Sandy Lamson

10-15-2007

Sandy Lamson

Age
: 63
Years of residence in Sandpoint and Bonner County: We have lived in Sandpoint since 1998, and in Kootenai County from 1971-1998.
Marital status/family: I am married, with two children, two stepchildren, and 6+ grandchildren.
How can the public contact you?
E-mail: sandralamson@verizon.net

Qualifications
Education:
• BA, Business Administration (Accounting), Eastern Washington University, 1983
• AA Business Administration, North Idaho College, 1981
• I passed the CPA Exam in 1999 but have never been certified.
Recent or pertinent employment history:
• Deputy Treasurer, City of Coeur d’Alene, 1984-1998
• City Treasurer, City of Sandpoint, 1998-2001
Public offices held:
• Trustee, Hayden-Dalton Public Library, 1980
• Trustee, Alpine Meadows Water & Sewer District, 1983-1985
• Chair, Bonner County Human Rights Task Force, 2003
• Sandpoint City Council, 2004-2008
Nonprofit groups, service or professional organizations to which you belong:
• Bonner County Human Rights Task Force
• ClimateCAN
• Friends of the Library
• Native Plant Society
What particular experiences or skills quality you for office?
My years of experience working for North Idaho cities have exposed me to many recurring issues common to most cities, including budgeting, growth, water and sewer, parking, and traffic. It has also given me an appreciation of hard-working city employees.

Candidate Positions
1. Among the myriad issues facing the city at present, what do you consider the single most important issue facing the City of Sandpoint?
The biggest issue is growth and the changing face of Sandpoint as newcomers move in, displacing many working families. The housing issues created as prices are driven up are compounded by neighborhood fragmentation when many homes are vacant most of the time. While vacation homes do not require a high level of city services, neither do they patronize Sandpoint merchants who form our tax base. Some homes become vacation rentals, so that children are potentially exposed to strangers as they walk to school.

2. Housing prices have increased dramatically in Sandpoint, while local wages are increasing far more slowly – effectively precluding many residents who work in the local economy from purchasing a home. For the past year city staff and a group of local employers have been searching for housing solutions. What are your ideas for creating affordable housing for our residents who work here?
The longer this situation goes on, the more difficult it will be to address, so we need to tackle it now. It appears that the city will have to require developers to build a certain percentage of affordable housing, although no one now can specify the price of an affordable home. Also, some residential areas of Sandpoint are appropriate for greater density, more multi-family units, and the use of small "grandparent" structures. The fact that the legislature has linked the Homeowners Exemption to the increase in cost of living helps somewhat by lowering property taxes, although it may also have the effect of making rentals slightly more expensive, since they don't get the exemption. If the housing crash comes to Sandpoint as it has in non-resort cities, we may be able to pick up some foreclosed homes as workforce housing.

3. Two resort city tax proposals will be on the ballot in November. Do you favor or oppose continuing the existing 5% tax on lodging? Do you favor or oppose the new proposed 2% tax on liquor by the drink? And in each case, why?
I favor both of them. Both will provide tax relief for Sandpoint citizens; voters will decide on November 6. The Resort City Tax has generated more than $1 million since the voters approved it five years ago. This money is used for Sandpoint's parks, police, and capital projects. Most US cities have similar taxes at higher tax rates than those in Sandpoint. The tax on liquor by the drink is new to Sandpoint, and the voters have their choice as to whether to approve it in November. Moneys raised will contribute to property tax relief.

4. What conditions – for example, impact fees or provisions for affordable housing – should the city place on requests by adjacent property owners for annexation into the city?
The best immediate tactic is to encourage infill before annexation. Property developed within existing city limits can be served by the city most cost-effectively. When land is annexed, both impact fees and requirements for affordable housing are appropriate. A requirement that a certain percentage of homes built be designated affordable, with legal provisions preventing investors from buying them for speculation, would be a good thing.

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 parking issue may be more perceived than actual. Many people must find on-street parking, because the lot is usually sparsely populated. The city has increased the number of handicapped parking spaces for folks who need them. Parking will be more abundant when the city regains control of its streets and can make them two-way with diagonal parking. Because parking lots displace businesses, and too many parking lots result in a downtown no one needs to visit, we may create satellite parking lots out of the downtown core; shuttles could be used for transportation to downtown. The local public transportation board is considering such shuttles as well as other transportation options.

6. Although the Idaho Transportation Department was recently granted a permit for the Sand Creek bypass, it has conditions to meet and also faces a lawsuit from opponents. As the bypass will have major impacts on the city, voters want to know where candidates stand. First: Do you favor or oppose the Sand Creek route for a bypass, and why? Second: Among the issues involved, an offer by ITD to give the city land alongside the bypass in exchange for maintaining a new park has been a matter of contention; do you favor or oppose that proposal? Third: ITD has made no commitment to turn control of the Highway 95 route along First, Cedar and Fifth back to the city after the bypass is built; do you believe that should be a condition for the city to support the bypass?
Appalled by heavy truck traffic downtown, my husband and I went to the bypass office years ago to get the facts on the project. The engineer in charge showed us the maps and explained the plan. When we mentioned local controversy about the byway, he said ITD had spent twenty years and several million dollars engineering the plan, and they are not going to put it up to a popular vote. I think ITD will build the bypass regardless of what anyone thinks. There are better solutions to the traffic problem than putting a highway between Sandpoint and its beach. Some people fear the byway will be inadequate when it opens in 3 years. Also, even when the byway is open, Highway 2 will continue to funnel west-east traffic into the downtown core. My biggest fear is that the construction period (3-5 years) will kill the downtown businesses.

The land along Sand Creek has been described as a park and a parking lot. ITD calls it a parking lot. I prefer a park, and several residents have asked for a community garden spot. The nearness of Sand Creek would make this area practical for gardens. Either way, the city must build and maintain it. Annual maintenance of $18,000 comes from the budget for all parks. Either parks will see a lower level of maintenance, or taxes will be raised. This is why acceptance of this gift is not a no-brainer. Control of the downtown streets is a key condition for any sort of city support. Two-way streets with diagonal parking will ease traffic, contribute to an attractive downtown, and provide much more parking.

7. On traffic issues: even if construction of the bypass begins soon, ITD says it will take several years to build. Do you believe the city should seek traffic solutions more immediately – and what would they be?
ITD refused to consider several easy common sense changes. Restriping Highway 95 north of town so that it accommodates two lanes on each side and recalibrating the traffic lights at 5th and Cedar to keep traffic flowing are good ideas. ITD has been difficult to work with and the city must continue to insist they cooperate in how traffic is managed.

8. Why are you running for public office? If you are elected, how much time will you be able to devote each week to your position?
I seek reelection to my Council position because I am unbiased and represent Sandpoint families, working people, and downtown businesses, not special interest groups. I want to preserve Sandpoint's neighborhoods and trees and improve walking and bicycling conditions. I appreciate suggestions and consider them on their merits. Because I am retired, I am able to spend as much time as necessary on Council duties, which include research and many meetings.

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