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San Bruno CA Mayor And Council 2020 Candidate Answers 13 - 15





Article Source:  Riechel Reports Editor Robert Riechel

2020 November Mayor & Council Candidates Answer Questions:

Once again, with this election, I sent out a series of 15 questions to the 2 candidates running for San Bruno Mayor ( Rico Medina and Linda Mason) and the 5 candidates running for the 2 seats on the Council (Tom Hamilton, Stephan Marshall, Michael Salazar, Jeremy Sarnecky, and Stephen Seymour).

For those candidates who did NOT provide an answer, I have added the statement “Candidate did not supply an answer”.

I am pleased to provide this volunteer service to inform and better engage the citizens of San Bruno in making choices that affect the welfare of our City.

Q13.  WHERE and WHAT type of Cannabis/Marijuana activities do you support for San Bruno and WHAT regulations must they meet?

Answer from Current Mayor Rico Medina

I was open to having a discussion on the topic which brought us the current ballot measure for taxing which will be on this November Ballot and supported by all the city council.  The city council also all agreed not to address or bring forward the question on retail.  There are areas of exploration which include cultivation, distribution, manufacturing, research and retail.  I am open to research: cultivation is not realistic in San Bruno for now.  Cannabis delivery is available today to homes for those that need it. For this issue, community involvement is essential.  As we did with the Safe and Sane Fireworks, the question was placed before the people.  

Answer from Mayoral Candidate Linda Mason

If Cannabis is approved in San Bruno then we should adopt the model many surrounding cities have already completed, which is a robust public discussion around what is acceptable to the community and where.

Answer from Council Candidate Tom Hamilton

I support the current ballot measure enacting a sales tax on cannabis businesses, and if elected (and if the ballot measure passes) I would support repealing the ordinance banning cannabis businesses from operating within San Bruno. Regarding types of activities, I support allowing retail cannabis businesses to open in San Bruno, with specific locations subject to zoning decisions by the city. The City would conduct study sessions open to public input to determine specific locations to allow such businesses, so I would support locating such businesses in the locations determined by this public process.

I also support allowing cannabis research and testing to be conducted within the city by appropriately credentialed entities, and allowing cannabis delivery services to operate from San Bruno, subject to strict permitting and monitoring. The regulatory requirements for these businesses have already been set by the State of California under Proposition 64, which was approved by a majority of California voters in 2016.

I feel that it is important to add that if residents are personally opposed to cannabis, they would not be compelled in any way to patronize a dispensary. I myself do not use cannabis, but I do see the benefit it brings to several of my neighbors in San Bruno who suffer from chronic illness. I also see the economic benefit it will bring and that our City desperately needs…currently San Bruno residents drive to other cities to legally purchase cannabis and leave their tax dollars in those cities, and residents from cities to our south drive right by San Bruno to drive to San Francisco or Pacifica to spend tax dollars that we could get right here in San Bruno.

Answer from Council Candidate Stephan Marshall

I am pretty neutral on Cannabis.  While I am not a user, I do understand the medical benefits others gain.  So, I think there has to be many community discussions around this topic because ultimately this decision should be made by all of us.  I have yet to see evidence to support that this would be a significant or consistent financial benefit to the city, but I remain open minded.  So, when it comes to financial solutions, my focus will remain on a bigger vision for San Bruno.

Answer from Council Candidate & Current Vice Mayor Michael Salazar

These are the discussion points that we will have to decide as a community if this year’s cannabis tax measure passes.  The types of business, the limits on how many businesses, and their location have to be developed with public input.

Answer from Council Candidate Jeremy Sarnecky

“Candidate did not supply an answer.”

Answer from Council Candidate Stephen Seymour

Our residents leave our city to purchase cannabis products. We should keep this money in our community. San Jose will generate more than 17 million dollars from their cannabis businesses this year. The Chief of Police has stated that after a review of nearby cities there is no increase in crime with cannabis dispensaries.  The people of California passed Prop 215 in 1996 and Prop 64 in 2016.  San Bruno voters favored Prop 64 by Sixty percent.  Let’s see if this years’ cannabis tax measure passes.  If it passes the council will have a public discussion to determine whether to allow cannabis businesses, where they should be located and what regulations we should enact.

Q14.  WHAT changes/funding/improvements do you support for San Bruno CityNet?

Answer from Current Mayor Rico Medina

As Mayor I disband the Cable Sub-Committee so that all 5 council members are hearing and getting the same detail on this important topic and to streamline the information to council. In September, there will be a special meeting with information from staff. Areas that will be considered will include: generating revenue, financing to move forward for the fiber project and a deep look into CityNet

Answer from Mayoral Candidate Linda Mason

We are currently in the middle of a five year plan for San Bruno City Net services.  I requested a study session that will cover the current status of Citynet; subscribers and options before the City Council.  We need to understand where Citynet is and whether its circumstances are viable.  My preference is that we allow CityNet to remain and persevere because it is a local cable station that provides good paying jobs and cable along with internet to the majority of the San Bruno population.  With that said, our services need to improve.  We need fiber.  Stay tuned for the upcoming study session that will cover this exact topic.

