Meet the candidates running for mayor of Inglewood

Posted · Add Comment
4f9e1927d9.jpeg
0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 Filament.io Made with Flare More Info'> 0 Flares ×

With the impending arrival of a Metro train, the most expensive NFL stadium in history, and a massive retail and housing development that will rise around the flashy venue, Inglewood is among one of the most dramatically changing neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

Mayor since 2011, James Butts, a retired police chief, has shepherded many of those changes. As the Daily Breeze andLos Angeles Times have reported: Butts’ colleagues on the Inglewood City Council rarely if everdissent from his plans for Inglewood.

And the changes don’t stop there. Butts and other city officials are negotiating with the Clippers to build an NBA near the future home of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers. These additions, Butts says, aren’t just about making Inglewood a destination.

“Before, people in Inglewood had to leave town to get unique services and high-end retail. They won’t have to do that anymore,” he told The Planning Report in July. “In fact, people from other towns will be coming here to spend their money—resulting in more tax dollars for the city, which will result in more police, more firefighters, and better library and recreation services for our children.”

2018 Voter Guide

Looking for more explainers on the November 6 election? We’ve got in-depth analysis of the state and county ballot measures here, plus more coverage of local races.

But Butts is up for re-election on November 6, and he faces challenges from four residents vying for the post. It’s an influential gig. Inglewood’s charter defines the mayor as the city’s “chief executive,” and there’s a sizable salary to match: Butts collected $111,303 last year, plus benefits).

One of the candidates, Marc Little, has a formidable amount of money to spend on his campaign. Campaign finance disclosure forms show the attorney has amassed $686,500 in donations, a small fortune in a race for elected office in a city with a population of 110,600.

The bulk of those campaign contributions comes from Madison Square Garden, owner of the entertainment venue The Forum. In March, MSG sued Butts, accusing him and other city officials of pressuring the company to back out of a lease agreement for 15 acres of land and secretly negotiating with the Clippers to build the NBA arena there.

That’s not the only controversy that has swirled around Butts. At a City Council meeting in June, he told an activist to “go choke yourself.” (The comment was captured on cell phone video, but appears to have been clipped from the official video of the meeting posted by the city, according to the Daily Breeze.)

Earlier this month, the LA Times reported that Buttspaid $680,000 for an Inglewood home owned by the mother of a public affairs consultant who routinely works for the city, including on the NFL and Clippers projects.

Ethical questions aside, what’s bound to be top of mind for many residents in this election is the skyrocketing cost of housing and displacement. As developer interest in Inglewood climbs, so do real estate prices.

Here, the mayoral candidates answer six questions about the impact of development on Inglewood and the city’s affordability problem. The responses have been fact-checked and edited for length and clarity.


Mohamed Ben Amor

Age: 72

Occupation:Retired registered nurse

Who’s funding his campaign? Amour has not reported any contributions.

What is the most pressing issue facing Inglewood?

Housing, school conditions, street paving, crime, drugs, safety, transportation, healthcare and homelessness.

How do you plan to extend the economic benefits of the new NFL stadium to Inglewood residents?

This has to be decided by the residents of Inglewood. By looking into the taxation system and what is allocated to the city and where it is spent.

Some residents oppose building a Clippers arena in Inglewood, claiming the stadium will further escalate the cost of housing in the area. Mayor James Butts, on the other hand, says it would make Inglewood a destination. Do you support bringing a NBA arena in Inglewood?

No. If it is going to cause problems for the Inglewood residents, only the Inglewood residents can decide that. We keep forgetting that the mayor is elected by people and he has to follow what the people ask him to do.

The city is promoting large-scale development projects that will bring new business to Inglewood. What solutions do you propose to keep long-standing, small businesses in the area?

Again this the decision of the residents of Inglewood, not the city only.

Inglewood rents have increased by about 37 percent since 2012. The median rent for a one-bedroom is now $2,600, according to Zillow, making rent unaffordable for Inglewood’s low-income residents. What’s your plan to drive down the cost of renting in Inglewood? Is rent control an option?

To try to build affordable housing for the poor people. I have many ideas which will be put in effect if I become mayor. One example is to use federal or state land to build with help from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Housing Administration, and the Department of Veteran Affairs.

The state Department of Housing and Community Development says Inglewood needs to add 567 units of housing affordable to residents earning very low to moderate incomes by 2021. Since 2013, none of these units have been built in the city. How would you create more affordable housing in the city?

This is the same answer I just gave above. By using federal or state land or private donors to build affordable housing. Like in Europe, with subsidizing the rent in the beginning.


