Residents for Quality Neighborhoods, San Luis Obispo, California


2016 Mayor and Council Candidates

Annual Dinner and Candidates Forum

Our Annual Dinner and Candidates Forum was held at Cafe Roma on Saturday, September 24, 2016.

We had an excellent turnout and packed the banquet room as many members were especially interested in hearing what the candidates had to say on a variety of issues. Our secretary has transcribed all comments so that members who were unable to attend the forum can read all Candidate Responses.

City Budget Goal-Setting Workshop

January 24, 2015

During this public workshop at the City-County Library, the Council deliberated and set Major City Goals and other objectives for 2015-17.

Individual Council Member's votes and the results are here for your review.

Regarding Neighborhood Wellness, you will notice that Council Member Carpenter voted it as a most important, highest priority goal, Mayor Marx voted it a very important goal, Council Members Christianson and Rivoire voted it an important goal, and Council Member Ashbaugh voted to address Neighborhood Wellness if resources are available.

During the 2013-2015 budget process, Neighborhood Wellness was the #2 Major City Goal, and we strongly encouraged Council to retain Neighborhood Wellness as a top Major City Goal during this cycle as well.

2014 Mayor and Council Candidates

Candidates' Responses to Written Questions from RQN Members

The San Luis Country Club no longer allows dinners/events of a political nature. Therefore, we took a different approach to our traditional Candidates Forum this year. We polled RQN members for questions they would like asked of the candidates and consolidated similar questions. We sent each candidate the seven questions you see below asking them to try to keep each answer to about 200 words.

Clicking on each question will take you to a "PDF" file with all candidate's answers to that specific question. We did it this way in order to make the files manageable and to make it easier for you to compare their responses. Candidates for Mayor (Donald Hedrick, Jan Marx, and Jeffery Specht) are listed first in alphabetical order; City Council candidates (Dan Cano, Carlyn Christianson, Mike Clark, Gordon Mullin, and Dan Rivoire) responses follow also in alphabetical order.

#1: What is your definition of “neighborhood” and what is your vision as it applies to the city's priority of Neighborhood Wellness?

#2: In the relationship between Cal Poly and the City of SLO, do you feel the City is doing enough to protect permanent residents or do you feel the majority of the emphasis is being laced on other interests such as downtown, Cal Poly, tourism? Why/Why not?

#3: Newly constructed and proposed housing developments are more dense than housing in older parts of the city. Would you like to see this concept of increased density applied to older, established neighborhoods? Why/why not?

#4: Cal Poly has released plans to grow its enrollment over the next several years. This growth will inevitably impact the City's own land use and circulation and house elements. Would you ever consider litigation as a serious option against Cal Poly for its significant negative impacts on the City and its neighborhoods? Why/why not?

#5: Do you support a Rental Inspection Ordinance of all R-1 and R-2 rental properties in the City? Why/why not?

#6: Will you continue to support Neighborhood Services Specialists, even if Measure G isn't passed by the voters? Why/why not?

#7: The City modified its noise ordinance in 2010, resulting in a significant drop in noise complaints. Those numbers are starting to creep up again. There is currently a 13-14% citation rate, meaning 86% of the time, noise offenders either get a warning or nothing. Do you believe this enforcement ratio is acceptable? Why/why not? If not, what would you do to obtain better enforcement?

If you wish to ask the candidates other questions, below is their contact information. We have included links to campaign websites for those who have them:

Don Hedrick: -- [No Campaign Website]

Jan Marx: -- [Campaign Website Closed]

Jeffery Specht: -- [No Campaign Website]

Dan Cano: -- [Campaign Website Closed]

Carlyn Christianson: -- [Campaign Website Closed]

Mike Clark: -- [Campaign Website Closed]

Gordon Mullin: -- [Campaign Website Closed]

Dan Rivoire: -- [Campaign Website Closed]

Johnson Avenue Housing Project

February 2014 -- Proposal Withdrawn

San Luis Coastal Unified School District (SLCUSD) has withdrawn its proposal to build an 88-unit, high density residential complex and is considering other options more in keeping with the single-family residential nature of the neighborhood.

