Saturday, October 2, 2010

City Council Candidates - Meet Jim Vreeland

Text and picture from online Pacifica Tribune Questions (Part 1), 09/30/2010.

The Pacifica Tribune sent questionnaires to all nine 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.

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.  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1988-present). I have a Masters Degree in Public Administration (MPA) and Natural Resources Management. I have served on the City Council for the past twelve years, serving as Mayor three times; and I served on the Planning Commission for four years. Since being elected to the City Council, I have worked very hard to make sure that our City has a consistent voice and a real vote on the various regional boards and commissions that help fund city services and projects. I served as Chair of the County's Library Joint Powers Authority where I was able to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund additional hours at Pacifica's two libraries. We are the only city that receives these additional funds. As Chair of the City and County Association of Governments, I worked to get millions of dollars for new biking and hiking trails to develop our new coastal trails and improve facilities. And, last year I was unanimously elected by all the cities in San Mateo County to serve on the County's Transportation Authority as the North County representative to the Authority. I have served on the Authority for the past several years where I have worked to make sure that we had new bus shelters installed in Pacifica and that Pacifica continues to have a strong voice and real vote on what happens along Highway 1. In all these positions, I have worked hard to ensure we have a strong regional voice for our City. The success of these efforts can be demonstrated by the individuals and groups that are supportingme including Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Assembly Member Jerry Hill, Supervisors Grom and Gordan, San Mateo Central Labor Council and the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club.
2.  What is your position on the future use of the quarry, including the possibility of residential units.  My hope is that we can all work together to expand the Rockaway area into appropriate portions of the quarry and have the owner complete the required restoration of the other parts of the quarry. This development could include new businesses, restaurants, limited residential development and possibly a new hotel. This would also strengthen the area's connection to Mori Point, and facilitate the protection of open space as well as all the natural beauty that our community holds dear. One way to accomplish this would be for the community to work on a specific plan that people can support and also work with the public and private sectors to implement the plan.

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?   It is apparent that many Pacificans have major concerns about the size and scope of the project. As a voting member of the Transportation Authority, I have very clearly expressed these concerns and have already begun to work to see if there are other options (improved traffic light timing, smaller improvements, and different lane configurations) that can be implemented while the Authority and Caltrans complete the draft environmental documents. One of the best ways to make sure our concerns are addressed is to let the agencies complete the draft environmental documents so that we can have a better understanding of the science, planning and constraints of the proposed plan. The most important thing is to ensure that Pacifica continues to have a real vote on the Authority and to make sure our voices are heard.

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 think that there is great potential for developing the West Sharp Park area into a downtown. We should build on the great work that the citizen-based Sharp Park Advisory Committee has developed and begin to implement portions for the new streetscape. We should also work with existing businesses to look for other opportunities in the area and continue to support the pier and coastal trails as an important component to the revitalization.
The wastewater treatment plant property should, if possible, remain in public ownership, and we need to work with the private sector to develop a public-private partnership for the reuse. The City is already in the process of completing a highest and best use analysis for the site. Once this is completed we need to get together as a community to review the report and develop the best options which potentially including a hotel, restaurant, retail and a public gathering place. Hopefully, we can find a way to have underground parking to increase the positive impact to the community.
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?  Actually, the plan was developed by the City's Financing City Service Committee, and it is part of a wider effort to help fund City services. This Council created committee was made up of a broad base of local residents and the entire plan includes employee concessions and having the community vote on any and all tax issues. The Council worked to set up a very transparent process with numerous meetings and ensured that the public will make the final decision on any increases. This is truly democracy in action. I do support the plan because every city in California is struggling to fund basic services and Pacifi ca is no different. The TOT increase (which has not been changed since 1986) will help to ensure that visitors, not residents, help pay for the services, trails, and open spaces that are helping turn Pacifica into a destination. For me, I have tried to reduce my impact on the budget by being the only Council Member to voluntarily reduce my salary by 25 percent.

6. How would you solve the city's longtime budget structural deficit?  I would work with the City's Financing City Services Committee and the community to look for additional budget reductions, continue to support appropriate development to help enhance our tax base and look at some consolidation of services to reduce the overall size of the defi cit. Unlike the State, who has taken (stolen) millions of dollars from Pacifi ca and billions of dollars from every city, school district and county in California, Pacifica has to develop a balanced budget every year. If we are not able to either decrease costs or increase revenues for our City, like most cities in California, Pacifica will have to look to reduce services.

Posted by Kathy Meeh


Anonymous said...

"One of the best ways to make sure our concerns are addressed is to let the agencies complete the draft environmental documents so that we can have a better understanding of the science, planning and constraints of the proposed plan."

And that would put us a lot closer to the Calera Freeway/Drag Strip being built, which is the whole idea, from Mr. Vreeland's point of view.
Consultants will produce the results wanted by the powerful. The council needs to say no to this crap plan now, not later.

