David Kartsonis
Candidate for
Torrance City Council

District 1 - North Torrance

I’m David Kartsonis. I grew up in the South Bay and when it came time for my wife and I to buy our first home - where we would start our family - we fell in love with North Torrance. Now that we have two children, we know that we made the right decision!

My parents started our family business in Torrance nearly 30 years ago. After completing my education, my sister and I, joined the family business, helping it grow and become even more successful. Being a Torrance Small Business Owner has given me insight into why businesses choose to headquarter in Torrance.

I was raised being told to give back to the community in whatever way I can and that sparked a lifetime of service.  After graduating from El Camino College, I transfered to UC Santa Barbara and earned by Bachellors there. When I returned to the South Bay and wanted to do what I could to support my school, so I joined the El Camino College Foundation and served there as Board Member and eventually President for 10 years.  While there I had the privilege of watching many students be able to fulfill their dream of college education because of our efforts.  This showed me how a small group of dedicated individuals can make a big difference.  During my Presidency, we helped introduce laptops into the classroom, partnered with the district to start The South Bay Promise, funded and supported the Warrior Food Pantry and Veterans Warrior Pantry, and implemented best practices that grew the Foundation by 100%.

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From there, I represented the taxpayers while serving on the El Camino Community College District Bond Oversight Committee where we ensured hundreds of millions of dollars in bond funds were spent appropriately and responsibly.

I grew up going to the Torrance Cultural Arts Center, so when I felt I had made my impact at El Camino College, I joined the Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation (TOCA).  Torrance is a vibrant community and the cultural arts are a key reason for that.

This eventually led to me dancing in Dancing with the South Bay Stars where we raised thousands of dollars for local non-profits.

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My start in the City of Torrance government came when I was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission.

While serving there I:
• Ensured our parks remained as open and accessable as possible during COVID
• Met with representatives working to install the Torrance Honor Roll Wall - Japanese Internment wall in Columbia Park
• Made the motion to ensure the installation of the SCAQMD air monitoring sensor in North Torrance to contribute data to torranceair.org
• Oversaw senior and disabled resident “HIP” home improvement program
• Worked to increase Pickleball access in the city
• Oversaw the distribution of $20,000 in grants annually to social services agencies
• Worked to increase access and use of recycled water to irrigate Torrance Parks
• Worked to ensure access to Torrance Parks for Torrance Little Leagues.
• Represented the City at multiple concerts, awards events, festivals, and sports events
• Oversaw updates to the Dee Hardison Sports Center Restrooms
• Oversaw installation of Adult Fitness Equipment at Wilson Park
• Oversaw repairs to the Splash Pad at Wilson Park and fought to ensure the city was not responsible for payment.
• Oversaw Park Ranger Program
• Oversaw Toyota Sports Center

After serving the City faithfully on the Parks and Recreation Commission I was asked to serve on the Planning Commission which is a quasi-judicial body that oversees all land use in the city.

While serving as Planning Commissioner I have:

• Ensured that restaurants in our community could continue operation outdoors
• Approved RESPONSIBLE development in the city, including developments to use abandoned/“blighted” land in North Torrance
• Worked with staff to approve conditional use permits for businesses that don’t fit the standard mold (example: sensor alignment company for self driving cars…)
• Stood up to state overreach and worked with staff to protect our low density single family neighborhoods - updating our ADU and JADU municipal codes as well as the city’s Ordinance and Urgency Ordinance to address SB 9, SB 10, AB 345, and SB 478.
• Worked with staff to reevaluate the off-street parking regulations that are potentially making Torrance unattractive for certain types of businesses.
• Helped create the “Food Halls” category of business in Torrance

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I also serve my community as:

• AYSO North Torrance Coach
• Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce Program Chair
• Small Business Owner


Through my decades of public service to the City of Torrance, currently as a Planning Commissioner, I have a track record of responsible leadership and vested interest in the Torrance community.

My family and I love Torrance and want to see it thrive! I have the ability and willingness to work hard for EVERY resident and get things done!

