- Q&A: Tammy Silver. Heat Wave Retail Politics
- Q&A: Sasha Renée Pérez. Looking At and Beyond the Immediate
- Q&A: Rick Cole. Aspiration / Inspiration
- Q&A: Ryan Liu. From PCC to Yale, Oxford & Back Again
- Q&A: Kathryn Barger. Making Progress on Homelessness Despite Legal Handcuffs
- Q&A: Elizabeth Wong Ahlers. Sacramento can Keep Families in California
- Q&A: Judy Chu. Best Intentions, Meet Political Reality
- Q&A: John Doyle. Energy, Housing & the PPD
- Q&A: Ben Savage. Real Consequences, Close to Home
- Q&A: Jonathan Horton. All About Community
- Q&A: Jed Leano. Social Change, at Scale
- Q&A: Phlunté Riddle. Perspective is Everything
- Q&A: Brandon Lamar. Build-in Diversity Through City Processes
- Q&A: Felicia Williams. Continuing a Community Mandate
- Q&A: Chris Holden. Keeping Voters Engaged
- Q&A: Debra Archuleta. Crime, Bail and Punishment in LA County
- Q&A: Marlon Marroquin. Embracing the Unexpected
- Q&A: Konstantine Anthony. Champion Working People
- Q&A: Laura Friedman. Reject Polarization, Hold Government Accountable
- Q&A: Sandra Armenta. Moderate and Centrist
- Q&A: Alex Balekian. Meaningful Community Change
- Q&A: Michael Feuer. Macro-Vision
- Q&A: Anthony Portantino. Community Guy
Q – What are your ideas regarding small business incentives?
A – In Burbank, we are considering a proposed business tax rebate. If your business generates less than a million dollars, you can get a $3,000 tax abatement back at the end of the year. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s a full payroll for the month or all of the rent for the month. That’s a huge, huge windfall. As long as you maintain the same property address and you’re not expanding or re-incorporating, you get the check at the end of the year.
I want to do the same thing at the County level. Why should the County, which collects huge amounts of property tax on businesses, not offer that same incentive to small businesses?
I’ll give further incentives to businesses that want to purchase their own property. A lot of small businesses in LA County rent space. If we can give cash incentives to folks who want to purchase their property, if the bank finds you qualified, bring in your paperwork, and the County can give you a tax abatement. Once you’ve purchased your property, we will give you a break on the first three years’ taxes. You pay it back later because the first three years can make or break a small business. That way, they don’t have to worry about Prop 13 taxes right away.
“Where’s that American dream of being your own boss, of owning your own property?”Konstantine Anthony
People think the small tea shop or corner market is owned by the operators, but they’re renting, and their rent goes up every year. Where’s that American dream of being your own boss, of owning your own property? It’s basically disappeared in our County.
I want to slowly unroll that by giving cash incentives and getting small businesses to own their property. I want to do the same thing with home ownership. I want to do it with condos and apartment buildings. I want folks to be able to purchase their homes again and really get back to a non-renter, non-tenant economy.
Q – How will your tax incentives encourage developers and investors to invest in affordable housing projects?
A – I love what the YIMBYs have been doing in LA County. I consider myself more of what I call a PHIMBY – Public Housing in My Backyard. I will be campaigning for the repeal of Article 34, which is on the November ballot. If we repeal it, the city of Pasadena will be able to build public housing without having to go to a ballot, and the County can invest in those public housing constructions directly.
Housing issues come down to two different aspects. Firstly, housing that’s already built: What do we do with housing that’s already built? For owners who have a two- or three-bedroom house and they don’t want to deal with the whole space anymore or want their families to move back in, we need to streamline the ADU process. You have to be able to make it affordable and cost-effective.
In Burbank, we actually have a process where you can walk into plan check, pick one of six pre-designed units and say, “Just give me that one.” You don’t have to pay for an architect or go through the approval process because it’s already pre-approved. Basically, you just start the construction almost immediately. It has cut down wait times and costs of building ADUs. So that’s for older units.
Secondly, I am a huge pro-rent control guy. We need rent control across the board. I’m working this year to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (1995). Under Costa-Hawkins, you can’t put rent control on single-family homes, so most of the single-family homes in Pasadena are owned by corporations and rented by individuals. We don’t have the home ownership we used to 20, 30, or 40 years ago. We need to start putting strict rent controls on single-family homes. That would create the incentive for these big corporations to begin selling their single-family homes.
That’s when the tax abatement comes into play. If you’re buying a single-family property, you get a tax abatement. These big corporate entities, like Blackstone, have all these single-family homes. They’re not building ADUs. But if you get an individual or family owner, they’re much more likely to add an ADU because they know they have kids coming back from college or aging parents. They want to move them into the ADU.
Lastly, the other part of affordable housing is a new development, where you can require 15-20-25 percent of all new units being constructed to be multifamily affordable housing.
