Question 1: Mayor Rocky Anderson has said the city needs to increase its police force by 90 officers by 2010. In order to do that he will need the City Council to allocate the funding needed for these new officers. Adding that many more officers will be wildly expensive for the city and may require tax increases. As a council member will you support adding so many more officers to the force? Would you support tax increases for more police officers?
Answer: New officers will be necessary, but we need to examine the budget before raising taxes and look at other alternatives.
Question 2: Downtown remains a concern for many residents. Do you feel the city is doing the right things to help revitalize downtown? What would you do as a council member to help downtown?
Answer: The RDA has wonderful programs to lend money to downtown businesses at very low interest rates. They also have grants for business that want to move downtown. I think the city is doing the right things, but it is a slow process. One of the problems we face is developers who are land banking on main street (land banking is buying up properties at a low price and letting them sit empty until they become more valuable, or till they amass contiguous properties that can be demolished for a larger development). The City Council needs to explore solutions to this obstacle of revitalization.
People residing in downtown are the beginning of change. Look at any revitalized district in metropolitan cities around the country and you'll see it all started with successful people with a disposable income moving in, like students and artists. The LDS Church's plans are exciting and need to compliment increased retail and social developments that will draw people to the downtown area on a daily basis, but should not be the only revitalization going on.
Question 3: One of the biggest issues of late in District 3 has been people tearing down traditional homes and replacing them with monster homes. Some say new, bigger homes are needed to attract families to the city and maintain property values. Others feel these large homes are ugly and aren't compatible with the city's traditional neighborhoods. What's your opinion? How should city government handle this issue?
Answer: Parts of both the Avenues and Capitol Hill are controlled by national and local landmarks ordinances. To clarify, National Register Historic Districts have little or no restrictions on what you can do to a historic house or a property, and are primarily an honor roll that gives people access to tax credits. Local landmarks ordinances are much more restrictive. They limit additions, alterations, and demolitions to historic properties that contribute to the district, and they also require that new construction must be compatible in scale and design.Unfortunately, in the Avenues, the district only goes up to 6th Ave., so development is unfettered above. Some new development is inevitable and adds to the eclectic nature of our neighborhoods, but the historic charm is what draws most of us downtown, and smaller houses on smaller lots are a fact of life of downtown living in every city. In essence, the government does deal with it through local landmarks ordinances and through neighborhood master plans.
I advocate historic preservation because the character of a city is important. Destroying that character will reduce property values and make Salt Lake City no different from the latest development in the suburbs. More resources need to be devoted to declaring historic districts in our city. Evidence clearly shows that historic districts have higher property values than ones who do not. Higher property values translate to more tax revenue. There should have been compatibility review for the Avenues long ago.
Question 4: There has been much talk about developing the city's Northwest Quadrant, which lies west of the airport. Some see this area as a place where tens of thousands of residents could eventually live in master planned communities. However, there are some concerns. Some want the area preserved as natural open space. Others say it's too costly to put homes way out there. Police and fire services in the city are already stretched thin and putting houses five miles west of downtown would further strap public safety and other services like public utilities. Still, proponents maintain the city needs to add more residents so it remains Utah's largest city and keeps it's political clout in the face of other rapidly growing municipalities. What's your vision for the Northwest Quadrant? If you favor development how will the city pay for it?
Answer: There are plenty of ways to increase the population without developing an area that will stretch thin our municipal serves or reduce our open space. Increasing downtown density is a great way to add residents. Salt Lake continues to add loft and condo apartment buildings at a rapid rate. Much of that land is owned by the LDS Church so plans for that land will need to be in association with them. However, on the issues of development of new areas I believe developers should pay for or help pay for bringing in utilities and infrastructure to the area. If the piece is developed, it should be a transit-oriented, walkable community with light rail or commuter rail near by. Perhaps the city's contribution to the development is selling the land at a discounted price.
Question 5: Some people are saying City Hall is hard to work with because Mayor Anderson and the City Council don't get along. Is the push and pull between the council and mayor a problem? Explain why or why not. Is the rift more the fault of the council or the mayor? As a council person will you seek friendly relations with the mayor or do you think city government works better if there is some tension between the two houses of government?
Answer: Often dissension and differing points of view will lead to the synthesis of a new and better idea. However, the ability to enter into a civil discourse is vital to this process. Allowing personal opinions over personality conflicts to interfere with the push and pull between the council and the mayor's office does a disservice to both and does not serve the community in any way. District 3 is primarily pro-Rocky and we need someone to be a bridge-builder, and I am that person.