Issues



Below are the top issues I will tackle as Mayor. Select the +/- next to each issue to show/hide a policy platform.

Stop the Budget Bleeding

Repair Torrance finances, the fourth worst in the State, using techniques like zero-based budgets and business attraction.

The California State Auditor determined that Torrance is in the fourth worst financial condition of any City in the State. This white paper outlines my approach to solve the City's financial crisis.

The Problem

  • Expenses have exceeded revenues for nearly all years since 2016. Fundamentally, this requires a realignment of the City’s financial model.
  • Nearly half of the general fund – which pays for public safety, libraries and parks – is financed by sales taxes and utility users tax.
  • From 2016-17 - 2019-20, and especially during COVID, these sources have been flat or declining. More online shopping means less in person shopping – and the City receives pennies from online sales but $1 for every $100 spent at the mall and other retail establishments.
  • As the Torrance business community shifts from heavy industrial to light industrial, technology and service based firms, the City receives less from utility users tax.

Solutions To Tackle These Problems

  • Tackle the City budget head on to ensure Torrance can continue to provide necessary  services.
  • Embrace a culture of cost reductions, especially scrutinizing City spending related to back office operations, working with all parties to reduce expenses.
  • Develop a zero-based budget, where expenses match revenues.
  • Scrutinize services to ensure they are critical to City functions (and not provided by other agencies) and are executed with appropriate spans of control.
  • Integrate staff feedback for new processes that reduce expenses.
  • Eliminate paper and manual processes by expanding the City’s IT infrastructure and online transactions.
  • Develop revenue enhancement plans focusing on new business attraction, tourism growth and promoting Torrance as a shopping destination.
  • Developing Key Performance Indicators to ensure ongoing focus for City finances, improved operational outcomes and quality customer service.

Experience/Qualifications to Lead the Plan

  • Helped lead the City out of the Great Recession as a Councilman. Actions included making tough decisions to align expenses with revenues; leveraging federal funds to help re-shape City operations; and revamping how City funds were used to provide City services.
  • During the Great Recession, advocated that the City seek feedback from staff to reduce costs.
  • Continued to maintain and grow reserves at El Camino College, whose current reserves are more than 2 times the City’s reserve levels.
  • Insisted that El Camino leadership avoid a structural deficit for its post-COVID budget, aligning revenues and expenses.
  • At El Camino, advocated and approved a special reserve fund to accommodate the state’s constantly changing retirement funding levels.
  • As Councilman, approved plans to reduce City’s pension obligations.
  • In multiple organizations, revamped operations, utilizing IT solutions and lean engineering to solve core business problems.
  • Part of the national leadership team at the Red Cross, which reduced annual expenses by $500 million.
  • Directly drove $100 million in expense reductions, through strategy changes, performance management and improved productivity.
  • Professionally, grew revenue by $200 million over six years, focusing on critical products.
  • In business and nonprofit leadership, developed and managed key performance indicators, in operations and customer service, to drive improved results.

Torrance Together

Unite us through community councils; enhance volunteer program; celebrate our diversity and international character.

Policy Platform

Unifying the City is critical to our progress. I believe we should:

  • Establish Community Councils. Bring together community nonprofits, faith-based groups, homeowner associations, and other organizations to ensure City services address important community needs.
  • Stop Hate and Celebrate Our Diversity.  Crack down on hate crimes, teach self-defense courses to seniors, and introduce signage that declares Torrance a Hate Free City.  Work with the arts community and the Torrance Chamber to show how our diversity and international character can highlight our culture and our economy.
  • Promote and Expand the City’s Volunteer Program. Leverage our community spirit to help schools and seniors and enable the City to serve even more people, building on the current program of 2,000 volunteers.
  • Improve Communication. We get better feedback – and make better policy – if we better inform City residents of important issues facing the community. We need to think differently and comprehensively about including the public in the City’s -- and the community’s -- efforts, events and actions, especially leveraging digital technology.

Experience/Qualifications to Lead the Plan

  • Led a dozen local nonprofit organizations - in the arts, economic development, environment, Torrance history, and community service - in a board member capacity.
  • Approved El Camino’s presidential task force to stop hate.
  • Called for self-defense training for seniors to stop hate against the AAPI  and other communities.
  • Advocated for signage at El Camino College – a Hate Free campus.
  • Served on the board of the Go for Broke National Education Center, which educates the public on the valor of Japanese American veterans of World War II and their contributions to our nation.
  • Instituted the first African American Advisory board and the first Spanish language TV outreach partnership at the Red Cross Southern California blood bank.
  • Oversaw one of the nation’s largest volunteer programs – the national Red Cross blood donation program, leading more than 3 million volunteers.
  • As a councilman, initiated Torrance 2.0, which revamped the City’s digital communication (e.g., establishing an email newsletter) and, as a commissioner in 1999, initiated “Open Mic Night” to leverage the City’s TV station to improve outreach.
  • Advised El Camino on overhauling its digital and overall marketing strategy.

