Below are Boulder Weekly's five questions for Louisville City Council candidates, and their answers.
Note: Ward I candidate Emily Jasiak, running unopposed, did not respond to questions by press time.
Question 1: What are the three most important problems confronting the City of Louisville?
Please list them in their order of priority and briefly describe how you would attempt to solve your highest priority issue.
1. Improving our economic base is our most important priority. McCaslin Avenue corridor businesses are struggling. Sam’s Club continues to sit empty. The City needs to invest more in retaining our existing businesses and attracting new ones, so that all of our business districts are as successful and vibrant as our Downtown area.
2. Downtown parking is a problem that needs immediate attention. We need additional parking and improved usage of existing parking.
3. We must manage the community’s growth and ensure that growth does not compromise our community’s character and quality of life. Our neighborhoods must have a say in what happens in and around them.
1. Foster more economic development by (i) improving visibility and access to businesses, (ii) streamlining processes for small business owners to meet city requirements, (iii) increasing the size and scope of the economic development department, (iv) expanding cooperation in the city between private and public organizations, and (v) solving the downtown parking shortage. Additionally, we need to reach out to our many civic and cultural boards and residents for input into city decision making at earlier stages in the process.
2. Protect the vibrancy and historic feel of downtown
3. Repair, maintain, and improve city infrastructure
Flood Recovery — Ensure that repairs are handled in a timely manner; that insurance/FEMA funds are disbursed quickly; that our community assets ie: trails, golf course, roads, are returned in better condition than they were before the flood.
Fiscal Responsibility — Give thoughtful consideration to all expenditures; determine their effect on our ability to respond to future needs; insure that we are spending with a focus and purpose.
Energizing our Retail Base — Focus on replicating the success of our downtown in other areas of Louisville; support and invest in the businesses that currently call Louisville home.
Deferred maintenance on community assets, downtown parking, and vacant retail space are the top three problems in Louisville. We need to put a higher priority on maintaining our existing assets. The economic effects of deferred maintenance during the recession must be reversed.
Question 2: Do you believe that increasing economic development in Louisville should be a priority for City Council? If yes, what can the city do to accomplish this priority? If no, why not?
Yes, increasing economic development and expanding the tax base of Louisville should be a high priority for the City Council and City staff. The amenities (Recreation and Senior Center, Library, Open Space, etc.) and city services that we enjoy and contribute to our quality of life must be paid for. In order to maintain reasonable property and sales tax rates, we must increase the retail and commercial base of the City. The City should work towards retaining and recruiting business and retail establishments. We must continue to support our downtown business district.
Increasing the economic base should be a priority for the City Council. One
goal would be to find business tenants for the unused properties in the city,
including the Sam’s Club and Phillips 66 properties and further development in
the Colorado Tech Center and McCaslin corridor. Important considerations
include the impact on infrastructure (roads, public amenities, schools, etc)
and on city budgets that must be stable and sustainable in the longer term. Further,
we need increased cooperation and communication between city staff, the Chamber
of Commerce, and the Downtown Businessman’s Association (DBA).
Economic development always should be a priority for Council. The City needs to collaborate with our existing business community and support a climate that is welcoming to new businesses. Working with our economic development coordinator, and commercial real estate professionals, we can find out what is attractive to retailers in comparable locations, determine what is missing in Louisville and how that fits with our long range plan for specific retail areas and then devise a strategy to attract the appropriate retail businesses to the city. We must realize that there is no big box retailer waiting to save the day.
Economic development needs to be a top priority for Louisville. We need to recover to our pre-recession level of service provided to citizens. To achieve this great service, we need to rebuild our lost sales tax revenue. It is very important for Louisville to aggressively pursue economic development. Our outreach efforts must move from being relatively passive to aggressive.
Question 3: Should Louisville seek to limit its growth in any fashion? Why or why not?
It is the intent of the City to maintain its existing “small town” character and to limit growth mainly to in-fill projects and re-development. Not every vacant lot needs to be developed tomorrow and areas in need of redevelopment should only be changed in ways compatible with existing neighborhoods and community goals. All development must make sense %uFB01nancially and provide long-%u2010term economic bene%uFB01ts to Louisville. The City has recently adopted a new comprehensive plan that defines its urban growth boundaries and the types of development that should be encouraged. I support limiting the City’s growth to what is described in the comprehensive plan.
