Q and A WITH ELIZABETH MARTIN
Q. Can the county play a role in building more affordable housing?
A. The county can, and has, and will continue to do so. Over the last couple of years, we have significantly increased our investment in affordable housing. We helped hundreds of homeowners buy their first homes, helped them get low-interest loans for that. We have approved several affordable housing projects. These are some of my top priorities. I served on the affordable housing task force, and we have all agreed that the best way to find solutions to the work force housing problem is to provide incentives to the developers of those projects, and to aggressively search for new monies to support these projects.
Q. What about fiscal responsibility? Can the county be more fiscally responsible?
A. Fiscal responsibility is my top priority. We are doing much better than we were four years ago in managing the people’s money. We have begun to adopt the budget on time; it’s been balanced. We have grown a prudent reserve so that we are in good shape as we weather the fiscal crisis coming from the state. We have been very careful in managing our money. In fact, we’ve saved the people of Nevada County $20 million by renegotiating the high-interest debt we inherited from former Boards of Supervisors.
I am committed to continuing the effort to find new ways to be more efficient in delivering our services in the county and using money more wisely. The biggest change in this year’s expenses was a significant increase in costs due to three factors: increasing health insurance costs, like all employers across the state; the increase in overall insurance that we all experienced as a result of Sept. 11; and the significant increase in public safety salaries and retirement benefits.
Q. Some say the General Plan is too restrictive. What do you say to that?
A. The county is currently doing a technical update of the General Plan. We are putting new provisions in to promote work force housing. We are updating the traffic information and population figures. We are putting in numerous provisions to protect agriculture. So right now is a good time to bring forward examples of rules or regulations that need to be changed.
The zoning ordinance under our watch has been greatly reduced. This board has reduced the number of regulations and has eased the ability to apply for lots of very different types of projects, whether it’s wineries or incentives to build affordable housing.
Q. How can be done to improve roads and traffic?
A. It’s vital that we as a community agree to transportation plans and underscore the most fundamental issue, which is safety. Too many people have died on our roads. Over the last several years, we have increased our investment in traffic-calming techniques. This board has insisted that new development pay for its impact on traffic, and we have worked hard through our own efforts, and are also working with the traffic commission to promote big traffic solutions such as the Dorsey Drive interchange and the improvements to Brunswick.
Q. Do you support or oppose Measure D?
A. Measure D responds to a value that I agree with, and that value is a concern about ever-growing, ever-burdensome government regulations that intrude on our personal lives. However, Measure D does not protect property rights. Those rights are already protected under our Constitution. Measure D threatens the ability of the county General Plan and zoning. It threatens our budget. Even the proponents cannot tell you what this measure will do, and they have made it clear they are happy to have this issue litigated in court at taxpayer expense. This is a budget-busting measure. I’m opposed to it.
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