Candidate Q&A: Truckee Town Council
October 16, 2008
Between now and election day, the Sierra Sun will be profiling local contested races with a question and answer segment for each district. Check back regularly in the Sierra Sun to see what the candidates have to say about local issues.All Q&As are available at http://www.sierrasun.com/election2008
Susman: During my time on the council, I have considered every development application as to its consistency with our General Plan and the benefits and or impacts to our community. Whether new development is filling a need in the community (the Medical/Professional build on Donner Pass Rd.) or creating new opportunities (Pioneer Commerce Center), new development must pay its own way and must also provide an overall positive benefit for Truckee. Some examples of community benefits are open space protection, enhanced transit opportunities, workforce housing, roadway improvements, trails/bikeways and others. Jones: The look and function of development projects must enhance and be consistent with our existing character keeping a real town feel. The planning commission and town council must have deeper deliberation. On the council, I will push thorough dialogue and appoint a planning commissioner who will do likewise. With all due respect, staff needs to do more to present alternatives. It is correct that we need to follow the General Plan, but council has much decision-making within its discretion. Development must not negatively affect the overall infrastructure of the town: transportation, water, and sewer. And it must help us address our middle class housing crisis. We need to include public spaces, open space, and trails and bikeways and public art. Frank: I would advocate for more affordable housing.Brimer: It must be smart development with much input from the community. It also should follow the Development Code. The code was written to insure guidelines of quality with low impact for the community as a whole. Unfortunately, the code is sometimes negotiated with and deviated from.Green: We should have the community build a list of their preferences for desired community benefits and require developers to choose from the top of that list what they are willing to contribute. That list could include bike trails from home school or work; open space and parks; public transportation within Truckee, such as to Pioneer Center. Redevelopment Agency funds can be used to augment these projects.
Susman: Truckee has made great strides in addressing both affordable and workforce housing needs in our community. I am proud to be both a leader and partner in the successes we have had. Some of our successes include partnering with E/W Partners in their Sawmill Heights project and Henness Flats housing as well as Frishman Hollow and Spring Creek to name just a few. I believe we have to be adaptable to existing market conditions especially during these current economic times. There is still more work to do in assuring affordable housing for all. I would insure a balance between housing types with housing needs and demand (housing for purchase vs. rental, restricted vs. market rate). To reach a collaborative solution, fair and equitable to all in achieving affordable housings financial needs. I support priority for locals and public service personnel, teachers and others as allowable by law. Jones: This is one of our most urgent needs. And it is the most difficult area of the housing effort as government funds are not usually available. But I believe creative solutions can be found that will provide housing for our nurses, teachers, police and fire fighters, construction managers, etc. Losing this element of housing means we continue to lose our core local its just not an option any longer. For example, we can consider cohousing communities, town-sponsored deed-shared ownership, and size restricted developments.Frank: Provide incentives for contractors.Brimer: First, the current policy needs to be defined, clarified and made realistic not only for developers, but for the people trying to get into an affordable/workforce housing complex. The current policy is unfriendly to builders and in some cases, the people that need the housing cant qualify. The policy also needs to expand to include some of the middle class that make to much money to rent, but not enough to own. Many of our service sector have to live in Reno because of these restraints. Its especially not realistic having our police and fire staff having to commute. Green: We should be even more creative in these two areas. First, co-housing is a strategy which offers an innovative approach to sustainable living. It offers private homes with common living facilities and a tight-knit neighborhood atmosphere. Second, our community would benefit from creating a shared housing program, such as Project Match in the Bay Area. Such projects assist homeowners who are interested in providing a room for a compatible housemate by coordinating the process. Shared housing programs offer affordable housing and can be established through federal funding.
Susman: In keeping with the goals of Truckees Downtown Specific plan which provides the vision of protecting our historic downtown, I supported the councils actions to restrict office and professional uses on the ground floor of commercial row. Actions such as this are just the beginning. The council was responsive to requests by downtown merchants wanting paid parking. (Evaluation of the parking program is ongoing). In addition, the council has required an economic analysis prior to any development on the Rail Yard. This analysis is necessary to understand new developments effect on the downtown. I am against the Post Office leaving downtown and will continue to support downtown Truckee as the heart and soul of our community. I oppose efforts that would make downtown a tourist only attraction and I will continue to work for the retention of businesses and services that attract locals to our downtown. Jones: All business centers in Truckee are important. The role of the council is to hold the entire picture and develop policies and programs to establish complimentary locations. Having said that, events this summer such as Truckee Thursdays are increasing the vitality of downtown and I support efforts to bring families, locals and visitors to downtown. The town needs to compliment the market demand of downtown. We need to strongly push sidewalks along Brickelltown and Bridge Street this would have helped these businesses. Paid parking is meeting some needs, but falling short of others. We need to maintain the accessibility of parking, but it needs tuning such as 15 minute free spaces. Finally, downtown infill projects and the Railyard can increase the sustainability of the area but the town needs to insure these projects are vetted and coordinated.Frank: Continue to make it easily accessible to everyone, by encouraging smart growth.Brimer: Id want to continue supporting and encouraging more events like Truckee Thursdays. This proved to be a fun and profitable endeavor. Also, many merchants are concerned about the future project known as the Railyard. Assurances need to be made that the Railyard will be an extension of downtown and not a direct competitor. I also believe chain stores should be discouraged for both areas. We need to maintain the mom and pop small town flavor. Green: So far, our economic studies have been site-specific. We should do a study for the whole town, looking for an evaluation of competing businesses town-wide, diversity, and compatibility. With that information, we can make decisions, in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, about how to create zoning standards that dont weaken the downtown.
