These are just some of the specific issues raised by residents, and I hope you will take a look and see where I stand on some of them. If you would like to learn more about where I stand on an issue not included here, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message on my contact page.
What kind of person are you?
What is “organic growth” in the city?
Have we done anything to promote growth?
Do you think the City Council really works?
But for the City Council to really work, we have to have Council members who are willing to talk to everyone – even if we just know they disagree with us. That’s why I think it is incredibly important for the public to really look closely at the candidates who are running and elect those who have already done something for the city. That may have been serving on a board or commission or organizing their neighbors around a cause. Those people have proven they have the city’s interests in mind. They have also shown a willingness to work on multiple issues (not just the one they are interested in), do the homework required, and make recommendations or decisions that will be helpful.
What do you think of the city’s Boards and Commissions?
Plus, our boards and commissions have gone through most issues pretty thoroughly before approving something. For instance; for the Hotel Durrell project I listened to the 2 hour and a half hours of the Planning Commission’s deliberations. They had already gone through it in good detail, and added some very worthwhile conditions. After City Council involvement the project may be a bit better, but the Planning Commission did their job as best they could, and I don’t think every decision should have to come to the City Council.
I also don’t want to scare off any potential developers for other parcels downtown. Until the Holman building, we haven’t had any major developments downtown for 30 years and I don’t want people to think we don’t want any. Downtown has already become much livelier than in the past, and even more “feet on the street” would still help our stores and restaurants more.
What kind of a mayor will you be?
I also intend to spend time with city leaders in other local communities. We are all part of one area, and I think it is important that we all talk and work together to look out for our residents. Too often people look at our cities as just a place to live. They should also be places where we celebrate the accomplishments of our students and our sports teams. We should look for common issues where a regional approach to issues will be less costly and effective than each city doing something on its own.
Life here on the Monterey Peninsula is pretty good, but critical to making it even better is to finally address some issues we all share. This could be water, housing, crime, recreational opportunities; whatever.
I also want us to build a city that is financially stable on a sustainable basis. This may mean looking for new revenue; but only if we absolutely need it. We need to work with our local businesses to allow them to grow and expand. Monterey has a policy that they will not build any more hotels. That gives Pacific Grove the opportunity to build a couple that will add revenue to the city and make it a better place for visitors to come visit.
What would you bring to the mayor’s position?
My experience as a council member for eight years makes me extremely qualified to now lead the city as Mayor. I have learned the ways in which the public sector can work in partnership with community organizations, other public agencies, and private individuals to provide services or develop a solution to an issue. I have proven that I am thoughtful, creative, and pragmatic in coming up with solutions to problems in collaboration with others. You want that in a mayor – and in your council members.
What do you want to focus on as Mayor?
Make city government quick, efficient, friendly, and responsive.
Work with the school district to make PG safe and stimulating for students and parents.
Make our parks the best they can be.
Make our city the best place on the Peninsula to live in, work in, and go to school in.
Leave the city in good financial shape when I step down.
You and the council deal a lot with zoning issues. What is that all about?
It is just better for a city to have similar – or at least compatible – uses in the same areas. Reasonable zoning codes also gives people some level of confidence that when they buy a piece of property, they know what else can be built in that area. Would you want to buy a house not knowing whether the city was going to let someone build a meat packing plant in the empty lot next to you? Probably not.
What is your view of Economic development?
But let’s make sure our local regulations don’t inadvertently stifle business growth and prosperity. Let’s make sure our regulations, and our use of them, are fair. And fair and reasonable regulations don’t apply just to businesses. Regulations can also impede the ability of people to renovate their houses to make them even more attractive. Our city has come a long way to becoming an attractive, desirable, and safe place to live. We need to protect our historic homes at the same time that we let people improve our overall housing stock. As the liaison to the Architectural Review Board I have seen a great many plans come to the board and either get approved or modified and then approved.
Many of those houses now look wonderful. I love to see these homes completed because I know that it is one more family that has turned their house into something that fits them – and improves their whole neighborhood. One of my goals being on the City Council has been to see the city improve its housing stock, and these projects certainly have done that!
How do you view Short Term Rentals?
Some people complain that STR’s are just a way for the city to raise money. They certainly are that, but people conveniently forget that without that revenue we would have to make adjustments on how and where we spend money in Pacific Grove – fixing up streets and sidewalks, the library, recreational activities for our kids, not having to charge for parking downtown, etc.
This program started in 2007 and, if you read the city council minutes from then you will see that the city was in very bad financial shape at the time. That is why the idea of STR’s came up, and it has helped the city financially. We now get about a million and a half dollars from STR’s, and I think we should be cautious about just throwing that away.
