CHAMPIONING AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Too many of our community’s teachers, nurses, working families and more are being priced out of our area. A roof over every head is not just a goal; it’s a right. Lani will work towards affordable housing solutions that respect our community’s character and meet our growing needs. Lani will:

  • Support transit-oriented development ideally built with a mix of heights and styles that ensures people have a relationship with their street life and community
  • Work to cut red tape throughout the planning and development process to decrease time and cost to build without compromising safety
  • Reduce exclusionary zoning and eliminate in-lieu fees paid by developers to increase affordable units
  • Rezone and expand a mix of housing styles, including apartments, mixed-use, and multi-family developments throughout the county
  • Implement workforce housing on county and other public lands 
  • Partner with owners of private and non-profit lands, like churches and organizations who are willing to be rezoned for and prioritize more affordable units
  • Work to end deed restrictions that terminate affordable housing status after some years
  • Seek to provide ‘Sears-Roebuck’ modular and pre-approved plans, prefab homes and ADUs that can bypass timely processing compared to stick built homes.
  • Support fully staffing our planning department
  • Encourage projects that provide access and connection to community members and nature through parks, community gardens and wild spaces woven into our urban landscape
  • Increase the real estate transfer tax on mansions
  • Encourage and prioritize community led development projects that engage local members to form investor-developer programs that focus on building affordable housing similar to the project being done by Peace United Church

 

COMBATTING HOMELESSNESS

The homelessness crisis is one of the most pressing and critical issues facing our neighborhoods. As Supervisor, Lani will fight for lasting solutions to our homelessness crisis, getting people off our streets and into permanent housing with the support they need to stay out of homelessness. Lani will:

  • Support the construction of transitional homes accessed through a robust countywide navigation system
  • Evaluate and optimize our processes as Cal-AIM and Care-Courts come online in 2024
  • Provide client centered wrap-around services and mental health providing a path to move out of homelessness
  • Prioritize a Housing First model which treats each person with respect 
  • Work with the community to dispel myths that drive stigma and identify more locations for Section-8 tenants 
  • Improve support for Section-8 landlords so they do not feel vulnerable should potential problems concerning tenant-landlord issues arise 
  • Create a fund to help stabilize those most at risk for falling into homelessness, for example, due to job loss or medical emergency, which can provide bridge funds and tenant-landlord mediation 

 

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Advocating for Public Transit, Safe Roads, and Traffic Relief 

Investing in robust public transit and improving roads is not just about convenience; it’s about providing safe access and connecting people with opportunities. Lani will make our transportation system a model for efficiency and safety, because communities thrive when we invest in all of our transportation options, including county roads, Metro, Lift Line/ParaCRUZ, zero-emission rail, and bikeable and walkable streets. Lani will:

  • Keep us moving forward with the construction of our world class 32-mile Coastal Rail-Trail, an important part of the 50-mile Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail
  • Champion moving forward with our local passenger rail system — from Santa Cruz to Pajaro — which is an essential part of the State Rail Network, connecting people to jobs, schools, parks, and tourism both within and from outside the county 
  • Continue to prioritize growing a robust public transportation system that serves to alleviate traffic
  • Work to provide real alternatives to driving for our community through frequent and dependable transit service to cut down on traffic and reduce emissions
  • Address decades of inequity and a lack of access to opportunity, education, and jobs 
  • Help address our climate crisis by reducing vehicle miles traveled
  • Support 15-minute bus service on major transit corridors, Youth Ride Free and the All Ride Free pilot program to encourage more people to use transit
  • Incentivize local companies and housing development projects to include free transit passes
  • Collaborate with community members to address the extreme number of pedestrian and cyclist injuries and deaths so that our seniors and wheelchair users feel safe walking to the store and our children can once again bike safely to school
  • Prioritize protected bike lanes and pedestrian crosswalks and infrastructure that will encourage safe driving, including street trees, bulb-out, chicanes, traffic circles, etc.
  • Work with schools to implement safe ebike and biking practices, incentivizing students who wear their helmets, respect pedestrians, and bike safely
  • Collaborate with the community to encourage a sense of care on our streets so that everyone feels safe whether they are driving, walking, biking or traveling by wheelchair

 

