You have been facilitating renewed looks at Town Plans in your district. What is the hope in taking a fresh look at these older plans, and what has come of the discussions so far?
The Town Plan meetings I have called throughout the San Lorenzo Valley have been a very successful start in getting a renewed focus on what the most important current issues are in the eyes of Valley residents.
The turnouts in Boulder Creek, Ben Lomond and Felton have been very satisfying, as was the first follow-up session in Felton on May 23, where we formed advocacy groups to pinpoint the most important subjects to address. We had similar meetings in Ben Lomond on June 11 and Boulder Creek on June 6.
At each Town Plan meeting, much of the discussion has centered around revitalizing the downtowns of the Valley’s communities. The fact that Highway 9 runs through each of the central districts hampers our ability to take straightforward, independent action because the highway is under state jurisdiction. Nevertheless, we are looking forward to working with the state to address some common community concerns about increased lighting for pedestrians crossing Highway 9 in the evening, sidewalks, better signage and general efforts to revitalize economic bases of each of the towns.
Each community has some specific project they would like to see addressed, such as a library in Felton, the Ben Lomond Park along the San Lorenzo River and a town center in Boulder Creek.
As everyone acknowledges, the county alone doesn’t have the money to build these projects. Along with the county, it’s going to require input and cooperation from community residents and other governmental agencies for us to reach our goals. From the response to date, I’m positive that we will achieve some of our wishes.
We’re off to a great start.
What other issues have you been focusing on in your first four months in office?
I have been working on a number of other issues in the Fifth District in addition to the Town Plans. [I have] successfully advocated for the restoration of weekend bus service to Big Basin State Park to allow visitors to experience our oldest state park without reliance on a car. Along with [County]Treasurer Fred Keeley, I supported a proposal for a property tax deferral program for low-income seniors and the disabled. I moved forward with plans to provide sewer service to replace failing septic systems in the Rolling Woods area off Graham Hill Road. I also assisted with efforts to develop a new entrance, parking, visitors’ center and other amenities at Castle Rock State Park, and initiated discussion with the Metro Transit District to enhance bus service in the San Lorenzo Valley, particularly for students. Lastly, I moved forward with Community Choice Aggregation to study whether it is appropriate for our region to purchase and generate our own power, which could have tremendous economic and environmental benefits. All four [incorporated] cities and the county are working together to do a feasibility study of this issue. In the next few months, I will focus on following up on the Town Hall meetings.