The November 6th election will decide the next Mayor in Coronado as well as fill two city council seats. Two candidates will face off in the mayoral election, current Mayor, Casey Tanaka, and current councilwoman, Barbara Denny.
Below are the answers to four questions I posed to each candidate individually.
Both Mayor Casey Tanaka and Councilwoman Barbara Denny are active eCoronado.com members and their profiles can be viewed by clicking their photo below.
1. Why are you running for Mayor?
I am running for Re-Election as Mayor because I want to make sure that the City of Coronado has a trusted, experienced, and familiar face leading their City and their Council as Mayor. I have been a member of the Coronado City Council since 2002 and I have benefited from serving with superior public servants and community advocates like Tom Smisek and Patty Schmidt over these past ten years and now, I have an opportunity to share the same type of experience and leadership with my present colleagues on the City Council as their Mayor. In these challenging and uncertain times, I think my experience and ability can make a real difference in preserving the vital services provided by our City. I stand ready, willing, and able to lead this City and its Council as Mayor and I offer our residents a verifiable and reliable track record of success as a public servant.
I’m running for Mayor to provide the strong leadership Coronado needs to:
• protect our tax dollars
• preserve our vanishing village atmosphere and
• provide for you by getting things done.
As long as I’m Mayor of Coronado, you won’t have to worry about your city burdening you with these large expenses:
• Parcel taxes
• Sales tax hikes
• Lifetime operation, maintenance and legal liability for the School Pool
• Lifetime maintenance and legal liability for the entire stretch of State Route 75 throughout our town
• The return of the Coronado Tunnel Project or other wasteful boondoggle.
Now more than ever, Coronado needs a Mayor who devotes her full time and attention to the demands of this important job, which I’m pleased to do since I’m on hiatus from practicing law. Thus I have no conflicts of interest between my employer-city and a second employer that require my recusal from city council decisions involving a second employer.
In our current environment, our Mayor must be a resourceful problem solver and an energetic consensus builder, which I have proven to be through my record of hard work and accomplishments on city council over the last several years.
As Mayor, I’ll continue to lead and to build consensus on city council in order to solve problems, just as I have done over the years as a Councilwoman for the following positive results. Here’s a partial list:
• Stopped the waste of taxpayers’ dollars on the Coronado Tunnel boondoggle
• Passed balanced budgets as a new annual tradition without the usual old operating deficit that sometimes required raiding our reserves to close budget gaps at year end
• Removed two lobbying firms from our city payroll
• Stopped the over-development of our island by saving an historic home on Glorietta Boulevard from demolition through pro-active code enforcement
• Saved six (6) Orange Avenue bus stops from removal for our Seniors, young and physically challenged residents who rely on mass transit
• Pro-actively enforced our code against short-term rentals in order to decrease illegal vacation rentals and to increase the quality of life and property values for the surrounding neighbors
• Put in the new crosswalk at First Street & B Avenue for residents to enhance pedestrian safety
• Put in signs at the Coronado Shores advising the public of the public restrooms available at the Marina Building, City Hall and Community Center to help Shores residents maintain their quality of life and property values
• Council majority protested directly to the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) the Starbucks alcohol sales application in order to protect our children and others, which resulted in Starbucks backing down and withdrawing from the ABC their application for alcohol sales
• Joined the free National Weather Service Tsunami Ready & Storm Ready community program as the 100th city to increase public awareness, education, preparedness and response during disaster
• Offer Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) classes through the Coronado Unified School District (CUSD) adult education program to increase opportunities for our residents to improve their disaster preparedness and response.
As Mayor I’ll thoughtfully and carefully provide direction for our city that mirrors our community values, instead of violating what we hold dear -- justice, fair play, common sense, lawfulness, neighborhood cohesion, patriotism and living within our means.
As Mayor, I’ll continue to lead by example and define a culture of professionalism and transparency, while demonstrating respect toward citizens, staff, council colleagues and our partners in good government with whom we work on the local, state and federal levels, including Caltrans and the US Navy.
What do you think are the biggest issues Coronado faces?
The biggest issues that face Coronado are economic issues. The City is forever at risk of losing funds to a nearly insolvent state government run by inept Sacramento politicians. The City is also at risk from economic forces at work within our own borders in the form of greedy over-development of residential and commercial properties right here in our own neighborhoods.
