Lake Forest Park council candidates answer questions at Third Place Commons candidate forum October 7

Monday, October 25, 2021

Both the candidate forum and the Prop 1 forum
are available online
By Pam Cross

On Thursday, October 7, 2021 Third Place Commons presented the Lake Forest Park City Council Candidate Forum, in partnership with the League of Women Voters - Seattle/King County. 

All seven candidates for the four city council positions participated, and shared their thoughts on a wide variety of topics including Prop 1, increasing affordable housing options, and the future of Town Center.

The forum was moderated by Chelsea Jordan from the League of Women Voters - Seattle / King County.

The candidates did not receive the questions beforehand and were given from 1 to 2 minutes to respond. The candidates were randomly called on so that no one had an advantage.

What three things would you do to improve or deepen a safe and strong community?

The most frequently mentioned was improving accessibility through a comprehensive sidewalk plan starting with the areas around schools. The cut-through traffic has to be addressed using traffic calming methods. The City needs to be more walkable and bikeable and needs more street lights.

Candidates expressed a need for expanded services to complement the RADAR program for those who need mental health assistance or suffer from domestic violence. There is potential funding for a North End crisis center that would provide the immediate help that RADAR cannot provide.

It was pointed out that local control of the Police and Fire Departments requires proper funding; we should pay attention to what the Northshore FD is planning; and gathering places are important and needed in LFP.

Other items that were raised included the need for cooling/warming stations because of the more extreme weather caused by Climate Change, increasing neighborhood involvement through a Neighborhood Watch program, and a locking mailboxes program partly subsidized by City.

The LFP Council has placed a property tax levy on the Nov Ballot to fund improvements for sidewalks, pedestrians and bicycles, parks increasing taxes $.59/1,000.

What is your position on Prop 1 and what would you do to support it if passes, and what are your thoughts on supporting parks if it does not pass?

The candidates were generally in support of Prop 1 with one dissenting view.

Maddy Larson (Position 5) put it this way: this is a complicated issue. Everybody wants it, but the mechanism is frustrating to voters that there’s not more specificity in what it would fund. And it does not have a time limit to end this tax. We need to start somewhere - we need to start making progress on these infrastructure issues. I will work with Council to make sure the funds are spent with a community voice present, projects are clearly planned and budgeted, and that we make meaningful progress. If it doesn’t pass, we will have to find another funding source.

All of the candidates commented that funding was the area of most concern. They recognized that we need to make the investments and until we have some money to invest, no bank is going to bond us. Right now interest rates are low.

No one likes to raise taxes for the sake of raising taxes without compelling justification. These are the things voters support. There are very good safeguards built into Prop 1 so that funds will go into designated account and will be used only for pedestrian safety and parks. It can’t be raided for general purpose expenditures.

Semra Riddle (Position 1), who is currently on the Council and running unopposed, supports Prop 1. Resolution 1810 spells out how the funds will be spent. The money can’t be spent until there’s an implementation plan. Council is working on the implementation plan right now which requires work by staff, public outreach, and a public hearing as part of the normal process. We have tried other funding sources in the past for safe routes to schools and we have missed the mark every time. And these projects we’ve asked for are basically shovel ready. They’re just not big enough to rise to the top. If it doesn’t pass, we’re really going to have to think about how we’re coming back with a smaller levy because going out for grants and State money hasn’t been successful for these types of projects.

The dissenting opinion came from candidate Jon Lebo (Position 3).

I’m a strong supporter of parks, sidewalks and safety but I think we’re a bit premature. I have years of experience managing construction projects in the public sector. We’ve always put together a very detailed list of priorities and we’ve gone through a funding cycle and we have looked at sources, costs, and budget. I will vote no because I don’t think they’ve outlined enough detail in the priorities, the costs, and what they really want to achieve. There are many ways to provide safe access. The implementation plan should have been developed before going to the voters. You need to go to the voters with a strong program of what you’re going to do, and how you’re going to do it.

The next question: What is your vision for the future of Town Center Third Place Commons, and how would you achieve that?

Larry Goldman (Position 7) stated that the zoning regulations are a reasonable compromise by bringing in some residential with some affordable housing, but not so much that it overwhelms the infrastructure. We still need space for our Farmers Market, and community gathering spaces like we have now. There will be more opportunities for public input so we can balance affordable housing with a community focused center.

Other candidates mentioned that it’s a sensitive area because of the watershed. Some would like to see Town Center as a model for sustainable building, with lots of social services placed there, housing, and retail, and room for community gatherings. Use of solar, wind, and zero net carbon emissions are some ideas to model what we want to see in the rest of the community. The visibility to people outside the community lets them see what LFP is about. Our community wants a vibrant retail space with the character and feel of LFP. We need what is appropriate for LFP meaning low scale buildings, methods that improve the environment, more walkability - a place where people want to go. We need to find a developer that will do that.

A member of the audience asked: What concrete steps would you take about all of the noisy and racing cars?

All candidates agree that this is a big issue and needs to be a priority. It is critical to address this because it is in every neighborhood. We need to provide education in high schools and consider lobbying the state legislature for support in things like allowed signage.

Paul Sanford (Position 7) This is a big one. I think you have to start with police enforcement. We have a strong police force today but they are limited in where they can get and how quickly they can get there. I think we need to put together a special hotline or special conduit forum so people can directly contact a response at all hours of the day. A lot of concerns to address. We can look at cameras, and temporary calming traffic measures to disrupt these activities.

Tracy Furutani (Position 5). Agrees that data gathering is important and neighbors are the best way to get the information. We need one central repository to identify the area and emphasize those areas. We also have to decide whether this is local problem or a regional problem. If it’s regional, let’s partner with our neighbor cities to work on roads that lead into LFP.

Others pointed out that there are a couple of areas that are all known for racing. They are ripe for speed bumps - even temporary ones that are less expensive. Maybe the neighborhood would be willing to contribute to city funds. Let’s consider using inexpensive deterrents such as speed bumps, reducing the speed limits citywide, signage

In response to an audience question about affordable housing, the candidates supported ADUs because they provide a gentle increase in density. They also reduce the likelihood of loss of tree canopy. Another suggestion was cluster housing.

There were other questions from the audience as well as closing statements from the candidates. 

View the entire candidate forum HERE


Post a Comment

We encourage the thoughtful sharing of information and ideas. We expect comments to be civil and respectful, with no personal attacks or offensive language. We reserve the right to delete any comment.
Facebook: Shoreline Area News
Twitter: @ShorelineArea
Daily Email edition (don't forget to respond to the email)

  © Blogger template The Professional Template II by 2009

Back to TOP