Steve Lockwood

 

 

Steve Lockwood
Candidate for Sandpoint City Council

Age: 66

Years of residence in Sandpoint and Bonner County: 6

Marital status/family: Married, 2 sons and 4 grandchildren in Bonner County

How can the public contact you? Call 208-255-7336 or email steve@LockwoodforSandpoint.com
Look up LockwoodforSandpoint.com for more information.

Education: Some college, extensive training/seminars in management, residential and community design and urban planning.

Recent or pertinent employment history: Retired AT&T Operations Manager; designer and builder of innovatively designed housing.

Public offices held: Sandpoint Planning and Zoning Commission 2002–2004, elected Chairman by the Commission 2003 & 2004. School Board Member 2004–present (term ends June, 2006; will resign early if elected to City Council)

Nonprofit groups, service or professional organizations to which you belong: Friends of the Library, Bonner County Historical Society, Human Rights Task Force, Rock Creek Alliance, Panida Theater Circle of Friends, POAC

Relevant experience you wish to include or mention: (Volunteer) Chairman, Phase I Downtown Revitalization 2001–2002. Currently building affordable housing near downtown.

Response to issues questionnaire

1. The city is currently weighing a plan to create two urban renewal districts, one to encompass downtown and the second to include an area at the north end of the city near the airport. These URDs are intended to provide funding mechanisms to complete downtown revitalization and rebuild Great Northern Road to encourage industries to locate in Sandpoint. Do you favor or oppose the urban renewal plan? If opposed, would you still want to carry out those projects and, if so, how would you fund them?

These districts have already been established in Sandpoint and an independent board (URB) has been appointed and is functioning. This has been done with little public input. Soon this board will make decisions regarding where and how the districts will be used. The first round of decisions is likely to be made before I could take office. There may still be time to shape designs and costs of the projects. 

Urban renewal is a useful tool for constructing important public infrastructure when the cost will exceed the 3% limit on tax increases. Because this funding source allows increasing taxes without a vote, it is important to undertake only projects that have broad public support. Remembering that every project financed by urban renewal districts costs all taxpayers, I will:
· Work to have every proposed project opened up to public debate and comment. This should happen early enough and with sufficient detail to make sure that projects that get approved have general support.
· Oppose having money used for private development projects.
· Oppose huge projects – we are a small city and we want projects that are in scale.
· Work to assure that approved projects are ones that benefit all of Sandpoint.
· I would advocate establishing an oversight advisory committee representing affected taxing districts to comment on urban renewal proposals since their taxing ability is reduced.
o I would ask our state representatives to pass legislation that requires the development of such an advisory committee before a city can implement tax increment-financing projects that affect other jurisdictions.


2. The city of Sandpoint has about 8,000 residents, yet as the center of services for a county of about 40,000, the city taxpayers bear the costs of services and infrastructure for outlying county residents as well as tourists. Do you believe these costs should be more fully shared, and if so how would you propose to spread the burden among more taxpayers?

The City of Sandpoint receives many benefits from outlying residents when they shop in the city. It should make every effort to have downtown be attractive to them. That includes retail activities – food, dining, hardware, pharmacy, clothes: real goods and services and a broad range of downtown events. I would work to have the city supportive of policies that benefit downtown and local users of it.

City Parks and Recreation programs are used by those outside the City. In response, Sandpoint just raised many of its ball field fees. Another approach is for Sandpoint to work with the County and adjoining cities to share parks and recreation costs so all nearby county residents share those costs. Establishing a recreation district may be an effective way to accomplish this.

Having our youth in sports is much less expensive than seeing them in court and building jails to house them. Recreation programs and parks more than pay for themselves in a variety of ways; costs need to be shared by all who benefit.

3. Housing prices are dramatically increasing in Sandpoint, while local wages are increasing far more slowly – effectively precluding many residents who work in the local economy from purchasing a home. Do you have ideas to address the increasing inequality of housing and income in our community?

This is an area of special concern to me. We need to be affordable for all ages and incomes. My first step, perhaps before assuming office, would be to help organize a community forum to see which ideas our residents would want to see pursued. Ideas used by other cities include:
· Smaller minimum lot sizes in some city areas to enable building more housing on the existing land and with the existing infrastructure
· Requiring new developments to be “inclusionary” with homes in many price ranges
· Housing downtown – in a range of prices
· Utilize existing infrastructure to help keep costs down
· On existing smaller lots, allow zero side setbacks when one person builds on both lots, for more attractive homes and more efficient land uses
· Allow accessory dwelling units with design review
· Stage growth to better utilize infrastructure as it is built, reducing sprawl
· Encourage development within the Area of City Impact (potentially annexable area) to be designed for future increase in density to urban standards

4. Despite the growth, there remains a lack of significant regional planning between the city and county, and between the cities of Sandpoint, Dover, Ponderay and Kootenai. Do you believe there should be regional planning, and if so, what would you do as a councilperson to implement it? Do you feel Sandpoint itself has an adequate Comprehensive Plan and long-range vision? If you believe the Comp Plan is inadequate, what kinds of changes would you like to see and how would you fund its development?