The biggest issues Coronado faces are:
• Code Enforcement.
How do you plan to solve those issues?
The City Council and I have addressed these economic problems head on. We have managed our costs as a city by holding the line on employee wages and by getting our employees to go from contributing 0% of their pension costs to 8% and 9% of their pension costs. We have held the line on city services as well. We have not expanded city services, but we have also avoided layoffs and reductions in service. We have a stable, professional workforce that provides maximum value to the Coronado taxpayer. We have over $37 million in reserves and a balanced budget. As Mayor, I have proposed a measure to boost our hotel tax revenues from 8% to 10% that our voters will have a chance to approve this November that will net our City over two million dollars per year of new funds that would be borne by tourists visiting our Island. Lastly, we have fought over-development as a City by instituting tougher, more restrictive construction guidelines known as the Residential Standards Improvement Project (RSIP) and as recently as July 31, 2012, the City Council reconfirmed its commitment to this RSIP process and to continuing to review our construction and zoning guidelines to make sure that we are protecting our residents from unscrupulous developers.
Here’s my plan of action as your Mayor:
It’s time to let the scales drop from our eyes and take a long, hard look at our city finances. Coronado needs a Mayor who has the time, energy and discipline to master our complex city finances.
Here are three financial items that need our immediate attention with a thorough factual review and rigorous public discussion:
(1) The State of California dealt a major blow to our budget in February of this year by legislating the end of redevelopment. This situation leaves us with approximately $375 million of redevelopment debt to be paid off in part every year for the next two decades. The truth is that there is no more property tax increment financing (TIF) to pay off our redevelopment debt. Now, every six months we must report our redevelopment debt to the State Department of Finance and hope that our request will be granted for the funds to make repayment. We are in a precarious situation. How will we accomplish our redevelopment debt repayment now that we receive overall less than half of the property tax increment that we used to receive before the end of redevelopment? At best, it’s naïve for elected officials to deny the negative impact of redevelopment’s demise upon our city budget.
(2) We must quantify and address our court-ordered responsibility to maintain the waterways in the Coronado Cays. Will it cost $300,000 or $500,000 or more? The longer we wait to address our legal responsibility for waterways maintenance, the more expensive it will become for us. We owe it to our neighbors in the Cays to take our responsibility seriously and to get it done.
(3) We must quantify and begin to fund our unfunded pension liability. We don’t want to get into trouble down the road like other cities.
We are blessed with a strong tax base. Yet this dreadful economy and the above three issues mean that we can’t afford any financial missteps. There is no safety cushion for financial error now that the redevelopment spigot of tax increment was shut off.
Our city wastes taxpayers’ dollars in many ways. As Mayor, I’ll provide strong leadership to stop the waste of public funds:
(A) I’ll ensure that we stop placing unnecessary and unwanted projects in our Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which is an integral part of our annual budget, while omitting necessary and wanted projects. Instead of constructing more toilets for our visitors in an area that provides more than enough public toilets, how about starting to renovate our Senior Center for our beloved Seniors who served our town and our country so well? In other words, we must immediately remove from our CIP the Beach Toilet Project currently being planned in the narrowest, most sensitive part of our beach in front of the Coronado Shores. The planned toilet location is at Avenida del Sol across the Silver Strand from the public restrooms in the Marina Building, City Hall, Community Center and Boathouse. We owe it to our neighbors in the Shores to stop wasting taxpayers’ dollars and everyone’s time pursuing a foolish Beach Toilet Project that will result in major negative impacts to their quality of life and property values as well as our beach. We must immediately move to the top of our priority list the construction of the Senior Center renovation. The Senior Center project is long overdue by decades, yet the construction phase of this project didn’t even make it into the CIP part of our budget this year.
(B) One of my first acts as Mayor will be to disband the current mayor’s ad hoc committee that controls capital project completion. This ad hoc committee operates behind closed doors without public input and is subject to manipulation by special interests. By disbanding the current mayor’s ad hoc committee, I’ll protect Coronado residents and put residents first by ensuring that their Mayor will no longer be able to block and to alter certain capital projects while aggressively promoting other projects that enrich special interests.
