Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By David Ganezer
Observer Staff Writer 

Housing Commissioner Leonora Camner Stands Her Ground, Insists There's No Conflict of Interest

She holds public event in Tongva Park, before tonight's City Council meeting

 

February 24, 2022

In the words of Tom Petty, Leonora Camner won't back down.

Background: Tonight the Santa Monica City Council will meet and consider a request from Councilmember Phil Brock to remove Leonora Camner from the Santa Monica City Housing Commission, on account of her employment by Abundant Housing Los Angeles. On Tuesday afternoon, Ms. Camner held a public event in Tongva Park, where she defended her position on the Housing Commission, which makes recommendations for development to the City Council.

Update: At their meeting on 2/22/22, the Council voted 3-3 with 1 abstention (Sue Himmelrich), not to remove Camner from the City Housing Commission. The measure required 5 yes votes.

We asked her a few questions: "Why do you want to continue to be on the Santa Monica housing commission?"

LC: I see the housing commission as service to the community. Also I have some experience to bring from working in housing justice advocacy"

How do you earn a living? Specifically do you earn a living from being on the housing commission?

LC: I'm paid a salary from abundant housing LA. However, AHLA is not funded by developers.

What is AHLA, then?

LC: AHLA is a Nonprofit outreach and advocacy organization.

Why is it that you feel your employment at AHLA, does not conflict with your seat on the City Housing Commission?

LC: I don't have a conflict of interest because I don't have any financial gain from anything the housing commission does or anything the City of Santa Monica does. It doesn't affect my organization's finances and it doesn't affect my personal finances. Also, my position with AHLA doesn't restrict me to any particular position, we have always been free to advocate for housing justice generally and use our own judgment and analysis when making positions. I am free to take any position I think is best on the housing commission. Fortunately because of my experience with AHLA I have some knowledge developed during that experience.

 
 

Reader Comments(7)

Charlie writes:

Really good to see that Camner was not removed, unjustly, last night! And it is also really sad to see all these comments about people in advocacy groups being lobbyists and therefore unfit to serve on committees. That would be like somebody who works for a homeless advocacy group being disallowed from a commission on the homeless, or a landscape designer being barred from working on Santa Monica's landscape design review committee. And these disingenuous voices demanded Camner leave are extremely dishonest when they reject her, but accept landowners on the board.

SMresident writes:

As a matter of policy, good governance, and of principle, lobbyists should not serve on city commissions. Leonora Camner is a lobbyist. Paid lobbyists have no business serving on city commissions. With the corrosive role of money in American politics, the deck is already stacked enough against the residents. Leonora Camner needs to be removed from the Housing Commission.

IEatYIMBYs writes:

This individual is completely deranged and takes us all for FOOLS is she truly believes that any one in our community would believe that she isn’t effectively a lobbyist. Her group is a nonprofit front for the developers posing as a woke leftist housing advocate. We aren’t stupid Mrs Kamenr!!!

TooWoketoThink writes:

Calling Phil Brock and Oscar major landlords is hysterically funny-lol- still laughing ...guess people who support lobbyists don't know how to do their research about anything

RichieRich writes:

LOL- amazing that in Camner's mind she doesn't see what she is doing as lobbying... she has a law degree..there must be some cognitive function other than reading from prepared spin that might enable her to understand the definition of a lobbyist. We need to do better than this.

Charlie writes:

If this commissioner supposedly has a conflict, then anybody who owns property has a far greater financial conflict. Anybody with an asset worth an average of more than $1M making decisions about land use and housing in Santa Monica has far far greater financial risk and potential gain than Camner. If the council member is honest about his concerns, I'm sure we will see additional rules banning property owners from the commission. If he's dishonest and just a big NIMBY, I'm sure property owners will be untouched.

Toby writes:

Leonara is one of the kindest, most honest and polite people I know. Local housing officials are often drawn from people with experience or ties to the real estate industry. Having someone who is employed by a nonprofit is absolutely not a conflict of interest. And it’s something of a joke to have people with significant real estate businesses - like Phil Brock, a major landlord - spearheading this. I hope Leonora is allowed to stay.

 
 
 

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