A local neighborhood group created a website to provide a repository of links, documents and descriptions of the Johnson Avenue Housing Project so that those interested in the project have a single, easy-to-access location to find relevant information.

RQN 2013 Annual Dinner

Summary of Guest Speaker's Remarks

Our guest speaker was Dr. Keith Humphrey. He has been the Vice President for Student Affairs at Cal Poly since December 2012 following 15 years at the University of Arizona, Tucson, where he was most recently the Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students. Following is a general summary of his remarks during his excellent and informative presentation.

Dr. Humphrey, preferring to be addressed as Keith, conveyed President Armstrong’s concern about neighborhood wellness and his understanding of the problems created by student rentals in residential neighborhoods. He stated that President Armstrong is committed to improving student performance and fostering student health, safety, and academic success. As part of these efforts, alcohol use and abuse both on and off campus is being addressed.

Keith has been on several SLOPD and University Police ride-a-longs. During September’s Week of Welcome (WOW), what he heard and saw on campus and in the neighborhoods was not acceptable to him. He observed too many individuals – Cal Poly students and others – who had consumed far too much alcohol and were not in control of their actions. He echoed President Armstrong’s statements that if the alcohol culture can be changed, many of the problems neighborhoods are experiencing will be greatly reduced.

Several new initiatives have been created with the goal of discouraging over-consumption of alcohol and improving Cal Poly students’ health and safety:

1. Students will be held accountable for off-campus alcohol-related negative behavior. Cal Poly has created a community liaison position responsible for monitoring the SLOPD and UPD arrest and citation logs and identifying Cal Poly students who are issued alcohol-related violations, both on- and off-campus, for behavior that endangers their health, safety, or welfare. Students can face educational consequences for their actions, and for chronic offenders, there will be increased disciplinary actions that could ultimately result in suspension.

2. Cal Poly has adjusted WOW to include fewer days and increased late night activities combined with early-morning, on-campus academic sessions with the goal of discouraging late night partying. They are, also, moving toward requiring all first year students to live on campus in order to improve their academic success.

3. Cal Poly is exploring an on-campus Greek Village in the next five to ten years for the 17% of students who participate in the Greek program. This year, fraternities were required to have Risk Management Programs in effect that include forbidding the use of kegs and hard alcohol and providing guidelines on how, when, and where they can have parties. If a fraternity does not complete the Program, the fraternity is put on social suspension.

4. Conversations have occurred regarding elimination of the “dry campus” policy. While that has not been changed, students 21 and older who live in Poly Canyon Village may possess and consume alcohol.

Keith discussed the future expansion of enrollment and possible use of public-private partnerships to build additional on-campus housing. State funds are being provided, and earmarked for Cal Poly to expand enrollment. President Armstrong has announced that he would like to see an increase of 5,000 students within the next eight to ten years.

The Cal Poly parking lot at Grand Avenue and Slack Street has been chosen as the site for construction of student housing since it will allow for the most number of beds to be built – 1,400 by 2018. Other on-campus sites were considered, but rejected because they would not provide as many beds. Adding housing near Poly Canyon Village was also considered, but it would require the demolition of some buildings, thus delaying construction. A four-story parking structure is also planned for the site with two of the stories underground.

Cal Poly staff will begin working on the Cal Poly Master Plan in approximately six to nine months and will be asking the community what they would like Cal Poly to look like in the next five to ten years.

October 7, 2012

Candidates Forum

Our Annual Dinner and Candidates Forum was at the San Luis Country Club on Sunday, October 7.

Invitations were mailed to all members in mid-September, and we had a good response as many members were especially interested in the Candidates Forum.

