The Glendale Environmental Coalition issued a set of questions to candidates for Assembly Districts 44 and 52, State Senate District 25, and L.A. County Board of Supervisors District 5. In solidarity with other grassroots groups in the region, we want our local elected representatives to champion the causes we believe are essential for a healthy and sustainable environment. We are posting the answers we received (not all candidates responded) in order to inform our members and the community of the candidates’ stances.
Assembly District 25 Candidate
Sasha Renée Pérez
1. What energy policies would you sponsor/support that are consumer friendly to transition to sustainable/renewable energy for energy, building/home, transportation use, etc.? What specific policies or programs would you sponsor or support to engage residents in multi-family housing or the commercial sector?
Low-density zoning has forced families to move further away from major job centers and increased urban sprawl. This lack of housing has dramatically increased our carbon emissions, negatively impacted air quality throughout California, and limited our opportunities to create new park space. California must get serious about addressing the state’s housing crisis if we intend to address the climate crisis.
The Governor’s office reports providing $27.7 billion in budget years 2020-21 through 2022-23 to mitigate and respond to climate change. As a State Senator, I will work on increasing that amount and on projects that can make the most impact throughout the state, and active transportation and public transportation funding will continue to be one of my top priorities. California’s transportation sector accounts for about 50 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, nearly 80 percent of nitrogen oxide pollution, and 90 percent of diesel particulate matter pollution. If our state wants to make an impact on climate change, we must get our constituents out of their cars and into buses, trains, and bikes. We should incentivize denser housing near our transit and city centers to decrease VMT altogether.
As Senator, I’ll work with the County of Los Angeles and non-profit partners such as Active SGV to create more greenways to connect our neighborhoods and encourage upzoning in neighborhoods surrounding park space. Having real options for public transportation combined with housing that can easily access that public transportation is just one example of how we must take a multifaceted approach to addressing multiple issues at once to ultimately solve them. I would also like to see more investment in making our public transit systems more green, safer, affordable, accommodating, and accessible to increase ridership and reduce car usage. Constituents throughout Los Angeles County and San Bernardino County feel our public transportation system is inaccessible, unsafe, and unreliable. Infrastructure improvements as basic as bus shelters are still limited. We can start reducing VMT by investing in quality bike lanes, reliable public transportation, and safer sidewalks. Local municipalities want to provide these services – but they desperately need state funding. I also support changing out our diesel local and school bus fleets to electric and hydrogen. I’ve championed these efforts as a city councilmember in Alhambra and plan to continue doing the same as State Senator.
2. What specific “upstream” policies would you sponsor/support to address the plastics problem, NOT involving recycling, which has been a failure?
SB270’s passage to ban single use plastic bags is an example of a statewide legislation that had good intentions but should be strengthened to have a real effect on plastic use. I support the expansion and enforcement of the efforts that went into effect this year under SB54 and am committed to seeing the deadlines and regulations through as they unfold. I also support Attorney General Bonta’s investigation into plastic bag manufacturers and industries’ contributions to plastic pollution and welcome working with my fellow legislators and other state officials to uphold the high standards we need and deserve in California to fight climate change and create a healthy environment.
- More than half of California’s population lives in jurisdictions that have banned or restricted expanded polystyrene, sometimes referred to as EPS or Styrofoam. Glendale City council took nearly a year to adopt its own ban because of concerns about possible cost & supply impacts to small restaurants. What solutions will you propose or back to help small businesses and restaurants transition away from EPS?
Providing small businesses with information about what a ban entails, as well as alternative options is crucial to make sure small businesses are not heavily impacted by a transition away from EPS. When the City of Los Angeles instituted their ban, they created separate transition timelines based on the size of businesses, and I would support a similar compliance deadline split based on number of employees for small businesses.
