Los Angeles, March 31 – L.A. mayoral candidate, lawyer, entrepreneur, and former studio publicist Craig Greiwe has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.
One-in-five Americans has a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. People with disabilities are America’s largest minority group. It is also the only one that, due to accident, aging or illness, anyone can join at any time. Indeed, there are approximately one million people living in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area with some form of disability.
Polls show that the majority of voters have either a disability or a loved one with a disability. Voters with disabilities and their families are up for grabs – and the actions campaigns take to reach out to these voters can make the difference between winning and losing.
Greiwe is currently facing off against eleven other candidates in the race to replace Eric Garcetti as Mayor of Los Angeles.
Below are Greiwe’s unedited responses:
1) Education and Skills: What steps will you take to ensure that students with disabilities of all backgrounds have what they need to succeed?
The basic fact is that almost no student at LAUSD is getting what they need, and students with disabilities have it worse than anyone else. We must implement results-oriented budgeting and tracking for accountability. While the mayor does not have direct access over schools, he does have the power of the public bully pulpit, which means that he should be shining a light when things are going wrong. Furthermore, the mayor can implement programs to supplement the work of LAUSD that builds bridges and greater resources. As mayor, I will look to create robust peer-to-peer mentoring programs that build connections and empathy between those with disabilities and those who don’t; utilize local college students in paid internships for tutoring and supplemental education; and foster after school and summer programs that cater to students where they are in their disabilities, rather than ask them to conform to an outside standard. We will routinely assess the impact of these programs, maintaining a nimble posture to divert resources where they’re showing results, and to pivot into new programs.
2) Access and Inclusion: Whether or not you have a formal platform, what specific plans do you have to incorporate the voices of people with disabilities into your decision-making processes, if elected? What steps, if any, have you taken to make your campaign accessible for people with disabilities and to ensure that our voices are heard?
For far too long, we have moved without the inclusion of any voice affected by any policy, including the disability community. That ends in my administration. In addition to robust hiring process that focus on the diversity of each individual and what they bring to the table, we need implement programs that empower these communities to speak and operate on their own. Under my administration, we will commission 60-day working groups to come back with recommendations for their own communities, but for the first time in city history, we will empower them to operationalize those recommendations with their own authority and budgets. Instead of just receiving recommendations, and waiting for city bureaucracy to act, these groups will be composed of individuals who represent their communities who are empowered with city authority and concrete budgets to drive the very programs they recommend. They will also be held accountable for delivering results, with the most successful programs expanded.
3) Homelessness, Poverty, and Equity: What is your plan to address homelessness among your constituents, to work with other organizations to address the issue in the region, and to coordinate with other municipalities to create more affordable and accessible housing?
For far too long, we have waited on other cities and the county to do their part. That has gotten us nowhere. Yes, we need a regional solution, but we cannot wait, and saying that we will bring others to the table is what people have been saying for decades. It’s not going to happen. We just wait. Instead, I will welcome any partner to the table, but I will also move forward as Los Angeles city to solve this problem—because it is solvable, and we have all the resources we need to solve it. It’s not how much money we have, it’s how we spend it.
First, I am the only candidate to seek a federal emergency disaster declaration to invoke federal law and federal response, while enacting a model and concrete plan I’ve already built based on the success of the nationally recognized nonprofit Community Solutions and open-source Housing Innovation Collaborative, in partnership with data from the Pacific Urbanism Institute, among others. From there, we will move quickly in these areas:
- Know the cause. Keep new people from becoming homeless. A real solution has to prevent the problem. Here’s our pledge to every Angeleno: if you have a home today, you will have a home tomorrow. We’ll create a 24/7 hotline, simple and easy to use, to keep everyone on the right track. A number everyone knows, and everyone can use. This isn’t about endless eviction moratoriums with complicated and impossible rental assistance applications that end up punishing renters and mom and pop property owners – this is about real, immediate, and in-person help. We’ve got the money already – it’s how we spend it that’s the problem. It’s ten times cheaper to keep someone housed than to get them off the street. If you’ve got a problem and can’t make your rent, just make a toll-free call, and a case worker will be on site in 24 hours to evaluate the situation, provide immediate assistance, and work with you for six months to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Any and every Angeleno should know: if you’re about to become homeless, it doesn’t have to be this way. And it won’t be.