“Those state density bonuses, those state laws, all the SBs and ABs that Chris Holden passed, didn’t qualify anything bigger than a studio.”Konstantine Anthony
The problem is developers qualify for state density bonuses or state ministerial review processes to cut down on their time and increase their ability to turn a profit. They build a studio apartment or one bedroom. I want to create another tax abatement incentive for developers to build up to 50% of their units into three- and four-bedroom, affordable housing units.
They can get up to a five-year tax abatement. If you tell them they don’t have to pay their property taxes for the first five years of purchase, they will faint over how great this sounds. A developer has to start paying their property taxes the moment they close on the sale before they even begin the construction. They won’t get a tenant in there until almost three years after the sale. They’re sitting on three years of taxes without any income, no revenue. If we can give them that tax abatement, they’ll pay it back at the end, and the County won’t lose any money. I’d also like to convert apartment buildings into co-ops or flipping them into condos.
Having a housing department at the County level looking at all of these facets will start to change the landscape instead of having massive, corporate-owned apartments and housing where everyone’s a renter, and everyone’s rent goes up every year. We start to really build communities and build neighborhoods with real home ownership.
Those state density bonuses, those state laws, all the SBs and ABs that Chris Holden passed, didn’t qualify anything bigger than a studio. Any unit qualifies. So, if I’m a developer wanting a density bonus by building 20 extra units, why would I build 20 4-bedroom units when I can build 20 studios?
We’re in this housing crisis because we haven’t built, we haven’t grown the population. I don’t know what it’s like in Pasadena, but in Burbank, it’s been almost the exact same population for 30 years. It’s nuts. We haven’t built any housing since 2002.
Q – What’s your plan for the animal control department in LA County?
A – I’m the only candidate who has an animal rights platform. I tend to side with the animal rights activists. I’ve worked a lot with Democrats for the Protection of Animals. There’s a group trying to free Billy the elephant from the LA Zoo, I attend their vigils and protests.
But did you know LA County is not a no-kill shelter zone? Between 80 to 90 percent of the animals are saved; 10 to 15 percent of animals in the shelters are euthanized. The reason for this is a lack of neuter and spay services countywide. Sometimes, people wait weeks to get spay or neuter services. A couple of weeks’ wait is enough to have six more cats and dogs suddenly.
“I’m the only candidate who has an animal rights platform.”Konstantine Anthony
My plan is to get the County to (a) increase the pay for people who work in animal shelters and animal control so we actually attract more people and (b) reduce the requirements for specialists to do the work. You must be a full veterinarian to perform spaying and neutering services through the county shelter system. What I’d like to do is lower that threshold so that folks who are working on getting their veterinarian license, who’ve met a certain threshold of classes, can intern at the County under a licensed veterinarian and get real-world practice.
We can do a similar plan for social workers. We have such a lack of social workers to take care of people with mental illness and drug addiction. The pay is low, and the requirement is high. So, it’s the same policy. There probably isn’t a department in the County that couldn’t benefit from increased pay and lowering the threshold for folks to do the required job.
Second. I want to use County dollars to increase outreach for spay and neutering, to put more mobile spay and neutering vans out into the community, offer the service at a much reduced rate, and partner with the local cities. Right now, we’re just so far behind on controlling the animal population that it’s going to take a huge upfront investment to catch up.
Once we make that big initial investment, it will actually be much cheaper to maintain the animal population because you’ve curbed that explosive exponential increase when animals are left unchecked. If the County passed an ordinance that says you’re not allowed to euthanize any animals Countywide, it would force local jurisdictions and private practices to find alternatives.
A seedy factor is the backyard puppy mills that are operating without licenses, cash-only businesses, and breeding dogs en masse. I want to put in very strict punishments and penalties for these folks and work with the DA’s office to start targeting mills. People offload these animals at the shelter, and they’re not spayed or neutered. It’s a whole mess.
Q – Let’s talk about my favorite subject, the local press.
A – I love the local press. You guys have an opportunity to talk about issues that corporate giants don’t. There’s a group here called My Burbank News, a totally independent local media. I go out of my way to have conversations with them, to show up when they’re having interviews.
If you want to hear from your elected officials, you’re not going to get it from the LA Times. You’re going to see it in the local paper. I am more comfortable talking with the local press than I am with CNN or the big boys.
“If you want to hear from your elected officials, you’re not going to get it from the LA Times.”Konstantine Anthony
The major problem I see is that people click on sensationalist news. Unfortunately, we have been trained by Twitter and Facebook only to respond to the wildest stuff you see on the internet. Having a resource that people know about and trust can combat that. We don’t have to agree, right? I don’t need you to endorse my policy proposals or love everything I’m doing, but I simply want to be present and on your site with exclusive content only available on the local press level. I think that’s how we take back that local initiative and understanding of politics.
Regarding clickbait: I was a target of that. I mean, back when the whole drag queen thing came out. Some of those headlines were ridiculous. But it got people talking about it, and it got them to click the thing. And then, of course, I’d have to field the responses and say, “Actually, no. That’s not true.” This is what really happened.
You need an engaged electorate, and local news is part of that. You’re the only one asking those questions. I haven’t seen anybody else ask that stuff.