- Artificial turf is plastic, contains carcinogens, gets dangerously hot, harms biodiversity, contributes to the urban heat island effect, can cause and exacerbate sports injuries, and has many other negative impacts. Governor Newsom just signed SB-676 (Local ordinances and regulations: drought-tolerant landscaping), which allows cities to define drought tolerant landscaping as NOT including artificial turf. Other bills limiting or banning artificial turf have encountered serious industry pushback. Would you support instituting a policy prohibiting artificial plastic turf installations in CA? Why or why not? If not, would you support a bill incentivizing real grass (for active uses such as sports fields and picnicking) and discouraging the use of plastic grass?
Personally, I would be interested in authoring a bill incentivizing owners to utilize drought tolerant plants in their front yards. Many local jurisdictions have already done this and it would be wonderful to encourage more individuals to pursue this direction.
5. Do you think the existing state funding allocations for active transportation and transit are sufficient? If not, what % increase do you support, and how would you propose that the additional funding be used?
State funding for active transportation and transit is absolutely inefficient. I’ve seen how limited funding availability is during my time as a city leader, when I made several attempts to secure funding for our Active Transportation Plan unsuccessfully. We ultimately funded the plan with our emergency fund and were reimbursed with Measure R dollars. Our budget should prioritize plans with the biggest impact and empower people to choose healthier, greener ways to get around. While I do not have a specific percentage in mind, I support bold investment in clean transportation solutions that lower emissions, improve safety, and make car alternatives like walking, biking, and public transit more convenient and accessible than ever. These solutions will need to come from multiple sources to truly create change and make an impact—let’s tap into every available funding source, from state and local programs to federal grants, to make California a leader in sustainable mobility.
- Would you support state-subsidized free mass transit throughout the state to increase transit use and decrease vehicle miles traveled?
Yes. We can start reducing VMT by investing in quality bike lanes, reliable public transportation, and safer sidewalks. Local municipalities want to provide these services – but they desperately need state funding. Infrastructure as basic as bus shelters are limited. Constituents throughout Los Angeles County and San Bernardino County feel our public transportation system is inaccessible, unsafe, and unreliable. I support the state and federal efforts to increase access to charging stations for our growing EV use but would also like to see more investment in making our public transit systems more green, safer, affordable, accommodating, and accessible to increase ridership and reduce car usage.
Our district has some of the worst air quality in the country in part due to our proximity to major freeways. Our high PM 2.5 levels are directly correlated to our over reliance on cars, which is why in 2022 I requested that our city use one-time emergency funds to create an Active Transportation Plan. We’ve since hired Alta Planning and Active SGV as our consultants for the Active Transportation Plan; this plan will create safer streets for our residents, a citywide bike plan and an updated bus transit plan, to encourage our residents to get out of their cars and travel by bike, foot, or bus.
The expansion of public transportation and local mobility options is critical to improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions throughout Los Angeles County and San Bernardino County. As a State Senator, I’ll ensure California drastically increases its investment in active transportation and moves away from utilizing precious state dollars for freeway expansion.
7. SB 1383, which mandated diversion of organic waste, has not been effectively implemented in most localities. Glendale is shipping organic waste long distances to waste-burning and other undesirable hubs on diesel-burning trucks. How do you plan to address this? What types of programs, local composting initiatives and/or facilities, and funding streams will you support to increase beneficial composting in localities including Glendale?
We need to build more compost facilities closer to our communities to avoid increased, unintended environmental harms. I support allocating state funds to build more compost processing plants as well as increased information to households about composting benefits and how-tos, as well as informational sessions at local events.
- South Glendale is park deficient and in need of greater access to open space and parks. Compared to 2.2 acres of park space per 1,000 residents north of the 134, south Glendale only has 0.3 acres per 1,000 residents. What specific strategies and funding streams will you pursue to ensure that neighborhoods in South Glendale gain in park space, and that they see a proportional investment in parks and open space when they absorb population growth?
