Torrance is facing serious housing issues. We face rising housing costs, demand to create more high-density projects, and the state of California threatening to take away local control of development in our city. We must act now. When over development faced our city years ago, I formed a coalition of homeowner's associations to stop it. The Coalition was opposed to placing housing projects into areas that were not zoned for housing. We referred to this as "zone busting." We instead advocated for projects that were compatible with the existing charm of the neighborhood. My leadership of the Coalition not only led to my election to the Torrance City Council in 2006, but it also set the tone for development in Torrance for the next decade and guided my decisions while I was on the council.
If we are going to approve new housing for our community, I want our city to be smart about it. As your mayor, I will make sure that proposed projects fit into the community's charm. Projects must have proper set backs, and they must be architecturally appealing. Neighborhood schools must be able to accommodate the influx of children generated from the project, and additional traffic caused by the project must be properly mitigated.
Another issue is California’s attempt to take away local control of housing projects in cities. As your mayor, I would work with the rest of the city council to oppose this blatant assault on Torrance's rights to control its decisions.
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The Torrance Refinery
After the 2015 explosion at the refinery, a host of politicians arrived in Torrance to make inflammatory speeches that continued for the following months. Those politicians that could have introduced legislation to ban MHF did nothing after that. Their rhetoric only made the issue worse.
This is a complicated and frustrating matter, highlighted by the AQMD hearing Saturday April 28, 2018, when the board decided to ask for more safety measures to be implemented at the 2 refineries using MHF but declined an outright ban on the use of MHF.
I have spent hours talking to all of the stakeholders involved. The workers with the most to lose feel that the refinery is operating safely and agree with waiting for a better refining method than sulfuric acid.
The Torrance Refining Company and PBF want to move away from the use of MHF, however they are waiting for new methods to be approved. I think it is prudent to wait for the newer technology, rather than switching to sulfuric acid now and then switching to something else later.
I want to see the Torrance Refining Company and PBF make a commitment to switching away from MHF, present a reasonable timeline for making the change and in the meantime implement the safety measures recommended by the AQMD. As your mayor, I will stay abreast of progress on this matter and make sure the public is regularly informed of as well.
Paid for by Tom Brewer for Mayor 2018, ID#:1397814
I understand that feelings are running high on both side of this issue. I don’t like the idea of trapping and destroying coyotes, but they are causing problems in our urban environment. Coyotes are wild animals and we have invaded their territory, but now the coyotes have attacked pets and scared our residents.
As your mayor, I would continue the program that Torrance has implemented to trap problem coyotes and put them down. Our program has been recognized as a sensible approach in dealing with coyotes, and I support it. If a viable alternative becomes available, I would consider it.
I am concerned about the viability of pensions for both our current employees and those already drawing a pension. CalPERS is currently only 68% funded as of the year 2016-17, down from 68.3% for 2015-16 (source: CalPERS website). Considering CalPERS made changes to the plan in 2013 designed to address the funding gap, it is distressing to see the funding level drop.
As your mayor, I would look to work with all of the stakeholders in Torrance to develop a new pension plan that would not only secure our pension promise to current employees and retirees, but also provide a model for other California cities to implement as well. Torrance is not alone in facing budget challenges caused by rising pension obligations, and we cannot stand alone in addressing this growing problem. Because Torrance is such a large city, we have the credibility to be the leader in addressing this issue. I propose a 401(K) plan for new employees. The savings derived from this plan could be used to help pay down our unfunded liability or go back into the general fund.
Public safety is and always has been my top priority. Torrance is continually ranked as one of the safest cities in America, which is one of the top reasons families and new businesses move to our city. Our families feel safe here. As your councilman for eight years, I supported providing both fire and police groups with the latest equipment and technology. As your mayor, I will make sure that we look at innovative means to address issues before we hire more safety personnel. We must be open minded and remain abreast of latest options and best practices because technology is evolving so rapidly. When the need arises to add more safety personnel, I would support it, as I did as your councilman when I voted to add more police officers to help our city deal with prisoners released by the State under Assembly Bill 109 and when we added a fifth paramedic rescue unit.
Police and fire personnel also want to know that when they must make split-second decisions, they will not be second guessed by their own city council. Over my eight years on the city council, this was always the case when protocols were properly followed. As your mayor, I will be sure to provide that level high of support.