San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

October 5th, 2009
Candidates speak at CONA forum

Left to right, San Marcos City Council Place 6 candidates, Anita Fuller, Monica Garcia and John Thomaides. Photos by Andy Sevilla.

By ANDY SEVILLA
Associate Editor

Differences emerged between incumbent City Councilmember John Thomaides and his challengers, Monica Garcia and Anita Fuller, at last Thursday’s candidate forum put on by the Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA).

The differences concern the city’s fealty to its development codes, illustrated by the council’s support for zoning changes accommodating the Purgatory Creek Apartments, which Thomaides has opposed in all four votes on the matter this year.

The city council recently extended a deadline for developers to secure state approval for improvements to Hunter Road. The final vote came on Sept. 29, one day before the previous deadline, which now has been extended until next June 30.

Thomaides said he is concerned about developing in the flood plain, downstream flooding due to impervious cover, and traffic implications for Hunter Road.

“We’ve set a precedent with this bad decision,” Thomaides said, who is running for his third term in Place 6.

Fuller and Garcia both said the proposed project will benefit the city.

“(The Purgatory Creek Apartments) is a wonderful project in the city,” said Fuller, a retired civil servant.  “…We need more apartment buildings in the city.”

Thomaides said his votes against approving a zoning change from general commercial (GC) to multi-family (MF-18) were based on the “high standards” set in a city-wide collaborative effort to write the city’s development codes.

“We’re gonna grow,” Thomaides said. “It’s inevitable. So why not grow good.”

Fuller and Garcia have called for change in the development codes. Garcia, a beauty consultant,  has said the codes are too restrictive, while Fuller, a retired civil servant, said the codes need to be clearer and advocate mixed-used development.

The three candidates gave different goals concerning economic development. Thomaides advocated higher-wage jobs, while Fuller said more emphasis on mixed-use development is needed. Garcia said incoming businesses should cater to San Marcos’ population without neglecting residents with low degrees of education.

The questions came to candidates straight from citizens who lined up for the opportunity. The candidates for each of two city council races answered questions for an hour.

The CONA candidate forum began with the Place 5 race between educator Lisa Marie Coppoletta, aviation business owner Shaune Maycock and homebuilder Ryan Thomason.

Early in the Place 5 forum, the candidates took a question from former city council candidate Jude Prather, who recently returned from a military stint in Iraq. Prather asked the candidates what the council could do for military veterans.

“I can’t give you a specific example of what can be done (for veterans),” Thomason said. “But I do know we can do more.”

Coppoletta said San Marcos can provide veterans with job training, as well as housing grants, much like a city program providing $5,000 forgivable loans to Texas State faculty who buy homes in San Marcos and stay for at least five years. Coppoletta also proposed a veterans’ center to encompass San Marcos, Hays County and Texas State.

Maycock, the only military veteran running in Place 5, said he is “uncomfortable” being congratulated on his veterans’ status because he knew too many who didn’t survive the experience. Maycock mentioned the necessity for a Veteran Administration clinic in San Marcos.

The three candidates came out in favor of SF-6 (single family) zoning, which prohibits habitation of a residence by more than two unrelated persons.

Maycock said more oversight is needed on SF-6 violators, in efforts to keep property values up or at a “healthy level.” Thomason suggested that the city needs different locales appropriated for single family, multi-family, commercial, industrial, and public and institutional land uses, in order to provide a balance for San Marcos. Coppoletta said that although she agrees with the SF-6 code, “blindly” applying it may not work for everyone.

“Neighborhood zoning should be decided through consensus by all property owners in a neighborhood through an open forum … , ” Coppoletta said. “I believe in bottom-up government. A neighborhood association is going to know what works best.”

About economic development, Maycock said it should complement public safety and the preservation of natural resources. Thomason vocalized a need for higher-wage jobs, while Coppoletta emphasized investment in small businesses.

The election for the two city council seats will take place on Nov. 3, with early voting, in person, beginning Oct. 19. The League of Women Voters will hold its candidate debate on Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. at the San Marcos Activity Center.

Left to right, San Marcos City Council Place 5 candidates Lisa Marie Coppoletta, Shaune Maycock and Ryan Thomason.

(Editor’s Note: The above has been revised to indicate that City Council candidate Shaune Maycock was not uncomfortable discussing veterans’ benefits.)


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0 thoughts on “Candidates speak at CONA forum

  1. We have also posted the CONA debate at:

    http://smtx.tv/hd/live.php

    This is our current program loop for Newstreamz and SMTX.TV and will host the latest San Marcos and local events and performances that we have the privilege to cover in the upcoming future. Thanks!

    We will also stream live, the League of Women Voters debate on October 19th, at 7:00 pm as it occurs, from the San Marcos Activity Center and also post it for later archived viewing at the above URL website as well.

    We are busy making the necessary improvements on the viewer experience, during our “soft launch” so watch and see, and stay tuned! Thanks for checking out SMTX.TV!