Kathy Meeh said...

Yes, completing the probable 18 month Draft Environmental Impact Report document is very long over due, and it is the first step in fixing the needed traffic congestion on Highway 1. By then, options will be understood.

Anon 10:36am, guess if you keep calling the 1.3 mile traffic congestion fix a "drag strip" at least you will believe it.

Colombo said...

Too many twisted fairy tales in this account to even begin to list them. His only accomplishment is firing competent department heads and tring to build ego projects. If his mouth is open, he's lying!

Kathy Meeh said...

Clombo, we agree about Vreeland "fairy tails". I saw the AAUW candidates forum today, which will repeat on channel 26 tomorrow, 7:30pm (2 hours) soonest.

Vreeland said our shortfall is "just like other cities"-- not exactly, this city has been in a recession since he, DeJarnatt, Digre, Lancelle became a city council majority 8 years ago.

Vreeland's view of City financial failure? I was waiting this explanation-- he sure did say "they" (city council) are just following advisement from the "citizen" Finance Committee. He developed amnesia about the prior 8 years (the opportunities they rejected).

So there's how that works, this city council screws-up any chance at "sustainable city economics" and causes a spiral city financial decline over 8 years and he points to advisement from a citizens committee (which has no choice except to follow the limited guidelines given to them from city council).

Vreeland also said the Chamber of Commerce has not "participated" (worked with the city) prior. OMG, what a whopper that one is! Guess he forgot a city council representative sat on the Chamber Board (Julie Lancelle) for years. Also, 4 years ago, the Chamber supported Measure L, city council 4 did not, Councilmember Cal Hinton did.

Vreeland said he was proud of the "good job" he has done (12 years), bringing in millions of dollars to this community to clear Linda Mar Beach (the trade off is that the beach was given to the State, no longer city owned), and using Measure A highway 1 transportation money to build trails (rather than to improve highway 1 of course).

He said the people will decide the financial fate of this city through their vote. Vote no for all the taxes this city proposes, the city (meaning services) just gets smaller.

From my view Vreeland has lead us through a series of irresponsible choices, to a dead end and proposes more bad choices (a series of "no value" taxes to citizens).

Anonymous said...

"From my view Vreeland has lead us through a series of irresponsible choices, to a dead end and proposes more bad choices."
And so will his good buddy and fellow SMCTA insider Ms. Arietta. They like freeways, and so will you, if they can shove it down your throat.

Lance said...

There are some excellent points made on this blog. Many or these should translate well to a letter to the editor. This blog has limited distribution to the great majority of Pacificans. An example or a point that would make the general population step back and go "whooaa" is Kathy's post above. I would encourage Kathy to send that to the Trib for posting on Wed.

Kathy Meeh said...

Thanks Lance. I think the Tribune allows 1 political letter this year.

Markus said...

He speaketh much yet says not a word. Are the voters going to fall for his repetitive BS for the 4th. time? I for one would love to hear Mr. V talk of his many past 12 year accomplishments. Besides giving away a substantial part of our open lands to the feds, letting a prime oceanfront city owned property, (the old WWTP), sit empty for 10 years adding blight and vermin, making it difficult for developers and businesses to get anything done, allowing our streets and infrastructure to deteriorate, watching many businesses depart along with any significant commercial tax base, using our reserves to pay for infrastructure repair, being a no show or recusing himself at many council meetings when important issues are on the agenda, being a major contributor to our next 5 year $15 million structural deficit, not utilizing sufficient funds to properly maintain the new "state of the art" waist water treatment plant which resulted in a 7.5 million gallon spill of untreated sewage into the ocean plus $2.3 million fed fine and lawsuit from an environmental group, and looking great at every possible photo-op, I can't think of any. I just know Mr. V can.
The only way to get rid of this self promoting consummate politician is to contact your friends, neighbors, and knock on doors to make people aware not to allow this man continue his council tenure.

Anonymoose said...

You have to watch this guy's act for a few years before you understand how he's all talk and no cattle. The editorial board at the SM County Times fell for Jimmy V's act.

Anonymous said...

You're mixing your metaphors, but whether it's "all hat and no cattle" or "all talk and no action", they all apply to Jimmy V.

Kathy Meeh said...

Markus, your comment will develop into a really good LTE, so similar advisement from Lance to me, I gave to you and others.

Letters-to-the-editor email form to:
1. "Larsen, Elaine"
2. At the top include: you name, address, phone number
3. Add a title to the letter
4. End with: a) your name, b) your city location (example Manor)

I caught some of the AAUW city council debate replay last night, worth seeing (and it replays two more times). Sue Digre is also proud of her city economic plan "our environment is our economy" and sites how our house prices have risen in value as a result---really? Isn't this city still near the lowest cost residential in San Mateo County? And she still says we need to "market" this city (no action 8 years). Incumbents are not accountable.