Susman: Having been the owner of successful small businesses and a member of the Town Council, I am acutely aware of the need for economic diversity and adaptation. At the town level, steps to achieve diversity have been ongoing. In addition to our construction and tourism industries, the most vulnerable in the current economy, Truckee has been realizing diversity in our economy for some time. Boat builders, wine makers, Clear Capital, and Sierra College are examples. However, in this economic climate we must be more proactive. The town council guided by the General Plan must work collaboratively with the Chamber of Commerce, SEDD, the community and other partners to aggressively promote Truckees desire to attract clean, green industry and businesses, supported by our IT infrastructure and our areas quality of life. Job diversity that creates jobs that pay a (Truckee) livable wage are key to this success. Jones: The town council has a role in diversifying our economy but we have to work with the right partners Chamber, Downtown Merchants, CATT, SIGBA, and others. The town can provide leadership but can not do the whole job. An initial step is started with the report commissioned by the town on economic development. I support the desire to bring clean industries with good paying jobs to Truckee. Town council can establish programs and policies to make these businesses more welcome. Additionally, we build on our existing strengths I would look at ways to bring resort associated industries to Truckee. I want to market Truckee to the outdoor retailers and National Ski Area Associations, businesses which serve those markets are good matches for our mountain community. Frank: I would help diversify Truckees, economy encourage green industry and those who foster new technologies to come to Truckee, and look to other communities for innovative ideas that could help Truckee.Brimer: We need to look at ways to increase our tourism for one. Especially after being named one of the top ten places to live/visit in Sunset Magazine, we need to take advantage of that publicity. We also need to look at attracting business to the community that could employ current residents and not need to import new people. We also need to encourage more people to start small businesses. Service businesses are important to a tourist community like Truckee and our visitors are willing to pay for quality work. Especially with Sierra College opening, people could consider an education in a new field or trade.Green: A comprehensive town-wide economic study would assist in developing a list of small businesses that are needed to address the unmet needs of our community. We need to attract and retain small businesses. The new Sierra College campus will assist in training our existing work force to become employees in those new businesses. They can transition from the ski and tourism industry.
Susman: There are a number of priorities facing Truckee at this time. One of great importance and encompassing a number of the issues facing our community is one that I have been dedicated to for many years. This is the preservation and protection of Truckees small town character and quality of life, to manage growth that provides community benefits and protects the environment. I will continue to insure that new growth contributes to a sustainable future both environmentally and economically. Also a council priority, I have worked continuously for solutions that provide affordable housing opportunities for all members of our community. And, on everyones mind today, economic sustainability. My experience managing the towns budget, of being fiscally responsible and accountable to the citizens of Truckee, is crucial now more than ever for us to weather the current financial storm. Vote Yes on Measure V. Vote Susman on Nov. 4th.Jones: With all due respect, I differ from the current council in my focus on fiscal policy. Short term my highest priority is to work with staff to be sure 1) Town priorities are directly reflected in the budget and 2) revenue and expenses match the economic outlook. Undoubtedly, in the next four years, we have hard choices to make. I have the experience in matching policy and programs against budgeting and making hard decisions.Long term, my highest priority is overseeing PC1, PC3, Hilltop and the Railyard. While these can bring real benefit (jobs, housing, trails, industrial uses), past councils have not focused enough on the fit with the character of Truckee. The developments need to keep a real town feel in look and functionality. Additional priorities are housing, the Truckee River Revitalization Strategy and the Trails and Bikeways Master Plan. Frank: My highest priorities are affordable housing, strong infrastructure and public transportation.Brimer: Overseeing and insuring smart growth. Growth is essential to our community. It creates jobs for community and revenue for the town. With the downturn in the economy, were starting to feel the effects of a slow growth economy. Many people are loosing their jobs and most everyone is tightening their belts. But when development does pick up, it must follow the guidelines and benefit Truckee and its community. The other top priority is to insure the town stays financially strong. The town needs to be prepared for a tough economy.Green: We should be working together as a team that respects and encourages each others new ideas. Working together with the public creates a stronger partnership that invites even more creativity. Truckee has attracted new resident from the Bay Area and other areas who bring with them the concepts that have been developed and proven in those other areas. We can benefit from and build on those ideas.