Candidates for SLO council state positions in forum
April 25, 2013
Former councilman Paul Brown, current county Planning Commissioner Carlyn Christianson, welder Donald Hedrick, Los Angeles County firefighter Kevin Rice and attorney John Spatafore are aiming to fill the seat vacated by Andrew Carter, who stepped down to become the city administrator of Guadalupe. The election winner will join the current council with about a year and half remaining in Carter’s former term.
At the forum Tuesday, the five candidates discussed issues facing the city including Measure Y renewal and the proposed homeless services center.
Only Hedrick unconditionally opposed the renewal of the city’s half-cent sales tax, which is expected to appear on the ballot in 2014. He said Measure Y drives business from the city to other areas of the county.
Rice and Spatafore said they would support a renewal of Measure Y if the revenues go toward specific purposes.
“I support it if it’s focused. I support it if it’s well delineated. I support it if it’s discussed around the community and the priorities are established and it’s used for those purposes,” Spatafore said.
Christianson said there should not be restrictions on the use of Measure Y money because the council should be able to tap into the funds in the case of an emergency like a natural disaster.
Brown said he supported the adoption of Measure Y while he served on the council and now supports its renewal.
“It’s the least invasive way for us to generate $6 million in our city,” Brown said. “We’re actually putting most of the burden on tourists and people who are using our city just for the day.”
In addressing the city’s growing homeless population, Brown said he does not want to create a magnet for homeless people across the country.
Spatafore said he supports the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo’s plan to build a multimillion dollar homeless services center. He said the center belongs at 40 Prado Road, as opposed to the initially proposed location on South Higuera Street.
Christianson, who also supports the proposed CAPSLO homeless services center, said the city should rely heavily on law enforcement and case management to handle the homeless population who do not want to enter aid programs.
“As Steve Gesell, our police chief, has said, we need to stop being an enabling city,” Christianson said.
Rice said the city must avoid further litigation in its approach to handling the homelessness problem. He said the lawsuit the city lost over its ticketing of the homeless was very costly and that the city should revise its ordinances to allow churches and nonprofits to offer nighttime parking for those who wish to sleep in their vehicles.
“The problem I have is we are trying to build this very nice institutional like building that costs millions of dollars and nothing’s getting done today,” Rice said.
Hedrick said the city should relax its “mean spiritedness” toward the homeless.
“I’m also hearing complaints about CAPSLO taking donations and selling them to the homeless and pocketing the money,” Hedrick said.
Hedrick said he knew Maxine Lewis, the namesake of the current CAPSLO homeless shelter and that “she’d be rolling over in her grave” if she knew about some of the treatment the homeless are receiving.
The city will hold a vote-by-mail special election for the open council seat. The city clerk will begin mailing ballots on May 20, and voters must return them by June 18.