Question 1: Because Lafayette is a desirable place to live we are subject to continuing pressure to grow. What is your vision for growth in Lafayette?
We would all love to keep Lafayette just the same as when we moved here, whether that was 5, 10, 15 or 50 years ago. Change is inevitable, and to address it requires a strategic, forward-thinking approach so that we maintain local control while being part of regional solutions to the housing crisis and global efforts to protect the environment and address climate change.
Lafayette has few growth opportunities, except for a handful of visible properties, infill and remodels. We must work hard to adhere to the General Plan to maintain Lafayette’s character. Listening to residents and working with the other city council members and staff, I am committed to implementation of the Downtown Specific Plan and meeting or exceeding our housing requirements. I support the approach the city has taken to approving housing and services in the downtown area and near the BART station. We must continue to analyze each development opportunity to ensure that we address the impacts on our schools, public safety, traffic, and parking, while finding ways to increase access to affordable housing, particularly for our teachers, police and fire personnel.
Question 2: Because Lafayette is a transportation access point for surrounding communities, traffic congestion is worsening as these communities grow. How do you propose we address this burden?
Addressing many of our traffic issues requires a collaborative approach that involves public engagement and working with our neighboring cities, the county, regional transportation agencies and our State and Federal representatives. We can’t tell other cities what to do, but we can advocate and have influence.
As a councilmember, there are opportunities to serve on regional agencies, such as the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and the Southwest Area Transportation Committee (SWAT). I believe that representation on these bodies is imperative to ensure that Lafayette is involved in fact-finding and decision-making. I would be honored to serve in this capacity to work on behalf of Lafayette residents to identify cost-effective solutions. We must also play a regional role in encouraging more housing development in the South Bay and more employment development in the North Bay, including Contra Costa, as a way to improve the regional balance of housing and jobs to reduce commute lengths.
Implementation of the Downtown Congestion Plan recommendations will also address the traffic burden in the downtown area. Some of the projects that have the highest value relative to cost and traffic improvements are already being implemented or piloted. I look forward to working with the community and staff to identify additional grants and public / private partnerships to provide funding to improve access to bicycle and pedestrian facilities. The Lafayette School District, which I have served on for 19 years, and the City of Lafayette are currently partnering on a grant application to expand the pathway on School Street to connect to the trails, creating safer, more efficient routes to school, downtown and to BART.
Strengthening the city / schools partnership will also help to improve traffic and safety around our schools. As a member of the Joint City / Schools Ad Hoc Traffic and Safety Task Force, we identified and implemented traffic improvements at two of our schools, and as part of the school district’s facilities master plan and bond program, the School District and City have worked to identify ways to improve pickup and drop off to reduce traffic, particularly on Moraga Road and School Street. I look forward to continuing and strengthening this work, in addition to exploring other creative ways to reduce traffic through improved transit options along Mount Diablo and to and from our schools, downtown, and BART. As a former member of the Lamorinda School Bus JPA, I understand the challenges of expanding school bus routes due to rising costs that may result in the curtailing of much-needed services unless we identify other sources of revenue. When it was first implemented years ago, there was a 5% drop in traffic in the Lamorinda area. We need to see if this creative traffic solution can be protected and expanded.
Question 3: The natural gas pipelines that run through Lafayette to supply our city are old, have no provisions for automated inspection, and have no automated shut-off valves. How would you propose these hazards be addressed?
The City of Lafayette should facilitate residents working with PG&E and the California Public Utilities Commission to fulfill their responsibilities to provide service safely. There is also an opportunity for the Lamorinda communities to join together to work with PG&E to address the issues of aging pipes and shut-off valves. If there is a problem in one area, all Lamorinda cities will be affected.
I commend the work of the community to keep this issue at the forefront. It is critical that we continue to engage with PG&E to let them know our concerns and to do what is necessary to keep Lafayette beautiful and safe. I have no conflicts on any issues, including ones regarding proposed or probable development or with issues related to PG&E. I look forward to representing our citizens to protect our safety and the beauty of Lafayette.