James Butts

Age:65

Occupation:Incumbent mayor, retired Santa Monica police chief

Who’s funding his campaign? Butt has an impressive campaign chest too: $228,543. Notable donations include $6,000 from executives at Wilson Meany, one of the firms redeveloping Hollywood Park; $10,000 from Centinela Hospital Medical Center; and $5,000 from Randy’s Donuts.

What is the most pressing issue facing Inglewood?

The management of our success, making sure all of our mass transit options match our development, ensuring our development partners follow through with the goals of the development agreement for 35 percent local hire, to continue to push our unemployment rate down, and to continue our eighth consecutive year of the lowest crime rates in the history of the city. [Note: The city’s crime rate has fluctuated from 2010 to 2017, and the number of overall crimes and the overall crime rate were up between 2016 and 2017.]

Also to figure out what we as a city can do to assist the school district in returning to our local school board’s control. I intend to work with the state senator and our assembly people to pass a bill to forgive the $55 million loan that was made to the district based upon the anticipated property tax [revenue] that will be generated by the Clippers project.


Madison Square Garden, owner of The Forum, has sued Mayor James Butts and the city of Inglewood.
Getty Images
How do you plan to extend the economic benefits of the new NFL stadium to Inglewood residents?

There will be [thousands of construction and permanent] jobs created from the time this process started for seven years out. And we also have a hard-to-hire provision for people that have been incarcerated, served their time, and are seeking employment.

Right now we have a 40 or 50 people working with the iron workers that are making $50 to $90 an hour with benefits working on the project now. So these jobs, although they are defined durations, they provide the incumbents with the skill set to continue on with the companies as the companies move to other jobs. So these are not entry-level jobs, these are good-paying construction jobs that allow residents to gain skills that they did not have before to continue on with employment.

Some residents oppose building a Clippers arena in Inglewood, claiming the stadium will further escalate the cost of housing in the area. Mayor James Butts, on the other hand, says it would make Inglewood a destination. Do you support bringing a NBA arena in Inglewood?

There are only two community groups, IRATE and Uplift Inglewood, that oppose the Clippers arena. [Note: Two community groups have filed lawsuits over the project.] The voices against the arena are minuscule compared to our population.

The Clippers arena will generate property tax, sales tax, and ticket tax revenue that the city lost when the Lakers departed for the Staples Center, and it’s being built on land that can’t be used for anything that is not aircraft noise compatible, because it was purchased with FAA grant money. This development hits that criteria and will bring revenue from land that has generated nothing for the last 20 to 30 years. [Note: Some of this land does generate property tax revenue.]

Inglewood has always lagged behind neighboring cities and the county in property value bounce back. Since the end of 2012, property values have gone up about 125 percent.We are proud that the residents of Inglewood are finally receiving the same benefits from owning their property that residents do in other parts of the county.

The city is promoting large-scale development projects that will bring new business to Inglewood. What solutions do you propose to keep long-standing, small businesses in the area?

The stadium entertainment district itself will contain businesses and is bordered by Crenshaw and Century boulevards and Pincay and 11th avenues, so it’s going to have a certain genre of businesses that are there that are compatible with high-scale sports entertainment. We’re still going to have Market Street, which is going to be across from the new Metro station.

Inglewood rents have increased by about 37 percent since 2012. The median rent for a one-bedroom is now $2,600, according to Zillow, making rent unaffordable for Inglewood’s low-income residents. What’s your plan to drive down the cost of renting in Inglewood? Is rent control an option?

The average rent in Inglewood is lower than anywhere in Los Angeles and in the state of California. [Note: The median cost of rent in Inglewood is lower than the median cost countywide and statewide. There are neighborhoods, however, in both California and LA where the median price of rent is cheaper.]

Secondly, we have more affordable housing units in Inglewood than anywhere in the South Bay per capita or in whole numbers, and we’re continuing to produce more affordable housing units than anywhere in the South Bay. [Note:From 2013 to the end of 2016, Inglewood did not build any affordable housing, while the city of Hawthorne, another South Bay city, issued permits for 161 affordable units. Inglewood did produce 619 units in the three years leading up to 2013.]

There was an attempt to get an initiative on the ballot for rent control, but they did not garner the signatures required. I support landlords getting a fair return for their properties, but not gouging tenants. I would support rent control where it’s proven that one investor or investors are buying properties with the sole purpose of evacuating tenants and raising rents. But I would totally support rent control if we receive evidence that investors are coming and just clearing out properties. We’re not going to tolerate that.