(C) I’ll put an immediate end to the cozy, longstanding relationships that exist between the city and many service providers. We must make open, competitive bidding the rule in Coronado – instead of the exception. In its entire history, our city has never opened up garbage collection to competitive bidding. This raises the question: Are we overpaying for garbage collection in Coronado? And if so, for what else are we overpaying because we fail to follow the reasonable policy of open, competitive bidding?
(D) I’ll stop the waste of taxpayers’ dollars on re-paving streets that don’t need it just because someone devised a re-paving schedule many years ago. We should pay closer attention to the condition of our streets and make the choice to re-pave only those streets that truly need maintenance work. This will save taxpayer dollars and minimize the noise and disruption upon residents and business owners who lose sleep, patience and business when their streets are blocked for re-paving.
(E) I’ll put an immediate end to the practice of illegally spending the Coronado Bridge Toll Revenue Fund monies on anything other than directly helping our neighbors who live in the Third & Fourth Street Corridor (the Corridor). We must stop raiding our Toll Revenue Fund, as we have been doing every year for the past 12 years, for things like the Coronado Tunnel Project and drainage problems on Sixth Street and Orange Avenue. In the legal Settlement Agreement between the City of Coronado and SANDAG, dated and signed in the year 2000, our city officials promised that the Toll Revenue funds would only be spent to reduce the impact upon our neighbors in the Corridor of the increased traffic that resulted from the removal of the Bridge Toll. Therefore, it’s wrong to pass budgets that continue to spend the Toll Revenue Fund monies on anything other than noise reducing windows, shrubbery and protective fencing for Corridor residents. Our neighbors in the Corridor need and deserve help now.
(F) Last but not least, I’ll put an end to the millions of dollars of annual taxpayer subsidies. As one example, we waste public funds because we force taxpayers to pay for a long list of development-related activities including construction inspections and fire inspections. The independent fee expert we hired gave us a report that said that Coronado -- unlike all surrounding towns -- fails to charge applicants anything for many development-related activities and charges applicants too little for many more development-related activities. He also said that we lose approximately $1.5 million per year as a result of our wasteful policy of taxpayer subsidy of development-related activity.
Instead of throwing yet another expert report on a shelf to gather dust, as Mayor I’ll heed this reasonable expert advice. I’ll build consensus to open that revenue stream by adopting a policy of “full cost recovery” for development-related activities because it’s wrong to force our taxpayers to continue to subsidize building and construction on our island. To add insult to injury, our city’s failure to adopt a “full cost recovery” policy for development-related activities means that in reality our Coronado taxpayers subsidize the over-development of our beautiful island.
When I ran for office in 2008, a forum moderator asked what I wanted my legacy as Mayor to be. I said, “I want to be the Mayor who brings the good people of Coronado out from the shadows of over-development into the bright sunlight of day and saves our vanishing village atmosphere . . .”
Four years later, the same thing holds true today: I want to be the Mayor who stops over-development in our town and saves our vanishing village atmosphere. This will improve our quality of life, preserve our property values and build neighborhood cohesion.
To stop over-development we need a Mayor who “gets it,” instead of one with a voting record of consistently aiding and abetting aggressive over-development for more than ten years. As Mayor, I’ll continue to stand strong against special interests who seek to personally profit from the over-development of our island.
As a private citizen and Councilwoman who led and encouraged grass roots groups on a variety of topics over the years, you can trust that as your Mayor I’ll consistently support citizen-led efforts to stop over-development in our town.
As Mayor, I’ll continue to:
• Respect our volunteer Historic Resource Commissioners by accepting their common sense advice to save historic homes, instead of invalidating their thoughtful recommendations in order to tear down more historic homes and replace them with McMansions and faux Tuscan villas
• Provide the strong leadership necessary to put teeth into our Historic Resource Code
• Build consensus on council to pursue pro-active code enforcement to stop over-development, like I did as a Councilwoman to save an historic home on Glorietta Boulevard from demolition
• Encourage and listen to the new grass roots groups that are starting to flourish in our community: Coronado Community Association of Neighbors (Coronado CAN) and For a Better Coronado (4ABC).
