Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Now is the Time When Clayton Needs Change

In talking with folks around town, there is a popular refrain from detractors of my campaign that takes the form of:
'If you think Clayton is such a great place to live, why do you want to change things?  The people on the Council and involved with the city government are the ones responsible for making it such a great place to live!'
On it's face, this is a fair observation.  I do think Clayton is a great place to live - my family and I chose to live here 9 years ago for many reasons.  And the city government did have a hand in creating an environment where a great city like Clayton could develop over time into what it was nine years ago when I got here, and what it is today - a great place to raise a family with safe neighborhoods and great people and schools.

At the same time, past accomplishments don't excuse poor choices or actions in the present.  So it is not that I want to fundamentally change things.  On the contrary, I want to make sure that Clayton retains all the qualities that originally drew my family here nine years ago.  The main thing to focus on then, is what has changed over the past few years, and are those changes good for Clayton?

Here's what I've seen:
  1. The Council has been too amenable to outside developers who want to fundamentally change the character of our downtown.  They have entered into multiple exclusive negotiation agreements with various developers to take over the area where all of our festivals and gatherings are held and put in a high density senior memory care facility. 
  2. The Council has been trying to sell significant parts of the city, including the open downtown lot, and several other properties on Oak St, the property adjacent to Keller Ranch, and another property on Main St.  Thus far there have been no takers, and discussion has surrounded how to market the properties.  More recently however, the Council has been engaged in closed session negotiations with outside developers to sell the properties, ensuring that the city loses ultimate control over how it is used.
  3. The Council completely failed to perform due diligence in addressing parolee housing in Clayton.  On this issue the failure was on multiple levels.  First, they failed to act timely - after passing a temporary moratorium on three separate occasions, the Council did not act again until the moratorium was set to expire and couldn't be renewed.  Essentially they ignored the issue then acted at the last minute when they realized they had to.  Then, they performed poor analysis on the underlying fact pattern - asserting that a 500 ft buffer was the the most defensible, and that anything further would be a defacto ban, and then reversing that position at the very next meeting.  The Council then chose to target areas that were heavily populated by young families and retirees, while excluding areas where they themselves lived.  They also were unaware of a public park at Stranahan adjacent to one of the areas that was targeted for parolee housing, and had to revise that as well.  The Council was unaware if private parks were included in sensitive uses, even though it's clear from the ordinance they voted for that private parks were not included.  In this issue, the Council failed to act timely, and when they did, they did so with a poor level of diligence such that they had to amend what they originally passed.
  4. The Council has acted with little transparency, leaving the residents of Clayton confused about why they acted in various ways above.  Only very recently have they elected to send agendas to an email distribution list, but only after being prompted by Brian Buddell.  To me it's clear the above actions were not consistent with what the people of Clayton want - but even if it were, the Council has fostered an environment where they have lost the trust of many of the people of Clayton.
If the Council had historically acted in the way they have recently as described above, then I'm certain Clayton would not be what it is today.  And that is the problem - the way the Council is acting is out of character.  If the above types of actions are allowed to continue, then Clayton would soon lose the character and charm that attracted my family, and so many other families to this city.  

That is why I'm running for City Council. I’m running for Clayton City Council because at some point the council lost its way.  From the push for high density housing, selling off the city, parolee housing, and acting with a lack of transparency, the council stopped listening to the people it represents. We can do better and it’s time for a change.