I’ve advocated cutting the 710-freeway stub lanes and adding in pedestrian walkways and greenspace, established an active transportation plan in Alhambra and created pocket parks. As an Alhambra Councilwoman, I worked with Congresswoman Judy Chu to secure $680,000 in funding to help our city meet climate sustainability goals, including reaching zero carbon emissions. In the legislature, I’ll continue to work with our communities and environmental allies to allocate state and local resources to increase park space, plant more trees, protect wild habitats, prevent development that could have adverse effects on our natural resources and create renewable energy infrastructure to support our transition away from oil and gas. I believe my record and the stakeholders I work with speak to my commitment to stand strong for the environment.
As a State Senator, I’ll utilize existing data to identify high-needs areas for green space, fund the creation of pocket parks in dense regions, work with the County of Los Angeles and non-profit partners such as Active SGV to create more greenways to connect our neighborhoods and encourage upzoning in neighborhoods surrounding park space.
Divestment, Subsidies, and Clean Energy Incentives
9. We must end the fossil fuel era and transition to clean, zero-carbon energy as fast as possible. What divestment, subsidy-ending, and incentive proposals will you support to end fossil fuel extraction and use and to incentivize green technologies, industries and products? Please indicate whether or not you have taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge (https://nofossilfuelmoney.org/).
I have proudly taken the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge. As a State Senator, I would seek policy changes that would have the biggest impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Given the massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions that vehicles produce, I believe California can have the most significant impact on reducing carbon emissions by making large investments in active transportation and public transportation projects across California and increasing housing density around major job centers. Active transportation and public transportation funding will continue to be one of my top priorities. California’s transportation sector accounts for about 50 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, nearly 80 percent of nitrogen oxide pollution, and 90 percent of diesel particulate matter pollution. If our state wants to make an impact on climate change, we must get our constituents out of their cars and into buses, trains, and bikes.
We will need to shift away from powering our cars and homes with gas to electricity. New construction should include solar, electric hook-ups for EVs, cooktops, HVAC, and hot water heaters. We should also incentivize denser housing near our transit and city centers to decrease VMT altogether. This dramatic shift will require us to expand our electric grids capacity and our renewable energy resources. That will take serious investment from California – and I’m ready to push that forward.
Additionally, we should hold big polluters accountable especially around vulnerable communities, reduce diesel truck congestion and emissions, increase affordable access to renewable energy sourcing particularly in dense and low-income communities, and expand access to new green jobs as part of the transition away from fossil fuel jobs.
Locally, I’ve worked to reduce GHGs by launching a citywide Sustainability Plan in partnership with my colleague Jeff Maloney. During my tenure as Mayor in 2021, I submitted a letter to Congresswoman Judy Chu requesting $670,000 in Congressional funds for a local sustainability plan that would aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and set timetables to achieve carbon neutrality which was funded in its entirety. This past year, Councilmember Maloney and I partnered to interview consultants for our sustainability plan and finalized an agreement with ESA in March 2023. We are excited for our city to create its own timelines and goals for carbon neutrality. As a State Senator, I look forward to supporting local cities in pursuing similar plans, providing cities with the implementation funding necessary to take those plans to action and creating policies that encourage cities to pursue the creation of a sustainability plan (if they do not have one already).
- Tell us about your knowledge of the Glendale community and its environmental concerns. How do you plan to work with Glendale to accomplish its climate and environmental goals?
I’ve worked directly with Glendale college students on financial aid reform, such as former student trustee Natalie Dawoodi. In 2022, Natalie along with other students from Glendale community college were involved with my statewide “Fix Financial Aid” campaign to increase the number of Cal Grants offered to college students. These students joined me for meetings with Senator Portantino, helped offer quotes to local media and participated in rally’s and press conferences.
As Glendale’s Senator, I look forward to engaging with Glendale residents on the issues they care about such as economic opportunity, climate and education and am committed to dedicating time to meet with groups like Glendale Environmental Coalition to ensure I am involving their perspectives on policy.