Addressing Homelessness

Use a multi-faceted, comprehensive approach for homelessness while preserving neighborhoods.

Policy Platform

  • I support the intent of the City’s first steps to address homelessness. I would work with the City team to:
  • Put a high priority on finding alternative locations to the current pallet program location, leveraging funds from the County and other governments.
  • Take other actions (such as utilizing strategies such as the previous state program "Project Roomkey" and "Project Homekey") that can help the estimated 332 people who are without homes, 28% of whom are not sheltered. 
  • Partner with other agencies and expand the team, inclusive of volunteers, to encourage those living on the streets to become housed.  Support efforts for the County of Los Angeles to "create a County entity and identify a leader that can unify the work product of various agencies and eliminate existing silos to create a more transparent and effective response that fully incorporates mainstream systems," as recommended by the recently released Blue Ribbon Commission on Homelessness.

Experience/Qualifications to Lead the Plan

  • As a Councilman, I interacted frequently with the South Bay Council of Governments to implement regional solutions.
  • At El Camino College, I supported the Warrior Pantry, which offers healthy food items and toiletries to students to help them succeed in their classwork without distractions caused by food insecurity.

Advocate for Public Safety

Drive excellence in responsiveness, enhanced training such as Principled Policing. Strictly monitor refinery operations.

Policy Platform

Public safety is a critical local government service. I would work with the City team to help make neighborhoods safe by doing the following:

  • Ensure public safety remains a top priority in Torrance.
  • Ensure excellence by evaluating paramedic, fire and emergency response times and triaging.
  • Partner with other agencies and organizations such as El Camino's planned Public Safety Training Center, which can provide local, enhanced training for recruits and incumbent staff.
  • Support the City's Principled Policing program, a Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)-certified course on procedural justice and implicit bias, to improve public safety training and ensure the fair administration of justice.
  • Utilize new technologies and processes (such as specialization, with non-badge carrying professionals carrying out specific public safety tasks, such as the CSI team).
  • Reduce the burden on public safety personnel by leveraging other specialties (such as social workers) and trained volunteers and retirees (who can help with financial crime investigation and in other areas), as well as enhancing training and psychological support for badge-carrying team members.
  • Recruit and retain public safety team members by considering referral bonuses, housing policies to encourage team members to live in the City, and workers compensation administration reform.

Experience/Qualifications to Lead the Plan

  • Approved the Public Safety Training Center at El Camino College.
  • As a Councilman, approved adding a paramedic response unit to enhance services.
  • On the Torrance Council, scrutinized the budget to find funds to save two public safety positions, slated to be cut during the Great Recession.
  • Authorized the creation of the professional CSI team.
  • Appointed by the State Senate, as a Councilman, to the California Council on Criminal Justice.
  • In fall 2021, after two former officers were charged with spray painting swastikas on an impounded car, organized counsel to the City from local clergy and a civil rights organization.

Support for Seniors

Become an “AARP Age Friendly City.”

Policy Platform

Approximately 17% of Torrance residents are over 65.  To help these residents, I would work with the City team to:

  • Become an AARP Age Friendly Community, developing an action plan to "make neighborhoods walkable, feature transportation options, enable access to key services, provide opportunities to participate in community activities, and support housing that’s affordable and adaptable,” consistent with the actions of the Commission on Aging. 
  • Leverage volunteers, community organizations and technology to improve outreach, particularly to shut in seniors.

Experience/Qualifications to Lead the Plan

  • On the Council, initiated “Seniors, Don’t Be Scammed” to educate on fraud and financial abuse.
  • Kept bus fares at 25 cents for seniors; supported the “dial a ride” program to help seniors and disabled residents.
  • At the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, investigated crimes against seniors as a law school intern.

School-City Partnerships

Torrance is fortunate that the City and School District boundaries are identical. By closely working with the School District, we can improve services and reduce costs:

Policy Platform

  • Enhance a close working relationship with Torrance Unified to improve services, reduce costs and help our schools remain top performing.
  • Work collaboratively to improve shared facilities and field usage, coordinate services (such as after school programs and community education), investigate shared vendors, and coordinate teen programs.
  • Continue the City’s help for schools, including crossing guards and school resource officers, for the safety of our school age children.

