Q: When’s the last time you contacted your electeds? What was the issue you reached out on?
A: As a resident, not a candidate, I last organized a campaign around Rent Relief in probably May.
Q: What did you want to grow up to be when you were a child?
A: We helped train guide dogs when I was a kid, but didn’t have a permanent family pup, so I wanted to be a vet when I was young.
Q: What is the biggest misconception others have about you?
A: The biggest misconception I’ve run into is that my proposals and priorities will be expensive — long-term solutions with temporary testing and ensured accessibility are more affordable!
Q: For you, what’s the best part about living in SLO?
A: The people! I’ve lived a lot of places, and never have I made so many meaningful connections so quickly as I do here.
Q: If you had a campaign theme song, what would it be?
A: “Sit Still, Look Pretty” by Daya.
Q: Who has the best breakfast burrito in town?
A: Edna Valley Market!
Q: Knowing what we know now, would you have wanted to handle the city’s COVID response any differently and in what ways?
A: A city-wide mask ordinance earlier, and more insistent following of the state-wide ordinance would be a simple way to protect residents further; we had some incredible mask masking volunteers and donations start up right at the beginning of the shelter so really respecting, encouraging, and utilizing that work would have been wonderful. The responses we needed to COVID were such that everything was an emergency level. Relying on state and federal small business loans at first was not a bad use of priorities, but pressure on our local banking institutions for rent and mortgage relief for residents and businesses would have had a huge impact on economic health. Not only do we have a city of 70+% renters, but we’ve seen local institutions shrink, move, and shut down out of inability to cover rent costs with lowered revenue. Property owners not getting rent because their storefronts and houses are empty or people can’t afford to pay them does not make for a strong, healthy economy, even if you choose to look at our needs through that lens. Focusing on how to create virtual events, partnering with delivery programs and streaming services to do so, is still something I’d like to work on in partnership with the Downtown Association. Combining realistic accessible virtual programs with needed financial assistance and strict health regulations rather than looking for the first chance to reopen might have kept us in that incredibly low case rate period we looked like we were in during the spring — although, that may have just been a lack of testing.
Q: Are there any changes you’d like to make to the City’s Climate Action Plan? If so, how?
A: Environmental policy needs to be ingrained in every other piece of policy we put out, not treated as a separate measure. Transit, housing, diversity, economic recovery; all must be built around sustainability to be valid moves forward. San Luis Obispo is so lucky to have so many dedicated climate advocates, and it not my job to pretend I know more than they do. Council should listen to, respect, and appreciate shared knowledge from our advocates especially those whose work is in deeply specific fields. Our CAP is a great example of that work being done right.
Q: Do you support Measure G? Why or why not?
A: I do support this initiative. The city has made many financial concessions during COVID, with huge losses from free parking downtown alone. These concessions are more than worthwhile for the support they’ve provided our businesses, but such grants won’t continue to be possible without an increased revenue stream. Most of the city’s revenue comes from sources unavailable during times of social distancing, and support programs won’t be possible without new and additional income. We will also be able to borrow against the new tax for big projects and real developmental change.
Q: With Black Lives Matter movements taking place across the nation and here in SLO, how do you propose to promote racial equality locally?
A: The number one thing I’ve heard from well-meaning white folks here is that they were taught to be colorblind and they’re finding out this summer that it isn’t enough. I’m seeing much more ‘Well, what do we do? How do we be better? We didn’t think we were being racist!’ than any other reaction, no matter how downtown businesses are being portrayed in our local media at the moment. I’m so grateful to groups like our county NAACP branch and GALA Pride and Diversity Center for putting on educational events; one upside to Zoom meetings becoming the new normal! Longer-term efforts like working with our San Luis Coastal School Board to add ethnic studies options in our schools and figuring out how to add a multicultural center to our ever-growing infrastructure projects list will make a difference in the culture coming generations are raised with locally.
Q: What do you think is the city’s role in attracting more diverse, young professionals to live and work in SLO? What can the City do better?
A: We need housing young professionals can afford in order to inject vitality into our town. It’s not a matter of attraction, at least for racially privileged folks; our town is beautiful and friendly with a mild climate and quick access to ocean, mountains, big cities. For those who are met with discrimination and marginalization instead of friendliness, we need to meet those actions head-on. Lack of accessibility and affordability always end up affecting our more marginalized communities most. At the end of the day, if people can’t afford to live here, they aren’t going to, and that’s our biggest hurdle in being a real option for young, diverse professionals.
Q: Do you believe adding density to the downtown core is one of the tools to help alleviate our housing crisis? What other tools should the City implement to make SLO a more affordable place to live?
A: I am a big proponent of density — we saw Santa Barbara lose downtown vitality as people weren’t living downtown and therefore weren’t spending downtown. Building housing downtown leads to a more vibrant, localized downtown as people spend their money where they live and not where they work. We have developers who can afford our land costs, as long as they can recoup those costs via more units and a streamlined approval process. Utilizing mixed-use zoning, especially where we currently have empty lots sitting, allows for realistic density and a carfree work-life-play environment. It avoids building out, into our greenbelt, is the best choice from an eco-sustainability standpoint, and encourages walking or biking over driving for daily transportation. Coupled with an increased transit system, we create real opportunity for wealth diversity and a move towards the green City we all say we want.
Q: How will you integrate the concerns of U40’s into your decision making process? What is your experience with mentoring or amplifying the voices of younger generations?
A: As a candidate who is under 40, I continuously point out how much more difficult it is for shift workers, students, new parents to attend and speak at Tuesday evening meetings than it is for home-owning retired folks. Given that basic truth, it’s especially important for those folks who don’t have as much time and capacity to spend bringing their needs forward to have direct engagement that meets them where they are and a representative vote on Council.
Q: What is one of the biggest challenges SLO faces over the next decade and what are some ways to address it?
A: I firmly believe climate, economic vitality through well-paid career jobs, diversity and equity, and housing are all linked aspects of our well-being. Over the next decade, the dangers of continuing to fall into deeper and more divided financial chasms is the biggest challenge we face as a country, and SLO is not immune to it as long as we don’t face our housing and retainable job issues. We are well aware that often the biggest fight for our climate is against private industry; the fossil fuel companies, fracking, even PG&E. We must also acknowledge that for our town to be a safe haven for white retirees will eventually be the end of the town. Without industry, there is no one to serve those retirees and no one to carry on life after they leave. If housing is priced above what jobs pay, children and grandchildren and Cal Poly graduates will get whatever degree they’re in town for and leave, taking their innovation and our future with them. Closing those divided chasms, providing support and realistic choices for housing, work, education that choose climate health over corporate interest, is our only way forward.