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Del Rey Prosecutor Ready to Tackle L.A. Budget, Special Interests for CD11

Tina Hess kicks off her campaign for the Council District 11 seat, and prepares to announce how she will streamline the city government's bureaucracies.

Now running to represent Council District 11, prosecutor Tina Hess says her 25 years working in city government makes her the most qualified for the seat, and, if elected, she plans to streamline "bureaucratic processes that inhibit government."

President Obama's reelection finally swayed her to finish getting all her signatures to join the race, Hess said.

"Women have 20 seats in the U.S. Senate and [after] looking at candidates for L.A. City Council, it's quite likely there's no women in city council next year," she said in an interview Wednesday. "This is a city that prides itself on diversity and the thought that having no women represented was just unacceptable to me."

Hess is currently the deputy chief of the Complex and Special Litigation Division of the criminal branch at the city attorney's office. She's handled cases against large corporate banks, insurance companies, environmental polluters and billboard companies.

A Del Rey and Mar Vista resident for the last 20 years, Hess' campaign launch party was last weekend at a private home in Mar Vista, and her website is up and running. Earlier in her life, she also lived for several years in Pacific Palisades. She's been out campaigning for the last six weeks, and says she's looking at CD11 through new eyes, with an appreciation for its striking diversities.

"My campaign is about bringing perspective to problem solving," she said. "Everything from gangs to drugs, to code enforcement, to community involvement. I know what works, what doesn’t work and I know how to solve problems within the context of that."

Hess thanked City Councilman Bill Rosendahl for his service.

Hess calls for more collaboration, teamwork to solve common problems

Implementing a method called the Strategic Multi Agency Response Team (or SMART) as a new approach to solving chronic city problems, Hess said she supports enlisting the help and brainpower of neighboring cities and universities—like UCLA, USC and other cities within L.A. County—to solve shared problems, like traffic, homelessness, budget issues, and emergency preparedness. Rather than incorporate outside, independent thought to tackle problems, the city instead relies on old methods.

Hess said she has used that strategy throughout her time in the city attorney's office on public safety projects and others. If elected, she said she will take that approach to solve problems on the Westside.

"The same old ideas and solutions that got us into this mess can't be resolved by the people who've created them, who've let it go on for eight years," she said.

"We need to prioritize the issue and allocate [funds] based on the resources we have and bring in expertise and new ideas, new perspectives," Hess added. "City departments have monovision and don't typically look outside their traditional method of production."

City budget needs honest, accurate numbers

Looping back to SMART, Hess said L.A. needs to take a look at pension reform and its present drain on the general fund.

"Unions have to come back to the table and things have to be open to discussion," she said. "I'm in favor of a number of proposals, and part of Gov. Brown's proposal, such as raising the retirement age and no salary spiking.

Hess said the city council has only enacted one of many "intensive" reviews from the Committee on Revenue Enhancement (CORE) on its city departments and other programs.

"CORE recommendations would save half a billion dollars over the next several years, if implemented," she said. "One is the city needs to confer on its bidding process. Give city businesses a preference to keep taxes coming into the city."

Another problem is that every city department is outdated in its approach, all operating on different platforms with different data management systems.

"If one is perusing Building and Safety, the housing department, the finance department or the Los Angeles Fire Department, nothing is integrated," she said. "Data systems should be vertical, so that Building and Safety can access to see whether LAFD has issued permits or if they have any outstanding fines."

CORE also addressed the issue of collecting parking revenue.

"Part of that is because operators are sleazy and don't report on cash transactions and don't pay their fair share of taxes," Hess said. "The city needs to do better job of monitoring those types of actions."

Following through with solutions for the homeless

Hess said her area of the district still has a "proliferation" of homelessness and RV parking, especially in Venice.

"When they do sweeps in Venice, it moves to Mar Vista and Del Rey, and there's no tolerance for that in those communities," she said. "I don’t think this council office has done good a job addressing issues of homelessness. They've talked about designating a place for overnight camping and RV's in CD11. That wasn’t followed through with."

Also, Hess said there were discussions about working with the VA center in West Los Angeles to build more veterans' housing, and that hasn’t happened.

CD11's density due to continued influence from special interests

As CD11 neighborhoods take close looks at their community plans, Hess said she believes the city is selectively enforcing restricitions on certain types of development.

