Saturday, October 2, 2010
City Council Candidates - Meet Len Stone
Text and picture from online Pacifica Tribune Questions (Part 1), 09/30/2010.
The City Council candidates. Seven of the nine responded to the following six questions. Four candidates' answers are published in their entirety. Due to space constraints the remaining candidate responses will be published next week. sent questionnaires to all nine
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. In 2002, I started my Farmers Insurance Agency and my wife and I had nothing — no money and no clients. Our first apartment was a tiny in-law unit with the equivalent of two hotplates and a convection oven. We lived hand-to-mouth but knew that with hard work and determination, we would improve our situation. During those hard times, I learned a lot of important life lessons that will stay with me forever. Among those lessons were how to stick to a strict budget, how to cut wasteful spending, and that every dollar needs to be spent wisely. I applied what I learned to my business and as a result, during four of the last five years, I have been the top-selling agent in my district that includes over 30 other Farmers Insurance Agents from the greater Bay Area.
I am the incoming President of the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce and founder of the Chamber's Government Affairs Committee. My experience on the Chamber's Executive Board has allowed me to see firsthand why we have difficulty attracting businesses to come to our city. There are unnecessary obstacles for potential businesses that drive them away. These obstacles can easily be corrected so that we encourage and invite businesses to come to Pacifica. The success of any organization depends on leadership, a distinct vision, and the backbone to make tough decisions. In my view, leadership begins with listening and understanding. I have been cultivating these skills while growing my business from having no clients to a top producing organization. I can help bring the same results to
Pacifica spends more money than it takes in. The major reason for this is that our tax revenue has remained the same for the past seven years. In addition, City Council has chosen to spend more and more money every year. In 2010, Pacifica is set to spend approximately $2,800,000 more than it takes in. In order to reconcile this deficit, the money is taken from our reserves. However, our reserves will be completely gone by the end of 2011. The incumbents running this year have led us down this road to collapse. We need new leadership now.
City Council. 2. What is your position on the future use of the quarry, including the possibility of residential units.
The project will improve the lives of the residents of Pacifica All environmental protections are followed to the full letter of the law A downtown is provided. A long-term sustainable tax base is created, and residential units, if any, do not overwhelm the project and overload Route 1.
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? I support moving forward to fix our traffic problem and having an EIR (Environmental Impact Report) completed. There are environmentally sensitive areas in the vicinity of Highway 1. The EIR will tell us which projects are possible. Existing traffic congestion wastes the time of too many Pacificans and is dangerous. There is no alternative route between Rockaway and Vallemar. This means that during heavy traffic emergency vehicles cannot get through. When the tunnel opens at , there will be even more traffic. City Council has stalled this project for too long. It is time to fix the problem.
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 am open minded to what is developed at the waste water treatment plant, but I will only support a project that infuses tax dollars into the city and creates an economic hub for Palmetto. The current City Council has wanted to develop the old wastewater treatment plant for at least 12 years, but they have failed to make progress. This site can be an anchor to revitalize Palmetto and provide Pacificans with the " " we deserve. We are forced to shop out of town for many items because the and City Council have created an environment that makes it difficult to open a new business. Recently, it took a local pizza restaurant over two years to open due to the City's tedious permitting process. With such a lack of efficiency in the planning department, it is no wonder that the waste water treatment site is still sitting idle. This wastes millions of dollars in potential sales tax revenue. This is why Pacifica doesn't have the money to maintain our neighborhood streets, build a 21st century library, clean our beaches, provide adequate senior transportation, provide recreational activities for kids, and maintain our sport fields. While the current City Council agrees we need to grow our tax base, Pacificans are denied these services because no one has taken ownership and initiative to attract new businesses. I will work to make our planning department efficient and to encourage businesses to choose Pacifica. We cannot afford to have businesses continue to go elsewhere.
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? The TOT (Hotel Tax) will be another nail in the coffin of our local economy. This tax will hurt Pacifica at a time when California's unemployment is over 12 percent. Pacifica's hotels, and the businesses that depend on the hotels' occupancy, are barely making it now. Making it harder for hotels to do business in this economy sends the wrong message.
6. How would you solve the city's longtime budget structural deficit? We need to generate more sales tax revenue. Over the last five years Pacifica's revenue has stayed flat. To achieve this, we must think outside the box with fresh ideas and a willingness to take action. I will make our planning department user friendly. If we want an increased tax base we must have a planning department that welcomes reasonable projects. I will not take the City Council's allotted salary while City Council is proposing layoffs of firefighters. I will propose waiving planning fees for homeowners who remodel their homes during the year of 2011. I want to make it less expensive and easier for homeowners to improve their homes and increase their property values. I will hold tour days for commercial real estate agents and business brokers as a way to show them all that Pacifica has to offer. There are over 30 empty storefronts in Pacifica that could be home to a variety of businesses. These businesses would provide services to our residents, while increasing our tax base.
Posted by Kathy Meeh