City Councilman James Bozajian will be seeking reelection to a fifth term in the March 5 election.
Bozajian has served as mayor of Calabasas four times since first being elected in 1997, making him the longest serving member on the council.
He has also served on numerous boards throughout his years in public service, including the Calabasas Historical Society, where he is still a board member.
Bozajian, a deputy district attorney for the County of Los Angeles, is a graduate of Taft High School in Woodland Hills, has a Juris Doctor from the University of Southern California School of Law and a bachelor of arts degree in history from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Calabasas Patch: Why are you running for City Council?
James Bozajian: I enjoy public service, particularly when it involves representing an area where I have lived my entire life. I have seen Calabasas's infrastructure grow from that of a fledgling municipality into a wonderful city that provides a large array of services for its residents. Particularly during a protracted recession, I believe my background and experience will be helpful toward keeping the city stable and in good order.
Patch: What are some of the achievements of the City Council during the last year?
Bozajian: I have a long list of achievements during my 16 years on the City Council, and I would refer you to my ballot statement for a more detailed accounting of them ... In the past year alone we have managed (unlike many municipalities across California) to remain on solid financial footing.
During my most recent term as Mayor (2011-12), I was able to help lead the council toward more amicable relations with the diverse communities within the city, including those that sometimes feel disengaged from their local government.
Patch: What are some of the major issues facing Calabasas that you hope to address in your next term?
Bozajian: Again, one of the primary challenges will be to keep the city financially sound. Even if the economy improves in the near future--a prospect by no means certain--we are probably never going to see the level of financial support from the federal, state, and county governments that we were once accustomed to.
The city must continue to rely on its own local economy to make ends meet. There are also several specific challenges ahead, such as the construction of a new senior center.
Patch: How do you plan to address them, and which issue would you address first?
Bozajian: My top priority is economics --- that is, ensuring that the city's stream of revenue remains constant and strong.
Patch: How do you think Calabasas can bring in more revenue?
James Bozajian: Bringing in a positive revenue flow actually involves a two-step process: raising revenue and limiting expenditures. Our single highest source of revenue (one-third of our income) is sales tax, so it is vital to bring appropriate businesses into the community and to help them succeed here. When you add property taxes and utility taxes, those three items comprise two-thirds of our income. We do what we can to limit our expenditures.
In the wake of continuing economic challenges, we recently enacted a hiring freeze for city employees and have provided for only one small pay raise for municipal workers in the past four years. We have had to make limited cutbacks in some of our services, though nothing too deep as yet.
I am particularly proud of Calabasas' active involvement in organizations with other municipalities--such as the California Contract Cities Association (where I served as statewide President in 2011-12); the League of California Cities; the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley; the Las Virgenes/Malibu Council of Governments; and the Valley Industry & Commerce Association, to name a few. Our participation in these organizations costs little, and we get quite a bit of assistance (financial and otherwise) from them.
Patch: How can we make Calabasas a greener city--or are we doing enough in that regard?
James Bozajian: We are a very "green" city, and have been an environmental leader among municipalities for many years. Our Civic Center is a prime example of a green building, both structurally and in its day-to-day operation. We were one of the first cities in the country to approve an ordinance regulating second-hand smoking. We were also one of the earlier cities to ban the use of plastic bags for retailers.
The City Council has aggressively sought and received grant monies for environmental projects, and we have always pursued slow-growth policies in order to minimize adverse impacts to our natural environment. On a personal level, I was the primary sponsor of both the Open Space Initiative and the Historic Preservation Ordinance.
Patch: What’s your favorite aspect about Calabasas living and how do you plan to maintain it?
Bozajian: The best part about living in Calabasas is that, even amidst one of the world's largest metropolitan areas, it has a small-town feel. Less so than when I was growing up, to be sure, but still present nonetheless. A slow-growth approach toward development contributes to this legacy.
Patch: What needs to change to keep Calabasas healthy?
Bozajian: The city must always be vigilant, as there are constantly new challenges arising. Most of these challenges come from outside the city and many involve potentially massive land developments that could adversely impact our lives here. Ahmanson Ranch comes to mind as one such example from our not-so-distant past.
Patch: What is Calabasas’s best-kept secret?
Bozajian: I rather think that the more remote parts of the city still offer a glimpse of our rural past. Among other territory, I refer to many of the areas surrounding Mulholland Highway, for instance; parts of Malibu Canyon and even relatively isolated neighborhoods like Park Moderne. On those rare occasions where I have some spare time, I sometimes take a walk through these diverse regions to reflect upon the past.