Voters in Los Angeles’ 12th Council District will return to the polls on March 3 for a rare rematch.
John Lee in August won a special election to serve out the remaining term of his former boss, Councilman Mitch Englander. Lee beat Loraine Lundquist, an astrophysicist and environmental and neighborhood activist.
Now, Lee is running for a full term, and Lundquist is trying again. We endorsed Lundquist last time and we continue to believe she’d be the better council member. Simply put, we prefer Lundquist’s vision for a more inclusive, sustainable Los Angeles.
Lundquist, for instance, has been a strong advocate for solving the homelessness crisis by spending voter-approved funding to build shelters and affordable housing and to provide more services to help people get off the street. To address the root cause of the housing shortage, she wants the city to adopt rules and incentives to encourage more homes around existing transit and commercial hubs. She did not support Senate Bill 50 — the controversial bill to override local zoning to allow taller, denser building near transit — because she saw it feeding community opposition to expanding much-needed public transit.
Lee has been on the job for five months — not a long time, certainly, but enough for him to see how serious the homelessness crisis is. Unfortunately, he has not acted with appropriate urgency. Instead, he opposed the first and only Proposition HHH-funded permanent supportive housing project proposed in his district. Even after the City Council approved the funding, he’s continued to push for the project to be relocated. He hasn’t yet proposed a site for a transitional shelter to house people awaiting permanent units; his is the only district in the city without one in development.
Lundquist, a faculty member of Cal State Northridge’s Institute for Sustainability, has focused her career and activism around climate change. She has advocated for more investments in renewable energy. She fought to stop fracking in the hills north of Porter Ranch and, after the Aliso Canyon blowout, became a leading advocate of weaning the city off natural gas and shutting down the natural gas storage field there. And she’s called for dedicated bike lanes and transit corridors to make it faster and safer for people to get around without cars.
By contrast, Lee opposed a proposed route for bus rapid transit on Nordhoff Street to connect with Cal State Northridge after constituents complained that they might lose a lane for cars and worried about SB 50 upzoning. He also sought to have the city reexamine, and possibly remove, the protected bike lanes that had been installed on Reseda Boulevard. If Los Angeles is ever going to ease traffic, clean up air pollution or fight climate change, the city has to offer people convenient and safe options to get around besides driving.
Los Angeles has to rise to the challenges of the moment, including the tens of thousands of homeless people living on the streets, the dire shortage of housing and the looming upheavals expected from climate change. Lee brings knowledge and experience from his years working as a council aide. But Lundquist has experience working within and for the community and — more importantly — a vision for a cleaner, healthier, more humane city.