Continued residential growth will be limited, in part, by availability of suitable sites and should be carefully reviewed and managed by City staff and the Planning Commission throughout any new projects. Going forward, I prefer to see greater emphasis placed on retail and commercial development. This emphasis will help offset the city costs for the proposed new residential units. Funds from an expanded commercial tax base would ideally be used to provide existing and enhanced services to all residents in the form of recreational facilities, and expanded programming and facilities for cultural and community activities.
Growth in Louisville is already limited by the City’s master plan and the availability of developable land. Any growth that happens in the next 5 years must be appropriate for the area of the City that it is intended, compatible with existing development and must make economic sense for the community.
Louisville should place reasonable limits on growth. In Louisville we have limited access to water and water storage; we are limited in our footprint and existing infrastructure. We need to be mindful of our limitations and ensure that our community will retain its small town character and remain well served with any additional growth. We need to collaborate with BVSD when adding new housing to understand the impact to classes, illustrate where natural resources including water will come from and be stored, and ensure that growth pays for itself for required city services.
Question 4: Would you support or oppose a ban on hydraulic fracturing or fracking in Louisville city limits? Why?
I believe that fracking in not an acceptable practice in densely urbanized environments. There must be reasonable set-backs and protections from drilling operations that protect the life, safety, and environmental concerns of our residents, particularly around schools and residential districts. The leadership for developing tough and comprehensive fracking rules should come from the State and Federal governments. Local governments should have strong input in the rule-making process.
As to whether I would support a complete moratorium on fracking in Louisville, it would depend on the specific language of the proposed moratorium proposal.
Hydraulic fracturing is a new process to acquire fuels for our society
that will provide income for businesses, residents, and communities. However,
there have been negative impacts and unintended consequences from hydraulic
fracturing in our neighboring communities that raise concerns for our
residents. The City Council must gather the needed relevant information and
resident opinion before making decisions that would potentially have a large
impact on the city and its residents. Ideally, I would seek a balance between
business and community interests. Because of this, I support a moratorium until
such information and opinion is collected and evaluated.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is not appropriate in any high density residential or retail district. It is also not appropriate in areas near schools, public parks or other areas where there are large numbers of people in close proximity, including the Colorado Tech Center and the McCaslin corridor. The State needs to take this issue more seriously and work quickly to enact stringent rules around safe extraction of all gas and minerals. Leaving it to each community to enact a patchwork of bans and moratoriums is not an effective solution to this continuing problem.
If the people bring forward an initiative pertaining to fracking I will support their efforts. This has been a grass roots movement in other communities and I support that kind of effort here in town. The Federal Government has allowed loopholes in our environmental health and safety regulations regarding fracking, and local municipalities are therefore left to find ways to protect ourselves from potential threats.
Question 5: Louisville City Council is currently considering a moratorium on retail marijuana businesses until the end of 2014. If that moratorium passes and you’re elected, what will you do with the moratorium: let it expire at the end of 2014, extend it or attempt to end it early? Why?
The City Council approved a moratorium in order to allow the Council and staff additional time to develop the rules and regulations surrounding the sale of retail marijuana in our community, which could include a permanent ban. The moratorium will also permit additional opportunities for residents to make known their views on this issue. Whether Louisville should allow retail marijuana sales has become a very divisive issue within the community. I agree that there should be more time to decide whether we should allow retail marijuana and to facilitate a community conversation and input. I would like to see these decisions made in early 2014.
Legalization and commercialization of marijuana poses challenges for our society, especially in small municipalities. While I support the current moratorium, I also support an early end to it by approving the very restrictive guidelines the Council nearly approved in September 2013. These regulations only allow for the two existing medical marijuana stores to apply for a recreational license this year. Following this path allows commercialization to increase slowly, giving the community opportunity to fully evaluate this new aspect of our community.
The City passed a moratorium on October 1 with instructions for staff to bring back regulation language after the election. Whoever is elected will be faced with this issue. If elected, I will review staff recommendations, consider how it impacts our existing businesses and then make the determination about whether to end the moratorium early.
The majority of people in every precinct in Louisville voted in favor of amending our Colorado Constitution to regulate limited use of marijuana by people 21 or older & for the licensing of cultivation facilities, manufacturing facilities and retail stores. The role of our government is to carry out the will of the people and therefore I would adhere to that by implementing regulations that allow legitimate business people (not criminals) to sell marijuana. I am for buffer zones around parks and schools and to initially limit the size and number of stores to prevent an unnatural market boom.