*Candidate responses were not modified or altered.
Q1. What are your top 2 priorities for Reno?
Q2. How would you increase local funding and incentives to develop affordable housing for low and middle-income communities?
Q3. How would you address the displacement of low-income communities and communities of color due to gentrification?
Q4. How would you support the growing number of renters in our community?
Q5. How would you create a welcoming and supportive community for immigrants and their families?
A1. 1) The fiscal sustainability of Reno government to provide essential public services and quality of life amenities 2) The equitable allocation of city resources and public infrastructure investment across our city particular to neighborhoods where our most vulnerable populations reside.
A2. As this response is drafted it is March 23 and the federal government is at work on a stimulus package to bring needed assistance to state and local governments. Prior to being elected to the Council, I worked on federal stimulus programs related to affordable housing production and housing assistance during the Great Recession within in state government. I understand how these programs work and will work to effectively leverage federal resources with local ones. I championed an Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance in my prior term that would have by my estimate created over 200 units the first year. These units are smaller and thus more affordable. I advocate for a sewer connection fee structure that favors infill (implementation in progress) and the elimination of transportation impact fees in infill settings also. These efforts will reduce production costs. I oppose subsidies to housing developers that do not include affordability requirements. For these reasons I opposed the City’s 1000 Homes in 1000 Days program because it did not require those who received the subsidy to construct restricted affordable units.
A3. I have addressed displacement by calling out the Jacobs Entertainment group for their actions that may be the most significant displacement effort in modern Reno history. In exercising their property rights Jacobs demolished over 300 units on approximately 24 acres of land, without turning over a shovel to construct a new residential unit. These were motel units were the housing most attainable for struggling households. Councilmembers have amplified voices.
These voices should be used judiciously to both celebrate those who are doing good things in our community but also on occasion, call out those who are hurting others and I have done that. One key to minimizing displacement is to focus on older neighborhoods uniformly with public investment and services, so that one neighborhood does not become the “hot” neighborhood attracting influxes of capital. This allows all neighborhoods a chance to be on a level footing and equally attractive for existing residents. This also requires new community’s that are built on the perimeter to have the design features that older neighborhoods and districts inclined to gentrification have, rather than be monolithic auto-oriented residential subdivisions. These concepts are in the Reno Master Plan that I put forth in my first term as something that needs to be done and I am pledged to faithful implementation of that plan.
A4. I have supported our community’s renter population by bringing an initiative to the Council of forming a Tenant’s Issues and Concerns Advisory Board. This Board is tasked with examining all facets of the tenant experience and recommending to the Council by the end of 2020, any measures to assist our households carrying an economic burden including but not limited to anti-rent gouging policies and regulations. I also advocated during the March 2020 economic crisis, a stay on evictions as a necessity to economic circumstance and public health (so ordered by Reno Justice Court).
A5. I supported the City’s Welcoming City position. When I arrived on Council in 2012, the City’s federal platform that is a statement of positions to those who represent us in D.C. was silent about immigration issues. I spearheaded the revision of this platform that in multiple iterations supports comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway to citizenry and the DACA/DREAMER programs.
A1. I look forward to immediately addressing the current homeless and housing affordability issues.
A2. As part of our regional planning process, we need to consider all types of housing and how much of each is offered. We have to modify our mindset and process in order to negotiate with our builders to build attainable housing. We need to be proactive as to what projects are being presented and considered for development. In order to gain leverage in these discussions, we need to first look at the process of how our city handles building project approvals. This process is known for taking too long from “concept to close” which increases the holding costs of the builder and is then added to the bottom line of the home once ready for sale. We can better streamline fees that accompany a building project. Some of these fees are important depending on the location of the project but these can be deferred or even waived, and some of these fees are not necessary. Anything that makes a project more costly will directly fall on to the buyer of the home. The City of Reno and it’s elected officials must be efficient, decisive and creative in order to actually produce a reasonably priced home, this takes leadership.
A3. We have to continue to find ways to provide attainable housing in our Urban areas and leverage the popularity of Opportunity Zones. There are strong Federal Tax incentives being offered to private entities that choose to build and invest in areas near the downtown core and areas that are in need of capital investment. We have to be exclusive about what is being built and if that project meets the needs of our low income individuals in those areas. We also must be aware of the impact of our growth in our elderly community. They are on fixed incomes and any increase in cost of living can affect them more than most demographics. They must be heavily considered in our regional planning.
A4. We have to strive to increase our supply of all levels of housing; apartments/condos, single family and multi-family. The more options a renter has the better it is for the entire community. We must also be proactive in creating rentals at or below market rate which can be achieved in larger apartment projects. Also, building these projects with attainable rental rates can support socio-economic diversity amongst our higher rated schools. It’s also important that our residential realtors and lenders continue to educate our renter’s about first-time home buyer incentives. Shifting our renters into homeownership offers another solution.
