Unity and Community
“These are the times that try men’s souls.” While Thomas Paine penned those words in 1776, they are as applicable today as they were then. Today, our souls are similarly being sorely tested. But the strength and character of our very beings demand that we rise to the occasion, not to combat one another, but rather to pull together to defeat the insidious forces that threaten us.
This is a challenge on many levels: economic, public health and political; local as well as national. I have borrowed the slogan of “Unity & Community” for my campaign for city council because it succinctly captures the seminal issues confronting us. It is paramount that name-calling and personal recriminations bow to comity, rational thought, compromise and a general willingness to address problems, not from an ideological perspective, but rather from that which promotes the general good of the community.
This is the basis of my campaign. At its core is the formation of a citizens’ visioning commission where citizens participate in identifying the key issues that define a sustainable and resilient community. Each issue will carry with it a set of quantifiable and objective indicators that can measure whether, on a yearly basis, the city is achieving progress, standing still or losing ground. In a very real sense, the community will be judging its leaders by issuing a report card on their efforts to comport with the goals of the community.
I have been involved with similar exercises in communities throughout the nation when I helped establish the first office of sustainable development in 1993. Malibu represents an ideal place to create a vibrant and exciting pathway to the future. Everything is predicated upon leaving the world, or in this case our community, in as good if not better shape than we found it. It is all about the world our future generations will inherit.
My platform also envisions the redesign of Pacific Coast Highway starting with the section that covers the eastern end to the Civic Center area. I have had a world renowned urban architect render drawings of what such reimaging will look like (they can be found on my campaign website, lsimmens.com).
It will improve safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians; reduce the number and severity of accidents; reduce run-off from vehicles into the ocean; improve the visual character of the roadway; reduce traffic noise; and improve air quality. All of this can be accomplished within the physical constraints of the current highway, which will be refashioned as a boulevard.
Obviously, this will entail serious discussions with the state. I will bring four decades of experience in intergovernmental affairs to the fore so that deliberations can commence immediately. This is, admittedly, a long-term project, but the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.
Climate change is here, and the consequences are catastrophic. We cannot allow the lessons learned from the Woolsey Fire be that it is imperative that property owners stay and fight in order to preserve their homes. My platform endorses the formation of a professionally trained and certified professional corps of first responders and firefighters under a California Fire Reserve Corps. Initially, it will involve a statewide force of up to 20,000 and will act similar to the National Guard. Once again, the vision will need to be worked out with the governor and his/her administration. But we owe it to our community to think big.
We must ban poisonous rodenticides in our community. I have spoken often in front of city council on this issue and hopefully we are making progress. Similarly, we need to proceed with a pilot project for undergrounding electrical facilities. This is done all over the world; it is time for us to join the 21st century.
We must find a suitable solution to the parking issue along PCH and in our neighborhoods. We need to consider instituting a shuttle program for visitors and a safe parking area for the ever-growing homeless population.
There is a growing movement for governmental structural reform from city manager to a “strong mayor” system. This will require substantial deliberation and debate before being put on the ballot.
“You may say I’m a dreamer,” but hopefully I’m not the only one. Come join me in this vision quest. It will be the journey of a lifetime. I look forward to traveling down this path together. In unity we will confront the challenges in front of us and prevail.