Friday, September 7, 2018

Role of a City Commissioner

The role of a City Commissioner is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Commissioners are appointed by the City Council after an application and interview process in the public view.  They provide direct feedback to the City Council in areas that they study and advocate for. They set goals each year based off what the City Council's goals are.  They work for the City Council, and align with them.  They create work plans and bring fresh new ideas to the table. Being a Commissioner means that you put the needs of the Community before yours. 

It's up to those in the Community that want to get involved, go get involved. You can't come in last minute and expect change to occur. To be apart of the process is more than just showing up to a few meetings and missing others. It's about watching and reading minutes from all involved. I do feel that the City should enhance their transparency by providing audio/video recording of select Commissions.  Reading minutes and agendas isn’t the best way to enhance transparency and get engagement of the Community.  Going LIVE on social media and other outlets would be ideal.  As a Commissioner you should know the direction of the Council and watch a project go through the process. You can see the current projects on the City’s website under Community Development.  Projects go through months and years of planning, and every step of the way gains public comment that is used. 

Commissions have historically provided a platform for those that want to run for City Council and Mayor because you can gain experience with the process from a different point.  You get to know the City Staff, City Council, and developers from meetings.  It’s a position for you to show the voters what you can accomplish and build a trust with the Community.  It’s your duty to act professionally while representing your Commission locally and regionally.

Parks & Recreation Commissioner Carol Marques is running for the City Council two-year term against current City Council Member Dan Harney.  This is a short amount of time to come in fresh and make an impact, but it can be done.  I’ve watched Council Member Dan Harney make a difference.  Parks & Recreation Commissioner Carol Marques was appointed in January 2018.  What are her accomplishments on the Parks & Recreation Commission that didn’t benefit her?  Not sure. When you watch her interview she states that she wanted to focus on safety at Las Animas Park. Las Animas Park is where she hosts her Tennis Club matches.  She has missed regular meetings, one of which was the Annual Arbor Day Celebration at Carriage Hills Park and annual work plan discussion for her Commission that followed.  I was there and watched the neighbors of the park talk to the Commission about the safety at their park and what they have experienced.  

Prove to us that are raising families in Gilroy why we should put you in power when we haven’t seen any support for things that matter to us. We want safe routes to school, jobs, downtown parks, housing, and economic development support for upscale destinations such as Hecker Pass Ag-Tourist District.  Instead as Vice-Chair of the small and elite groups like Gilroy Growing Smarter, Carol did everything in her power to make Great Wolf Lodge and the Hecker Pass Ag-Tourist developers not feel welcome.  Why should we elect someone that’s currently in a position to support our values of the greater community, but focuses on making sure her tennis club at Las Animas is taken care of?  

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Hecker Pass Highway Ag-Tourism Gilroy

It’s a Saturday afternoon in Gilroy and the family is looking for something to do. You decide to stay local and get the bikes ready for a ride.  You call up the neighbors and meet on the Levee Class l Bike/Ped Trail, which is referred to as the recreation spine of the City.  You ride up the trail along Uvas Creek and take in the views of the year round green hills.  You stop off at the park and let the kids run wild for a bit.  More local neighbors join you at the park.  You realize time has passed quickly and your reservations at the new Farm-To-Table restaurant are quickly approaching.  No need to stress because it’s located just one more mile along the Bike/Ped Path and you get free front row bicycle parking at the new Ag-Tourist Hecker Pass destination.  This is just one of the many reasons how the proposed Hecker Pass project will benefit the City as a whole, while enhancing the walkable and bikeable capabilities of the neighborhood.  

This project is designed to reward the walkers and bikers, that’s why the parking lot is located where it is on Lone Oak Way. The Walk Score of the residential developments in Hecker Pass are a 3 out of 100.  This means that there are no basic services like grocery, restaurant, coffee shops, flower shops, and retail within walking distance.  You need a vehicle to run all errands.  Creating livable communities for all age’s means that you will have healthy, active, and engaged people that live there.  This project and others that will follow will create a livable community for those residents that live close by, but also engage those that live a walking distance away. The children will benefit the most in the Hecker Pass Specific Plan since they will have a protected path for Safe Routes to School.

The Gilroy Bicycle Pedestrian Commission studies these community needs and what it takes to build walkable and bikeable communities.  We regularly promote the concept of free-range people.  This commercial project and the Class I Bike/Ped Trail came through the Gilroy Bicycle Pedestrian Commission in May 2017 and August 2017 where we provided our recommendations that are in the Staff Report.  During these two public meetings we never heard from the general public regarding safety.  The streets are narrow by design to slow all vehicles. It is safe to ride on the streets, we teach the youth across the City how toride and walk safely with Safe Routes to School.  This project will support the Safe Routes to School programs here in Gilroy because we are teaching the youth to stay local and out of their cars.  They have the tools to ride and walk safe around their neighborhoods.  I am looking forward to projects like this one that meet the current cost of living and lifestyle that I’m raising my family in.  

I encourage the Mayor & City Council to stay the course with your number one goal of economic development, promoting the recent resolution of Ag-Tourism in the Hecker Pass Corridor, and creating walkable and bikeable communities.  Gilroy and the west side of town are craving for upscale destinations to take our families. 

As a resident who lives on 3rdSt I welcome the increase of traffic by walkers, bikers, scooters, and vehicles.  It means my neighbors are staying local and being active in the Community.  The most liberating way to live amongst all incomes and the most profitable investments we can make in a community today are to make them more walkable and bikeable.