What three attributes do you consider Flagstaff’s greatest assets and why?
We attract creative problem solvers who are invested in our community.
Our natural environment provides clean air, recreation, stress relief, and beauty.
Our cultural diversity. The Diné and Hopi have a rich history and culture dating back long before others arrived and thrives today in Flagstaff and surrounding lands. People who arrived to work in industries such as lumber and farming continue today through remaining decedents. Our scientific and cultural institutions continue to teach us about this history while making new discoveries. It’s an exciting place to live for the curious minded.
What government strategies and policies, if any, do you believe can address Flagstaff’s high cost of living and unaffordability?
Encourage higher density, well planned, and attractive developments.
Discourage low density, large lot, single-family residential development.
Charge full legally permissible development impact fees so that new development pays for itself rather than spend general fund money on new roads, sewer, parks, etc.
Devote more general fund budget to the housing department.
Create an affordable housing incentive policy that is attractive to developers.
Expand the city’s land trust to maintain permanent affordability.
Flagstaff’s High Occupancy Housing Plan was approved in 2018 and staff is starting to bring to Council changes to the zoning code promoted in the plan. What are your thoughts about the goals in this plan regarding building height, location and size and do you think they are adequate to deal with the concerns people have expressed about this type of housing going into the future?
I understand the concern about increasing density in new developments as it’s unnerving to see buildings like the Standard or the Hub built in low-density areas. I support increased densities in new development; however, it should be scaled and better suited to nearby neighborhoods. For this reason, I support reducing building heights to 45 feet near existing and historic neighborhoods. Forty-five feet is a three-to-four story building, depending on the type of building and construction materials. My main issue with recent denser development is that it’s student housing and not suited to Flagstaff families.
In 2018 the City Council passed the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. Just recently they declared a Climate Emergency and elevated the goals of the CAAP to carbon neutrality by 2030. What strategies would you prioritize in order to achieve carbon neutrality and how will you reallocate budget resources or come up with new revenue streams to fund these changes?
Transportation is the largest local emitter of GHG and yet while the council was approving the CAAP, they were putting $400 million in road construction projects on the ballot. The transportation tax process was devoid of meaningful input from either the sustainability or housing departments. First, I would ensure that all transportation projects were planned in accordance with our CAAP goals. Next, I would ensure that all municipal construction projects met these goals and retrofitted energy efficient projects were undertaken for existing city buildings. Let’s create an economic development opportunity through production of building materials and renewable energy.
Flagstaff has been using reclaimed water to replace the use of potable water for applications such as irrigation, toilet flushing and snowmaking. City Water Services is starting a study to consider how to manage reclaimed water for the long term. The study will consider whether to expand its use, use it for aquifer recharge, or reserve it as a future potential source of drinking water (after further processing). What are your thoughts about the future of reclaimed water use?
Flagstaff is already recharging the aquifer to a certain extent with discharged water from the Wildcat plant into the Rio de Flag. This is an important reason to keep our treatment facilities in top shape and discharging the cleanest water possible. Creating wildlife habitat along our urban trail plus some recharge of the aquifer is a great use of reclaimed water. I also support installing reclaimed water lines where they make sense in new developments. Eventually getting to the place where we reuse all water in a meaningful manner (toilet flushing, aquifer recharge, irrigation and wildlife) is a positive.
Flagstaff has long used tiered water rates for residential customers as an incentive to conserve water (under tiered rates, the price per gallon increases as usage rises). Do you favor extending tiered rates to commercial and industrial customers?
Flagstaff’s minimum wage will rise to $15.50 per hour on January 1, 2022. On January 1, 2026 the tipped minimum wage, which is currently $3 less than the full minimum wage, will match the full minimum wage. Do you support the minimum wage ordinance that was approved by Flagstaff voters?
Yes. Flagstaff’s cost of living is higher than any city in Arizona. The $7.25 federal minimum wage has remained stagnant for 11 years, the longest stretch since the inception of a minimum. I am concerned about unintended consequences the new wage is having on organizations serving developmentally disabled community members as well as nonprofits. Since January of this year, nearly 200 disabled and direct care workers lost jobs and eight group homes relocated out of Flagstaff, forcing 26 individuals with disabilities to relocate. Perhaps a longer ramp up period may have allowed social service providers to better adjust and manage.
What, if anything, do you believe the City ought to do to support and protect undocumented residents?
I believe that the city is responsible for the health, safety, and well-being of its residents, regardless of immigration status. I also support an individual’s civil rights as defined in the U.S. Constitution—and this includes all humans on U.S. soil. I’ve read FPD’s policies they relate to ICE and I’ve researched what other cities are doing to support undocumented residents. I have limited knowledge of these issues and am continuing to learn, but from what I’ve been reading, it seems that Arizona’s SB1060 law prevents us from doing many things to protect undocumented residents.
In light of the recent national protests against racism and police violence, many people are calling for re-imagining the role of policing in our communities. How do you envision applying this to Flagstaff?
I believe that many problems in our community are better addressed through safe and stable housing and mental health services. There’s national evidence and programs demonstrating that when an individual’s basic needs are met, they’re less likely to require emergency services, including the police. I would like to explore how adopting a “housing first” model would work in Flagstaff to decrease costs associated with reliance on emergency services. I would also like to explore what resources it would take to have a trained mental health professional respond to emergency calls where appropriate.
What are your three greatest concerns regarding Flagstaff’s future and what steps should we take to help address them?
Lack of safe, affordable housing. Make a community priority and budget city resources; effective incentive policy; continue to find funding.
Climate change. Transportation and building energy are two of the biggest GHG emitters. Design transportation that’s more efficient than private automobiles; municipal buildings energy retrofits; renewable energy production.
How we guide change: creating a city that’s inclusive, well designed, creates meaningful work opportunities, fosters a culture of creativity, and celebrates the beauty and benefits of a healthy natural environment. Much outside our control, impact what we can: build parks and trails, get out of our cars, create art and innovate.