- Know the problem. The reality is we can’t solve a problem we don’t understand. The city does not know how many people are homeless, who they are, or what they need. Experts agree: a real-time mapping program is essential. It will tell us exactly how many resources we need and for whom. The reality is that not every homeless person needs Permanent Supportive Housing. Some people just need a helping hand, and others need robust mental health and addiction resources – but LA’s existing “intake program” doesn’t map real time needs and resources or operate as a workable central clearinghouse. That must change immediately.
- Know the money. LA spends $50,000 a year per person without feeding, housing, or clothing the homeless. We have spent billions while homelessness has skyrocketed. For perspective, we could have cut a check to every single homeless person for $100,000 – but instead we fed a corrupt and inept system. Even the current City Controller, whose job it is to know where the money went, says it’s impossible to find out. There are no receipts for any money spent. Every dollar spent requires accounting, period. Money must go to the people who need it most. No more recruiting fees, or payments based on volume. Payments will be based on results.
- Know the power. Action is power, which means that the mayor must act immediately. We will declare a state of emergency to bypass or break through bureaucracy to start solving the real problems. If needed, we will take legal action against the county and any neighboring cities that don’t cooperate. We will ally with the Alliance for Human Rights to force the county to provide better and more mental health resources while building our own. We will not be bound by previous illegal settlements and agreements, and we will open new avenues for action, pursuing every action to its legal end, and act in the interim. Our administration will use the bully pulpit of public opinion to drive results – creating allies in government, and isolating obstructionists. We will hold daily public meetings with all department heads, council members, and city agencies, and ensure clear, understandable reporting with accountability and measurement.
- Know the solutions. The time for more studies, more planning, more committees is over. Now is the time to act. The question is not how to solve homelessness, it’s who will step up. We will engage Community Solutions, one of the most respected organizations working to eliminate homelessness in America, to help drive the city’s programs using their proven methods. We will regulate public spaces through outreach and engagement, not criminalization, and provide places for the homeless to go to while disincentivizing being on the street. On day one, we will begin immediate construction of 20,000 semi-private shelter-based beds, in non-residential areas; create 12,000 collaborative housing spaces over 12 months; generate additional construction of 10,000 transitional support housing (“TSH”) drop units (prefabricated housing meant for use from six months to two years) with hard caps on expenditures; begin immediate construction of 3,000 mental health beds and 500 substance use residential beds. Further TSH will be constructed as needed, up to 20,000 additional units. We will pause construction of new Permanent Supportive Housing (“PSH”) that has not broken ground until a comprehensive accounting of community needs is concluded to establish how much PSH is actually required. Then we will set a maximum new cap of expenditure per unit to provide PSH to those who need it.
Separate from homelessness, we will enact key reforms in Los Angeles to build a towards affordability. The solutions to create an affordable city, like those to end homelessness, exist. It’s not easy, but it is straightforward.
- New Leadership and Empowerment. We will declare a crisis in affordability to empower the mayorship to bypass bureaucracy. We’ll merge Building, Planning, and Safety into a single, accountable, organizational infrastructure with clear public reporting on performance. Create an office of public accountability, whose job is to ensure legal and ethical compliance by all city employees, according to the law. Create a real-time database of construction, rentals, and costs for the city, landlords, and tenants in a public-private partnership so we know exactly how much inventory exists, trend lines in costs for both construction and rentals, and so we can make policy based on actual real-time data. Generate an ongoing public advisory council to make concrete recommendations, composed not of elected officials, but of developers, general contractors, housing advocates, small mom-and-pop landlords, renters, and owners. Start with the three core understandings that 1) we need to build, 2) we can build without destroying any historic neighborhood or pricing people out of their communities and 3) we can build ethically, responsibly, and quickly, with a commitment to at least 200,000 affordable new units in working class neighborhoods.
