Saturday, October 9, 2010
City Council Candidates - Meet Barbara Arietta
Text and picture from online Pacifica Tribune Questions (Part 2), 10/6/10.
The Pacifica Tribune sent questionnaires to all nine City Council candidates. Eight of the nine responded to the following six questions. Their responses are published in their entirety. This is the second of two parts with responses from Susan Vellone, Heather Tanner, Sue Digre and Barbara Arietta. The responses from Tom Clifford, William "Leo" Leon, Len W. Stone and Jim Vreeland appeared online (9/30/10).
1. What is your background, training and experience that qualifies you to manage the affairs of a city of 40,000 people. Please include your occupation and principle sources of income. My background has been broad-based in a number of professional fields. I have developed many diverse skills, from a variety of disciplines, which, I believe, will serve me well in the role of City Council member, including: Mass Communications - (Network Broadcast Writer/Producer (ABC-NBC-PBS), News Correspondent and Public Relations Counsel); Contract Negotiations- (Insurance: Underwriter, Agent); Legal Adjudication - (Sr. Field Liability Claims Adjuster; San Mateo County Civil Grand Juror); Accounting and Investments - (Loans, Mutual Funds, Real Estate Agent); Tourism and Marketing (International Corporate Travel Management, Professional Meeting Planning, Special Events Production, Hotel Management); Federal Government Program Management and Operations - Western US Coordinator - Region 9, National Stockpile Program ("Top Secret Security Clearance") - General Services Administration; District Manager, United States Census (San Mateo/San Francisco Counties) - United States Department of Commerce. I have supervised a work staff from as little as three, for a broadcast production crew, to a workforce of over 1,100, for a federal government operation. I have also had extensive training and experience in public speaking and in working with a myriad of personalities in local, county and state governmental agencies; making presentations to councils, boards, commissions, civic groups and the general public; working with all aspects of the news media; participating in legal negotiations, settlement conferences and arbitration agreements; making legal liability decisions; analyzing comprehensive financial reports; and carrying out assigned projects to their completion, while on deadlines and under pressure. My involvement in civic leadership positions is on several levels — local, county and state: Local Level: Chair of the City of Pacifica's Green Building Task Force; President of the Pacifica Democrats; Director of the Pacifica Historical Society; Director of the Pacifica Library Foundation and Chair of the Pacifica Community Coalition to Save Sharp Park Golf Course. County Level: Vice Chair of the San Mateo County Transportation Authority's Citizen's Advisory Committee (SMCTA/CAC); President-Elect of the San Mateo County Civil Grand Juror's Association and Associate Member of the San Mateo County Democratic Central Committee,). State Level: Assemblyman Jerry Hill's 19th Assembly District Appointee/Representative to the California State Democratic Central Committee and member of the California State Civil Grand Juror's Association. I am endorsed by: Speaker Pro-Tem, Assemblywoman Fiona Ma; 19th District Assemblyman Jerry Hill; 3rd District Supervisor, Richard Gordon; San Mateo Community College District Trustee, David Mandelkern; Former San Mateo County Sheriff, Don Horsley; the San Mateo County Central Labor Council; the San Mateo County Association of REALTORS and the San Mateo County Democratic Party. Currently, I am a Public Relations/Marketing Consultant, as well as a private investor, with various sources of income, including my spouse's. I will make the City Council position a full-time job, not just a part-time participation, as Pacifica so desperately needs more full-time representatives.