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PROTECTING OUR  ENVIRONMENT

Lani will prioritize protecting our agricultural lands, forests, waterways and beaches which directly impact our food systems as well as our health and well being. Lani’s background as a scientist, work in environmental education and service as executive committee member of the Sierra Club means she can offer the community a well-informed perspective on steps we can take to reduce and adapt to climate change. Lani will work to:

  • Reduce methane production as quickly as possible through electrification of new housing, county and personal vehicles and reducing the use of natural gas
  • Implement Santa Cruz County policies that support transitioning to electrification by helping county residents take advantage of the many rebates and tax credits now available for electrification
  • Reduce greenhouse gasses by supporting robust public transit and safe streets
  • Prioritize new housing within walking distance of transit corridors
  • Support the Office of Response, Recovery and Resilience and other county agencies and organizations in applying for grants that support our climate goals
  • Work with local, state and national agencies and our state legislators in securing funds specifically for disaster preparedness in high wildfire, landslide, and flood prone areas like ours
  • Support policies that eliminate plastics from our local economy, for example, plasticware, which many take-out restaurants are still giving out

 

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PRESERVING OUR PARKS & OPEN SPACE

Lani will work to maintain our county’s beautiful parks and open spaces while expanding access to safe, new areas for recreation and community gathering. Lani will work to:

  • Champion moving forward with the development of the fully funded trail from Aptos to Davenport
  • Support applying for grants and approving segments of the rail-trail from Aptos to Watsonville as quickly as possible
  • Provide more community garden spaces throughout the district and support programs encouraging seniors who garden to mentor children in growing food and preparing healthy and tasty meals 
  • Advocate on behalf of organizations like Land Trust Santa Cruz County that work to purchase and protect beautiful lands through sustainable practices and make them accessible to everyone in the community
  • Look into community members’ requests for a central gathering ‘town square’ and a youth indoor sports facility
  • Work to provide equitable access to our parks, forests, and beaches for those who do not drive

 

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IMPROVING WATER & RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

The winter of 2022-23 brought so much water! We should anticipate the return of drought years and plan so we all have enough water into the future. Our new climate reality means that we must be prepared for the extremes of weather and the water resource management challenges it brings, during both times of flooding and drought. Lani will:

  • Look towards initiating programs and policies that promote awareness and affordability of gray water and water collection systems for individual residents
  • Support well-researched processes that help reduce saltwater intrusion
  • Champion the elimination of harmful pesticides and herbicides from our agriculture systems
  • Partner with our local agencies to promote best water management practices
  • Protect our agricultural food producing lands by supporting housing and development within already developed areas versus sprawl

 

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Preparing for Wildfire, Drought, Flooding & the Effects of Climate Change

Unfortunately, worsening wildfires and increased flooding are part of our new normal as we adapt to the realities of climate change. In the wake of the devastating CZU fire, many residents felt unheard and abandoned at a time when they needed help the most. That is simply unacceptable. As Supervisor, Lani will leverage her expertise as a scientist and certified NOLS Wilderness First Responder to act quickly when disaster strikes and listen to our community to build collaborative solutions to climate change. Lani will:

  • Work on Fire Prevention by negotiating the archaic 1955 Franchise Agreement (FA) with PG&E addressing their long outdated dangerous equipment, which violates many charters of the FA to provide safe service. PG&E is a major contributor to fire ignition in Northern California. They use unsophisticated makeshift ‘reclosers’ to shut off power rather than installing readily available, fully tested modernized computer circuit protection, fire-resistant poles, and reinforced triple insulated wires. The 2nd largest electric utility in the state, Southern California Edison, has implemented more modern, more affordable systems that are faster to implement and reduce the need for enhanced vegetative management. This has resulted in cessation of ignition of forest fires where SCE has implemented these modern systems. Our County Supervisors have the right and responsibility to renegotiate this franchise agreement to ensure a higher standard of safety
  • Prioritize cutting red tape and time to build for local residents who have lost their homes to fires, have fire insurance, and want to rebuild so they are able to do so in a timely manner
  • Work with our state legislators and Ricardo Lara to provide affordable options for homeowners to purchase insurance
  • Collaborate closely with agencies and organizations, including the Office of Response, Recovery and Resilience, to provide plans for prevention and response to common disasters, encourage increasing the number of Firewise neighborhoods, ensure every neighbor knows their escape routes
  • Continue to support the creation of resiliency centers, fire and flood safe centers where people can go for support for questions and where portions of the community members can safely go during an evacuation in the case of fires, floods, earthquakes, etc.

