The last four issues on the list are:
Issue 9. The Chamber of Commerce has advanced an Economic Strategic Planning process
Question 9-a: What are the strengths and weaknesses of the plan?
Question 9-b: Do you believe the City should contract with the Chamber to execute this plan?
Question 9-c: How does this plan fit into a City wide comprehensive strategic plan for the City?
Question 9-d: What can/should be done to improve economic conditions for small businesses here?
Issue 10. The residents are concerned about pedestrian safety due to speeding traffic.
Question 10-a: Do you see this as a problem and if yes, what would you do about it?
Question 10-b: How would you define a “safe” speed limit on residential streets?
Issue 11: The Council struggled to implement a compromise No Smoking Ordinance.
Question 11-a: Would you support changing the ordinance in any way?
Question 11-b: How do you reconcile the public health benefits of the no smoking ordinance with the rights of property owners?
Issue 12: Homeowner difficulty with approvals from the City?
Question: 12-a: What would you do to make it easier for property owners to work with the City?
Here are my comments:
The Economic Development Strategic Plan is not the Chamber of Commerce’s Plan. It is the City’s plan. I know that because Herb Perez and I, the City Manager and Assistant City Manager, the Community Development Director, the Parks & Rec Director, the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce and a former Chair of the Environmental Sustainability Task Force were the eight member crew that spent over two years putting the initial plan together. It was passed in a 5-0 vote in February of 2014 by the City Council and became the City’s plan. City staff proposed having the Chamber of Commerce work with City staff to more further develop specific tasks and flesh out the plan for which the City would compensate the Chamber for that work. It was believed that the Chamber with its familiarity with the City and its lower labor rate could do the work more economically. I urge anyone that has not seen the plan to review it as I hope it will be funded next year. I would love to hear the candidates comment on it.
We have just about the safest non-gated community possible. We are consistently ranked as one of the safest communities in the Nation. Yes, there were some traffic accidents last year and unfortunately people were injured, but the idea that lowering the speed limit will make people obey the law when they currently drive faster than the speed limits makes no sense. If you think traffic is bad now, think about what it would be like if we put a stop sign on every corner. We have added safety features to intersections around our schools and our City participates in the Safe Streets to School program. I continue to believe that people can change their driving behavior but I intend to work through a program that I run at Bowditch to reach our students with safety programs. I would like to see others involved in making safe driving a more public issue as that is what I think will work.
Last year’s smoking ordinance was a compromise between vastly different positions on the issue by various members of our Council. I think that we were able to reach resolution when the positions were so far apart is a credit to our Council. That said, I do not see this as a critical issue for the candidates. We have much more significant issues we will have to deal with in the next two years and our efforts to protect the health of our citizens through the smoking ordinance has been a success.
Many of our planning and permit processes have been streamlined over the past years as staff and Council have worked together. It has been quite some time since someone complained to me about difficulty there, so I do not see this as an issue.
Thank you for reading my comments on these issues. I look forward to hearing your comments and especially the thoughts of the people running for election to our City Council.