2. What is your position on the future use of the quarry, including the possibility of residential units. The quarry has been at the center of discussion for the past 30 years. We definitely have biological issues in that area; however, I believe that we can develop it wisely, keeping in mind the protection of any sensitive habitat that is there. Personally, I would love to see that area developed with beautiful architecture, in harmony with the natural landscapes I have always envisioned that area as a very beautiful "Carmel-like" oceanside village with enchanting shops, and winding tree-lined streets, wandering throughout the flat land and up the hillside, with restaurants offering alfresco dining, art galleries, boutique stores with, perhaps, shingles, Dutch-doors and small-paned glass windows, an arts cinema, a 21st Century Library Learning Center, a small civic center, along with mixed residential units, as well as single residential units. What a magnificent "center piece" this could be for our town. I envision the quarry to be the potential "smart growth downtown" of the 21st century coastal village called Pacifica. And I also see the same winding, tree-lined streets leading to a low-lying 5-star hotel artistically nestled into the north-west end of the quarry's hillside. I don't want to see any "big boxes" whatsoever! I don't want to see cheap-appearing, homogenized, mediocre storefronts or rows of boring rectangular buildings showing little or no imagination. I'm all about the beautification of this town and we now have the opportunity to re-build it beautifully with each new building being constructed and/or remodeled. I don't want this precious natural area becoming another example of modern, boring "cookie-cutter" buildings. This may be our last opportunity to build a development with a beautiful downtown central plaza worthy of the beautiful natural landscapes that surround it. It truly could be a masterpiece. What Pacifica should be about, in the years moving forward, is green, sustainable and beautiful development, with an eye to matching the beauty of the buildings with the beauty of the land and the ocean. I consider that particular area to be a "legacy" property, a potential showcase of nature and architecture in harmony with each other, designed with buildings and creations that would not only complement, but, enhance the magnificent landscape that's already there.
3. For more than 20 years, Pacifica has debated a Highway 1 congestion solution. Where do you stand on the proposed expansion plan Caltrans and the Transportation Authority has presented? Because of my position as Vice Chair of the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, Citizen's Advisory Committee (SMCTA/CAC) I am precluded from commenting on this as I shall be voting on this sometime next year. But, what I can say is that presently, the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) is still in progress. I have truly made no decision yet concerning this question, nor should I. There are more public hearings to be made between now and the end of next year. I am waiting for all of the information to be presented to me, before I make an informed decision on what can be done concerning this issue. For the past three and a half years I have sat on the SMCTA/CAC and now, as the Vice Chair of that body, the public has been contacting me more and more about this issue. And, because of that, I have developed quite a keen awareness of all aspects of the issues surrounding Highway 1 and what the public wants and doesn't want in regards to Highway One... Ideally, I want to have a solution that is both acceptable and beneficial to all whatever that eventually may turn out to be remains to be seen
4. What is your position on reuse of the old wastewater treatment plant and/or developing West Sharp Park as a potential downtown area? I believe that the entire West Sharp Park commercial area and old wastewater treatment plant should be developed and/or remodeled. Again, just as in the quarry, at the site of the old waste-water treatment plant, I would like to see, perhaps, a hotel (but a small boutique one here) above street level with recessed plazas, hanging gardens and multi-levels, with street-level shops and restaurants, also offering alfresco dining at the oceanfront. And, if we could fit in a small ocean discovery center somewhere in this mix, how visitor accommodating would that be. All of these elements need to be looked at and played with when figuring out the final design. However, again, my big requirement is that it be of the most interesting and attractive architectural design in appearance and not cookie cutter, boring and monotonous "big box" buildings. After all, this is the ocean front and we are looking at the magnificent Pacific Ocean in the backdrop. Let's make what we build as provocative and beautiful in that area as what nature has provided itself. Personally, I would like to see shades of Spanish architecture in that area. As far as a downtown area, my first preference for that would be the quarry, but if and when that would happen nobody knows, so Palmetto is my next best choice and may be our only choice, as the situation develops What a wonderful area for an "Old Town" there, replete with bars, alfresco restaurants, shops and galleries, similar to what they are offering in other coastal cities. And if we could continue the enchanting architecture displayed in the design of the current "Kevin's Cottage" building, how very appealing that would be for that area. And let's have awnings. Take a look at Redwood City's restaurants and shops with awnings in their revitalized areas. What a difference it has made. What a fun area that formerly blighted area is to see now.