As Mayor, I’ll also:
• Oversee a fresh review of the RSIP 1 & RSIP 2 recommendations, our volunteer committees of the Residential Standards Improvement Project
• Build consensus to enact the Building Code changes recommended by RSIP 1 & RSIP 2, instead of aggressively helping special interests by gutting the RSIP recommendations to the detriment of our village atmosphere, quality of life and property values
Signify a new era of our city listening to our residents by making a an official apology for the aggressive mistreatment residents received from the current mayor and others related to ballot Proposition J in 2006. The reality is that city officials wasted our tax dollars instigating two lawsuits to invalidate Prop J. This was a successful and lawful ballot proposition through which residents could have stopped over-development if the current mayor and others hadn’t fought in a hostile and adversarial manner against our residents to invalidate Prop J on a language technicality. As Mayor, I’ll heal those old wounds and start a fresh, new era of listening respectfully to our residents then taking action to stop over-development of our beautiful island paradise.
•Signify a new era of our city listening to our residents by making a an official apology for the aggressive mistreatment residents received from the current mayor and others related to ballot Proposition J in 2006. The reality is that city officials wasted our tax dollars instigating two lawsuits to invalidate Prop J. This was a successful and lawful ballot proposition through which residents could have stopped over-development if the current mayor and others hadn’t fought in a hostile and adversarial manner against our residents to invalidate Prop J on a language technicality. As Mayor, I’ll heal those old wounds and start a fresh, new era of listening respectfully to our residents then taking action to stop over-development of our beautiful island paradise.
In 2010, you helped me stop the waste of taxpayer dollars on the Coronado tunnel boondoggle. As Mayor, I’ll continue to provide strong, consistent leadership in order to implement cost-effective traffic solutions, instead of passively doing nothing while traffic overwhelms our island.
As Mayor I’ll support our volunteer Commissioners tasked in this area, including the Transportation Commission and Bicycle Committee, instead of stand in their way or micro-manage them.
I’m pleased that our Commissioners are following my leadership regarding our policy solution. Since 2008, I’ve been speaking publicly about our need to reduce the number of vehicles on our island in order to reduce our traffic jams and parking problems. For the next step in our emerging transportation policy, as Mayor I’ll support our Commissioners in their pursuit of the Big Eight transportation methods in order to reduce the number of vehicles on our island:
• Commuter Ferry
• Slugging (Casual Carpooling)
• Park & Ride
• Mass Transit Buses
• Navy Vanpools
• MTS-Navy Express Bus Program
• Cycling (Improve our town for cyclists)
•Walking (Improve walk-ability for pedestrians).
Our beautiful beach is our most precious natural resource. It defines us as a community. The beach is why we live here.
As Mayor, I’ll oversee the review of our Private Beach Events policy in order to reverse the commercialization of our beach, which is the result of our new policy that violates the California Coastal Act and other law.
The reasons that the Coronado Private Beach Events policy is wrong is that it:
(1) Violates the California Coastal Act because it:
• Provides for poured concrete parking ON the beach near Sunset Park for the exclusive use of commercial vendors to load/unload which is considered “development” on our beach
• Decreases public safety and public access to the beach because the concrete parking pad will be located IN the “sole” vehicle access way onto our entire beach, not just the "emergency vehicle access," which is an extremely high traffic area for pedestrians, dogs, Coronado Police and US Border Patrol vehicles
• Decreases public safety because most water rescues are made at North Beach so it's imperative to leave this sole vehicle access way as clear as possible to save lives
• Harms public health because it will cause oil and other vehicle chemicals to leak from commercial vendors' vehicles onto the beach and thus expose Coronado taxpayers to legal fines for fouling the beach with prohibited chemicals
• Concrete parking space digs into the dunes at North Beach thus constructively scraping those dunes in violation of state law
• Opens up the floodgates for more concrete parking spaces ON the beach in violation of state law
• The city intentionally grants permits for beach events IN the natural dunes that spell "Coronado" between the main lifeguard tower and the Hotel Del thus codifying as city action the constructive scraping of the natural dunes instead of protecting them from event vendors filling the dunes with people, chairs, tables, trellises, sound amplification equipment, and other equipment
• Decreases public access and public recreation because the new policy increases the number of private beach events. The mechanism for increasing the number of private beach events on our public beach is the artificial division of our beach into 3 sections -- North, Central and South -- instead of treating them as one organic whole as do other cities who protect their public beach to provide for public access and recreation. The net increase is 2 more private events per day on our public beach.