The Issues

 Public Safety

When my family decided to move to Torrance and when we decided to headquarter our business in Torrance 30 years ago, safety was one of the main reasons we picked this city. The ideas I’ve heard mentioned by other candidates about replacing the Torrance Police and Fire with the LA County Sheriff and LA County Fire, closing a fire station, or decreasing funding to TPD are absurd. But equally harmful are suggestions that we should increase the Public Safety Budget from where it currently stands as 60% of our city’s budget and fund housing subsidies for our officers and firemen. We need to focus our limited resources on make sure our police are fully supported, well trained, well equipped, and that our department is able to stay competitive in hiring the best officers in the region.

I also vow to protect our city attorney’s office. Torrance differs from many of the neighboring cities in that it prosecute its own misdemeanors. This is really important now that the DA’s office is refusing to prosecute many criminals. Our neighbors have been trying to follow our lead and prosecute their own misdemeanors, but have been prevented from doing so by the DA’s office. I will fight to protect this important deterrent to crime in our city.

 Economy and City Budget

Torrance is ranked as the 4th most likely city in California to go bankrupt.  As a city we have been spending more than we earn for many years and now we are at a point where our reserves are depleted. We need a City Council who will do the hard work to balance our city’s budget. Honestly, at this point, any candidate who suggests spending more money on anything is putting our city services at risk for political gain.

Torrance is unique; as a city we depend heavily on sales tax while communities around us rely more on property tax. Some of this is by design, but as our local businesses’ income decreased due to COVID it had a bigger impact on Torrance than our smaller neighbors. The budget issue can be viewed as both a spending issue and an earning issue. Regarding spending, unfunded pension liabilities have hurt the city; however, the earning side is the real issue. The pandemic and supply chain issues hurt us more dramatically on the earning side because we're so dependent on the sales tax revenue from our auto dealerships and stores.

We need to refocus our efforts in bringing businesses to Torrance and growing the ones that are here. There are lots of ways a city can make money. As a Planning Commissioner, I'm very familiar with the project that is replacing the former Toyota Headquarters. Development on that project alone has already brought a significant amount of revenue to our city in development fees and will bring a significant growth to our property tax revenue. Encouraging businesses like that to come to Torrance and fill up some of the empty and vacant properties we have will do great things for our local economy and our city budget. The City of Torrance owns land that it leases out to business complexes, we should reevaluate the rate we are charging. Our Occupancy Tax (the rate we charge hotel guests) is low compared to our neighboring cities, perhaps that should be reevaluated. As a city we need to reevaluate our revenue sources and our expenses

A culture of financial stewardship needs to be spread throughout our city and each city department. We need to preserve all our our city services, not just some of them.  We still need our police, fire, libraries, parks… So, the next City Council needs to work to minimize the impact to our residents rather than special interests.

 Homeless

Of the tax dollars that Torrance residents pay to address homelessness issues county wide (Measure H), LA County takes $32 million and Torrance gets $5 million. This is completely unfair to our residents and the city needs to work to get our fair share. We need to do everything in our power to keep our tax dollars in Torrance where they will make a difference in our neighborhood.

This is an extremely important issue. Recently, in my neighborhood a homeless individual was breaking into a neighbor’s garage. We searched the neighborhood and thankfully Torrance Police (TPD) were able to catch him. Also, I’ve been noticing encampments forming in Guenser and Columbia Parks. My concern is primarily the increase in crime, littering, and property damage that comes with increased homeless populations.

We’re not helpless, because there are some things we can do, but the national/regional/local issues with homelessness are so intertwined that the easiest to implement solutions will need to come at the county level. Unfortunately, the County isn’t really helping Torrance here… I’ll explain a bit further down. To put it shortly, Torrance needs to: 1. Enforce its anti-camping ordinances. 2. Work to keep our tax dollars in Torrance rather than send them to LA County and at the same time better take advantage of county homeless resources. 3. Do our best to redirect crimes related to homelessness to the city prosecutor rather than the DA who is refusing to prosecute crimes.

Unfortunately, the ruling in the case of Martin vs. Boise made it extremely difficult for cities to enforce laws regarding homelessness. “Anti-camping ordinances” are the laws traditionally used to prevent people from living on the sidewalks, in the parks, or generally in any public area. Current case law in the US is that “anti-camping ordinances” can only be enforced if the local government has temporary housing that the individual refuses to use.