A5. Our undocumented citizens need more robust legal services and information about their rights in our city. There are multiple programs to help our undocumented citizens if they will trust the system. Currently our police are doing a great job with our non-violent and non-criminal undocumented citizens as they are being helpful and compassionate in their interactions. I witnessed first hand at the Immigration Forum many undocumented citizens express their gratitude towards our police. We must also support our police in their jobs of protecting all of our citizens by enforcing our local laws and in their pursuit of any criminals.
A1. 1.) Public Safety (Police & Fire & Pedestrian). 2.) Small Business (Compassionate Commerce).
A2. As former Vice-Chair on the Planning Commission, and member of the Mayor’s Housing Task Force, we worked towards building workforce housing, senior housing, and fought for initiatives that assist groups like Truckee Meadows Housing solutions. We do have opportunities to build attainable housing and its time to offer more creative solutions, including but not limited to; housing developments should be required to include percentages of their doors dedicated to specific income brackets. Allowing our City to be diverse and vertically built, avoiding urban sprawl, and also prevents putting housing in only certain areas of the City dedicated to low-income divisions. Helping schools, services, parks and recreation, and other areas to be part of a more significant effort to promote communities within our City to become unique, safe, and vibrant neighborhoods. We can work towards utilizing nationally recognized strategies that have proven to be successful and financially beneficial to many parties, including the builders, investors, residents, planners, and our entire housing ecosystem. We need to establish open communication lines across counties, municipalities, and in the public/private sector to ensure this is a top priority for all of us. Improved technologies, environmentally positive planned unit developments, and encouraging non-profits to build in our region, we can create not just temporary housing but provide long-lasting homes with the necessary services surrounding them. We are the battle-born state, and when we fight for equal accessibility for all, we are winners.
A3. We need to be taking action before construction begins, and significant changes are made to our City so that people are not left behind. If elected, I will use the full scope of my seat to protect our citizens and limit the severe impacts on people’s lives when businesses and houses are forced to move out of their neighborhoods. My personal construction and planning knowledge can limit negative short and long term effects during transition stages. We should be educating the community, companies, employers, employees, and residents about plans we are seeing presented, we can work to create solutions before we experience crises and emergencies! Many people have been displaced from their homes and neighborhoods. Although we cannot stop a private owner from acting in a particular manner, we CAN provide neighborhoods with resources, conduits, and people to help assist others in finding new locations. We can create resources to relocate businesses and help facilitate avenues that they can utilize to negotiate with their landlords, locate new options, or even access ways to be subsidized when able. This includes hardship programs, a task force, and relocation teams. In downtown Reno we had a wonderful woman assist hundreds of people in relocating when their previous buildings were sold, demolished or changed their use. We have seen this pathway be successful in helping people that are suffering the growing pains of gentrification.
A4. I believe at this time; we have over 50% of Nevada residents that identify as renters. As a previous renter myself I know the genuine hardship in trying to purchase a house of my own in my own hometown. In Reno, due to the high cost of the housing market, many are not in a position to purchase a home themselves. We also recognize a younger demographic of our community is not interested in home buying as they did in the previous 50 years. After being part of the Reimagine Reno Master Plan, Title 18 code update, and the Downtown Streetscape planning committees, we have seen that new and unique types of the housing allow us to lower costs of renting. Including townhomes, duplexes, containers, and mixed-use high rise buildings as various home models. Other amenities are also necessary for people in a diverse community. How walkable is the neighborhood, is there good local food options, do they feel a sense of community? As we evolve in the Biggest Little City, we need to focus on what is vital to a quality of life for families and citizens. As the market changes, we need to look at where the demand will be in 10-50 years. We spend much time reacting when we can be planning for what the economy will be asking for and begin to plan today for the supply.
A5. As someone who has lived abroad and traveled to nearly 17 countries for work and personal, I understand the experiences can be both daunting and exciting all at once. One of the greatest things about Reno is our heart. We are one of the most welcoming and generous communities there are. When moving, families want to become involved in the fabric of that network. I believe in leading by example, one of the main obstacles people have when coming to a new country can be a language barrier. My website alone has been translated into over 20 languages and our mailers and other collateral translated into Spanish. We can start to implement these types of systems by translating City messaging online, public fliers , and when people open new businesses having someone to assist in the process. As a City, we should be utilizing closed captioning, translators, and welcoming outreach to neighborhoods. When people know who represents them on a local level, that helps them to feel connected and involved in events happening in the community. We have a vibrant arts and culture environment, vast outdoor activities, and special events; assisting families and new Nevadans with these items allows them to join the conversation. Many people are interested in volunteering, being involved, and helping to make the City better. Communication is critical in making this happen. When we can be a catalyst for community building, we strengthen our parks, our economy, and our tourism, this is good for everyone.
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