Politics & Government

Where SLO council and mayoral candidates stand on three key issues

Q: Do you support renewal of Measure Y, the half-cent increase approved by voters in 2006, which will sunset in 2014?

Jeff Aranguena: Yes, I do support the renewal of Measure Y. … I believe that Measure Y has been instrumental in ensuring the fiscal integrity of the city and that its renewal is vital to our continued economic rebound.

John Ashbaugh: Yes. To do otherwise would be to endanger the fiscal integrity of the city. 

Steve Barasch: The approximately $5.8 million collected each year as a result of Measure Y has not been used as promised. Therefore, without specific guarantees to safeguard the interests of city residents, I cannot support the renewal of Measure Y as a “general purpose tax” any longer.

Dan Carpenter: Many in the community have lost confidence because the revenues were used in 2008 in part to backfill a binding arbitration decision. I would consider as an option a special-purpose sales tax to ensure intended use.

Donald Hedrick: I think we need to back away from taxing all our people so hard — need to patch holes in the bucket they put money in. I would rather see us tighten our belts. 

Jan Marx: Yes, I am strongly in favor of renewing Measure Y. I campaigned in its favor in 2006 and will do so again in 2014. Measure Y has brought in more than $5 million each year since it passed, and these funds are separately audited.

Kevin Rice: Measure Y revenue has been poorly spent, neglecting the promises made to us in 2006. I will correct the record by directing funds toward those promises. Renewal will be decided by voters in 2014.

Matt Strzepek: I support placing Measure Y back on the ballot because it gives citizens an opportunity to decide for themselves. However, city officials should assure voters that any funds raised will go directly into maintaining and improving infrastructure and not be used for any pet projects.

Q: What role should the city play in the homeless services center planned for Prado Road?

Aranguena: Not only will this new center provide vital services to our homeless population, but it will also help to ensure the safety and cleanliness of our neighborhoods by increasing the number of beds for our homeless population. I believe that the city should play a key advisory and secondary support role in the development and maintenance of the center for all of those reasons.

Ashbaugh: We should work with business community and Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County as well as residential neighbors. My view is the center will solve some of the problems we currently experience in that area. 

Barasch: I currently believe that our city does not need to subsidize the construction and the ongoing operation and maintenance of a 200-bed, institutional-type homeless shelter as is currently proposed. ... City residents’ hard-earned tax dollars can be better spent in subsidizing local social service programs and projects that benefit those deserving homeless families who choose to reside in our city.

Carpenter: The city should require a security plan and a strong neighborhood communication plan. Its neighbors should have a clear pathway to have their concerns expeditiously addressed. The center is needed as we have a significant portion of our homeless population that will benefit from the center and its consolidation of services.

Hedrick: It’s wrong to cluster so many people together in a confined, controlled space for health reasons. I would support a more dispersed, smaller space. 

Marx: During the upcoming years, we need to come together as a community and create a more comprehensive strategy to provide the homeless with effective programs and transitional housing. Toward this end, I will propose improving homeless services as a city goal during the upcoming budget goal-setting workshops and lobby my fellow council members to vote with me on this issue.

Rice: There is no way to avoid the need for homeless services. But the center is years off. I’m focused on the solutions we need now. We need appropriate places where our homeless citizens — especially local and longtime residents who have lost a place to live — can legally survive without trashing creeks or neighborhoods.

Strzepek: Spending $8.9 million on a new facility doesn’t seem prudent. I recommend that homeless individuals be asked what services they would like to reasonably receive. Business owners should also be asked how such a center would impact their businesses.

Q: The city estimates it will take about $9 million annually to fully maintain and repair existing infrastructure. But only about $5.8 million is currently budgeted. Does more money need to be dedicated to road, buildings, etc.?

Aranguena: I believe as a matter of principle that capital improvement should always be a matter of primary concern when addressing how the city should spend its money. However, I do not believe that now is the time to be increasing city revenues with new additional taxes on the residents of San Luis Obispo to spend on capital improvements.

Ashbaugh: Yes, we need to focus more on water and sewer line replacement projects particularly. We also benefit from private business when we invest in public infrastructure. 

Barasch: I strongly believe that the citizens of San Luis Obispo deserve the benefits of the previously promised capital improvement projects, such as the construction of Fire Station No. 5, the much-needed fourth downtown parking structure and the state-required upgrades to our current municipal sewer plant located along Prado Road, as well as the smaller scale roadway, curb/gutter and city park improvements that have been deferred indefinitely.

Carpenter: Yes, we definitely need to allocate more money for capital improvement projects. We have been deficient in this area for many years. That money will come from increased revenue as this economy continues to grow and from additional savings as we evaluate and reform long-term staffing costs.

Hedrick: Improvements are certainly not lacking in the downtown core. … The improvements need to be more equitably dispersed throughout town.

Marx: Yes, we need to spend more money on infrastructure and capital improvements. Yes, we need to make policies planning to set aside funds for anticipated replacement and repair. Money to do this will come from a variety of sources.

Rice: Yes! Neglect of infrastructure is borrowing from a credit card. Eventually, there will be huge repair costs. The money exists but has been diverted. I will not allow our streets and infrastructure to crumble.

Strzepek: Unfortunately, current City Council members have shirked their duty and allowed capital improvements to fall by the wayside. They have instead chosen to spend huge amounts of money installing unnecessary “mission-style” sidewalks and defending unjust ordinances that penalize homeless people for taking shelter in their vehicles. Meanwhile, our roads and bridges and parks steadily deteriorate.

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