A history of personal experiences with crime in his Mar Vista neighborhood gave write-in candidate Brian Selem more than one reason to seek the Los Angeles City Council District 11 seat.
He says he’s helped apprehend three burglary suspects in the last two years, with one incident ending after he chased down a suspect who robbed a storeowner. Selem said it took Los Angeles police more than 20 minutes to then respond.
Selem also said he reported a burglary suspect on his property one night, but police would not come out.
‘It’s not the officers. It’s the bureaucracy,” Selem said. He added has a huge problem with how he thinks the City Council fails to stand with the LAPD. “I blame them for the lack of resources on the street.”
Selem, a New Jersey native who moved to District 11 in the mid-1990s, said he has repeatedly taken his crime concerns to the council district office, particularly to Mike Bonin, chief of staff for current City Councilman Bill Rosendahl. Bonin is one of Selem's opponents in the race to fill Rosendahl's seat.
Selem cites one incident from two years ago where, after striking up a conversation at a local restaurant with a patron while watching the evening news on television about a burglary arrest, the patron said “you can get away with anything in L.A.” That conversation bothered Selem, and he said he went to the Council District 11 Westside office to report the conversation.
“When I finally got in front of them, I got promises I’d be in front of a lieutenant or higher ups to get some action going, but it never got going,” Selem said. “They do listen but they don’t take action.”
If elected, Selem said he would create a civilian volunteer group to serve as “reserves” to get behind the desks and process the LAPD paperwork so that the best trained officers can get back out on the streets.
Selem, a former business owner in the area for several years, is a real estate agent focusing on homeowner retention for Coldwell Banker in Brentwood. He studied at UCLA and Santa Monica College and has been married to his wife for 10 years.
One early experience he recalls was volunteering in the 1990s with L.A. City Camp and interacting with children in South Central after the Watts riots. Selem said he was heavily involved with that for 15 years, working with at-risk fifth grade students on such events as organizing a trip to Big Bear and the beach.
“It’s a powerful program,” he said. “I helped a family relocate out of the area because their kids were into gangs. I was approached by one of the elders and paid to help them relocate. We didn’t get any government money. That’s what I believe in, fostering that kind of environment, to work together.”
Concerns with affordable housing
Selem takes issue with how the city put every bank-owned property under rent control.
“Because the ideology is ‘we want to protect the tenants,’” he said. “I don’t mind that philosophy when you bring them into consideration, but how does it affect everything we want to achieve? Now there’s squatting, phony rental agreements, creating rental amounts lower than fair market [value].”
Selem said he can name addresses where these practices happen in the city. When the property isn’t habitable, can’t be occupied and the representing bank cannot obtain a loan, then the property is dumped on an investor to owner. In turn, the investor, trying to make a profit, has to get the property down to a lesser price, which then hurts neighbors trying to sell their homes for what it’s worth, Selem added.
“Then, they go into foreclosure,” he said.
If elected, Selem said he would protect tenants by creating a profit center to provide for “family homeowner stabilization prices” and “get those properties off the foreclosure list.” In essence, Selem proposes creating a department where the bank would be responsible for paying a fee, and that department would review documents from tenants to make sure the agreement was valid.
Wants to end the "trap and ticket" practice
Selem calls Los Angeles’ practice of levying fines from parking tickets and traffic citations “abusive” and used to cover the city’s failed fiscal policies.
“They are riding on the backs of hardworking people,” he said, citing his neighbor who could not afford to renew his car registration for a vehicle parked on the street. When it was ticketed, neighbors begged parking enforcement to cut the owner a break for being “down on his luck,” but six parking enforcement officers came to the area the following day and gave out tickets, according to Selem.
“We need to have structure,” Selem said. He said L.A.’s parking enforcement targets new Brentwood School parents every year who don’t know about morning street sweeping when the school is open.
Solutions proposed for Santa Monica Airport
Selem said Bonin’s office has rallied to shut down the Santa Monica Airport. Although Selem said noise pollution and jet fumes are released into this backyard, he says instead the next councilman should take a cooperative approach with the airport officials and pilots to migitate the impacts.
"Nothing has been done," he said to get pilots to work cooperatively using the airport in Van Nuys. Instead of jets idling, waiting to take off, he says he'd have the airliners move over and disperse the fumes somewhere else on the runway.
"I just want to get rid of the jets," he said.
For more information, visit Selem's campaign website.
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