In answering questions, please try to keep your answers relevant to and within the scope of the office you seek election to. Try and list specific policy ideas you think would be helpful in addressing issues. Responses will be published on TempeYIMBY.org.
How would you increase overall housing production?
To meet current and future demands, I believe we need to pursue higher density in areas where it makes sense. I also support efforts and incentives to allow homeowners in low density neighborhoods to build supplemental dwelling units to add to our affordable housing stock.
How would you strengthen tenant protections?
Because Tempe is a college town, we are unique in terms of the high number of rentals, especially in certain neighborhoods, which comes with its own set of issues for landlords, tenants and neighbors. I am a proponent of local control and allowing cities to enact their own laws to suit their unique circumstances and reflect the will of the residents, particularly when state law is vague or insufficient. I support the Tempe Rental Housing Code which was enacted in 1998 to ensure rental properties are safe and maintained. I believe the key to the success of this code is ensuring consistent enforcement.
How would you go about ensuring an adequate supply of affordable housing in the city?
We don’t have enough affordable housing available in Tempe to meet current and future demand. This is a sign of a city that’s out of balance. Ideally, a city should have housing available for residents of all income levels so our service industry workers, teachers, public safety workers and the like aren’t forced to commute in from other more affordable cities, which increases pollution, traffic and parking issues as well as added difficulty for employers struggling to find workers. When we consider new development, we need to work with developers and other stakeholders to ensure we’re providing a variety of balanced options. I am currently working with organizations like Newtown Community Development Land Trust and others to find unique, innovative and cost-effective ways to provide more affordable housing in our landlocked city. I also believe we should explore incentives for private landlords to consider opening up their new and existing rental units for affordable housing.
What policies would you hope to enact regarding the issues of homelessness in Tempe?
Homelessness is a very complex issue and has many faces, causes and factors that need to be considered when making policy decisions. It’s also interrelated with other factors such as lack of affordable housing, mental health, jobs and the economy. The primary approach I would like to encourage in Tempe is Housing First, where we find a place to house our homeless first and then wrap services and supports around them to help them move toward living independently. This has proven to be the most cost-effective method of helping our homeless residents as opposed to a band-aid approach of providing piecemeal services on a perpetual basis. I believe this is a regional issue and we need to work with other cities to share the costs involved, work together to solve what is solvable, find a place for our homeless to actually go instead of just moving homeless residents from place to place. I would like to partner further with UMOM and other local human services providers to help us identify and develop a more comprehensive Housing First strategy for Tempe.
With the ongoing climate crisis, what city policies would you enact to take on climate change and its effects?
As a native American, caring for Mother Earth has been an important part of my family and tribal culture throughout my life. I believe governments, at all levels, have a duty to act on climate change. Tempe is headed in a positive direction with our current and future sustainability measures such as our Climate Action Plan, but there is so much more we can do. I believe water is life. My highest concern is ensuring access to a clean and safe water supply in the future as our rivers, lakes and streams become overdrawn, coupled with ongoing drought and rising temperatures. Tempe can have an impact by helping homeowners reduce their water usage through programs like WaterSmart, which I fully support and encourage in my own neighborhood. I also believe an urgent priority is creating more shade and developing our urban forest. This is a must if we want to encourage alternative transportation, reduce the effects of our urban heat island and curb the heat-related dangers to public health that are unique to our desert climate.
Do you support legalizing new and diverse housing options in parts of the city where it is currently illegal to build them?
I think all options should be on the table when it comes to discussion around housing and what works best for our city. As long as the residents and stakeholders support it, I am open to new ideas. One such example is the option to expand permissions for accessory dwelling units throughout the city, particularly in lower density residential neighborhoods. I also love adaptive re-use projects where we use our existing infrastructure to come up with creative solutions to meet our community’s needs. As we approach buildout in a landlocked city, I believe we need to be open to any option that the residents support.
How would you support multimodal transit options in the city? Would you support protected bike lanes and expanding bike infrastructure?
I believe that we need to make it easier and more attractive for people to utilize other modes of transportation than relying solely on cars. In the dense urban core, this will be much easier because there are many options available such as busses, light rail, the street car, Orbit neighborhood circulator busses, safe and walkable sidewalks, bike lanes, and a full-service transportation hub with bike storage and more. In the south, there are fewer options and the lack of density can make it less attractive to utilize alternatives to cars. To help make multimodal transportation easier and more attractive for all residents year-round, we need to increase our shade canopy and grow our urban forest, as the heat and intense sun are a significant barrier for many. I believe we need to make biking more safe and attractive and provide protected bike lanes where it makes sense and the residents support it. We should continue to develop safe biking corridors that would connect and span throughout the city such as along canal paths, city parks and non-arterial streets.
When it comes to public transit, what direction would you like to see Tempe take? What improvements would you make to existing systems? Are there any new modes of public transit you would like to see?
I think Tempe provides many options in the downtown core, but I’d like to explore more possibilities for the less dense neighborhoods in the south. Perhaps in the future we could provide a hub in the south where residents can park their cars and bikes and utilize public transit to access the urban core or other areas of the city? I am open to new ideas. I would also like to see the city’s public transportation fleet eventually move to all electric vehicles.
In regards to parking in the city, are there changes you would make to current policy? Changing parking minimums, changing the cost of public parking, etc.
Tempe is currently trying a new car-free community concept and it will be interesting to see how that works out and what we can learn from it. At this point in time, I’m not sure that Tempe residents are ready to make parking more difficult or expensive. To do so may encourage them to simply go to other cities or destinations where parking is easier. Changing people’s habits is the key, but that takes time and buy-in from residents. In the meantime, if we want to make our urban core less car-friendly and encourage alternative modes of transportation, we need to provide options for parking just outside the urban core so people from the south and neighboring cities can still access our downtown. We could also look at requiring more underground parking in new and re-development projects so parking is still available but doesn’t take away from available land that would otherwise be used for housing and mixed-use development. I would also like to encourage more parking incentives for electric vehicle users, such as free or reduced rate parking with ample charging stations available in the prime locations of public parking areas.