I believe that the following issues are the most important ones facing us now--and well into the future. Please click on the highlighted links below for an expanded discussion of that issue.
Trust through Transparency. I believe in providing the maximum transparency possible within the technology and resources available. I believe in posting searchable documents on the website. I am astounded at how many budgets and annual reports just scanned documents. I believe in making it easy for ratepayers and customers to understand the District's financial information, which should include multi-year financial data easily brought into your spreadsheets so you can see changes and trends over time. I believe in absolute clarity around the true state of the District's water delivery system. To me, transparency means proactively reaching out and embracing ratepayers--critics and supporters alike--and engaging everyone in a reasoned exchange of ideas. On the campaign trail ratepayers have shared a number of ideas with me that could very well help the district. And I expect to hear many more. Through these actions, I intend to rebuild trust with the community so the conversations around modernization and sustainability are easier to have. <more>
Water System Modernization. I believe in modernizing our system so our children and grandchildren can reap the same benefits as those that came before us--who handed down a functioning water system, including the water collection points. It is troubling to contemplate that, over the past 15 years, very little in the way of system modernization has been done. That is time we cannot get back. And every year that goes by means our older galvanized pipes continue to rust and rot, meaning more leaks in the system. I am proposing a common-sense, step-by-step plan to first identify our current inventory and then have a conversation with all of you on where we go from here. This specific plan lets you know that I am serious--it is not a throw-away campaign slogan. Given that the slate presumably supports the incumbent's inactivity on this issue for the past 16 years, one can only hope that the first line of the text on their website's home page: "There are no words to express the importance of taking care of our infrastructure..." is not literally true. I think there are many words to express exactly how important taking care of our infrastructure is. At any rate, the slate's throw-away campaign line about infrastructure means that they are advocating for more of what we've seen for the last decade or more. <more>
Operational Sustainability. While a strategic review of operational costs is certainly a component of sustainability, the Board must also use census information to plan for the future. This is the more important aspect of sustainability--planning for any eventuality. According to census figures, the population of the Boulder Creek, Ben Lomond and Felton zipcodes has declined almost 25% since 1990 and the population aged 0 - 19 has declined by almost 33% since 2000. With very little change in housing units. The result? We've been able to save huge amounts of water just through population decline. However, our population is likely to grow again as the current residents age, retire and move on and younger families take their place. A population surge to 1990 levels is a possibility in the next 20 years--and the water delivery system must be ready for that possibility. <more>
Independent Leadership. I believe that the voters of the San Lorenzo Valley Water District are independent-minded people who want Directors who will ask the tough questions and challenge the conventional wisdom, in a collaborative way, to get to the best solutions for the issues facing our community. I believe that the dysfunction of group-think is what brought us to this place. I will never forget that a $50 a month ($600 per year) water bill is big money for the almost 30% of our neighbors whose gross household income (before payroll and income taxes) is less than $50,000 per year.
Boulder Creek Campus Project. I have been asked by many concerned ratepayers and customers if I support the proposed Campus Project. The short answer is No. My position stands in stark contrast to the incumbent who has vigorously supported this overly expensive project in the past and whose position is presumably supported by the "virtual incumbents" on the slate as well. Please note that the campus project has not been stopped but is only "shelved"--even in the face of overwhelming ratepayer opposition. I have yet to encounter a single rate-payer who is in favor of this project. If I were a Board member, I believe that I would share in a responsibility for ensuring that our valued employees have a safe, effective and efficient working environment. I believe that there are many options to achieve that goal without the cost of the proposed campus project. As a board member, I will work to stop the proposed project and find a suitable option that we can afford.
Lompico Merger. Generally speaking, the merger will be completed if our Lompico neighbors agree with the proposed merger, which is now in its LAFCO protest phase. Therefore, new board members won't have much to say, substantively, about this issue as the process is well underway. My recommendation to our Lompico neighbors: please consider the pros and cons of the bond and merger, including the strategic and cost implications (both short-term and long-term) of retaining your own water system versus joining with the SLVWD. The choice is now in your hands.
Protecting our Environment. I support our current policies for protecting our watershed. As a Board member, I will advocate for cost-effective and creative ways to enlist the community in helping to recharge our aquifer--for example, diverting excess rainwater runoff, encouraging gray water reuse and instant hot water appliances. As the issue of recharging aquifers becomes better known across our country, I believe that companies will focus their creative energies on providing affordable products to meet this need.
Expanding our Focus. I believe that we need to expand our view of the water district. Felton, Zayante and Scotts Valley and, perhaps soon, Lompico, are also part of the ratepayer community and should also be engaged more fully. I support more outreach to these communities and would even support holding SLVWD official meetings in those communities on a rotational basis. It's a long drive for someone in Manana Woods to attend a meeting in Boulder Creek--let's see if we can make it easier for them to participate in this discussion about water. Perhaps we could also use technology to help people participate.