5. What are your thoughts regarding the council's proposed $6 million in new taxes for 2011-12, including the proposed increase in TOT hotel tax that will appear on November's ballot. Will you actively campaign for or against these tax proposals and why? Here are my thoughts exactly. Let's take the whole 5-Year Financial Plan into consideration. The TOT hotel tax is but one element of it, but a necessary one as are restructuring the Utility Users Tax and utilizing a Public Safety Assessment Tax are And why is it so necessary to follow the recommended 5-Year Financial Plan that Pacifica has just developed? The answer is that Pacifica is at a serious economic crossroads. We are on the verge of bankruptcy and possible disincorporation because of our multi-million dollar structural deficit. And that is our number one problem - eliminating our structural deficit in order to avoid bankruptcy and disincorporation. It is uncharted territory. On Aug. 29, Half Moon Bay reported just what they think it will be for them if they don't get their proposed sales tax on the November ballot passed. It will be a loss of assets, but not of liabilities, which means that the County will take the monies coming in and leave the bills behind for the parcel owners to pay with potential liens against their parcels. It will mean that the county will take over public services. It will also mean fewer services and more charges for those same reduced services by the County personnel. As a member of the 2008-2009 Civil Grand Jury, I studied the budgets and the structural deficits of every city in this county and also that of the County itself. It was an education that money can't buy. We were looking for structural deficits in each and every city in the County. We talked to Municipal Finance Directors and City Managers all over the County in our quest to find out the truth concerning the financial health of their cities so that the cities of San Mateo County don't become another statistic on the 11 p.m. news, as some cities in Solano County already have. This 5-Year Financial Plan that we are just getting into now has been a matter of practice for the other cities in our County for years and years. I ask, "Why didn't we have a 5-year plan already in place a long time ago?" Could it be that we might have wound up in a better place financially today if we had had such a plan as the one that we have just developed now? But, whatever the answer to that question is, the reality remains that we are in a very, very serious spot with an expected $14 million shortfall over the next five years. In order to survive this, we need to pass these three taxes, in addition to asking all employee labor groups, in their appropriate negotiations, to make adjustments which will lower anticipated salary and benefits costs over the next five years. These adjustments may include a freeze on wages and a freeze in the City's contribution rate to retirement benefits. It is estimated that these two alone will save about $8.5 million over the five-year span. Between the taxes and the labor negotiations, we shall be able to gain $14 million and put our city on a sustainable financial path. If we fail to pass any of these taxes or fail to negotiate the required $8.5 million from the labor groups, we shall have to do mandated percent reductions in departments. If the first two options do not achieve the needed reduction, then the option of last resort takes place, which targets specific city jobs to be eliminated by the City Manager. The actual positions from the list to be eliminated will be developed in response to the evolving budget situation. So, yes I shall actively campaign for these taxes and negotiations, for they are the lesser of two evils and most importantly because our financial life and city's future depends upon it.
6. How would you solve the city's longtime budget structural deficit? The best immediate way to solve the structural deficit is to strictly adhere to the recommendations made in the City's newly developed 5-Year Financial Plan. However, for the long run we also need to immediately start planting the seeds of new economic growth, keeping in mind that seeds do take several seasons to come to fruition. This new chapter in Pacifica's economic development can take place in a variety of ways:
Support the development of current local businesses, improving aging business districts and bringing new businesses to Pacifica.
Streamline the permit process for the opening of a new business or event. Review and develop plans to improve customer service in departments interfacing with current and potential Pacifica businesses. (This can be done by researching other citys' processes to identify best practices that might be used in Pacifica; work with the City Manager to consider the assignment of a liaison to assist applicants with the permit process; and, explore the potential for developing an on-line report that lists desired businesses, available commercial space, as well as key land sites potentially available and appropriately zoned for development/investment.) Enhance Pacifica's existing shopping centers and hotels by collaborating with owners/operators of existing shopping centers to assess shopping centers' needs for enhancing sales tax revenues. Work collaboratively with the Chamber of Commerce by devising a formal "Shop Pacifica" campaign, including discount coupon book (or similar). Work collaboratively with owners and operators of existing hotels-motels and the Chamber to devise a plan to increase room occupancy. Pre-entitle Strategic Land Sites for Future Economic Drivers. Implement a plan for the marketing of Pacifica to attract business growth by strengthening connections to visitor-serving agencies in San Mateo County and the SF Bay Area. Do a public relations campaign to promote businesses, events, Pacifica agencies and Pacifica destinations.
Posted by Kathy Meeh