Section 8 housing vouchers in Los Angeles.

Craig Greiwe – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

I am the only candidate with a concrete, published plan in affordability and housing that moves beyond homelessness to focus on a holistic solution. My plan will build 500,000 new units across all economic levels, with a minimum of 250,000 affordable units. It will also preserve single-family home zoning and protect existing neighborhoods and communities. The added advantage of building significant new capacity includes the reduction of traffic, by removing cars off the road as people live closer to where they work.

At the core of my plan is a directive to all departments and employees that our mandate is to build, as opposed to the failed leadership of the last 20 years, which is to delay, inhibit, and block. Of course, we will not build just anywhere for any purpose. We must be governed by common sense. We will preserve single-family home neighborhoods and ensure that you are not priced out of your community. We will build increased density on touch-zoning along major thoroughfares and convert unused industrial zones into vibrant mixed-use development with affordable housing. We will increase by-right permitting, while finally completing a new zoning code in under two years, which has not been updated since 1946. We will use a formula-based approach for transportation, parking, and tree requirements that reflects modern standards while building communities. We will tie affordability covenants to market conditions, not arbitrary time periods, ensuring there are market incentives to developers to build more affordable housing.

Andrew Kim – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

As we have more and more older population among us, it is imperative that we have more affordable housing. As the new Mayor, I would corral our existing housing assistance programs to encourage the building of affordable housing. Different types of loan and/or programs will be utilized to encourage companies to build affordable housing units and fill the need of affordable housing among our senior citizens.

Gina Viola – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

As mayor, our plans to increase affordable housing units in Los Angeles include the following:

• Require that all new developments include the maximum number of affordable units and that they remain affordable in perpetuity.

• Promote new forms of social housing that are a combination of low-income, no-income and market rate income units.

• Develop a stream of funding that includes all funds coming into the city from the city itself, the county, the state and the federal government. Build public
and social housing as well as community land trusts and equity cooperatives.

• Provide subsidies to low-income renters to prevent folks from eviction.

Mel Wilson – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

Southern California Association of Government (SCAG), a regional joint powers authority, requires that the City of Los Angeles plan to build 457,000 new housing units by October 2029. My plan is to put the infrastructure and systems in place to support building of 116,000 very low income units, to build 145,000 workforce housing units for low income and moderate income households. The city currently collects approximately $60,000 per unit before a housing builder can obtain a permit. Developers for housing production outside of the affordable housing development income criteria can pay additional fees for priority processing.

1) I will instruct LA City building and planning developments to defer and or waive these fees with the agreement that housing builders produce units that
are affordable for Very low, low and moderate income units.
2) The city will hire additional planning and building & Safety employees to supplement the existing development staff to expedite housing projects that
meet the very low to moderate income bracket
3) My development departments will establish criteria specific to the development of Very low to moderate income that have each department assign
representatives who will be responsible for tracking each development project from start to finish. We will reassign staff and space where developers will
be able to have access to a one-stop approval process reducing time and eliminating roadblocks in the development and entitlement process.
4) Each general manager in the development process will be held responsible for measured outcomes that will lead to meeting the goals.
5) My plan will encourage development of affordable housing near transit corridors (heavy bus and rail).
6) My plan encourages development of affordable housing in commercial corridors and adaptive reuse and conversion from commercial use to housing
and mixed uses.

2.  What is your overall plan to address homelessness in the city and how will the unsheltered community be connected to services, particularly for those 50 and over?

Karen Bass – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

Homelessness is a crisis for the unhoused and for every one of our neighborhoods – and it requires a bold and aggressive emergency response. I will bring leadership, accountability and action to dramatically reduce homelessness and end street encampments in Los Angeles.