  2. SMTX.TV has had several inquiries concerning this, and for that reason, I am making this post.

    If there is a particular section of the debate that you are interested in and would like to view, it IS possible to scroll ahead with your mouse and the cursor.

    Simply place the pointing fingertip of the hand cursor, along the scrub bar at the bottom, to the approximate time point in the program that you would like to navigate to, and click.

    The archived stream will advance to that point. It is the same procedure if you wish to “rewind” and repeat a segment.

    Your feedback is welcome at contact@smtx.tv !

  3. John Thomaides is such a great public servant with the right ideas for smart growth. If only I could vote for him . . .

  4. I like that Thomaides is supporting smart growth in San Marcos. We need to think long-term and make sure that we arn’t putting an apartment complex in a flood field.

  5. A BIG tax base, in the end, is much less sustainable than a DIVERSE and BALANCED tax base–higher wages being a stimulant for City programs and for home ownership, which is essential to maintaining a sense of community, in addition to creating more semi-skilled and lower-wage jobs. I say again that a service- and tourism-based economy is highly volatile, drives wages down, and does NOT pay its own freight. A service- and government- and education-based economy is a bankruptcy opportunity. (See Los Vegas, Nevada, which fell in the last year from fastest-growing in the nation to the brink of total bankruptcy.) We already have plenty who are working themselves to death in multiple jobs just to make ends meet–including a boatload at the University who work full time and still qualify for public assistance.

    San Marcos has the labor force available to support nearly anything from janitorial, retail and labor jobs to technical, industrial, managerial and professional, and the educational resources, moreover, to address the whole spectrum. Except the traditional farming and ranching, maybe. Which is one of the two grand resources that distinguish us from most places, esp. those within range of our labor market of a 50-60 mile radius. We might just build from what we’ve got and attract those who notice our true richness as a community.

    The local funding of “incentive” gifts, whether for new faculty recruits (many of whom will come as “tenure-track” and most of whom will be gone long before they begin paying; for veterans; or nearly any group I could imagine, will quickly break the bank. An investment in Habitat for Humanity or a community renovation, rehab and weatherization, such as Southside and CDBG projects we already have, or energy and water-saving, would both repay themselves in some measurable time and assist those folks who need a lift most.

    Subsidizing ordinary residential uses, as amazing as it seems, NEVER pays for itself or carries its own weight. Nor does ANY residential development pay its way, when you consider police, fire, drainage, other citywide services, or, in particular, street and utility infrastructure which must be maintained and re-done pretty often. This is true even in the case of very high-end, low density development, since value is usually in direct proportion to lot value and lot size.

    Price a street or arterial section in your spare time, by the linear foot, if you are a disbeliever. Or look at the size of City and County bond issues to provide transportation access. Any new or redone road will serve to disabuse us all of the notion that we “pay more than our fair share” on our homes and rental units. That is why, in the ’80’s, we were ringed with just-barely sub- urban developments which did not conform to simple City standards, but which have come later to need City services on which they had never paid City property taxes to date.

    That is also why annexation has been such a difficult issue. Aside from the fact that folks can use what might be property taxes to pay the mortgage, and they like that.

    Such malarkey as incentivizing Target to move up the road about 3 miles seems nearly lunatic. Especially when you consider that (a) they are a Fortune 500 company and rank near the top; (b) it is a no-win in terms of payback; and (c) they have just announced a new store in Kyle, which I don’t believe Kyle paid for. They believe they won’t compete with themselves at less than ten miles distance.
    They wanted out of Springtown, but they managed to KEEP control of the main rights of way for the entire Center, not to put it on the table. It is now worth gold and then some, since whatever goes in there will be forced to deal.

    And much has already been done to water down the local development ordinances–ceasing to require many small contractors to pay for and register a permit showing licensing and bonding, in order to protect the citizens from fraud and sloppy workmanship is a good example. To get a new roof is not a project for the unwary or faint-hearted. Most of our standards look normal anywhere in the nation. Most of the special ones are environmental protection or respond to some major problem that came up. They have purpose.

    The idea that we could grow faster if developers and builders and real estate people could only build cheaper and let the neighbors or the community clean up after is horribly short-sighted. Even if a home or facility WERE much cheaper and faster, anybody knows that quick and cheap buildings have short useful lives. The unfortunate term “colonia” comes to mind. Ask somebody who has followed the County for a while. Say “roads,” “water,” or “drainage,” and then stand back.

    Somebody please orient some of the candidates. And whether one likes him or not, Thomaides speaks with a straight tongue on the issues presented here. He’s had a time to watch and learn. He also gets lonely.

    Finally, “smart growth” is like beauty–only in the eye of the beholder, it can mean anything one wants it to. The test is whether it can last into the future, whether it is economically sane, and whether the net effect on the community is to give it something that can continue to be built onto down the road. “Smart Growth” is a trick term, for politicians only.

  6. John Thomaides should stick to his high standards. The development codes were well thought out and should remain for the good of the City.

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