July 15, 2021 marks the official two-year anniversary of Protect Culver City. But if we are to look at our true genesis, it would be today, June 25th. It was in the wee hours of June 25, 2019, that we witnessed Council ambush us with their legion of outside activists to implement rent control. To quote our founding statement:
“It’s the manner in which they decided that should concern everyone. None of the Council members ran for office on this agenda. Unfortunately, this lack of responsiveness and transparency is something we’ve grown to expect from this council. This is why we realized early on, rent control could not be our only or even our primary issue.”
We knew rent control would only draw the passion of a tiny minority of multifamily owners. But we also knew Council woudn’t stop here. They came for our police department, and nearly succeeded. Now, they’re coming for single family zoning.
Because of our status and budget, we were able to play a critical role in alerting the residents about both of these issues. We’ve done so despite bearing the brunt of attacks by an aggressive activist core.
Our detractors have said “Protect Culver City is just Ron Bassilian.” In doing so, they do themselves a disservice. This movement has always been well beyond me, and has always been beyond rent control. We are here, above all else, to hold his council accountable to the residents, and to keep residents informed. If residents want a city without a police department or single family zoning, that is their prerogative. But we will have an informed debate about these issues, and Council’s decisions will reflect the will of the residents, not outside activists.
Now that I have a son in my life, my responsibilities are a bit reduced and others are doing the heavy lifting. I do little more than steer the ship these days. With that, I’d like to talk about where we are going between now and our next milestone – the 2022 election.
First, our finances are healthy. We are ready and able to do a door hanger distribution at any time. This is a necessity for us to maintain our minimal mission. We are able to fundraise to keep up this function as needed between now and the 2022 election.
We are also very interested in seeing two candidates step forward in the 2022 election to challenge Mayor Fisch and Vice Mayor Lee.
We do not plan on officially endorsing or affiliating with any candidates during the election. Our main focus will still be an informed debate on the issues. Our role will be much like a newspaper – we will honestly report on where candidates stand on the issues, the strength of their campaigns, and their associations.
Our main interest is that such candidates are not beholden to this activist core which controls the current three member majority. We want our Councilmembers to answer to the residents. We recommend any candidate who agrees with us on these issues to get in touch with us early and have a frank conversation with us on their platform.
We understand others are wary of dealing with us. Even though PCC has steered a good centrist course on city issues, detractors point to my Republican status. It’s true –I am a Republican, and I ran for Congress against Karen Bass as a Republican in 2018. I’m still very active in the county party. That won’t change.
That doesn’t change the fact that PCC has remained strictly non-partisan. Our active members are a good reflection of this city’s overall political leanings. More so, residents appreciate that we inform them about what’s happening, independent of political leaning. Few would have known about Council’s defunding or upzoning plans if it weren’t for our early efforts.
We need to be honest about another thing – this activist core will attack anyone who stands in their way. They use loaded language to bully anyone who opposes their agenda. Anyone who wants to fight for these issues can expect similar treatment. The more you stand out, the bigger a threat you are, the more they will attack you.
But we should focus on the good news. In our two years reaching out to residents, we’ve found them to be highly intelligent, and legitimately want what’s best for the city and the planet. They are willing to discuss the issues with us in good faith. We plan on building off this good will, to nurture a Council that reflects it. It’s how we can protect Culver City as a city that truly works for everyone.
- Ron Bassilian