Answer from Council Candidate Tom Hamilton

It’s hard to ignore that the services provided currently by San Bruno CityNet Services are inadequate when compared to services provided by its competitors. If we are to keep this service, we must run CityNet Services as a business, and manage its costs appropriately and be creative in finding adequate funding to make needed upgrades. We took a step in this direction by reducing the diversion of profits from CityNet into the General Fund to balance the budget. We should continue this reduction and reinvest CityNet’s profits back into its business to improve services and stay more current, including expanding fiber-to-the-home citywide.

We should explore selling the CityNet office site on El Camino (the City could potentially yield $5M to $7M or more for that property based on recent nearby sales) and moving those services to City Hall, then use the proceeds to start the fiber project in earnest and make other changes to improve the service experience for our residents.

Answer from Council Candidate Stephan Marshall

San Bruno City Net has undergone some drastic changes since the new director has taken over.  A new name and branding along with focus on internet and streaming as we begin to separate from the cable business.  Staff has negotiated and revised pricing and services so we are now no longer operating at a loss.  In order, to continue to move in a positive direction, the city council must decide whether or not to commit to installing fiber that would be available to all homes. If the number make sense, I will support it.

Answer from Council Candidate & Current Vice Mayor Michael Salazar

As a separate business unit CityNet Services must stand on its own.  It was originally created in the 70’s with the intent of providing a revenue stream to the general fund but in the past decade, it has been unable to do so.  The goal now has been to stabilize the revenue and make it profitable.  The newly adopted business plan has helped put CityNet on the right track.

Answer from Council Candidate Jeremy Sarnecky

“Candidate did not supply an answer.”

Answer from Council Candidate Stephen Seymour

We must determine the future of CityNet Services. There is a study session scheduled for this Fall. Presently, I do not have the facts to determine whether we should make further investments or do away with this enterprise altogether. I hope the facts support keeping the enterprise while allowing us to make needed improvements.  One idea for funding is we may consider selling the CityNet Services’ building and move their operations to an existing city structure. This could generate millions of dollars that could be reinvested back into improving the enterprise. This and other ideas should be part of our public discussion.

Q15.  WHAT changes/funding/improvements do you support to help reduce the yearly increases in water and sewer rates and still fund the needed infrastructure

 Answer from Current Mayor Rico Medina

During the City Council's strategic initiatives, I did bring up, and the city council agreed to look at the tier rated system and its calculations.  With a rate review happening in two years, it is important to review and assess the manner that we charge residents today.  Increases to maintain the system will be necessary but the rate of that increase has been difficult for many in our community which is why I voted against the last increase in its current form. 

Answer from Mayoral Candidate Linda Mason

Increasing water and sewer rates add to the already challenging times that many people are facing in the midst of COVID 19.  During last year’s campaign season the City approved development impact fees.  As these fees are collected, the City should explore whether the fees could be used to prevent and/or minimize increases while continuing needed infrastructure improvements. Measure G can also provide the same support to water and sewer.  I want to ensure that we are being fiscally accountable to the residents we serve for money that we are already receiving before asking for any more money.

Answer from Council Candidate Tom Hamilton

Currently, water and sewer rates are high because we are paying for expensive repair and replacement projects that became necessary after many years of deferred maintenance. When the current contracted yearly increases end (I believe they end in 2022), we should at minimum give residents a break from increases and keep rates flat for the first year after the planned increases end.

Further, I would support using a portion of future impact fees from large development projects in San Bruno as well as future revenue from other revenue sources (such as transfer fees if we were to enact them as a Charter City) to partially subsidize water and sewer rates for our residents.

Lastly, we should reexamine the rate fee structure currently in place to ensure that it is still accurate based on planned future development that was not known when the current structure was modeled.

Answer from Council Candidate Stephan Marshall

This is a very complex issue because we all want quality water everytime we turn on the tap. A couple of factors to consider is that we have to purchase our water and we have extremely old infrastructure that has to be upgraded.  Those are two very costly items that we can’t avoid.  Considering that, San Bruno’s rates are still competitive with the rest of the Peninsula.  So, until we finish all the infrastructure improvements, it is important that us residents do our best to conserve in order to reduce our rates.  And, as I stated above, I believe the council should do their absolute best to not have any increases until we all have time to recover from impacts of the pandemic.

Answer from Council Candidate & Current Vice Mayor Michael Salazar

We can implement the use of less expensive procedures, lower cost materials, financing and combining projects. In addition, we can keep exploring shared resources like we did with the shared treatment plant.

Answer from Council Candidate Jeremy Sarnecky

“Candidate did not supply an answer.”

Answer from Council Candidate Stephen Seymour

San Bruno will see new revenue from impact fees paid by our developers. We will also see revenue from the passage of Measure G. We still have many improvements to make to the infrastructure. It’s my hope that we find ways to improve the efficiency of our water and sewer services. Our community has seen substantial increases for years. The increases have become unsustainable for many. With efficiency improvements and funding sources we MUST focus on reducing future increases. 

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