Six of the seven candidates joined us for the evening. They were Mayor Jan Marx and challenger Steve Barasch running for Mayor, and Councilmen John Ashbaugh and Dan Carpenter and challengers Jeff Aranguena and Kevin Rice running for two Council positions.

As we have done following past Candidates Forums, we have posted a lightly edited transcript of the questions asked and the candidates' responses here: 2012 Forum Q & A.

We are leaving our recap of several short "Yes" or "No" questions here: "Yes" / "No" Questions.

Additional Notes --

There were some controversial comments during the Forum between the two candidates for Mayor that RQN members asked to be reviewed. One of the questions from the moderator was, “Please tell us what you have done to preserve, protect, or improve the quality of life in our residential neighborhoods.”

During her response [transcript, page 7], Mayor Marx made the following statement regarding her opponent, Mr. Barasch, “. . . I've never owned a rental that has been declared uninhabitable by the City, as opposed to my opponent here.”

When Mr. Barasch next had the microphone, while responding to the next question, he ended his answer [transcript, page 10] with, “. . . I would like to just ask my opponent to give me a list of all my non-standard rentals that are uninhabitable because I have permitted everything and my permit files are up to date. So if you would kindly provide me with that list, it would be very helpful.”

RQN followed up and located Mr. Barasch’s March 2010 “Claim Filed Against the City” after the Community Development Department found his property at 520 Grand Avenue to be “ . . . unfit for human occupancy . . . .” in December 2009: Claim.

The Superior Court's Small Claims Division denied Mr. Barasch’s claim in July 2010: Judgement.

* * Update to Notes * *

Since our initial posting, RQN has received the following additional documents:

A copy of a letter to Mr. Barasch from the City’s Chief Building Official in late December 2009 stating in part, “You provided documents for the file regarding recent repairs and evidence that the rodent infestation has been dealt with by a licensed professional.” and “. . . it does not appear that it will be necessary for the City of San Luis Obispo to proceed with the process to deem your property unfit for human occupancy. Therefore, an official Notice and Order will not be posted on the property.”

A copy of a January 2010 letter to Mr. Barasch from the City Attorney confirming that “. . . there was no final determination by the City that your property was unfit to occupy and, accordingly, your property was not posted as such . . . ” and that Mr. Barasch “. . . provided documentation that the property maintenance issues were addressed in a timely manner.”

January 12, 2011

Community Forum on City Budget and Goal-Setting Process

The Council, City Manager, and department heads attended a Community Forum at the Ludwick Community Center. Members of the community were invited to address issues that they recommend be considered Major City Goals for 2011-2013 and to explain why the issue was important and how it could be accomplished.

RQN's vice chair and three others addressed the forum on Neighborhood Enhancement issues and the need for adding Neighborhood Services Specialists to the city's staff. Prior to the meeting, RQN submitted a letter to Council with detailed recommendations regarding the positions. A copy of the letter is available here: RQN's Letter of support for Neighborhood Services Specialist positions.

December 2010

Fiscal Sustainability Task Force Final Report

The City Manager's Fiscal Sustainability Task Force comprised local business owners and managers, non-profit representatives, community representatives, and city employees. RQN's chair and vice chair were members of the Task Force.

The Task Force's Final Report may be viewed here: Task Force Final Report.

May 20, 2010

Unruly Gathering Ordinance

The city's Unruly Gathering Ordinance came into effect this date. This ordinance differentiates between parties that get out of hand -- with attendees spilling out onto sidewalks/streets and engaging in such activities as vandalism, public urination, and littering -- and parties that are just very noisy. Fines start at $700; there are no warnings. Property owners can be fined $500 if a subsequent unruly gathering occurs at the property.

March 5, 2010

Noise Ordinance

The city's Noise Ordinance was modified to, among other things, increase fines for noise violations. Only one warning is allowed in any 9-month period. Fines are $350 for the first violation, $700 for the second violation, and $1,000 for the third and subsequent violations. Property owners who allow noise violations to repeatedly occur at their property can be fined, too.