San Luis Obispo City Councilman Dan Rivoire, a strong advocate for workforce housing and improved safety measures for bicyclists, has announced that he won’t seek a second term in the November election.
Rivoire, 33, who ran in 2014 at age 29 in part to help represent a younger demographic in the city, said his time constraints with a full-time job and a 10-month-old daughter have made it difficult to provide the level of service he believes his constituents deserve.
Rivoire’s seat expires this year along with that of Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson, who’s running for re-election along with challengers Sarah Flickinger and Erica Stewart.
“One of my goals was to help engage and represent the 24- to -45 year-old demographic, and to encourage that population to engage in the civic process,” Rivoire told The Tribune. “I have learned a lot, and I think, as a council, we’ve tackled some larger issues. In this modern era, I think the demand of your time, however, makes it very difficult for working professionals to serve.”
Rivoire said he has been proud of approving Land Use and Circulation elements and major housing projects that he believes will help relieve a dire demand for housing for working professionals.
“Some of the slow-growth and no-growth folks believe that we’ve taken an extreme approach to new development and growth, but I will argue all day that we’ve been on a middle path,” Rivoire said. “We have worked to bring much needed affordable and workforce housing that acknowledges the struggles of the working class who didn’t buy homes here decades ago. At the same time, we’ve made sure developers are paying their fair share to provide infrastructure to support the impacts.”
Rivoire said one challenge the city faces is adequate transportation funding to support traffic improvements, and he acknowledges new housing will bring “concentrated impacts for years” until road improvements can catch up.
Rivoire said the Measure J proposal of a special county transportation tax, which narrowly fell short of a two-thirds majority in the 2016 election, could have helped fund projects that he believes would greatly benefit the city and region.
“To have all of the bikeway, public transportation, bus service and roadway improvements people want, the resources aren’t there,” Rivoire said. “I think a special tax for the county can and should happen in the future.”
Rivoire has been a vocal advocate for bicycle safety, saying it’s especially important to him now that he has a young daughter who rides in a back seat, and has worked to try to make the city’s roads safer for all users. He advocated for safety upgrades of streets on the city’s north end in particular, where improvements would serve bike commuters between downtown and Cal Poly.
Council members receive annual compensation of $14,688, while the mayor takes in $20,700. Rivoire, who’s employed at iFixit, said he has been fortunate to have an employer who’s supportive of public service, which he estimates can take up between 50 and 75 hours per month — but he has little free time.
Rivoire said duties include reviewing bimonthly staff reports that are sometimes more than 600 pages long, attending council and liaison meetings (on the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments Board of Directors and the Regional Transit Authority) and responding to floods of correspondence from constituents seeking to discuss city matters.
“I think to have the representation of the working class, and not just retired people who have the time, council seats should be like a job that pays enough to live on, or the expectations of duties should be less,” Rivoire said.
Rivoire said he’ll support Heidi Harmon in her bid for re-election as mayor, running against challenger Keith Gurnee, as well as Christianson and Stewart for council.