Decision 2013: OP&L Candidate Questionnaire, Tumwater City Council, Pos. 6
Who are these people? And why are the running for local office? To help find out, we wanted to give every candidate a chance to speak directly to you, our wise and discerning readers. Thus, this candidate questionnaire. Some of the questions were submitted by readers. Some were prepared by OP&L. (Disclosure: OP&L co-publisher Matthew Green is working with the campaigns of Sue Gunn for Port of Olympia Commissioner, and Darren Mills and Julie Hankins for Olympia City Council. Matthew did not determine the questions for those races.) The answers are straight from the candidates. We did not edit them, except to fix a few typos and grammatical errors. (Because OP&L never prints typos and grammatical errors. Ever. So shut up.)
General election ballots will be mailed on October 16, and must be postmarked or dropped in a ballot box by November 6. For more election information, visit www.thurstonvotes.org. ◙
Position: Tumwater City Council, position
Candidates: Kyle Taylor Lucas, Debbie Sullivan
1. What is the most important thing the City of Tumwater can do, that it is not doing now, to promote redevelopment of the old brewery property?
KL: I’ve asked the mayor, city administrator, and consultant whether the Brewery Project is eligible for several possible avenues to promote redevelopment of the old brewery property: determine eligibility for this past Legislative session’s new program aimed at urban revitalization created in the Capital Budget EsShB 1648 Section 1070; seek future Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) infrastructure funding; pursue HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for creation of business that would put low-income people back to work and/or create low-cost housing mix fitting to the district vision–artist lofts/studios; development of Innovation Partnership Zone (IPZ). Each more fully described below.
• The Brewery District Revitalization project may be eligible for a new program under Capital Budget EsSHB 1648 (section 1070) aimed at revitalizing existing retail, industrial, or commercial properties located within incorporated areas. These properties must have either been abandoned, or have more than seventy-five percent of their square footage vacant. As the brewery is clearly more than 75% vacant, it would seem to qualify.
• Determine whether the project would qualify for future State Department of Commerce CERB infrastructure funding. With a Planned Action underway and the Brewery Neighborhood Plan–we could identify some viable projects to support redevelopment.
• Consider applying for HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for creation of businesses that would put people back to work and/or creating low-income housing mix that would fit with the vision, e.g., artist lofts/studios.
• Consider development of state Innovation Partnership Zone (IPZ) designation similar to some of the 18 current identified zones statewide. Doing so would open the door to a variety of grant funding sources that could help to invigorate development of the Brewery project. The program aims to stimulate growth of industry clusters and to build up regional economies.
Of course, the recent lifting of the alcohol covenant opens the door to many new opportunities for a property that has sat vacant for 10 years. The mayor indicates there are some positive discussions underway. Altogether, it is an exciting time for Tumwater as it seems the Brewery project will soon be an asset for our community. The General Government Committee has inquired about tax abatement as a possible financial incentive as allowed by state law, so this is one possible tool that has not yet been utilized. Overall, the Planned Action underway on the North Side of Custer could help to set up some great future options as above described. It makes no sense to allow abandoned buildings continue to sit in the middle of the city, so it behooves the city and the community to explore a variety of avenues to help promote the revitalization of this valued historic landmark.
DS: The Planning Commission and the City Council has continued to work on removing as many barriers as possible. We have held many public meetings, the Shoreline Management agreement passed and zoning changes have been made. The Brewery District project is the most current project to help make the property and the area as attractive as possible. This is a difficult property to redevelop due to the slow economic recovery and the liquor deed restriction on the property (which has now been lifted) has made redevelopment difficult.
2. Should the City of Tumwater participate in the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI, an environmental networking organization with over 450 city and county members in the US, with connections to the United Nations)? Why or why not?