"Applying for permits with certain owners, the city obligates themselves somewhere along the way," she said. "They don't enforce those covenants after the development has been completed. On conditional uses, the same doesn't apply to low-end density housing. Developers of complexes need to set aside for low income housing, and it's happened within CD11. Properties have been developed and those units have not been set aside."

In the marina area, Hess said anything adjacent to the waterfront is county-owned, so areas like Washington Boulevard leading to Culver City have been heavily built up. 

"I think it comes back to special interests in the city," she said.

Other issues to use SMART approach

  • Hess said she supports the community care facilities ordinance, saying it's necessary and L.A. has an obligation to accomodate facilities that don't belong in R-1 or R-1.5 zones. 
  • On the LAX expansion, Hess supports alternatives 2 and 9, saying she does not think it's necessary to move the runway north. She said there are other solutions to the air bus, and the need to modernize LAX, such as making sure mass transit has access from all points from al destinations so there's a hub. Hess said she believes special interests are prevailing at the moment on the LAX expansion talks.
  • Hurricane Sandy on the east coast magnified how citizens need to rely on their municipality for immediate resources, and, as a top priority, Hess said it brought to mind whether L.A. is prepared to cover 465 square miles in case of a natural disaster. Preparedness and ongoing educational resources need attention, she said.

Related CD11 election coverage and upcoming:

  • Frederick Sutton Enters Council District 11 Race
  • L.A. Streetsblog profiled all four CD11 candidates this week during the "Liveable Streets" candidate forum. Click here and scroll to the Jan. 23 entries.
  • Patch will be interviewing candidate Mike Bonin in the next week. Stay tuned.
  • Candidate forums are gearing up on the Westside. Patch will provide that list soon.
Deborah Lashever February 11, 2013 at 03:17 AM
Tina, one question, did you have Mark Ryavec take down his post supporting you because it was obvious that you would lose if you were associated with him? If that is true, it was a good decision on your part if you want to have any chance to get votes in Venice. Gotta say, you are tainted now, though....the guy is toxic.
Scott February 11, 2013 at 04:03 AM
That post is still up Deborah, are you trying to pull the wool over Brentwoods eyes now that you been called out on Venice Patch? Brentwood - please join Venice in voting for anyone other than Bonin, we need new leadership in CD 11! Someone who will truly listen to our needs, not just give us lip service.
Deborah Lashever February 11, 2013 at 06:08 AM
Scott, Seriously, I cannot find it anywhere. If so please post URL.
Deborah Lashever February 11, 2013 at 06:17 AM
And Venice supports Bonin, by tyhe way. I know, I am very involved with Venice. Scott, You are obviously not from Venice so how do you know? Please do not try to pull the wool over people's eyes and speak for people you have no authority to speak for. Thank you. And why do you think I have been "called out"? I see nothing like that Venice Patch.
Scott February 12, 2013 at 01:36 AM
Oh I am from Venice, but you think everyone who disagrees with you doesn't belong in Venice don't you? You favorite statement is "if you don't like it move" isn't that right?
Deborah Lashever February 12, 2013 at 06:23 AM
I am suggesting that if people do not like the vibe of Venice and want it "squeaky clean" that a few feet away you can move into a perfectly groomed and clean community that you don't have to fight for--Santa Monica. If you don't like Venice--who is messy and trend setting and awesome and edgy--MOVE! Simple. Don't change the community to fit you--move into the community that fits your sensibilities! Also--that is the statement from all the homeless haters to the homeless in Venice...."We aren't going to fricken help you! You scum! Get out of here! WE are the ONLY ones who belong in Venice!" "MOVE!!!!!" Right?
Deborah Lashever February 12, 2013 at 06:33 AM
Scott, yes, it is down. And I have not been called out. Ryavec has. Read the posts! And for good reason. If Ryavec supports anyone they are bad for our community. He is a hater. Period. I feel sorry for Tina that he has supported her. He is a known bully in Venice and anyone he is associated with will lose favor. Venice is more savvy than that! He offers NO solutions--just lawsuits when he doesn't get his way. Mean, sad and pathetic.
David Lewis February 21, 2013 at 04:47 AM
Truth be told Deborah I like many other Venice residents who own properties are going to make Venice the way we want it to be regardless. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

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