(2) Violates the California Knight Act which mandates that Coronado stop development in, and stop increased activity in, the flight path and crash zones of the military airport on Naval Air Station North Island. One goal of this state law is to protect human life from the greed of local officials who gain from over-development around military airports. The Air Installation Compatible Use Zone (AICUZ) document, available in our library for public review, sets out the flight path, crash zones and noise contours. The Coronado Private Beach Events policy violates the Knight Act because it:
• Increases private beach events in the flight path and crash zones of the airport at Naval Air Station North Island thus increasing human activity there and demonstrating a callous disregard for human life
• Exposes our city taxpayers to legal liability and financial responsibility in the event, however unlikely, that an airplane crash occurs.
If you have time, I encourage you to view the formulation of the Coronado Private Beach Events Policy online. Our council spent 2 meetings and 3 agenda items over a span of 3 months to formulate this city policy. Go to the city website www.coronado.ca.us. On the bottom right of the home page, click on "Video Archives." The council meetings and agenda items to view are:
• Tuesday 17 April 2012 at agenda item # 11b, and
• Tuesday 17 July 2012 at agenda items # 5s and # 8b.
Also, you'll want to view the AICUZ presentation by Captain Yancy Lindsey as Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station North Island, as well as the council’s treatment of Captain Lindsey, at the city council meeting of:
Tuesday 19 June 2012 at agenda item # 11b.
As Councilwoman, I twice successfully built consensus on council to pro-actively enforce our city code.
First, I built council consensus for successful pro-active code enforcement against illegal short-term vacation rentals. You may recall that vacation rentals of residential homes for less than 26 days are illegal under our city code. The more extreme cases severely disturb neighbors with noise and other activity as well as decrease the quality of life and property values of the entire neighborhood.
Second, I built council consensus for pro-active code enforcement to successfully stop over-development by saving an historic home on Glorietta Boulevard from demolition.
As Mayor, I’ll continue to build consensus for a policy of pro-active code enforcement across the board.
Coronado residents and small business owners want and deserve stronger code enforcement that is predictable, reliable and fair. Instead of the current complaint-driven code enforcement policy, which is divisive and intimidating, Coronado needs pro-active code enforcement across the board. This will restore faith in our municipal government and improve our island quality of life.
The current complaint-driven code enforcement policy is divisive and intimidating because for a code provision to be enforced, one neighbor must sign a written complaint against another neighbor.
As Mayor, I’ll build consensus to adopt a pro-active code enforcement policy that is predictable, reliable and fair to everyone. I’ll ensure council backs up our code enforcement officers when they enforce our municipal code, instead of overriding them to favor special interests.
As Mayor, I’ll also provide strong leadership to use pro-active code enforcement to eliminate abusive vacancy problems like the old CoroMart store on Orange Avenue.
As long as I’m Mayor, our residents will get equal, predictable and fair treatment when they come before city council with agenda items. I’ll ensure that we don’t end up as a bad story in the San Diego Union Tribune again. In the U-T’s “A Tale of Two Encroachments” story the council majority decision of 4-1, with myself dissenting, was rightly criticized as special treatment allowing one resident to keep his encroaching fence immediately after a unanimous council decision of 5-0 forced another resident to remove his similarly encroaching fence. We must have a city government that treats its citizens impartially and fairly.
What is your favorite thing about Coronado?
My favorite thing about Coronado is its calm and serenity. It's an easy place to live, work, and play. It's an easy place to send your kids to school or off to play with their friends. Our streets are wide, our sidewalks lined with trees, and our homes filled with generous friendly people. When I walk my dog, I notice that our city is full of other dog walkers. I never go jogging, but if I did, I am sure that I would pass several others doing the same thing, block after block. I love Coronado because it is our own little piece of paradise and I am running for Re-Election as Mayor to do my part to preserve it for ourselves and our posterity.
My favorite thing about Coronado is our people. You inspire me and energize me on a daily basis. I feel very valued and appreciated by our citizens who make my elected role very fulfilling.
My husband and I feel blessed to own our home in Coronado where we have the best neighbors for which we could hope.
I enjoy my friends in the many community groups where I serve in various roles as leader, active member, sponsor and donor. For more information, including a list of those community groups, kindly go to www.barbara4mayor.com.
Both Tanaka and Denny are active eCoronado.com members! View their profiles here.
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