KL: Yes! Absolutely, the City of Tumwater should participate in the ICLEI! Doing so will be in step with our own regional sustainability plan–the August 2013 Creating Places Preserving Spaces: A Sustainable Development Plan for the Thurston Region that I strongly support. I agree that eco-system management is essential to local sustainable communities and I support the ICLEI’s eight agendas. I agree with the ICLEI’s basic premise that locally designed initiatives can be a driver of sustainability objectives. I appreciate the ICLEI is international performance-based, results-oriented and I appreciate that it provides the technical tools, training, and information services to help build capacity, share knowledge, and support local governments in the implementation of sustainable development at the local level.
DS: Tumwater, Olympia, Lacey and Thurston County have been very progressive in environmental issues. If this organization would add value or support our regions goals, then it should be considered.
3. Should the city promote denser housing in the center of Tumwater, such as through the current Capitol Boulevard improvement project? Why or why not?
KL: Yes, I strongly advocate greater housing density in the center of Tumwater. As evidenced by the Thurston Regional Planning Council’s two excellent housing reports: Fair Housing Equity Assessment and its Regional Housing Plan of August 2013, the tri-cities have a dearth of low and affordable housing. Increased housing diversity, affordability, and construction are key to my platform. In this great society, every citizen should have a roof over her or his head. Such density also supports Tumwater’s vision of a highly livable community. We need housing that allows our residents to live, work, play, and learn in Tumwater. In so doing, we also help meet our statewide and regional goal to reduce greenhouse gases by 25% of 1990 levels by the year 2035. We’ll reduce SOV commuting, improve health, and meet housing needs for a 4000-7000 [editors' note: the print edition incorrectly read "400-700"] daytime population of people who work in Tumwater but say they cannot afford to live here.
DS: This is currently being reviewed by the Planning Commission with possible recommendations of increasing the height of buildings in some areas, increase mixed use zoning on Capitol Boulevard such as the area of the Department of Transportation site which is expected to be redeveloped in the next few years. Higher density and mixed use zoning has been added to several other areas of Tumwater which includes the Tumwater Town Center and the Littlerock Road Subarea.
4. Are there any new or improved city services that you would vote to raise taxes for, and if so, which services?
KL: Not at this time. Emerging from the Great Recession, prudent fiscal management is key. With its lean budget, Tumwater has fared better than a lot of cities, but due to declining valuations, we’ve reached the property tax ceiling, so must continue to manage for efficiencies, do more with less, and be creative as we protect essential public services and ensure the City’s vision for a highly livable community. My twenty-plus year’s public policy experience as a problem-solver helping improve government, including as a former state agency director, provided me critical experience managing large public budgets–important to a city councilmember. These are challenging times for governing, with the economy. Economic recovery will, in part, require doing business in a new way. Pragmatically, Tumwater must claim its place in the emerging green economy.
DS: Property tax levels are maxed out and it is not possible to increase taxes again since the Levy Lid Lift voted by the citizens in 2011. There needs to be an increase in revenues through increase of commerce. This would increase the revenues for the city but most of all, would provide much needed jobs. The Tumwater Town Center, the Littlerock Road Subarea and the Airport (Port of Olympia) are areas available for development. We need to make sure essential services are maintained and that the North end Fire station is staffed full time.
5. What is the appropriate role for your jurisdiction in working with others – such as the County and Interity Transit – to meet the goals laid out by the Sustainable Thurston Task Force?
KL: Tumwater should adopt the community-defined plan and goals laid out in Creating Places Preserving Spaces: A Sustainable Development Plan for the Thurston Region. I strongly support the Plan’s vision, goals, and targets for a more economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable tomorrow and the City’s adoption of local plans and policies. The City must continue its strong collaborative relations with its partners–whether the county, Intercity Transit, LOTT, other cities and private/NGO partners to coordinate efforts. Concurrently, the City Council must ensure that it considers the important goals in all of its policy review and decisions as well as city programs.
DS: The City of Tumwater has always participated in Sustainable Thurston and the Capitol Boulevard project is part of the “Transportation Corridors” section. Tumwater has been participating in this collaborative project.