2016 Election Campaign:

Due to the number of candidates for Council and Mayor and space available in the paper, this year SLO City News limited its questions to three and asked us to keep our answers at about 100 words per question.

The questions are in bold below with my responses following.


1)     What is your “core issue” in running and how would you influence that over the next term?

   I will listen to and be a voice for the residents of San Luis Obispo.  I will do all that I can to encourage residents to become actively engaged in and aware of what is happening to and what is proposed for our town and their individual neighborhoods.  Among other topics, residents must be actively involved in working on our water, traffic, and parking issues, as well as our future development in order to ensure the best possible outcomes.  These things are too important to the city’s future health to be left to others to decide for us.


2)     What is the best tactic to expand affordable housing in SLO?

   We have been addressing the symptoms instead of seeking a solution to our housing problems.  As long as Cal Poly and Cuesta continue to grow, we can never build our way out of the housing shortage and retain the small town charm, culture and character of SLO.  Our collective energies must be focused on making Cal Poly, the Trustees, and/or the state legislature understand that Cal Poly must provide significantly more on-campus housing and place a cap on enrollment.  The City of Santa Cruz and its residents were able to effect such changes.  Working together we can do so, too.


3)     Up, out and infill  - what are the proper strategies to pursue development and how fast?

   Development should be limited to an annual rate of 1% and phased to allow the needed infrastructure to keep pace with that development.  I have serious concerns about our infrastructure (e.g., water service, storm drains, sewer capacity, road capacity) keeping pace with projected growth.  We sometimes forget that much of our infrastructure is past or nearing capacity and does or will require substantial investment in maintenance or upgrade.  Therefore, we should approach future development cautiously, considering all factors.  Density is best addressed in the downtown core and in the new, currently planned residential developments.  We must respect our established residential neighborhoods.


From the 2014 Election Campaign:

On Monday, 8 September 2014, a SLO City News reporter preparing an elections story on the SLO Council race provided six questions for me to respond to by 12 September.  I was not prepared to get the answers back that quickly but ultimately got them all submitted in time to meet their publication schedule.  I appreciate their flexibility and willingness to accommodate my campaign schedule.

The questions are in bold below with my responses following.


1)      Of course you each want to govern for all SLO locals and hear all their issues, but what would you focus on if there could be only one issue?

 Actually, I don’t want to govern as much as I want to represent and advocate for residents, or SLO locals as you describe them, and I definitely want to hear from them – at council meetings and elsewhere.  If I could work on only one issue, it would be ensuring that the city acts in a financially responsible manner when it spends our tax dollars – from whatever source.  As with any family or business, the city has to live within its budget and make every dollar of expenditure count.  We have a significant unknown facing us early next year when CalPERS releases updated data on our unfunded liabilities.  The information could substantially alter our current and future financial planning and allocation of funds.  It is likely to present a major challenge for the next Council and will impact us all in both recognized and unexpected ways.


2)      What is your position on growth in the next decade? (i.e. Is slow growth still in effect? How dense is too dense?)

 Commercial growth of all kinds seems to have been fairly steady in recent years.  A mix of retail and commercial buildings have been added throughout the city with a substantial expansion along Broad between Old Town and the airport and at both ends of Tank Farm between Broad and South Higuera.  One could not fail to notice the development along LOVR between Madonna and US 101 over the past decade.  The concern I have regards our infrastructure – water service, storm drains, sewer capacity and the like – keeping pace with the growth.  We sometimes forget that much of our unseen infrastructure is past or nearing capacity and does or will require substantial investment in maintenance or upgrade.  Therefore, we should be cautious as we consider future development proposals.  Density is best addressed by additional apartments in R-3 and R-4 zones and in the new, currently planned residential developments.  Our residential R-1 and R-2 zones should be respected.


3)      What is, or is there, a path to renew/repair the Cal Poly/City relationship without sacrificing residents’ quality of life? Why do you support or oppose the freshman dorm project at Slack and Grand?

 There is always a path to renew or repair relationships.  The relationship between residents, the City, and Cal Poly is a prime candidate.  Cal Poly is not going anywhere, and neither is the City, but our residents can – and some are.  That should not happen and is a sad commentary on a three-way relationship.

Keith Humphrey, Cal Poly’s then new VP of Student Affairs, was appalled at what he saw on ride-alongs with SLOPD and UPD during WOW 2013.  He immediately began taking corrective action and instituting new polices regarding student behavior off-campus.

Neighborhood groups have been meeting with city and university staff on ways to educate students on the importance of civility – both on and off campus.

Cal Poly can make a major effort to be more open about future plans by including city staff and residents of affected neighborhoods in early, meaningful discussions so that a project such as the Slack-Grand dorm complex is not a total surprise to everyone but Cal Poly.  I believe additional dorms are needed but the location chosen for this complex is poor.


4)      What should the City’s policy be towards acquisition AND maintenance of open space and the green belt? Where can it be improved?

 City policy should reflect the desires of its residents who have repeatedly – and consistently – said that acquiring and maintaining natural Open Space is their very high priority.  This was confirmed in the 2012 survey of all city residents during the City’s Land Use Element update: “acquisition and maintenance of open space” was the highest resident priority.  While open space was specifically on the Measure Y ballot as a top priority for funding, only 3% to 5% of total Measure Y money was spent on this item.

 Lack of funding also impedes enforcement of the Open Space ordinance.  Although nighttime use of open space is prohibited, the lack of nighttime ranger staff makes this prohibition empty – and nighttime users know it.  This causes increased problems for residential neighborhoods near open spaces, such as Bishops Peak, and potentially increases City liability.

 We should enforce the ordinance, fine abusers and charge those who require city services resulting from illegal activity.


5)       How do you propose to deal with the growing unfunded pension liabilities from CalPERS?

 Dealing with unfunded pension liabilities is likely to be a challenge for years to come with no easy solution(s) in sight.  Clearly, we should take no options off the table – from increased employee contributions from those who will receive the pensions to increased employer contributions from those who – through our elected City Councils over the years – agreed to the benefit levels.  Frankly, I do not yet have enough information even to hazard a guess at a solution.  My hope is that calm and unemotional discussion among the many parties involved will get us most of the way toward a solution; it will require give and take on all sides as we try to adjust.


6)      What’s your “elevator pitch” to someone still thinking of voting for an opponent?

 I am not fond of “elevator pitches” at the last minute, but with that in mind, I have nearly three decades of military leadership and decision-making experience and have learned the value of cooperation at every opportunity.  The Council, City Manager, staff and all city employees are here to serve the residents of our city, and we must all keep that in mind every day.  I believe that I can add a valuable component to that mix.  When I make decisions, I gather as many facts as are practical, I talk with people who have experience with an issue/topic that I may not, and I try to figure out the consequences of various options.  Some decisions are easy, sometimes a lot of thinking and discussing are needed before an obvious solution surfaces, and sometimes it is simply making the best decision with the information at hand – knowing full well there may be a better solution and we will look back and wonder how we missed it.  That is how I will work.


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