I’ll lead with a comprehensive approach, beginning with aggressive emergency action to:

• House 15,000 people by the end of year one and build more temporary, affordable, and permanent supportive housing
• Marshal the resources of the federal, state, county and city governments around a single plan to fight homelessness
• Transition individuals from the streets to housing and services
• Lead on mental health and substance abuse treatment
• Equip the unhoused with job training and employment services to reenter the workforce
• Prevent homelessness and keep our neighbors housed

The homeless population is not a monolith – different people require different solutions, and that includes seniors. I will focus on providing seniors with access to physical and mental health services, job training and housing to help them achieve stability.

For too many years, government action on homelessness has been siloed. Federal, state, county and city governments have all moved in different directions – with no coordination or overarching plan. That simply can’t happen any longer.

I’m the only candidate with the experience and qualifications to bring all the players to the table and implement a single plan that cuts through the bureaucracy and brings home every available dollar to solve homelessness.

To read my comprehensive homelessness plan, please visit www.karenbass.com/policies/homelessness.

Rick Caruso – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

No one should be sleeping on our streets, that is inhumane and cruel. As Mayor of Los Angeles, I will build 30,000 shelter beds in 300 days and we will work to
coordinate supportive services to help our unhoused population receive the mental health, job training, and permanent housing needed to get them back on their feet.

We will take back our parks and public spaces, we will clean up our streets with 500 new sanitation workers, and we will prevent people from becoming homeless through expanded rental assistance. To read my full plan to end street homelessness go to: https://carusocan.com/issues/homelessness/.

Specifically for our seniors, we will continue and expand Project Roomkey and Homekey to deliver fast housing solutions to those experiencing homelessness. Most importantly, I work to prevent our seniors from falling into homelessness by expand emergency rental assistance and establish mobile resource centers that can quickly and effectively find those who are in need of various services but lack transportation options.

Craig Greiwe – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

Every other candidate is focused on doubling down on what’s not working in Los Angeles. I am the only candidate with a written, published plan modeled on the success of the more than 98 communities nationwide successfully moving to functional zero homelessness. The secret of LA is that homelessness is being eradicated across America – we simply have to model what works. My plan includes a real time database of who’s homeless, where they are, and what they need. It also includes a focus on stabilization housing, with cost-capped immediate and transitional supportive housing, and a requirement to use services, along with the regulation of public space for all. Finally, you cannot end homelessness unless you stop it from existing in the first place, which I will do with a 24/7 hotline for anyone facing homelessness. In my administration, if you have a home today, you have a home tomorrow. Our centralized hotline and resourcing will assign you a caseworker with immediate on-site help to keep you in your home and connected to the services you need most. Lastly, we will centralize the resources in this city so that you don’t have to go searching for what might be available – the burden will be on the city to meet its people and do the work for them. And we will do all this for less than what we’re spending now, while invoking a federal disaster declaration that allows us to use federal law and work directly with FEMA resources.

Andrew Kim – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

I would first declare the State of Emergency within the City of Los Angeles. I would then appoint a Homelessness Czar who would oversee the homelessness eradication effort. The homelessness Czar will give daily briefing directly to me. At least 30,000 shelter beds will be added within the first year to host homeless citizens in the most humane and dignified way. The dignified privacy and personal safety, especially of senior citizens. will be of paramount importance within any shelter facilities.

Those 50 or over unsheltered communities will have direct access to the necessary counseling and medical help. Knowing that these are especially vulnerable to physical violence and crime, I would focus on services that would ensure their personal safety.

Gina Viola – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

Our first plan of action is to develop a paid council of unhoused, or recently unhoused residents to advise the city on best practices for developing a model of housing and support. We must engage our unhoused seniors in developing a model of housing and care that works specifically for seniors.

• Housing – we must adopt a HOUSING first model. To accomplish this quickly we should use eminent domain for the myriad of empty city, county and state-
owned buildings here in Los Angeles that can be converted to transitional housing immediately.

• The Los Angeles Community Action Network is developing a prototype community – EcoHood - in South Central LA combining micro homes with solar
power and other energy performance features which will provide stable HOUSING that is sustainable. These are modular style homes that can be quickly
and affordably built on city and county owned parcels at a fraction of the cost of traditional construction. This can be expanded city-wide and include sites
specifically for our seniors.

