Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Susan Kirsch is the Candidate for District Three Supervisor that Believes in Local Control for Marin.

2016 Issues

1.         Erosion of Local Control – Our local citizens are best equipped to know and solve their problems. Regional alphabet agencies, while promoting an agenda of planning and efficiency, fail to keep the public informed about land use, zoning, and transportation decisions. Plan Bay Area 2040 is a prime example. Through the founding of Citizen Marin, I have educated the community and challenged the growing power of unelected government bodies with big budgets, funded with our tax dollars. I will oppose proposals by regional agencies that do not represent the values voiced by Marin constituents.

2.         Bay Restoration Tax, Measure AA – This region-wide tax, on the upcoming June ballot, is taxation without representation. I have written a Marin Voice article (3/9/16) in opposition to it. I fully support restoring the Bay, but this is the wrong approach. A 2/3 majority of the nine-county Bay Area voters could prevail over the majority wishes of residents of Marin County. Priced at $12 per parcel, it sounds insignificant until you realize a single-family homeowner pays the same as big corporations like Google and Apple. Inland dwellers pay the same as property owners who build near the Bay. The $500 million collected over 20 years for undetermined projects will be distributed by a 7-member board. Marin does not have an elected representative, and it highlights yet another loss of local control.

3.         Housing – Marin needs a range of housing options with variable prices that allow economic diversity. Building new housing, as proposed in Planned Development Areas (PDAs) is rarely affordable. Preservation, smaller units, and shared spaces make housing affordable. Rather than benefitting the communities motivated by protecting the quality of life for their residents, the push for new housing delivers greater benefit to developers, investors, and bankers motivated by profit. I have helped raised millions of dollars for affordable housing and understand the dire needs of people living in poverty.

4.         Traffic – Congestion is the decades-old problem that plagues a healthy economy. It reflects a culture that values freedom of movement. Agencies like TAM and MTC strive for results through bureaucratic measures, but fail to be able to open the third lane on the Richmond San Rafael Bridge. We can reduce traffic congestion with a 3-part approach: 1) First and foremost, before making the problem worse, restrict projects that add to congestion until remedies are found for the current problem; 2) Use transportation funds for common sense proposals like buses, shuttles, and ferries that connect people to where they want to go with frequent and dependable runs; 3) think creatively to find new solutions, like Apps for vehicles on demand and creative ways to expand car-share programs.

5.         Branson in Strawberry – The proposal for a 1,000-student commuter high school is far too great both in terms of people, land-use, and the resulting traffic. There can be no mitigations sufficient to resolve the negative impact of the current proposal on the Strawberry community. An acceptable proposal must have as its goal no greater impacts than now exist. The elaborate plan was rolled out without community input. The intentions to tear down 211 units of affordable faculty/student housing and replace them with 304 units of new, rental housing is out of alignment with community values.  

6.         Golden Gate Village in Marin City – The 300 units of affordable housing, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s student, Aaron Green, should be preserved. Yet the current BOS has prioritized spending $21M to repair the roof at Civic Center, leaking since 1997; rather than develop a spending plan to address the $16M in deferred maintenance for public housing. My priorities are protecting health and safety, coupled with preserving affordable housing. 

7.         Pension debt – Unfunded pension liability sounds complex, but in reality it is a simple and urgent problem of debt. With a current debt of $644M, betting on an inflated investment rate is not a prudent strategy, as last year has shown. Decisions in the past guaranteed lucrative retirement benefits, while placing the need for public safety, road repairs, and human services at risk for lack of funds. Moreover, this debt jeopardizes the smaller pensions of the county rank and file employees.  I am committed to work with unions, government agencies and citizen groups to find win-win reforms.

8.         Homelessness, Food Insecurity, Addiction, and Mental Health – As pension debt grows, we have fewer financial resources to address the deep underlying causes of poverty. We lack funds to implement solutions. Marin is named the healthiest county in the state, yet we face alarming problems of increased homelessness and mental illness, stress and insecurity. As the Civil Grand Jury recommends, the County should take a leadership role to reduce homelessness by coordinating the efforts and impact of nonprofits already receiving funds to deliver services. My nonprofit background includes setting policy for systemic solutions that create a safe and caring Marin.

9.         Pesticides & the Environment Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has been named as a probable cancer-causing agent. Over application may explain the high cancer rates in Marin. I regularly testify and write letters in opposition to the use of pesticides on public lands.  Having grown up on a farm in Minnesota, I have an inbred love for the land and appreciation for what labor, science, and technology can do to harm or protect it. Ultimately, we are not owners, but stewards of the land, and our countywide policies should be guided by the principles of “Preserve and protect.”

10.     In summary: Too often, citizens are kept in the dark about decisions that impact them. Money is spent carelessly without reflecting the priorities of constituents, and the efforts of citizens to address such priorities are dismissed.  My commitments are to transparency, fiscal accountability, and citizen engagement and empowerment.

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