Torie Osborn, a California Assembly District 50 candidate, attended the Pacific Palisades Community Council meeting Thursday where she discussed issues affecting the community.
Osborn, a Santa Monica resident for 27 years, has worked as a community organizer and a policy adviser to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villariagosa.
"It was a painful experience to see the results of 30 years of steady cuts of government and what it was like to be inside the starved beast of government after 30 years of steady erosion," Osborn commented on working in the mayor's office. "I became convinced that we need both serious governance reform and serious tax reform."
Questions for Osborn from the community council were on issues that included the state budget, environmental regulations, the Santa Monica Conservancy and motorcycle noise.
Osborn said she supports proposed ballot measures that would raise taxes to create education funding.
"I feel like we're in a crisis in California ... particularly around the education system," said Osborn, who noted that the bulk of the tax burden in the state has shifted over the last three decades from corporations to small businesses and individuals. "We need to stop the lack of balance that we've had—we've been cutting and cutting and cutting, we've cut all kinds of budgets. ... We have to start talking about revenues."
The California Environmental Quality Act also came up for discussion.
"I'm a strong supporter of CEQA," Osborn said. "I will tell you that there's a consensus that CEQA needs to be reformed across the board."
Exactly how to go about updating the statute that became law in 1969 is a "thorny" matter, according to Osborn. She cited developers using CEQA rules as a stalling tactic to block projects by their competitors as a major concern.
"The question is how do you reform it in a way that keeps the core environmental laws solid ... and how do you reform it in a way that can streamline it?" the candidate said. "My approach to any of these tough problems would be let's figure out who the smartest, most knowledgeable people are in the environmental community who could take a look at the kinds of reforms that could be necessary so that we can stop the abuses."
PPCC members called into question what they described as a lack of accountability for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the group's director, Joe Edmiston. The conservancy is a nonprofit organization that aims to preserve historic and natural places in the area.
"Joe administers a substantial empire that many of our [community] organizations need to deal with," PPCC Chair Emeritus Richard Cohen said. "He is beyond our reach and influence in a way that seems undemocratic, and he seems not to have any superiors to whom he is answerable, except, we believe, the legislature."
Osborn defended the "positive work that [Edmiston has] done ... over many, many decades" and focused on the negative effect term limits have on creating the kind of accountability and oversight that Cohen mentioned.
"I think that one of the dysfunctions in Sacramento ... is you have very strong bureaucrats who are there for a very long time, and as government has been cut and as legislators term in and term out without much institutional memory ... we don't have any counter-balance to increasing power that accrues in one or another," said Osborn.
She also called for more transparency from the conservancy's board of directors, which has oversight responsibility for the organization's administrative staff.
And on groups of loud motorcycles that regularly create a noise nuisance as they cruise through the Palisades at night, Osborn agreed with PPCC member Jack Allen's idea for a state law requiring annual inspection of motorcycles to make sure their mufflers meet noise-reduction standards.
The newly redrawn 50th Assembly District includes the Palisades, Malibu, Beverly Hills and other Westside locations.
The primary election is June 5, and the general election is November 6.