Mel Wilson – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

My plan is to create 30,000 homeless shelter bed capacity in industrial and commercial zones where infrastructure is already in place. We can retrofit existing industrial buildings in 6-months or less with temporary supportive housing. We will offer mental health, public health and dental health on the site. Some of these homeless shelters will be with congregate care and others will be more of the style of individual single and double units fashioned about tiny homes concepts. We will identify government surplus land, hotel-motel buildings, conversion of unutilized government buildings, nonprofit and faith community land and building sites for a fee.

1) We will engage the private sector financing coupled with public sector financing. The public sector will offer the private sector to build the temporary and
permanent housing units.
2) The City will collaborate with other government agencies to purchase or lease the end product home and permanent housing units. This will reduce the
risk of the public sector while offering a reasonable return on investment to the private sector.
3) We will enter into agreement with nonprofit organizations who can access funds from LA County to provide the supportive services.
4) We will offer opportunities for nonprofit and Faith Community organizations to lease or sell their excess land for the development and placement of
temporary and permanent housing. will be offered a purchase

PUBLIC SAFETY: SIDEWALKS, PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, PARKS/OPEN SPACES

3. The ability for individuals to safely walk in their neighborhoods to and from vital services, public transit stops or parks is critical to their physical and mental health and wellbeing.  How will you increase safety
measures in the following areas: sidewalk improvements; public transportation; and parks/open spaces?

Karen Bass – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

The Mayor’s most important responsibility is to keep Angelenos safe. Today, hundreds of officers are stuck behind a desk doing administrative work, and the LAPD is down hundreds of officers from its authorized force of 9,700. I will immediately hire and deploy civilians to take over the paperwork, freeing up at least 250 officers for patrol, and simultaneously hire enough officers to return the LAPD to its authorized size.

That being said, community safety isn’t just about crime – it’s about providing Angelenos with the services and community infrastructure they need to feel safe. That’s why I will launch an Office of Community Safety, which will bring together every part of city government to make our city safer.

I am committed to making our streets and parks safer, cleaner and more accessible. Neighborhoods – particularly underserved areas – need and deserve lighting, shade and clean streets, and well-maintained parks.

No one should worry about their safety when getting from Point A to Point B. Creating a safe transportation system is critical to connecting and unifying Los Angeles. As Mayor, I will work with Metro to include ambassadors, health care workers, mental health specialists, and housing and homeless providers on our public transportation system.

Angelenos deserve safe routes to schools, parks and community centers along streets that are safe for everyone. I will stand up for safe, healthy and accessible neighborhoods and prioritize accessibility for seniors and the most vulnerable members of our community.

Rick Caruso – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

Restoring public safety to allow our seniors to feel safe walking within their own neighborhoods is critical to our city’s quality of life. As Mayor, I will put 1,500 new police officers on the street, return to community-based policing, hire 500 mental health and addiction caseworkers, and deploy 500 new sanitation workers to clean the streets and keep our parks/open spaces clean and safe.

I will also work with real construction experts and designers to help address our deteriorating sidewalks and our public transit stops. I will also loosen the rules around QUIMBY fund park usage and direct my Parks and Recreation Commissioners to develop a plan to utilize ALL QUIMBY funds within 4 years of taking office to create 100 additional pocket parks and regional parks.

Craig Greiwe – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

Our infrastructure suffers every day with broken streets and sidewalks. We must prioritize fixing the most damaged infrastructure, while incentivizing private acceleration of public projects. For example, we can create incentives for private companies to repair sidewalks and expand public spaces by using municipal offsets and tax credits.