The state Department of Housing and Community Development says Inglewood needs to add 567 units of housing affordable to residents earning very low to moderate incomes by 2021. Since 2013, none of these units have been built in the city at all. How would you create more affordable housing in the city?

We have 221 housing units slated to go in on the old Cadillac site between Market Street and La Brea Avenue. Of those, 5 to 8 percent is going to be affordable housing. We are in partnership with the county for 100 units that will go in across from the Fairview heights station and 50 of those units will be affordable. We have PATH Villas on Lime Street and that has 40 affordable units.

We’re working on a deal now between Thomas Safran and Associates and the Clippers organization for a possible development on Beach Avenue near Hyde Park. It’s all very preliminary right now, but it would be about 90 units, probably about 40 of them affordable.


Marc Little

Occupation: Sports and entertainment attorney, local pastor

Who’s funding his campaign? Madison Square Garden Sports and Entertainment has heaped $614,000 into Little’s campaign coffers.

He’s received an additional $72,000 from individual donors, including some high-profile Hollywood executives and other Los Angeles power players. They include: Ron Meyer, vice chairman, NBC Universal; James Berkus, chairman of United Talent Agency; Kevin Huvane, managing partner, Creative Artists Industry; Linda Rambis, executive director, Los Angeles Lakers; David Geffen; and Kris Jenner. They’ve each contributed $1,000.

Little did not complete the survey, but his campaign website says he supports requiring apartment developers to include affordable units in their projects and the repeal of Costa Hawkins.


Brandon George Myers

Age: 35

Occupation: Entrepreneur

Who’s funding his campaign? Myers has collected $2,038, from multiple individual donors contributing amounts ranging from $5 to $500.

What is the most pressing issue facing Inglewood?

The most pressing issue facing the city of Inglewood at this time would be the increase of rent.


The NFL stadium under construction in Inglewood.
By Cassiohabib / Shutterstock
How do you plan to extend the economic benefits of the new NFL stadium to Inglewood residents?

I plan to extend the economic benefits of the new NFL stadium to Inglewood residents by reverting the tax revenue back to our schools, small local businesses and homeowners.

Some residents oppose building a Clippers arena in Inglewood, claiming the stadium will further escalate the cost of housing in the area. Mayor James Butts, on the other hand, says it would make Inglewood a destination. Do you support bringing a NBA arena in Inglewood?

The city of Inglewood is immersed in culture, diversity, and opportunity which makes it not only a destination city but a model to surrounding cities as well. I believe that without community involvement, proper assessment, consideration of environmental risks, and other cited issues, there is no clear path to support or oppose this matter.

The city is promoting large-scale development projects that will bring new business to Inglewood. What solutions do you propose to keep long-standing, small businesses in the area?

In 2004, the city voted against a Walmart being constructed in the city. This is a great example of both the inclusion of community and the need to ensure small businesses stay. As mayor, I will ensure that zoning regulation guidelines are fair and lucrative for the residents of our city.

Inglewood rents have increased by about 37 percent since 2012. The median rent for a one-bedroom is now $2,600, according to Zillow, making rent unaffordable for Inglewood’s low-income residents. What’s your plan to drive down the cost of renting in Inglewood? Is rent control an option?

The plan to drive down the cost of renting in Inglewood consists of focusing on stabilizing the median rental cost in an effort to make prices more affordable for Inglewood’s low-income residents. Yes, rent control is an option.

The state Department of Housing and Community Development says Inglewood needs to add 567 units of housing affordable to residents earning very low to moderate incomes by 2021. Since 2013, none of these units have been built. How would you create more affordable housing in the city?

Unfortunately, our current administration has chosen to neglect the fact that it is impossible to build out poverty and homelessness. With only three years left to fulfill this obligation, we need to begin focusing on new lands to be used for this project. Community inclusion is a must.


Joseph Soto

Age:40

Occupation: Small business owner

Who’s funding his campaign: Soto has reported one donation, a $4,000 contribution from an office technician at the DMV.

What is the most pressing issue facing Inglewood?

As a lifetime resident of Inglewood, I believe that the key issue that drives all other issues is the neglect of our residents by the current administration. In 2016, the average salary and benefits for the top 100 employees in Inglewood exceeded $300,000 whereas the median household income was [just] below $45,000. [Note: In 2017, the average salary and cost of health benefits for the 100 highest paid employees, including the Inglewood Police Department, was $267,357; benefit costs excluded, the average wage for the 100 highest earners was $188,500.]

Ask yourself, is it really serving our community to have city workers earn over six times what the average taxpayer earns?

