The Greater San Marcos Area Council of Neighborhood Associations hosted the candidates for City Council Place 4, incumbent Chris Jones, and challenger Lisa Coppoletta, as well as, unopposed City Council Place 3 candidate Fred Terry, to discuss issues concerning San Marcos residents and CONA. All three candidates have different perspectives of the Downtown Master Plan.
Jones views the Downtown Master Plan “as a Council policy and use the established mechanisms such as the Capital Improvement plan to track and reemphasize the importance of staff implementing this plan. He said an implementation team comprised of staff, citizens and Council members to outline an effective and efficient implementation strategy is in the best interest of the Council. “It is important that we not burden homeowners with the cost of implementing our downtown plan; therefore, we must look to the business community, which will reap the rewards of the master plan, to fund this development.”
Coppoletta said her economic plan will work in conjunction with measures at the state level. “Film abatements foster increased tourists in the form of production crews to our restaurants, hotels, boutiques, specialized service industries, and coffee houses. They also create a face for San Marcos on an international stage showcasing our downtown, historical district and surrounding areas.” She said long term productions will not only create jobs for all forms of work, but will also allow for Texas State students to intern for major motion picture productions. She said film and music festivals would “provide immediate economic return on our investment, in terms of measuring time frames, for effective solutions for the Master Plan.”
Terry said the first two concerns he will address in terms of the Downtown Master plan are signage and entryways from Interstate Highway 35 into Downtown, and parking. “The plan is good and has many areas that need addressing. Over all, I see that bringing this plan to completion will take many years, mainly because of the costs involved.”
Supporting SF-6 limitation on the number of unrelated people living in a house in a single family neighborhood allowed for more disagreement between the candidates.
“What if three 70 year old women pooled their resources and rented a house because they are on a fixed income? Could they come before the Council and get a variance?” asked Jones. He said three years ago his answer was no, “however over time I have recognized how this answer fails to address a need in San Marcos, affordable housing,” said Jones. He said this issue is of specific importance considering the foreclosure environment. Jones said he has not “moved much on this issue; however it is important to understand how we arrived at this problem.”
Coppoletta said she supports zoning that derives from “open discussion and is implemented via consensus by all stakeholders, i.e. property owners, real estate investors, primary and affordable housing candidates.” She said the answer to this problem may be found on a case by neighborhood basis. “Neighborhoods are the genesis for cooperation and stability and all elected to serve are entrusted to protect the quality of life of his or her community.”
Terry said he is completely supportive of the single family neighborhood and the restrictions the code puts forth. He said he “also understand that the need for residences be allowed for the students and for younger adults.” He said he will implement similar efforts of San Marcos, California, and district area for Multi-family residences. “What we have with Historical Districting, we could have with Multi-family Districting.”
Keeping small businesses alive in San Marcos brought the candidates together.
“The city needs to sustain a welcoming environment for not only the small businesses that are here but extend it to new prospects, including those created through our partnership with Texas State University” said Jones. He said the city should not only provide financial resources, but also volunteer professionals, public relation specialists, conservation advisers, among other necessary areas. He said constant communication with the local chambers and successful business people are also needed. “Retention is not only the business of elected officials and paid staff but dependent on a supportive community. In other words shop San Marcos.”
Coppoletta said this issue is vital. “The small business community is the lifeblood of San Marcos. My economic plan is targeted at boosting clientele and expansion opportunities specifically for small business in San Marcos.” She said her plan will provide residents with opportunities to develop their own small businesses. She said a proactive approach for attracting motion pictures “would include: increased scouting location booklets, initiatives working with Governors office to attack feature films, television commercials and network television episodes.”
Terry said ignoring small business would hurt San Marcos. “Small businesses usually grow into large businesses.”He said the San Marcos Industrial Foundation operates the “incubator” that once was the recipient of city funds, “this opportunity is a great avenue for starting or struggling business to get a foot-hold on its growth.” He said the city offers funds for professors, police officers, and firemen to purchase homes within the city limits, and he suggests the same could be done for small businesses.
by ANDY SEVILLA
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