The current plan in place is for the pallet houses by City Hall to be built and allow TPD to enforce anti-camping ordinances in the city. I’m concerned that this may not solve our problems because Torrance’s homeless population is in the hundreds and those 40 beds will fill up quickly. When we are able to enforce our anti-camping ordinances, TPD needs to prioritize individuals living in our neighborhoods, parks, and near our schools.

And lastly, our District Attorney’s office refuses to enforce our laws. When homeless individuals break the law (theft/drug use/property damage), TPD can arrest them, but they immediately go free since the DA won’t prosecute them. Torrance City Council need to work to ensure as many of these crimes go to the Torrance City Prosecutor rather than the DA.

I’ve worked a lot with organizations like North County Lifeline and Clare | Matrix. There are programs in place that are addressing the core issues causing homelessness and those need to be encouraged. But we also need to make sure we keep our neighborhoods and parks safe and clean.

 Open Space/Hamilton Adult School

As a father, City of Torrance Planning Commissioner, and Former City of Torrance Parks and Recreation Commissioner, this is an extremely important issue to me. I’ve already worked to protect the open areas in North Torrance. I’ve worked to protect and improve our parks. As a City Councilman, upkeeping our parks will be a very important topic for me as it was a consistant frusteration I had as Parks and Recreation Commissioner. We do not have a lot of parkland in North Torrance, so our residents deserve to have first class parks, not ones with old broken equipment.

I’m definitely not in favor of “zone-busting” and repurposing open spaces like the Hamilton fields. The Hamilton Adult School is owned by the Torrance Unified School District and is zoned PU (Public Use). At the Planning Commission, we just worked on our updated Housing Element for the city where we had to identify (per state mandate) locations for about 5000 additional housing units across the city.

A draft of that is available here: https://www.torranceca.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/71061/637740505391530000 If you go to Page C-15 you’ll see we were careful to make sure that NO parkland (including the Hamilton Adult School fields) were listed as sites to be potentially rezoned.

 Metro Greenline

I’ve actually spoken at Metro events about this. Metro is proposing a trainline that could potentially run through North Torrance. Alternative 1, which takes the train behind the Galleria along the existing train right of way is the best solution. Running the train down Hawthorne would be terrible for our community as it’s a Major artery to the South Bay- through Torrance and beyond. I think a traffic study will show that “on-grade crossings” will be catastrophic to the area.

One of my opponents has suggested that tunneling under North Torrance may be a good solution. I don’t believe Metro took the suggestion seriously, but I believe that would be a terrible and dangerous proposition.

 Overdevelopment

I stand apart because my campaign isn’t funded by developers and I’m not a developer. As a City of Torrance Planning Commissioner, I have worked really hard to protect our neighborhoods from overdevelopment. When these developers come in and want to “zone bust” - essentially put high density housing where it’s not zoned - I’ve always been against that. Even for projects in North Torrance.

Torrance and the region are facing major housing issues. Home prices continues to rise. The state is demanding increases in density. As a City of Torrance Planning Commissioner I only support RESPONSIBLE development. In North Torrance, I am the only candidate that has fought for our neighborhoods - and this is very important to me. I’ve worked closely with staff to ensure that we maintain our low-density single family residential neighborhoods, while still allowing necessary higher density living only where apropriate. I’ll continue to fight some of my developer-funded opponents that claim high density is the future of our city, and other developers who want to overdevelop our neighborhoods.

When the state mandated that the City of Torrance add an additional 5000 housing units to that city, the responsibility of finding locations for those 5000 units fell on the planning commission. City staff and us on the Commission worked really hard with community input to find appropriate locations for those 5000 units. None of those units will be in our single family neighborhoods and none of them will be in open areas - like the Hamilton fields.

 Refinery

The refinery was here before I moved here and will likely be a reality of our city for many more years. The city needs to continue to work with the various stakeholders to facilitate the ongoing dialogue and evidence of refinery safety. Having lived in the area before deciding to run for City Council affords me the benefit of being here for our most recent incidents. I’ve had lots of conversations with residents and with representatives of the Refinery. This recent incident within the last month or so ended up being minor, but it’s the first incident since the Coker explosion.

