BizFed Pac Interview: Robin Rowe

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BEVERLY HILLS ( 2019/12/20 – BizFed PAC interview with Beverly Hills City Council candidate Robin Rowe. BizFed PAC is a nonpartisan political action committee dedicated to candidates for elective offices within Los Angeles County who are committed to meaningful change, economic progress, job creation and strong, healthy communities.

Tell us a little about yourself, your background in the region, and why you are running for office.

Many decisions the city needs to make require an understanding of technology. Having a technologist on the city council will help.

Served on the Beverly Hills Technology Committee since 2016, having joined at the invitation of the mayor. Lived in Beverly Hills since 2004, moving to the area to work at DreamWorks Animation.

Designed animation software used to produce major motion pictures and a hit cartoon series. Former navy research scientist. Taught computer science at the Naval Postgraduate School and the University of Washington.

What are your key issue priorities, relevant to business?

  • Open a Beverly Hills business innovation center, to help new businesses launch in Beverly Hills
  • Better, cheaper, faster Internet for Beverly Hills residents and businesses
  • Improve transportation, reduce traffic congestion and pollution
  • Build green power infrastructure, avoid electricity blackouts

What is your fundraising goal and actual funds to date?

Zero. My mission is to represent all the residents of Beverly Hills. Accepting large contributions from corporations or high net worth individuals could become awkward later, that they would reasonably expect special treatment in return. Accepting smaller donations from my neighbors could also become awkward for the same reason.

Previous positions held in the city?

First time running for office.

Supporters of your campaign?

The enthusiastic support of my neighbors, the residents of Beverly Hills.

Los Angeles County faces a critical housing shortage. How will you increase housing and affordability?

Section 8 housing seems the only effective program to date, where incentives are provided for building low cost units within new construction. Coincidentally, Section 8 housing is being built next door to me now.

In Beverly Hills, the fundamental issue is density. There’s no undeveloped land on which to build more housing. Increasing density where property values are already high can accelerate gentrification, make the housing shortage worse.

Beverly Hills is resisting an effort at the state level to mandate high density housing statewide. Some developers and bankers would love to see higher density allowed here. If Beverly Hills embraces a high density policy, living here will become like living in Manhattan. Beverly Hills isn’t filled with skyscrapers because the city has zoned against it.

Beverly Hills can better address homelessness in other ways, such as providing a safety net for vulnerable families and retirees who face being forced into homelessness, opening a business innovation center to create more high-paying jobs here, and working on humane solutions to the problem of our non-resident homeless, of people commuting to Beverly Hills to beg or who were dumped here from out of state or other cities as a quick fix to their own homeless crisis.

What is your stance on Proposition 13? Would you support or oppose split roll changes to Prop 13?

The split roll initiative says its intended to increase funding to K-12 public schools and community colleges though higher taxes on businesses. Looking at the empty storefronts in Beverly Hills, it seems we should be searching for ways to reduce business taxes, find ways to make it easier for retail to flourish here.

In 2016, LA County voters approved the Measure M transportation tax. How can Beverly Hills best utilize the funds and other transportation revenues to increase mobility and goods transportation?

We have a heavy rail subway stop at Rodeo opening in 2025. Where will all those people go?

We need to build city infrastructure to move the coming subway influx of people around the city. A skyway between Beverly Center mall, city hall, Rodeo and the Beverly Hilton. And with the cooperation of Century City, connect to the Westfield Mall, which recently completed a $1 billion renovation. Make Beverly Hills a more attractive shopping destination, increase revenue and jobs here.

Present Beverly Hills as the best shopping experience in the world.

By some estimates, as many as 1 in 4 Los Angeles County residents live in poverty. What do you believe are the root causes and what will you do about it?

As a first step, as leaders in Beverly Hills, let’s pledge that no resident of Beverly Hills will go hungry. People will need local support more than ever to avoid starvation. The federal government recently cut 750,000 people from the SNAP food stamps program.

Open a help line that residents may call if they are hungry or concerned that their neighbors may be. Coordinate with local grocery stores and restaurants so that wasted food is directed to those who desperately need it.

Causes of U.S. poverty include unchecked military spending building weapons of mass destruction, coal and petroleum subsidies, fighting a war on drug addiction that only gets worse the more we spend driving it underground, and a lack of empathy by leaders who celebrate greed.

What is the status of your city’s pension obligations? How will you address any shortfalls?

Our mayor has expressed concern about the city’s unfunded pension liabilities. I’ve asked my campaign treasurer to analyze the budget, to find us solutions. Because I accept no contributions, Taylor’s not busy with my campaign finances. Has time to look at the big picture.

In 2018 the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Board voted to pursue state legislation to grant them authority to potentially put a sales tax measure on the ballot. Do you support or oppose expanding taxing authority to regulatory bodies such as SCAQMD?

Air quality is an important issue to Beverly Hills residents and to me. I expect we can accomplish more at the city level if we try. Additional sales taxes here, spending it elsewhere, may not help Beverly Hills.

Thank you.

Thank you! Great questions! I appreciate BizFed Pac asking my opinion.

If you’re a Beverly Hills resident, or know one, please remind them to vote for Robin Rowe for Beverly Hills City Council in the March 2020 election.

Note: The questions above from the BizFed Pac have been edited for length. Any change to their intent is unintentional.