January 7, 2021

Alex Fisch

One would be hard put to find idle moments in Alex Fisch's day.

Culver City's new mayor, who was elected to the City Council in April of 2018, brings considerable background to his position, as set forth in the city's website: https://www.culvercity.org/City-Hall/City-Council/Mayor-Alex-Fisch.

Fisch has assumed the mantle of mayor during the most challenging time our city has known, a critical time on so many levels – health and safety concerns, homelessness, and economic disruption among them – and there was a prescient flavor to his comment that "I kicked off my campaign to serve on this council more than three years ago because I believed that we live in a pivotal time in history." And in short order, history certainly proved him right.

Understandably, he sees vaccination against COVID-19 as a major priority.

"As a city, we'll do all that we can to ensure that everyone in Culver City who wants to be vaccinated can be vaccinated as promptly as possible," he said. "I trust its safety, I personally signed up to be a subject in a clinical trial, and I know that Vice Mayor Lee is participating in a trial as well. The sooner we have widespread vaccination, the sooner we can get back to our full lives, and the fewer of our neighbors we will lose to the virus."

Acknowledging that there are still difficult months ahead with hospitals filling and healthcare workers wearing down, he asks everyone to "please stay strong. Please do everything you can to overcome pandemic fatigue for just a bit longer. And please try to remember and respect the humanity of one another and of the public health professionals who are doing their best in the face of a vacuum of federal leadership and financial support."

He is concerned that "while many professions and businesses are doing all right or even well, some segments of our community are facing profound housing and food insecurity. Between 2.4 million and 5 million Americans are at risk of eviction just in January, and millions more will be at risk before the pandemic eases. As a city we may be limited, but we must not allow a weakness of imagination to stop us from doing all we can to help our residents through to the end."

Emphasizing that "we need to shelter the unhoused," he referred to homelessness as a "humanitarian disaster" that, with each day it continues, "risks that more people will forget the basic rights of those who have nowhere to sleep but the streets. We need to work with our entire region to address the housing shortage which, when amplified in city after city over the entire metro area, is intimately tied to rising homelessness. I hope to prioritize addressing homelessness over this next year. We are beginning to make progress in implementing our 'Plan to Prevent and Combat Homelessness.' We have completed studies identifying locations that would best accommodate supportive housing, including the potential of converting motels. We will soon adopt a program to help finance accessory dwelling unit (ADU) construction in exchange for limited-term covenants to rent the new ADU at affordable levels. Additionally, we are working harder than ever to coordinate closely with the county to get more resources to move people into safe and sustainable shelter."

Fisch feels it's necessary to "continue to expand transportation options, even as transit faces unprecedented challenges, so that people are not trapped in their cars away from family and friends, so that our children can breathe clean air, and so that we can curb the 40% of California's greenhouse gas emissions that come from transportation."

His concerns include a "need to continue our cutting edge work to chart a just transition away from resource extraction in our backyards at the Inglewood Oil Field."

With reference to public safety, "we need to undertake the task of realizing a public safety regime that makes everyone truly safe. While we have focused and will continue to focus on policing, we have to remember that antiracism is an affirmative and cross-cutting project. That means we need to consider equity at every step."

He believes that "the nation's splintered response to a pandemic also warrants analysis and planning, because this probably will not be the last pandemic for many of us." He therefore would like consideration given to forming a Public Health Committee. "I know that we have a cornucopia of commissions, boards, and committees, but our community has a wealth of public health expertise in our residents," he added. "I would like to convene those experts to better identify and address significant public health challenges."

With people having become increasingly accustomed to working from home, this can exacerbate vacancy in commercial structures, affecting the rental income projected by the developers since minimal office space would likely be needed, even after the pandemic is under control. Asked for his thoughts in this regard, Fisch responded that "while nothing is certain, I am very confident that Culver City's economy will bounce back vigorously over the next two years. We are centrally located in one of the largest and most skilled labor markets in the world, and we continue to make headlines around the county for policies and planning execution that maintain Culver City as an excellent place to live for all ages. That effective governance also means, however, that we will closely monitor demand for office space and adjust our plans if there are important changes in the ways we work and live. My contrarian opinion here is that, as many of the types of businesses that flourish in Culver City liberalize their telework policies, we may see more jobs come to Culver City as firms shirk their physical footprint but maintain an office. While quite a bit of punditry has been spent questioning the future of cities, I believe that 6,500 years of human history demonstrates that we cannot resist the extraordinary benefits of coming together."

Amen to that, and here's to a happy New Year for our city and its residents under the committed and innovative leadership of Fisch and our city council.


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