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, James Papp, 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?
I support Measure G. Given the pandemic and economic meltdown, this revenue is necessary to provide long term benefits: preserving open space, supporting community programs, securing road improvements, implementing Climate Action, supporting emergency response, homeless services, and small business recovery.
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?
I am opposed to “canyonization” of our Downtown. However, if the occasional taller building is architecturally compatible with historic surroundings, creative, environmentally sound, does not destroy important views, and provides needed affordable housing, height flexibility could be a plus.
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?
Under the State’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation, we must build even more homes. However, we must also enforce our Growth Management Ordinance, maintain our compact urban form and not out-build our public services capacity or adversely impact our environmental resources.
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?
The pandemic makes getting the economy back on track and increasing head of household jobs the highest immediate priority. I am concerned that residents are facing job loss, eviction and/or food scarcity. Or, working from home, they may be simultaneously teaching their children. I will work with business, manufacturing, and nonprofit sectors to update SLO’s 2015 Economic Development Strategic Plan, as well as help develop effective regional strategies. I support policies which allow local hiring, so salaries are spent locally. I will advocate expansion of highspeed broadband and microgrids to make us an even more powerful entrepreneurial and high tech center.
Is there something the city is not currently doing that you would take up if elected?
Given widespread outrage about systemic racism and local protests, many city residents are questioning our City’s police practices, decision making and transparency, including the City Manager’s sole oversight of the Police Department. It is time to consider the establishment of a Police Accountability Commission.
Many other University cities, for instance Davis, Claremont, Long Beach, Palo Alto and Santa Cruz, have such commissions. Because SLO is a Charter City, we have the power to establish such a Commission, if residents vote to so amend our Charter. If elected, I will propose reaching out to the community and starting that process.
What is your approach on traffic and parking issues? Are there any policies that you are committed to advocating for or against?
I advocate alternate transportation strategies and housing that give priority to people living or working here. These approaches reduce traffic and parking environmental impacts by reducing automobile commuting.
When cars trying to exit the 101 at LOVR were dangerously lined up on the shoulder, I successfully helped secure funding for the LOVR interchange, while on Council. I support the construction of the Prado Road Overpass to improve East-West circulation and reduce random surface street driving around.
I advocate parking structures outside the Downtown core. I voted for the Marsh Street Expansion, 919 Palm, and will support the Palm/Nipomo parking garage.
Which theme in the Chamber’s economic vision, Imagine SLO , do you think deserves the most focus in the next four years and why?
SLO should focus on Environmental Stewardship and embracing new technologies, now, more than ever. Given Climate Change, our quality of life depends on protecting and preserving our natural resources, including open space, air quality, and clean water. Encouraging more renewable energy projects not only protects the environment, but also creates head of household jobs.
SLO should work harder to become a net zero City, facilitate microgrids and create incentives for electric cars and bicycles, storage batteries and charging stations. The City must do all it can to protect residents against blackouts, given increasing dependence on air conditioning and the internet.
What is the biggest opportunity for our City in the next four years and why?
As Winston Churchill stated, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” The opportunities arising from the COVID-19-induced crisis (social distancing, economic meltdown, educational collapse, climate change, wildfires, civil unrest) must not be wasted. Like an Xray, this crisis reveals problems we must recognize to revive the economy, heal past ills, and learn new ways. It highlights racial and economic inequities, triggering the opportunity to better address our most vulnerable residents’ needs. It reveals our utter dependence on electronic communication and vulnerability to black outs, triggering the opportunity to facilitate microgrids, affordable, high speed internet, and green technology, citywide.
What are you most proud of having contributed to our community in the past 10 years?
In 2010, I was elected SLO Mayor and devoted myself to serving the public. Among other things, I collaborated with Council and the community to: pass our first Climate Action Plan; approve affordable and market rate housing; protect open space and agricultural land; start paying down unfunded pension liability; add Nacimiento Lake and recycled water to our supply; address recession budget issues; ban polystyrene and oil trains; increase bicycle and pedestrian paths; support the skateboard park; and facilitate the homeless services center’s land acquisition and construction. I now serve as SLO College of Law Campus Dean and Constitutional Law Professor.