- Public Union and Business Reset. Both business and labor unions need to come to the table with workable solutions. The cost of union labor, when combined with the costs of doing business with the city, make it impossible to build affordable housing in LA while also being a profitable business. But by working together in an honest, public conversation, instead of a back room deal, businesses and unions can find a path forward that makes projects work—and demand real changes from the city that is hurting them and everyone else. Unions and business can be part of the effort to reform the city and its policies, and we will foster this role and relationship. But if they are not, they must face public accountability for their actions. Businesses and unions have a responsibility to everyone. They must be advocates for their members, and use their power for the benefit of the public as a whole. Businesses and unions must be a part of the communities their members live in. We welcome and embrace both unions and business at the table of change – but they must be partners at every stage for the betterment of everyone.
- Completion of RE:Code LA. The city’s zoning code was written in 1946 and has only gotten worse since then. The basic governing regulations of our city are not only outdated, but they’re also impossible nonsense, not to mention unwieldy, prejudicial, and disadvantaging to those who need the most help. The RE:Code LA re-zoning project has proceeded for a decade with no meaningful progress to rewrite the code. Meanwhile, secretive proceedings move forward with updated Community Plans that are not based in community or logical planning. Our zoning code needs to be re-written in under 18 months in a public, transparent, efficient, and results-oriented process. We must borrow the processes that work best for transparency and accountability from private enterprise, to ensure the same level of high-performance delivery.
- New Local Policy Enhancements. We will foster increased density and capacity for parking lots, transit hubs, and industrial zoning in non-historical single family zone neighborhoods. Increased density for “touch zones” on main commercial thoroughfares, with additional incentives for live-work-play developments. Updated residential requirements that reflect a formula-based approach for modern standards of transportation, parking, and tree requirements that preserve our city’s urban forest cover and neighborhood character while enabling faster development that meets the changed needs of younger populations. Tie affordability covenants to market conditions that incentivize development of additional affordable units, instead of arbitrary timelines. Expansion of city-funded ride-share linked to transit hubs, as well as unified transportation access through a single point of contact. Require transparency of ownership, avoiding hidden LLCs and arcane structures designed to evade accountability. Build reputational protections for quality corporations and mom-and-pop owners by aggressively rooting out bad actors with zero-tolerance policies and strong enforcement mechanisms.
- New State Policy Enhancements. We will create an historic tax-exempt bond program to fund affordable housing, offer government-provided ground leases, and enable property tax abatements for affordable housing projects. Re-evaluate CEQA, including new provisions to prevent misuse; foster creation of additional incentives, limitations and exemptions to facilitate responsible development; modify the appeals process for affordable housing; limit “serial” appeals; and create community of interest and stakeholder requirements for appeals. Remove municipal liability protections for employees who violate the law intentionally.
4) Other Priorities: What other policies that impact people with disabilities are you ready and eager to work on? What is your plan to involve your constituents with disabilities in key decision-making processes?
Every policy impacts those with disabilities. Because the truth is our marginalized communities, including our disability community, are disproportionately impacted by every negative event. Those who suffer, suffer more, and suffer first. It’s not just having those with disabilities participate at every level of government, which ensures their representation, it’s reaching out to ensure every community actively participates. We need to stop putting the burden of participating in government on the people and put the burden on government to communicate and engage with the public on their terms—mandating minimum quotas of community participation in policy and legislation. My criminal justice, climate, transport, jobs and innovation programs are all focused on building equity across the board, for every community.
RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. RespectAbility does not rate or endorse candidates. View more coverage of 2022 candidates.