We asked each candidate to answer a few questions so that you can know a little more about their priorities. See responses from other candidates: Erik Long, Jan Marx, Andy Pease, Abrianna Torres and Robin Wolf.
We have yet to receive responses from Kelly Evans and Jeffery Specht.
This year, voters will have the chance to enact Measure G-20, a sales tax that would support long term community and economic health through direct investment in key infrastructure, local businesses, vibrant neighborhoods, and the acquisition and preservation of open space; do you support Measure G? Why or why not?
The city has a precipitous budget shortfall, but the city’s default choice shouldn’t have been a regressive sales tax that will impact the poor, unemployed, and local retail hardest during a pandemic and downturn targeting all three.
For more than ten years, buildings in the downtown core have been allowed to be up to 75 feet tall if they provide significant community benefits; do you support these current regulations? Why or why not?
The benefits are often marginal (paseos providing frontage for developers but no useful transit for pedestrians; luxury second-home condos that don’t bring density, just vertical sprawl). Tourists love our small-town feel; don’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.
There are nearly 2,000 homes slated to be built in the City of SLO through Avila Ranch and San Luis Ranch; do you think that this will solve our housing shortage or do we still need to build more homes?
Nothing in history has solved the California housing shortage. Nothing we’re building now solves the affordable housing shortage. The city’s plans (North Higuera and Brook Street) to bulldoze affordable housing to build unaffordable housing makes zero sense.
Rank the issues in order of importance for our city:
If elected, what will you do to address the issue you identified above as most significant?
In a public health emergency, you can’t rely on promotion and avoid enforcement. The City Council whiffed on masks when it mattered and still won’t commit. As Poly kids come back, that becomes huge. We can’t whiff on vaccination? We’re well behind SLO’s performance in 1918. Once people feel somewhat safe returning to the economy, we have to draw them out. SLO’s peerless eclectic architecture is an outdoor draw for cultural tourists. Given our climate, our performing and graphic arts can move outside, too. For safety’s sake, there may be no other form of tourism for some time.
Is there something the city is not currently doing that you would take up if elected?
At a microcosmic level, the city’s lost control of its resources. When Mayor Ken Schwartz accepted the Jack House and Garden as our seventh park, our population was a little over 30,000. Now our population is 50% higher, we have six times as many parks, and the Jack Garden is closed for no reason, though costing $200,000 p.a. maintenance. Macrocosmically, we need to go full bore on reviving local retail, which means realizing our urban landscape is on par with our natural landscape as a source of attraction to well-heeled cultural tourists.
What is your approach on traffic and parking issues? Are there any policies that you are committed to advocating for or against?
People in San Luis mind losing parking. They don’t seem to mind not getting more parking. Research shows providing more parking creates more traffic, and more traffic contributes to more global climate change and local frustration. Our bike plans are so utopian and current bike infrastructure so neglected that it turns political will against the only viable post-COVID solution. But once you get a critical mass of cyclists, they become influencers who free up parking (here cyclists and drivers are allies). Sensible tweaks and reasonable maintenance could get us there while we’re waiting for the big projects.
Which theme in the Chamber’s economic vision, Imagine SLO , do you think deserves the most focus in the next four years and why?
Doers + Dreamers—because local retail was already in a meltdown that has been only been exacerbated by the pandemic.
What is the biggest opportunity for our City in the next four years and why?
To realize that some of our biggest problems—affordable housing, economic viability, and historic preservation—are actually allied. San Luis Obispo has eclectic architecture on par with Palm Springs’ Mid-Century Modern and Santa Barbara’s Spanish Revival, when polls have shown SLO County tourists are seeking more culture. In addition, in California, it is virtually impossible to build affordable housing, but you can preserve and subdivide affordable housing. Converting the glut of commercial space to housing could also address the upcoming split-roll crisis. Think of it: older and younger people, business and residents could actually be allied!
What are you most proud of having contributed to our community in the past 10 years?
Doubling year-on-year attendance at the Jack House through partnering with Art After Dark; winning the Parks Department Volunteer of the Year Award; getting a 41% increase in the History Center’s subvention with Debbie Arnold’s help; beefing up SLO City’s Cultural Heritage Committee with a majority of preservation professionals; chairing rule-based, fact-based, problem-solving CHC oversight; saving the unique Chumash Aqueduct, now nationally famous Heyd Adobe, incomparable Froom Ranch—and maybe the world-class Johnson Block; getting open debate going in newspapers, on the radio, in advisory bodies and City Council, and on the streets.