2016 Election Campaign:

The local news reporter for the Tribune asked us for 80 words on each of four questions.  My responses follow.


1.  Do you support the current rental housing inspection program? If revisions are needed, what specific changes should be made and why?

Not as currently implemented.  It was designed to address health/safety issues and pay for itself, not to collect “delinquent” permit fees and fines.  It appears only those who found below market-rate rentals have been displaced, but not for health or safety reasons.  Older homes may have sketchy permit histories; city records were destroyed by natural disaster and by negligence.  Records held by the County and offered to the City were declined and, therefore, destroyed.  Council should thoroughly review the program.


2.  What is the most important action the city should take in your first six months to enhance the quality of life for San Luis Obispo residents?

Begin serious discussions with Cal Poly about adding significant on-campus housing.  Over the years Cal Poly added thousands of students without providing the requisite housing, forcing them to seek housing within the city, thus consuming our once affordable workforce housing.  Now we are caught in an endless loop of trying to build affordable workforce housing, with lots of it being rented by students - but not at affordable rates.  Cal Poly can and should provide much of the solution.


3.  Given concerns about water supply because of the ongoing drought, as well as complaints that housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable, what are your views on moving forward with new development in the city?

Last year’s much-anticipated El Nino failed to materialize, and John Lindsey wrote rain this year is unlikely.  It seems prudent to take another look at proposed residential and commercial projects and evaluate their water usage.  As the climate continues to change, we must reconcile the impact of all new construction on green house gasses and, among other things, ensure that any new construction meets Net Zero Energy standards or is, at a minimum, Net Zero Energy Ready.


4.  Do you think the city will face financial repercussions when Diablo Canyon closes, and what specifically should the city do to prepare for and counteract those repercussions?

About 220 of 1,500 Diablo Canyon employees live in the city.  Spread over ten years, we can expect about two per month to retire or move.  Those who retire may stay.  The city will grow by more than 220 residents over that time; Diablo’s impact will not be significant.  Unlike SLCUSD or the County, our loss of property taxes will be minimal.  The City needs to be alert to unexpected changes in PG&E’s plan, but repercussions should be minimal.



From the 2014 Election Campaign:

On Friday, 5 September 2014, a Tribune reporter preparing an elections story on the SLO Council race provided five questions for me to respond to.  The questions are in bold below with my responses following.


1.  What do you believe will be the three most important issue/issues before the City Council in the coming four years?

The City’s financial health is fundamental, and this includes getting our long-term debt under control.  Updated data from CalPERS will be coming out early next year, and that could substantially alter our current and future financial planning and allocation of funds.

Another significant issue will be the proposed, but not yet adopted or implemented, changes in the update to the Land Use and Circulation Elements of the City’s General Plan.  They have grown from the “focused updates” the City Council initially called for into a comprehensive overhaul.  It will take considerable time for residents and businesses alike to digest it all, and there may be some unintended consequences that will need to be addressed.

Lastly, we have to work closely with Cal Poly as it continues to add students faster than it adds housing and as it plans to compete with our local businesses for visitors’ hotel, events and convention dollars.


2.  What is your position on Measure G?  Do you support its renewal?  Please explain.

Voters approved the Measure Y tax increase to run – per the ballot measure – “for eight years only,” then expire. They did so because it established a firm “sunset” date and allowed voters to evaluate its effectiveness in primarily funding items listed in the ballot measure.  Today many residents have concluded that funding for many of the ballot items did not come to pass.  It became a general purpose tax, available for any use.  We should let Measure Y expire on March 31, 2015, and use the next two years to carefully evaluate what did or did not happen and why.

Given this history, had Measure G been placed on the ballot as a special-purpose tax, and I agreed with the stated purpose(s), I would have supported it.  That would require a higher voter approval rate, but it would be clear that residents really wanted specific things accomplished and were willing to tax themselves to do so.  Thus, I do not support Measure G as written.


3.  Development is at its peak with several large projects, including the San Luis Ranch, coming before the City Council in the coming years.  What would you like to see as a priority for future developments in the city?

It must be a priority that future development preserves what is special about this city.  I would like to see a continuation of the respect previous developers have shown for our open spaces, hillsides and viewsheds.  Among the many things we value about San Luis Obispo, besides the weather and clean air, include its small-town character, the primarily human-scale structures, respect for peaks and hillsides, and the conscious efforts made to maintain views of the surrounding hills from anywhere in the city.

Continued protection of these assets may require some additional architectural creativity, but I believe we have that ability.  The availability of Cal Poly’s highly regarded College of Architecture and the ready access to its faculty and students along with our many local architects ensures a deep capability for creating designs that will keep hillsides and the viewsheds available to everyone.


4.  A recent compensation study found that more than half of the city's workforce is making less in compensation and salaries than their counterparts in comparable cities.  Do you believe that the city should invest more in salaries and compensation?  Please explain.

Before making a decision on something as important as employee compensation, I would need additional information about our city and the cities included in the study.  Each city’s overall financial health is critical information to decision making as is identification of the positions receiving lower or higher total compensation.  City population, employee to population ratio, and the percentage of each city’s general fund dedicated to staff compensation are also important factors.  It would be important to know if the cities participate in CalPERS and, if not, what their retirement plans are and on what portion of salary/benefits their employee retirement pay is based.

It is critical that we maintain or improve our financial health.  We would be a poor employer if we could not ensure that city staff could count on there being positions available today and well into the foreseeable future.


5.  What will be your top two goals should you be elected to the city council?

My major goal would be to ensure that our financial house is in order.  To do that, we must get our long-term debt under control.  We have to get to the point that we know how much money we need to accomplish essential city services – not how much money we have and then decide how to spend it.

My second goal would be to continue fostering a city government that is responsive to residents.  I would like more residents involved in shaping the future of San Luis Obispo.  We would benefit if more of us attended council, commission and committee meetings, workshops, and open houses.  In fact, I would like to see increased interaction between department staff and residents in all of the city’s many residential areas.  When residents meet city employees to share information, concerns, problems and successes, everyone profits from the exchange.  We all want our city to be a place we are proud of.


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