Experience/Qualifications to Lead the Plan

  • As an El Camino trustee, supported dual enrollment so Torrance students can earn college credit while at high school.
  • At El Camino, advocated for Open Education Resources, which saved students $1 million in textbook costs annually.
  • Campaigned for Measures Y and Z to help improve Torrance schools.
  • As a Torrance Commissioner, ensured that students had access to the Torrance plunge.

Smart Development

Ensure development maintains the character of our community.

Policy Platform

Torrance is a balanced City – and we should strive to maintain this balance, adhering to State laws while ensuring we maintain the character of our community. I would work with the City team to:

  • Preserve Torrance’s quality of life by making sure it remains a balanced and family-oriented community.
  • Oppose over-development and cut-through traffic caused by the wrong project in the wrong place and out of character with the neighborhood.
  • Advocate at the State level to fight Sacramento over-reach. Work with our state representatives to fight erosion of local control.
  • Institute revitalization zones, which integrate holistically residential, commercial, and industrial areas. In particular, the Downtown Revitalization Zone provides a great opportunity to organically and comprehensively further improve downtown Torrance.
  • Continuously improve operations at the permit center, developing key performance indicators to provide efficient service.
  • Enforce the Hillside Overlay Ordinance.

Experience/Qualifications to Lead the Plan

  • While on the Council, I worked with the League of California Cities to advocate that redevelopment funds be preserved to support local projects.
  • As a Councilman, I scrutinized development projects, supporting projects that were consistent with the character of the community – and opposing those that were not.
  • On the Council, I advocated for historic preservation to enable residents to maintain the character of Old Torrance. I also approved the consolidated permit center, designed to unify City services.

Strengthen Business to Grow Jobs

Increase Chamber coordination to help small firms.

Policy Platform

The best social policy is a good job - and good jobs come from good businesses. I would work with the City team to:

  • Expand the economic development team to ensure that Torrance remains business friendly, inclusive of working with volunteers and staff at the Torrance Chamber. 
  • Expand business visits to identify ways to continue to support the local economy.
  • Set up frequent Business-City meetings to ensure City policies and actions improve the business climate.
  • Work with the Torrance Chamber to be a champion of local business.

Experience/Qualifications to Lead the Plan

  • First started working in economic development in the early 1990s, helping the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation attract technology businesses.
  • Led two economic development organizations in Southern California.
  • Received an economic development award by a community college district, recognizing actions to train workforce and provide support for small businesses.
  • On the Council, I catalyzed the creation of the South Bay Entrepreneurial Center in Torrance, to assist start up firms.
  • At El Camino College, I approved many measures to train new and incumbent workers – as well as to connect El Camino students to jobs.

Sustainable City

Reduce stormwater run-off through capital improvements; support coyote management programs; improve energy/water efficiency.

Policy Platform

Torrance must have effective Operation and maintenance of streets, sewers, sidewalks, trees, transit and water to protect our environment. To improve in this area, I would work with the City team to:

  • Reduce waste throughout the City, especially from an energy and water perspective.
  • Curb pollution from stormwater runoff, making capital improvements to repair broken pipes using grants from state and federal sources.
  • Explore alternative transportation options, including micromobility that uses multiple means to help people travel locally,, from a currently planned trolley system on wheels to promoting neighborhood electric vehicles.
  • Monitor and implement a coyote management program, consistent with recommendations from state experts. 
  • Advocate for regular reporting to ensure refinery safety and, consistent with the City’s strategic plan, encourage regulatory entities to investigate other alkylation technologies.
  • Increase tree planting and usage of native plants.
  • Continue the noise-monitoring system at the Torrance Airport.

Experience/Qualifications to Lead the Plan

  • On the Council, initiated the first energy and water audit, leading to $300,000 in annual electricity and water savings.
  • Authorized expanding the green waste program Citywide when I was on the Council.
  • As a Councilman, championed Torrance taking part in the South Bay Bicycle Master Plan.
  • After seeing reports critical of the City, shepherded measures to streamline and expedite processing of solar panels on homes.
  • On the Council, oversaw the rebranding of Torrance Transit and the use of hybrid electric buses.
  • Awarded an “Environmental Champion”, for my work on the Council, by the LA League of Conservation Voters.
  • Oversaw the development of the Traffic Management Center, which improved light synchronization and implemented “permissive left” technology.
  • Served on the Madrona Marsh Foundation board.
  • Initiated the noise monitoring system at the Torrance Airport.