 

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SUPPORTING OUR SENIORS AND PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES 

Seniors are our most rapidly growing demographic in the US and in our county. We must support policies and services that help people live independently, whether that’s access to affordable housing and health care facilities ,shopping, parks, and programs that provide human connection and food security. Lani will:

  • Work closely with our Senior Advocacy groups, including the Senior Council, the Elderly and Disabled Transportation Commission and other agencies to ensure funding for key programs and explore innovative ways to address the needs of our growing senior demographic
  • Support funding for Meals on Wheels, tax counseling for the elderly, an elder daycare Center, Ombudsman, Nursing/Residential Care Protection, and more
  • Partner with agencies to reduce the severe increase in isolation and loneliness experienced by many in our community with limited mobility
  • Address the severe concentration of homelessness in our senior and fixed income population as there are twice the number of homeless seniors as those 25 years old and under
  • Work to ensure quality care for our seniors and those experiencing limited mobility,  including supporting long-term care workers
  • Advocate for connecting seniors with children, promoting possibilities such as gardening, playing cards and board games, cooking and other activities
  • Ensure that as housing is built, that adequate accessibility for wheelchair users and community members with limited mobility is included 

 

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FIGHTING FOR GOOD-PAYING, UNION JOBS FOR OUR COMMUNITY

Workers are the backbone of our economy. Lani supports growing a strong and organized labor force supported with safe staffing levels and working conditions, vacation and sick pay, and affordable housing for everyone who works here. Lani will:

  • Support policies that ensure all workers, union and non-union, who are full-time wage earners can earn enough to afford rent or purchase of a reasonable home, have good medical benefits, vacation, sick pay, and a pension
  • Prioritize local union labor for local county projects to promote keeping more of our money here locally and ensuring that our local residents have jobs that pay robust wages with benefits
  • Support Project Labor Agreements/Community Workforce Agreements in building successful projects ahead of schedule and below budget
  • Work with organizations including Housing Santa Cruz County,  the UCSC Community and Labor Program and advocates who are dedicated to forging solutions that will provide stable affordable housing for our workforce. 

 

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GROWING A STRONG FOUNDATION FOR OUR CHILDREN’S FUTURES

Investing in children, and their families, from the time they are born until they are grown, strengthens our entire community. Lani will fight for our next generation to ensure that they can afford to call Santa Cruz County home and that they have opportunities for successful futures right here in our neighborhoods. Lani will:

  • Support programs like First Five, Cradle to Career, and Positive Discipline that ensure our children thrive and that their families have the support they need to create a positive supportive household environment
  • Provide policy and proactive collaboration with community members throughout the district, prioritizing parents’ calls to make it safe for our children to walk and bike to school again, promoting better health, independence, and a cleaner environment as the need for long lines of cars dropping off kids at school is reduced
  • Continue to champion youth ride free on public transit as Lani did by connecting the Youth For Climate Justice group with the then-new General Manager of Metro
  • Advocate for healthy cross-generational programs that support empathy, collaboration, and fun between children and seniors including gardening, cooking, games, fishing, hiking, music, and other possibilities
  • Work to ensure that food programs at the schools are well-funded, healthy, and tasty and promote wise eating habits 

 

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INCLUDING ALL VOICES IN OUR COMMUNITY 

Lani is committed to ensuring that equity, diversity, and belonging is interwoven into the fabric of all of our policies and that as we initiate programs, we include this lens, making sure representatives from a diversity of groups and perspectives feel welcome and integral to our complex county processes. Lani will:

  • Work to advance our shared goal of providing women, people of color, the LGBTQIA+ community, people with disabilities, and other marginalized communities what they need to fully participate in our community
  • Center the focus of our work based upon the diversity of people and the need of community members who live here
  • Look to increase diversity within county government so that everyone can have a voice at the table
  • Seek to identify grants and funding that can strengthen our commitment to diversity

 

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