This is money that should be invested into community recreation centers, small business grants, improving the quality of our roads, paying the city’s electricity bills on time, finding numerous other ways to assist our residents, as well as creating a community integration program that ensures everyone can feel at home, feel safe, and thrive in Inglewood.


Metro’s Crenshaw Line under construction in Inglewood.
By Liz Kuball
How do you plan to extend the economic benefits of the new NFL stadium to Inglewood residents?

By working with the NFL teams to create sports programs for our children, to ensure that more kids participate in sports, and to use sports as a way to combat drug use and crime in Inglewood. I will work to ensure that the city decides what type of development is needed, maximizing the benefits to the people of Inglewood.

According to Forbes, last year all NFL teams turned a hefty profit, and the average profit was $95 million. We love having two NFL teams in Inglewood, but that is no reason that a city near bankruptcy should be on the hook for public developments promoted by multi-billion-dollar football teams, when that money could assist our renters, small businesses, property owners and schools.

Some residents oppose building a Clippers arena in Inglewood, claiming the stadium will further escalate the cost of housing in the area. Mayor James Butts, on the other hand, says it would make Inglewood a destination. Do you support bringing a NBA arena in Inglewood?

As a small business owner, I support an honest and fair business policy. LA Superior Court Judge Broadbelt ruled that Butts could be found personally liable in Madison Square Garden’s lawsuit, and as taxpayers we are now [possibly] on the hook for his legal fees. Madison Square Garden came to Inglewood with an open mind and promoted community growth, and the mayor allegedly tricked them. Such conduct will drive away potential business owners from Inglewood.

Additionally, the increase in the cost of housing is slowly driving away our long-term residents, and we need to enact rent control before discussing additional sports teams coming to Inglewood. We need to place Inglewood residents above the owners of sports teams. I welcome an NBA team to Inglewood, especially the LA Clippers, but the deal has to be fair for all sides: the Clippers, Madison Square Gardens, and most importantly our beloved city.

The city is promoting large-scale development projects that will bring new business to Inglewood. What solutions do you propose to keep long-standing, small businesses in the area?

We must aid our small businesses with city grants, ensure the success of these businesses through pursuing state and federal government assistance, enrich these businesses with cultural projects, and oppose the partial repeal of Proposition 13, which could be the final nail in the coffin of small businesses in Inglewood, if passed. Propositions 13 and 98 are the cornerstones of California’s economy and must be respected.

I support designating historical small businesses as state landmarks, forming special districts to decrease the tax burden on small businesses where appropriate, and holding quarterly meetings with small business owners to know their issues and be able to assist them. Small businesses are the cornerstone of Inglewood. We must do what it takes to preserve them.

Inglewood rents have increased by about 37 percent since 2012. The median rent for a one-bedroom is now $2,600, according to Zillow, making rent unaffordable for Inglewood’s low-income residents. What’s your plan to drive down the cost of renting in Inglewood? Is rent control an option?

There are numerous effective rent control laws in the cities of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood. The City of Inglewood needs to review this legislation and enact rent control laws immediately. If elected, on the very first day in office, my administration will work with Uplift Inglewood and push for rent control laws.

There is no excuse for any mayoral administration to side with the special interests, instead of our people, our renters. Hard-working residents of Inglewood should not be evicted simply because they are going through hard times. My administration will also work with local banks and credit unions to ensure that our rent is low, and that renters can pay it.

The state Department of Housing and Community Development says Inglewood needs to add 567 units of housing affordable to residents earning very low to moderate incomes by 2021. Since 2013, none of these units have been built. How would you create more affordable housing in the city?

Inglewood is one of the densest cities in America with over 12,000 residents per square mile.Comparatively, Los Angeles has roughly 8,500. Adding housing and building out the city stresses the resources of our schools, roads, sanitation system, and lessens the value of our current property owners.

As part of the deal with the NFL stadium, 2,995 new housing units are to be built in Inglewood, which could increase our population and our density by 10 percent.[Note: Curbed LA has reported that the project would deliver 2,500 units of housing.]

I am willing to work with the developers to assist a project that can ensure that 567 out of the 2,995 new housing units are dedicated to affordable housing, but we do not need additional housing built in Inglewood to line the pockets of developers. Furthermore, I will create a task force to ensure that the tax revenue from the development is used to hire former veterans to fight crime in Inglewood.

— Lucy Guanuna, Bianca Barragan, and Elijah Chiland contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

 
 
DMS
0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 Filament.io 0 Flares ×