I believe that the staff of the refinery are working to make it as safe as possible and I’m already familiar with some ways they’re working to do this. However, I’ve already been working to increase accountability of the refinery and will continue to do so as Councilman. I serve on the Torrance Refinery Citizens Advisory Panel and while serving as Parks and Recreation Commissioner for the city we found out that despite being downwind from our refinery, Northeast Torrance never had any information about the quality of the air, so I made the motion that directed staff to dedicate a small corner of Guenser Park to an SCAQMD air monitoring station. That station has been installed as a contributor to Torranceair.org.


Community Minded

Service Postions in Torrance and the South Bay

Vice-President - Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation

TOCA serves the Torrance community by providing quality entertainment and multi-cultural enriching programming.

City of Torrance Planning Commissioner

Appointed to ensure the orderly and responsible development of the city.  Carefully balancing the need for growth with the character of the city and concerns of the community.

City of Torrance Parks and Recreation Commissioner

Oversaw the operations and care of the city’s parks and recreation programs.  Parks and Recreation is also responsible for the city’s popular HIP (Home Improvement Program) for disabled and senior residents.  Worked hard to successfully ensure that Torrance parks safely remained open through the pandemic.

El Camino College Foundation

Served on the Board of Directors for 10 years.  Helped to create many programs now active in the college.  During my  Presidency we awarded an estimated 1300 scholarships and $1,600,000 in support.  Executive Produced “The Road Ahead” celebrity benefit at El Camino.

North Torrance AYSO Volunteer Coach

AYSO was started here in Torrance and it’s such a great influence in the lives of children. When my children started wanting to get involved in sports my wife and I dove in head first and volunteered to coach!

Torrance Refining Company Citizen’s Advisory Panel

I was selected to represent the concerned neighbors on the CAP. The Refinery is a close neighbor to my house, so I’m very invested in ensuring its safety.

President - El Camino College Foundation

As President of the El Camino College Foundation Board of Directors for two terms - with our excellent staff and my executive committee we revitalized the board, grew private donations by 50% and Foundation assets by an unprecedented $1,500,000.

El Camino Community College District Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee

Appointed by the Board of Trustees to ensure every dollar of $744,000,000 in bond money was spent appropriately and as promised.

Redondo Beach Police Department Citizen’s Police Academy

A class 20 alumnus of this program.

Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce

Chairman of the Tech Talks program for several years.

El Camino College Teacher’s Aide

Served as Teacher’s Aide for Human Anatomy and Microbiology classes at El Camino College.

Redondo Beach Youth Commissioner

Redondo Beach City Council appointed City Commissioner.

10,000 Small Businesses 

I’m a alumnus of this program and have represented small businesses to elected state and national leaders.

Dancing With The South Bay Stars

I was asked to dance in the 2019 Dancing With The South Bay Stars.  Naturally, I chose the El Camino College Foundation as my charity.

Education

Yale University - Certificate in Financial Markets with Honors

El Camino College - Associate of Arts

University of California, Santa Barbara - Bachellor’s of Arts

University of Missouri, Columbia, Fire and Rescue Training Institute - Certificate in Hazardous Materials/WMD Incident Response

10,000 Small Businesses - Certificate of Entrepreneurship

Bi-Partisan Endorsements

These endorsements are from the individuals listed and unless explicitly stated, should not be perceived as an official endorsement from the organizations they represent. Unless specified, titles are listed for identification purposes only.

Organizations

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Young Leaders Political Action Committee
The Young Leaders PAC is a bipartisan organization that celebrates diversity of political opinion in teenagers across the state.​
The PAC is a student run organization with all five members of the Board of Governors being high school students ages thirteen through nineteen.

