The mayor of Costa Mesa discusses housing, the environment and more with another Democratic candidate for the seat of the State Senate


The two Democratic candidates for the 37th District State Senate seat in the 2020 election debated homelessness and affordable housing, social justice and environmental resilience agendas on Monday night at UC Irvine.

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley and UCI Law Professor Dave Min have broad agreement on building more housing and responding to climate change with “green” technologies. The two are looking to topple incumbent John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), who did not attend Monday’s event, sponsored by Indivisible OC 48 and the California League of Conservation Voters.

Foley said she would like to see and fund more local tsars when it comes to sustainability, like the one Costa Mesa endorsed this year. She also supports modeling state legislation after the Carbon Fee and Dividend Act in Congress and describes an “aggressive strategy for electric vehicles” with more public charging stations and a move to make electric cars more affordable. .

Min said California could improve its Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund by pricing carbon and using the proceeds to fuel a new Silicon Valley in Orange County around green technology, using its resources. renewables, its university research, its infrastructure and its access to venture capital.

“We’re going to get there by exporting green technologies to the rest of the world,” he said. “This is how we’re going to save the world.”

After questioning about supporting a production mandate to strengthen state-defined residential zoning requirements, Foley said fines are already possible and cited as evidence a state government concerned about l ‘enforcing an ongoing lawsuit against Huntington Beach over what state officials have described as the city’s inability to allow construction of sufficient housing.

“I tend to like partnering and not penalizing, but if people aren’t going about business, we need to do something to make sure cities stick to their housing elements,” Foley said.

Min said he was keen to work with the localities as well, but said many council and board members are “extremists.”

“For now, we’re going to have to assume that we’re going to face hostile opposition that is against things like building affordable housing, opposed to things like implementing quality education,” said Min. “I think we have to penalize them if necessary. “

Foley said she would direct state funding for homeless solutions far from counties and direct it directly to cities “like Costa Mesa, like Irvine, like Fullerton.”

“There are a lot of cities doing the job and not receiving any funding,” she said.

She also said she would spend money on building affordable housing and charging stations for electric cars.

Min agreed to spend more state dollars on housing and homelessness.

“I would also like to point out that at the state level there is frustration with Orange County because Orange County has a large pool of mental health money that could be used for the homeless. We don’t use it, ”he said. “We must also equip this budget request with waivers, sticks and carrots to force non-compliant localities… to comply with the law. We have too much intransigence here in Orange County. They call it local control. I’m very much in favor of local control, but when it clashes with really important statewide priorities, we have to have levers to activate them. “

Candidates diverged when discussing a question from moderator Aaron McCall, president of Indivisible OC 48, about police shootings against people of color.

Foley emphasized mandatory education and training for officers. Min said education should be part of the solution, but the real problem is racial prejudice and the police force needs more diversity.

He added that tighter gun control would make officers less fearful of anyone who could be armed, possibly prompting them to “shoot first and ask questions later.”

Foley called this an inflammatory and inaccurate police assessment.

“They’re actually trained to try not to shoot first,” she said. “They are actually trained to defuse the situation and they are trained to try to avoid having to shoot. That doesn’t mean they always do it, but that’s how they are formed. And we shouldn’t be against the police. We need the police.

Min said he spoke rhetorically and apologized for offending Foley’s sensitivity – a choice of words she called sexist.

Candidates also responded to a question about the California Healthy Youth Act of 2016. The comprehensive sexuality education curriculum is controversial for its inclusion of LGBTQ sexual health and AIDS and HIV prevention and is not always put implemented.

Min said school boards should be forced to enforce the law through penalties and inducements, even to the point of gaining state control of “chronically intransigent school districts.”

Foley, a former administrator of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, said districts should be forced to comply by cutting funding, without placing them under state control. She suggested that voters change the composition of the school board.

“If this is something that is prevalent, we have a different answer,” she said. “If this is a unique anomaly, we would probably just want to replace the school board. “

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