*Candidate responses were not modified or altered.
Q1. What are your top 2 priorities for Sparks?
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. The top priority for me is to provide our community with the highest level of public health and safety. This includes fire and police protection, as well as, a solid infrastructure that supports public health and safety.
The second priority is that our city remains fiscally strong. During these unprecedented times, it would be easy to falter and be unable to provide the most vital services within the city, let alone others that are important to our citizens and businesses. We must be diligent in our budgeting.
Although you asked for my top 2 priorities, I do want to make it clear that without the first 2 being in place, nothing else will matter within our city. For us to be a socially supportive community we must provide the above services.
On the social services side, there are 2 top priorities for me. One is my passion to end youth homelessness in our region. The other is to continue my work on suicide prevention among our veterans, service members, their families; as well as, our community’s elderly and youth.
A2. A city within Nevada has few options to fund or incentivize affordable housing. Most of those types of options are at the federal, state and county government levels. What I do see within the city’s ability is to provide quick and efficient processing of building permits for those projects focused on the low to middle-income levels. There’s also the potential to defer fees until the end of the construction project, thus incentivizing growth in this area.
A3. Within the city of Sparks, I have not seen a displacement of low-income communities or communities of color due to gentrification. If you are aware of cases where this has happened, please let me know.
A4. The answer to this question is in the answer to Question 2. As a city, we must remain diligent in quickly and efficiently processing building permits to allow for lower cost living. The city has seen a fantastic growth in multifamily developments and as each one of these comes online, it will continue to drive the market lower.
A5. To create a welcoming and supportive community for immigrants and their families, we need to look beyond government. It is my belief that the best resources to solve this concern is through our faith based and service organizations. These groups are specifically built to support our community, to include immigrants. We must call on the leadership of these organizations to be vigilant in attending to all populations within our city
A1. 1. Affordable Housing 2. Small Business Development
A2. I would increase local funding and incentives to develop affordable housing for low and middle-income communities by working with developers to learn what challenges they face in building affordable housing units. I would work towards making more permits for affordable housing readily available, and I would seek federal aid wherever possible. I would also be open to requiring a percentage of affordable housing in any new development or imposing a fine or additional tax on developers who choose not to provide affordable housing units.
A3. I would address the displacement of low-income communities and communities of color due to gentrification by working with current landlords, especially of apartment units to discuss the possibility of rent control. I would also look to the possibility of building modular houses, which are more affordable to build and could give displaced persons a permanent home.
A4. I am a renter myself. I have seen the rent on my two-bedroom apartment double over the past three years while income remains the same. This is a huge struggle for me and my neighbors. I would support the growing number of renters in our community by looking to form a renter’s committee composed of a member of the city council and renters in the various wards. The committee would report any hardships on renters to the city council and help find solutions.
A5. I am also an immigrant from Mexico. I have worked hard to make Sparks feel like home and to integrate into the community. I would create a welcoming and supporting community for other immigrants and their families by ensuring all Sparks official business is posted in English and in Spanish and that translators are available at any city council meetings. I would also look to create a position of immigrant advocate to provide resources and advocate for the needs of our immigrant community.
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A1. Thank you for allowing me to take the time, and share my vision on what will make a Better Sparks. My top 2 priorities are the expansion of Post-Secondary Education to the city and Smart Growth. I believe by bringing a Nevada System of Higher Education Institution (Branch, Satellite or Research Park) will help fuel our municipal economy by creating diverse high paying jobs, training for post-recession careers, and increase local Start-up businesses. My Second Priority will be to address growth. Growth is good, when it is done properly. I would assemble a citizen and expert led Ad Hoc Smart Growth Initiative Committee to tackle specific issues pertaining to Ward 3. Our specific issues would address: affordable senior housing development, wildfire risk in the D’Andrea/ Los Altos Hills Area, jobs, and long term infrastructure.
A2. If elected, I will be your champion for affordable housing. I would lobby our State Senate, State Assembly, and Nevada Housing Division to increase 1st Time Homeownership programs with funding. By expanding new home ownership in the City of Sparks, I would propose a “one time” premium of .5%-.8% on all home sells (Single Family, Townhomes, Condominiums, Multi-Units, Manufactured). This premium cost would be shared among sellers and buyers. The premium funds collected would go into a City of Sparks 1st Time Homebuying program account. I would recommend 10-15% of the total funds be placed in secure investments for the city. The other 85-90% will be used to assist 1st Time Homebuyers to purchase single Family/Townhomes/Condominiums/Multi-Units/Manufactured. So, how would this work? If Maria bought a house for $300,000, she and the seller would pay a combined .5% into the City of Sparks 1st Time Homebuying Program account. The total amount would be $1,500 (Maria and the seller’s total contribution). If the City of Sparks had 150 home sales in January (Hypothetically Speaking), that would equal $225,000 for the month of January. If 150 houses sold for each month for 12 months, that would be $2.7 million dollars of new revenues to add into the City of Sparks 1st Time Homebuying Program. The City of Sparks could give participant residents $5,000-$10,000 to off-set closing or down payment cost.
A3. First, I would build a diverse working committee (of residents, faith-based organizations, non-profits, activist, and business owners) to identify a minimum of 3 areas in Sparks that have the highest number of displaced low income residents and residents of color due to gentrification. I believe we need to address affordable housing and community based businesses. Short term: I would immediately support financial incentives for motel property owners to convert their properties into studio and 1 Bedroom apartments with income restrictions. Also, I would encourage them to include units specifically for people ages 55+ . On day 1, I would work with local community banks, partner banks, credit unions, and the Lt. Governor’s Office to secure small business loans for “community businesses”. These would be businesses that directly support the needs of the residents in a given community. Long term: I would use the same working committee, the planning department, and projection economist to develop goals to make sure these communities become economically sustainable. Also, I would support new trades/vocational training and higher education locations within close proximity to areas for residents. And, I would work with the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) to evaluate bus route, pick-up and drop-off times in all areas to make sure residents have access to adequate transportation needs.
A4. I believe it is important to identify an accurate number of renters in our community. I recommend we have residential rental occupancy licenses in the City of Sparks. So, each year, a landlord must submit a rental occupancy license application to the city. This will allow the City of Sparks to do a “renters census”. The city could do yearly follow-up surveys via email with current renters ( the survey respondents would be 100% self-reported, non-mandatory) . I would collaborate with renter advocate and legal counsel to develop “Know Your Renter’s Rights” Workshops. These workshop would address basic renters legal rights and address common renter questions. I highly recommend workshops be recorded and performed in English and Spanish.
A5. I would increase more City of Sparks informational documents and common forms to be formatted in English and Spanish. Also, I would advocate for more Spanish speaking liaisons to assist with constituent relations. Last but not least, I would secure funds for public cultural art displays throughout the city that represent our diverse community.
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