There is also no evidence that the owners of STR’s will rent them out long term – and certainly not as affordable housing. Many owner have spent a great deal of money fixing up their places and also come to the city themselves on occasion to enjoy their units. They rent them out when they are not using them. It helps to defray their costs. Indeed, even in cities that do not allow STR’s, many owners only rent their homes out for 30/45/60 day periods so they can also use them.
We also have to realize that the County, Seaside, Marina, and Del Rey Oaks have developed policies to specifically allow them. People who want to stay in a home-like setting may stay in a hotel if one is not available; but I think it just as likely that they will stay at an STR in an adjoining community. But it is now going before the voters and they will have a chance to decide on the program. I will work with whatever the voters decide.
Why aren’t STR’s allowed in the General Plan?
What does someone have to do to rent a Short Term Rental?
What do want to see the city become?
For instance; fixing up part of Lighthouse is good for us and for our visitors, isn’t it? Cooperating with the Aquarium and ensuring the Coastal Recreation Trail is in great shape means that we as locals can use it as well as the visitors who leave money in our town. Protecting historic structures is good for the maintenance of our history as well as a draw for the visitors who appreciate that history. Having quiet neighborhoods is something all of us want – but having a thriving, bustling downtown helps pay the bills so we can keep those neighborhoods quiet and safe. Because of the number of visitors this resort brings to the city, working with the Asilomar Conference Center is also a benefit to both it and the city.
What do you mean when you say you want to put Pacific Grove first?
Look, 20% of our own city’s streets don’t even have curbs and gutters between the road and the walkway. We have burned out streetlights all over town. A lot of our neighborhood roads need work, and yet we seem to spend most of our money on the coast and downtown. Partly that’s because the state agencies and the businesses ask and the neighborhood don’t. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore our residential neighborhoods.
Fixing things now is expensive. But fixing things now costs only a fraction of what it will cost if we let them deteriorate further. We should put together a list of neighborhood roads that need attention, evaluate them, and start fixing them in turn. For every million dollars we spend to fix up our roads downtown or on the coast, I would like to see us spend a million or more on roads in our neighborhoods.
When we started looking at what we have to spend to qualify for Measure X tax money and state funds to fix up our roads, we had some people complain about the fact that we have to spend “Maintenance of Effort” funds to qualify for that. But I think we should be spending that money anyway!
Will these things help in attracting businesses and residents to the city?
It’s the same for people when they look around to find a community to move to. They start by looking at the availability of housing; but they also want good schools, good restaurants, parks for their children to play in, cultural amenities, and broadband availability.
So what is the city fixing up?
Over the next several years we will fill in the gaps in the sidewalk network on the main streets of Pacific Grove. As part of the “Safe Routes to School” effort, the Public Works department will be spending $60,000 per year for about 10 years to put in ADA compliant ramps and to add or repair sidewalks where they are needed. We have already fixed about 1,500 linear feet of sidewalks and put in 200 ADA compliant curb rams at the corners of sidewalks. We have also replaced about half of the burned out street lights in Candy Cane Lane – with more to come.
Most of what people see day to day is how the city operates – how good the roads are, do the streetlights work, and is the city kept clean and safe. Even though we have done a good job on that, we are rolling out some major initiatives that are going to do even more. We have already fixed up parts of Fountain and Park Street and slurry sealed all of the Candy Cane Lane area. We are now getting ready to redo the sanitary sewer main, and rebuild the road and sidewalk on 14th. Street between Lighthouse Avenue and Central Avenue, redo a good chunk of Pine, and rebuild Congress from David to Sunset. We will also slurry seal miles of road surfaces and fix up the coastal areas and our parks in the next several years.
What is your favorite historic spot in Pacific Grove?
Where do you stand on PERS?
But one of the major things we need to do now is get our Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) costs under control. Right now just the pension and pension bond payments take close to 20% of our budget right off the top. This is growing year by year and, based on the increases we already now are coming, this is going to very quickly affect our ability to keep staffing where we need it to be – and our ability to provide city services. While we cannot walk away from the pensions that have been promised and earned by current and former employees in past years, we can – and must – change pension accrual and contribution rates in the future.
At the same time, however, we as a city need to be willing to push back at PERS to put them on notice that they cannot just give their members more benefits without consulting the cities who pay for those benefits. I have spoken with Marcie Frost, the new CEO of CalPERS, and I think we finally have someone in charge there who realizes that she and the PERS Board need to work with cities – not take advantage of them.
I know there are a few who say we should just declare bankruptcy and stop paying PERS. They think that would take care of everything, but in reality it wouldn’t. Several cities in California have done that, and it was a painful process in which they damaged their credit rating, lost many of their public safety employees, and actually ended up paying PERS every cent of what they owed anyway.
The solution is statewide pension reform, and we and other communities – as well as Governor Brown – are working on that. It is a slow process, I know, but getting to this point was also a slow process.