I will restore the use of law enforcement on public transportation to ensure the safety of all riders. We will increase the funding of “last-mile” transit that helps individuals get safely from their bus stop to their home, including public ride-share. We will build more parks, to ensure that every Angeleno can walk to a park in their neighborhood. Finally, we will fully fund a non-violent community engagement force focused on building trust, safety, and relationships with individuals, outside of law enforcement while implementing the 2015 Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Solutions, proven to reduce crime, reduce bias, and build trust.

Andrew Kim – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

I would immediately hire 500 cleaning crews to deep clean our streets. Our streets will be cleaned of any graffiti. Vagrancy and loitering laws will be better enforced. The violences and crime against senior citizens are increasing in disturbing numbers. Our senior citizens have the right to be safe and be protected on the streets. I would ensure the condition of sidewalks have age friendly design features such as curb ramps and raised walks for senior citizens and those with disabilities.

As the new Mayor, I would also ensure the safety of everyone, especially our senior citizens, in all areas of public transportation. The availability of safe public transportation and parks/open spaces is a critical component of healthy, purposeful aging.

Gina Viola – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

By properly funding and investing in public transit, Los Angeles can become a safer city for all. It is time for Los Angeles to have true public FREE transportation for all. Allocate funding to invest in infrastructure and equipment necessary to guarantee accessibility and safe conditions at all transit stops, such as elevators, escalators, ramps, seating, shade, signage, and bathrooms, and improve accessibility between bus stops and other transit stops. The elevators that have been nonoperational in several of our city’s metro stations the past several years is not only abhorrent but ableist as well.

One of the first pledges our campaign signed on to was the Streets for All 25x25 (https://la25x25.com/). This plan takes steps to pick up the pace to ensure the city’s Vision Zero plan can be realized by 2025. LA 25x25 As mayor, I will use the creation of the budget to allocate funding for this in each of the 15 city council districts. A survey of 400 likely voters in July of 2021, 84% said it’s the Mayor’s responsibility to help reduce car traffic, clean our air, and make our streets and sidewalks safter, 75% said we should make rapid changes to how we use our streetscape to improve quality of life and 59% said they would vote for candidates who endorsed a re-think of public spaces!

Mel Wilson – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

Violent crimes and assaults are rising, homeless people are plagued with mentally illness and drug addiction. My plan implements an Accountable Community Policing Plan.

1) This includes hiring 350 mental health experts, up to 1,500 additional patrol officers and reorganizing Metro with its own dedicated Public Safety Core
department.
2) Each of the agencies will have a community-based policing plan where we hire unarmed ambassador members of the communities to augment sworn
police patrol officers.
3) We hold police officers and criminals accountable. The community will become eyes and ears for the sworn officers and mental health experts.
4) Metro Public Safety Core will randomly ride buses and trains, make patrol bus stops and rail platforms to add safety to the public transit system.

Older adults were among the most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Older Angelenos experienced loneliness, age discrimination, challenges accessing services, and personal and financial loss.

SERVICES & SUPPORTS FOR OLDER ADULTS
4. Older adults were among the most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Older Angelenos experienced loneliness, age discrimination, challenges accessing services, and personal and financial loss.  With the current level
of state and federal support, how will you invest in services for older adults, specifically the Department of Aging?

Karen Bass – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

I have fought for economic and social justice my whole life. Those are the values that guided me as Speaker of the California State Assembly and now as a Member of Congress. I was proud to help pass the American Rescue Plan, which included over one billion dollars to meet the needs of seniors, including access to vaccinations and nutritious meals, support for family caregivers, and programs to address loneliness and social isolation.

I also introduced a resolution recognizing the severity of scams targeting seniors, and worked with senior scam awareness advocates, encouraging seniors and their families to be vigilant and ensuring that they do not fall victim to predatory practices.

As we continue to recover from the pandemic, I will strengthen the Department of Aging to meet the unique needs of seniors. Specifically, I plan to partner with AARP in advancing the recommendations of the Purposeful Aging Los Angeles Initiative (PALA).