California State Assembly

George Nakano - Former California State Assemblyman; Former Torrance City Councilman; Former teacher; Former President of the El Camino College Foundation; El Camino College Distinguished Alumnus

Torrance City Council

Councilwoman Heidi Ann Ashcraft - Torrance Councilwoman; Former TUSD School Board Member
Councilman Mike Griffiths - Torrance Councilman
Former Mayor Frank Scotto - Former Torrance Mayor
Former Councilman Tom Brewer - Former Torrance Councilman
Former Councilman Paul Nowatka  - Former Torrance Councilman
Former Councilwoman Maureen O’Donnell - Former Torrance Councilwoman; Former El Camino College Trustee
Former Councilman Bill Sutherland - Former Torrance Councilman

Torrance Unified School District

Martha Deutch - Former TUSD School Board Member; President of the Torrance Education Foundation
Dr. George Mannon - Former TUSD Superintendent

El Camino College

Ken Brown - Trustee Area 1; Community College Instructor
Bill Beverly - Trustee Area 3
Siannah Collado Boutté - Former ECC Trustee, Former ECC ASO President
Eman Dalili - Former Trustee; Former ECC Student Body President; Gubernatorial Appointee to the California Board of Governors
Dr. Thomas Fallo - Former El Camino College Superintendant/President
Brooke Matson - Former Trustee; Current Board Member of the El Camino College Foundation
John Vargas - Former Trustee

Torrance City Commissioners

Ed Candioty - Chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission; Former Cultural Arts Commissioner
Dan Thomas - Chairman of the Traffic Commission; Former Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce Technology Chair
Jean Adelsman - Civil Service Commissioner; Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation Board Member
Greg Anunsun - Planning Commissioner
William “Dan” Feliz - Parks and Recreation Commissioner
Robert "Bob" Habel - Traffic Commissioner
Marianne Hamada - Civil Service Commissioner
Cinda Herring - Civil Service Commissioner
Jonah Hirata - Youth Commissioner
Bridgett Lewis - Civil Service Commissioner
Dr. Laurie Love - Environmental Quality and Energy Conservation Commissioner; Former Parks and Recreation Commissioner; El Camino College Foundation Board Member
Keith Montoya - Parks and Recreation Commissioner; Torrance Police Department Volunteer Coordinator; Community Volunteer Activist
Elizabeth Pino - Planning Commissioner
Totran Radke - Cultural Arts Commissioner
Andrea Reilly - Library Commissioner; Former Parks and Recreation Commissioner
Ron Riggs - Historic Preservation Commissioner; Former 1st Vice-President of the El Camino College Foundation
Camilla Seferian - Environmental Quality and Energy Conservation Commissioner; Board Member of Torrance Education Foundation; Board Member of Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation
Richard Tsao - Planning Commissioner
Melissa Wright - Cultural Arts Commissioner

South Bay Elected Leaders

Matthew Brach - SCROC Governing Board; Palos Verdes Unified School District School Board
Mark Burton
- Former Manhattan Beach Mayor, Former Los Angeles Senior Assistant City Attorney, El Camino College Foundation Board Member
Rob Katherman - District 2 Board Member Water Replenishment District of Southern California, Former Torrance Water Commissioner
Mark Waronek - Lomita City Councilman, Former Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce President, Former LA County Board of Supervisors South Bay Deputy
Hugo Rojas - Vice-President, Centinela Valley Unified High School District

Community Leaders

Daniel Ashcraft - Local small business owner
Gabriela Fischer - Local business owner, Resident, and Founder of The Utopian Society Project
Derf Fredericks - Managing Broker, The Real Estate Group; Realtor
Danny Fredericks - Realtor
Jeff Gaul - Redondo Beach Public Safety Commissioner
Tasha Gwilt - Realtor
Mary Hoffman - Former President, Vice President, and Treasurer of TEF; President of the Torrance Rose Float Association for 16 years
Nancy Mannon - Former Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation President
Dr. Chad Mabery
Maggie Mabery

Shireen Ossanlo - Former Executive Director of the Torrance Education Foundation
Pam Popovich - Co-President, Riviera Homeowner Association
Lili Trujillo Puckett - Founder and Executive Director of Street Racing Kills
Raphi Rebucas - President, Young Leader’s PAC
Chef Michael Shafer - Owner Depot Restaurant
Aaron Steven - Producer; Member SBAOR Affiliates in Action
Rachael Steven - Former Torrance Education Foundation Board Member and Former El Camino College Foundation Board Member
Susan Swinburne - Former Executive Director of the Torrance Education Foundation

*All above titles are for identification purposes only.

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PAID FOR BY DAVID KARTSONIS FOR TORRANCE CITY COUNCIL 2022
FPPC # 1436743