The who’s who and what’s what in the Capitola and Watsonville city council races
Behold Part One of Good Times’ election guide, where readers can feast on Q&As with city council candidates and, hopefully, get a better idea of who to vote for. This week we grill the candidates for Capitola (below) and Watsonville (left). (Scotts Valley had two incumbents running unopposed—they both got their seats back, so we’ll forgo the coverage.) Check back next week for Part Two of the election guide, where you’ll find information on candidates for Santa Cruz City Council, Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, and important state ballot measures.
Four contenders are vying for three city council seats in this race: Current Mayor Sam Storey, incumbent Michael Termini, and former councilmembers Bob Begun and Stephanie Harlan.
GT: At this time, the Surf and Sand mobile home park litigation has cost nearly $800,000. If you are elected to the city council, what will you do in regard to this situation? What is your stance on affordable housing in general in Capitola?
Begun: To resolve the Surf and Sand issue I plan to ask the park owners, the mobile home owners, city staff and the attorneys to a meeting to work out a compromise. Capitola has affordable housing in the mobile home parks and in several apartment type buildings to which Capitola has provided significant funds for purchase and renovations. Capitola should continue these efforts.
Termini: The city should double its efforts in assisting the park residents purchasing the park. There are many funding sources at our disposal and until all parks are resident-owned we will be continually defending our rent-control position. The affordable housing is a vital part of Capitola’s diversity and we must continue to defend it.
Storey: Over the last 10 years, the owners of Surf and Sand and Castle mobile home parks have filed many lawsuits to end Capitola’s mobile home rent control … The aim of the park owners is to make the cost of litigation so expensive that Capitola will be forced to “throw in the towel.”
The city should not allow the narrow self-interest of a few park owners to destroy the equity and lives of many park residents. If re-elected, I will work to see that the city diligently defends against these lawsuits, manages the suits so that the costs of litigation are controlled, develop an effective litigation strategy and look for settled solutions to this problem. The best solution is to have the residents purchase the park at fair prices. In order to accomplish this we will need to have continued success in the courts and help the residents with a financing plan.
Harlan: The city was sued when the Mobile Home Rent Control Ordinance was first enacted, and it was successfully upheld in court as being legal and proper. The ordinance was used as a model by other cities because of this successful litigation. Since 2001, the owners of [several mobile parks] have sued the city largely to harass the city and the residents. The strategy of many park owners statewide is to make small cities spend so much money defending their ordinances that they will give up and end rent control. Capitola mobile home residents wisely agreed to an administrative services fee that has provided almost half of the monies spent on legal fees. This fee may be increased soon, which will provide additional monies for the city. I have strongly supported the use of redevelopment housing funds to help the mobile home owners buy their parks.
GT: As a city councilmember, what plans do you have for the city to reduce its environmental impact?
Begun: Capitola has a long standing Commission on the Environment, which makes suggestions to the City Council regarding environmental impact. I supported and will continue to support this Commission and do my best to have an outstanding person representing me on the Commission.
Termini: Capitola has been a leader in the county for diversion of landfill waste. We currently divert more than 50 percent of our waste to recycling. I believe more is possible and prudent. In addition, I would move to make solar hot water and photovoltaic systems a mandatory measure in all new single-family home construction. I was a strong supporter of the polystyrene ban and I believe it has helped make Capitola Styrofoam-free. I would move to enforce this ban on the food stores in our city to ensure the elimination of this hazard from our community.
Storey: We can reduce our environmental impact by becoming a sustainable community. That means we must reduce, recycle, and reuse more to reduce environmental impacts. The biggest environmental impact in Capitola is the number of cars. We must reduce the amount of vehicle traffic by promoting alternative modes of transportation such as walking, biking, and public transit. Some of the plans that I have include reinstating the free Capitola shuttle service, promoting safe walking and biking routes, and supporting the development of the rail/trail through Capitola.
We can also become sustainable by promoting and mandating more green building standards. Currently, we encourage green building through incentives. We need to increase those incentives in order to promote more green building standards.
Harlan: I would like to work with the businesses, apartments and condominiums to increase their recycling.
I would like to expand the projects in the Soquel Creek Management Plan, and continue public education of the residents adjacent to Soquel Creek and students in our community about the importance of decreasing pollution in the Creek.
I would like to work with residents and businesses to continue to use less water since we are continuing to have salt water intrusion in our water supplies. I would like to increase the participation of Capitola’s residents in the planning for a desalination plant to be shared by the customers of the Soquel Creek Water District and the Santa Cruz Water Department.
In 2008, Capitola adopted Green Building Regulations. I would like to expand our programs that are supported by the Green Building Education Fund.
GT: Which development projects do you support? Are there any projects that you are opposed to?
Begun: I support a larger library on the present library site and want it to [be] more of a community center than a library. I supported the second hotel on 41st Avenue. I support a hotel on the theater site in the village. I support a hotel on the McGregor property. I no longer support the bed and breakfast at the Rispin site, as it is not feasible economically.
Termini: I strongly support the Target project at the Capitola Mall.
I oppose any further multi-residential projects within the city. We have far too many now and adding more will only deteriorate our neighborhoods.
Storey: I support the development of a village hotel project that is appropriate in size and scope for the village. In addition, it must be environmentally sound and have off-site parking. It could help Capitola build a parking facility behind city hall at the Pacific Cove parking lot. I also support the construction of the new Capitola library in its current location. I am part of a citizen committee that is developing the design and financing of a new library by the year 2017.
I oppose any further efforts to build the hotel project on the Rispin property. That project has turned out to be economically infeasible. The Rispin property has become a nuisance and an eyesore; it must be cleaned up. The Rispin must be opened to safe, public use as quickly as possible. The best way to do that is to turn it into a park.
Harlan: I support tearing down the Rispin Mansion since it is a dangerous public safety hazard, and saving as many historical elements as possible to incorporate into a park at the site. I support developing the site as a park for all to enjoy and use.
In general, I do not support projects that ask for variances from our ordinances. I support the “use permit” for Target to go into the building previously occupied by Gottschalk’s, but voted against the project because the store is allowed two exterior signs, and asked for eight. The Planning Commission can allow more than the two signs if there are special circumstances. I was willing to compromise and consider a few additional signs, but the other commissioners were more sympathetic with Target’s request. Previous City Councils had worked very hard to develop a sign ordinance that decreased the number of signs allowable in order to create more attractive commercial areas. I felt it was a big step in the wrong direction.
Compiled by GT Reporter Gretchen Wegrich