Projections show that those over the age of sixty will exceed one million or approximately one quarter of L.A.’s population by 2030. That’s less than a decade, and we need to be ready for that major demographic change. In close partnership with my office, I will empower the Department of Aging to convene city departments and stakeholders to implement the PALA recommendations and ensure that seniors can safely and reliably access housing, job training, healthcare and other services, as well as opportunities for meaningful engagement in the civic process.

Rick Caruso – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

The Department of Aging is one of the smallest and most underfunded departments in the City, while it also has the most consequential and lifesaving mission. Today, the vast majority of the work the department does is in relation to meal delivery and senior center programming through service providers. This needs to change. We must provide far more access to meal delivery programs, wellness checks, and services that provide mentorship and bonding experiences with our youth and senior communities. As Mayor, I pledge to accomplish that.

Craig Greiwe – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

This city constantly puts the burden of figuring out how to get help on people, instead of on the government. We must flip that equation. Our goal needs to be proactive outreach to every individual to explain what resources are available, how to access them, and most importantly, to compile a central database of individuals and resources available to them. It’s not that complicated, it’s common sense. Any individual should be able to log into a central site or call a central service line and explain that they need and receive the help that they need. Now, it’s web and maze of programs, and no one knows what’s there. That’s unacceptable. It’s not enough to have resources, we must build bridges from resources to people. In addition, we must facilitate community building to alleviate the scourge of loneliness. Individuals who identify as members of communities live longer, healthier lives, and so the city needs to expand its programs for mind and spirit, in addition to the body. Finally, I will build bridges from our older Angelenos to our younger populations, where both thrive and learn from each other. There’s no reason that we can’t tap into the vast knowledge of our older Angelenos to make up the COVID-learning gap for our children through mentoring and tutoring programs, and to use their experience and expertise to build skills for the next generation to succeed.

Andrew Kim – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

I would look for every available means to increase the state and federal support. However, there are also many For-profit and Non-profit agencies that can serve the needs of senior citizens. By expanding cooperation and partnership with these agencies, the services to the senior citizens will be more expansive and varied.

Gina Viola – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

It is a travesty that the LAPD received over half of the federal Covid19 funds that came to Los Angeles. Those funds should have gone directly to seniors who were so gravely impacted by the Covid pandemic. We would take immediate measures to see that these funds be redirected back to what they were intended for and that the Department of Aging receives its share.

I would invest more funding into programs that fostered partnership between seniors and youth development programs. I know there is much to be gained between these groups of Angelenos coming together to mentor/support one another.

Mel Wilson – City of Los Angeles, Mayoral Candidate

Baby Boomers are the second largest generation in history. COVID-19 created untold suffering and death of Angelenos' aging population.
1) I will invest in the Department of Aging and assist nonprofit organizations that provide Meals on Wheels and other Multi-purpose Centers many of which
are administered by Valley Inter-Community Councils and other organizations to offer services to our aging populations.
2) I will fight for additional rental vouchers for seniors on fixed income, widows and widowers who have been shut in.
3) My robust housing plan will build more housing for very low and low-income LA City residents.
4) The 350 mental health case workers will be accessible to our aging population.
5) We will encourage the development of new senior citizen housing developments, like Pledgerville in Pacoima, Jewish Home for the Aging and other centers
for our seniors.
6) I will offer part-time jobs to our seniors, at childcare facilities, local schools, as ambassadors for Metro, as City Ambassadors who can help tourists get to
know places and destinations for visiting and dining. We can connect seniors for pay, who were in business to work with the SBA SCORE program to help
new business owners.

AARP has a proud history of nonpartisan voter engagement and does not endorse or oppose candidates or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. All Los Angeles Mayoral Candidates were invited to participate in this questionnaire. Additional candidates running for Mayor of Los Angeles that did not respond include Joe Buscaino, John “Jsamuel” Jackson, Kevin de Leon, Alex Gruenenfelder Smith, Ramit Varma.  Mike Feuer responded but withdrew from the race. 

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