Yes, I strongly support regional planning of land use, transportation and other services. If elected I will meet with officials in all nearby jurisdictions to learn their interests and concerns. I will be working with the Sandpoint City Council and Mayor to initiate cooperative planning. I would encourage public input from each jurisdiction, so we know what the citizens think and to gain support for joint efforts.

No, Sandpoint’s comprehensive plan is outdated. Things looked very different in the 1970s when it was developed, and it badly needs a very public updating. The Comprehensive Plan is how the City’s vision for its future is expressed, and the vision needs to be current.

Since Sandpoint’s budget is not easily understood by any outsider, I cannot say how I would fund it. Grants can help (our area currently has an Urban Transportation Planning grant for the four cities to plan that item together). The city’s new GIS mapping system should make the needed mapping affordable. I will work to identify funding for this important project.

As Chair of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission I tried to use the Comprehensive Plan to guide decisions, but found that it is inadequate for making those determinations based on current needs. The Commission will (with city staff) lead the update effort, but can only proceed with active support and funding from the city council.

5. Downtown traffic and parking are two oft-cited city ills. There are efforts currently under way by the City and the DSBA to improve parking. Do you think these efforts are on the right track? What would you do to improve parking downtown?

The City and DSBA have a plan for increasing parking in the City lot and directing visitors to it. When implemented, this plan will do much to help. They are also tackling the problem of downtown employees parking in the street, rather than in the parking lot.  New developments will have to be analyzed for parking impacts and pay their fair share.

More parking will be required with activities and success downtown. We need to utilize the “in-lieu” ordinance, allowing new and expanding buildings to pay a fee for any required parking they do not install. That money is the basis for constructing a parking garage.

Downtown traffic is especially difficult in summer due to increased highway volume and locals driving between close-by destinations. Until the first problem is resolved by ITD, the City needs to focus on reducing locally generated traffic.

6. Despite announcing more than a year ago that the Sand Creek bypass would begin construction in Fall 2004, the state Department of Transportation still has not obtained permits from the Army Corps of Engineers to fill Sand Creek nor acquired the right-of-way it needs from the railroad. ITD also estimates that, once started, construction will take three or more years. First: Do you favor or oppose the Sand Creek route, and why? Second: Given that, even if the Sand Creek route proceeds it will be many years before completion, do you believe the city should seek traffic solutions more immediately – and what would they be?

Is the Sand Creek route my first choice for the byway? Definitely not. If the project were starting today, putting it on the waterfront would not be seriously considered by transportation or land use planners. But, we are not starting today. The project has a long history, is in the courts, and we in Sandpoint are bystanders.

If the courts allow the byway to proceed and permits are obtained, I will do everything in my power as a city councilor to ensure that Sandpoint receives all the money it has been promised to help downtown through the difficult construction period and for converting highways to local streets. Although ITD promised in the past that downtown streets would be local; they are not committing to that today. Sandpoint needs to control the look, traffic flow, speed and direction of travel.

On US 95, northbound from Sandpoint, traffic signal sequencing and adding a northbound lane in the existing right-of-way between the north town entrance and the US95-SR200 intersection should also be considered.

The Sand Creek Byway has divided our community for decades. I would like to join others in reuniting this community and not allow differences about the byway to prevent us from working together to solve today’s pressing problems of growth and affordability.

7. Part of the downtown revitalization effort has been to convince major institutions to remain in the city core in order to promote commerce downtown. Yet the city itself moved its offices away from downtown several years ago, and now the county is considering moving its offices out of the core. Should the city try to convince the county to remain downtown? Should City Hall move offices back downtown?

Yes and yes. The City should actively work to keep at least some of the County offices downtown. Since the City seems to be outgrowing its current location, an opportunity may be developing to return City Hall administrative staff and offices to our downtown.

8. Why are you running for public office? If you are elected, how much time will you be able to devote each week to city council business?

I am running out of a deep concern that Sandpoint is becoming unaffordable for current residents, our children and grandchildren. It also concerns me that the City is making significant decisions with minimal public input and little vision for the future. These would be priorities for me.

I would resign my one year term on the School Board and could devote at as much time as needed to City Council. I am retired, so have full time available. School Board has taken 15 hours/week, on average.


9. Describe any other issues you believe are most important; why you consider them important; and your position on these issues.

Working cooperatively with other jurisdictions, schools, churches, etc. can reduce costs and improve services. Essential services need to be delivered efficiently and equitably.

With urban renewal districts established, it is possible for the City to use eminent domain as a means to enable a private developer to buy up multiple properties, even if current owners don’t want to sell. The Supreme Court of the United States has affirmed this right. I will propose a resolution that the City not use eminent domain for private development projects. Eminent domain should be used cautiously and ONLY for public infrastructure, like roadways.

Expanding NIC in town would help train skilled workers; benefiting those workers, entrepreneurs and the best employers. I will work hard to have NIC flourish in our community as a means of providing more family-wage jobs locally.