Development, finances and transportation are top concerns for those seeking the seat for a two-year term on South San Francisco City Council.
Current Councilwoman Karyl Matsumoto, Carlos Martin and Collin Post are all running for the one open seat. The two-year seat is the completion of Kevin Mullin’s term necessitated when he was elected to the Assembly. Pradeep Gupta, who was appointed to the seat, is running for one of the three open four-year seats, one of which is currently held by Matsumoto. Employee pensions were also of importance to the candidates.
Interviews were held last week to help the Daily Journal determine endorsements. To allow each candidate a forum to express their opinions on the issues discussed, candidates were given the same questions and asked to answer each in around 50 words. Answers are arranged alphabetically by the candidate’s last name.
What measures should the city take to better downtown?
Carlos Martin: Downtown South San Francisco is the undiscovered gem in the Peninsula and I’m confident that we will reinvigorate it. We begin with a downtown strategy that includes an architectural style guide, anti-displacement programs and adopting zoning ordinances that set high standards for housing, a civic plaza and a full-service Caltrain station.
Karyl Matsumoto: The city has always had a vision for the downtown. Under redevelopment, we were assembling properties to aid us in creating a mixed-use walkable community with vibrant storefronts, market-rate and affordable housing. We continue to do so with our Downtown Specific Plan.
Collin Post: Improve downtown safety by improving lighting around parking lots and doorways of businesses and on the street. Create community events along Grand Avenue, such as auto shows, food fests, art and wine festivals to draw people to downtown businesses and draw different businesses. The presence of police cars patrolling is always good to help keep things in order.
What can the city do to encourage use of the ferry terminal?
Carlos Martin: We need to study factors influencing ridership, such as evaluating our pricing strategy to maximize ridership, working with WETA to secure amply daily trips at peak hours, creating more bike paths, working with SamTrans to provide frequent transportation to the terminal and maximizing relationships with biotech to generate awareness.
Karyl Matsumoto: The marketing of the ferries is the responsibility of WETA which failed to mount an aggressive campaign despite our pleadings and suggestions. In the meantime, the city through its memberships in the Chamber of Commerce, the Alliance, Bay Bio, city employees and City Council has worked diligently to assist.
Collin Post: The ferry has to compete with BART and people preferring their own personal transportation. We can increase bus service to the ferry and ensure that those buses run frequently during peak operational hours. We need retailers that could make the terminal area more desirable, making sure the area is well lighted and serviced with nice public bathrooms.
Do you think the city has taken the right approach to development throughout the city?
Carlos Martin: South San Francisco should expect excellence. Many residents have voiced concern about locating affordable housing next to South San Francisco High School. We need to listen to our residents and use their input to produce a smart and consistent development strategy that addresses workmanship, living standards, traffic and environmental impacts.
Karyl Matsumoto: Yes, the city practiced the concepts (TOD) of the Grand Boulevard 10 years before it was conceived. We’ve produced housing (market rate and affordable) around public transportation, created viable walking options, enhanced open space, encouraged retail, grown biotech, reduced the carbon footprint and we are building green.
Collin Post: They’ve built high density in the wrong areas. Additional high-density housing could be built by the ferry terminal or east of Grand Avenue. We have to open up now-empty retail spots to attract entry-level jobs and increase foot traffic in that area to support retailers. I support a Walmart or a Kmart. I have a vision for a casino near the ferry terminal.
What is one ordinance or fee you would like to see repealed?
Carlos Martin: We must pursue permit and code enforcement policies that encourage home investment, including reevaluation of home improvement fees and approval timelines, partnering with proper taxing agencies to reduce tax impacts of remodels, and exploring temporary amnesty for homeowners to bring their property to compliance with proper permits at a reasonable and reduced cost.
Karyl Matsumoto: None. Rather, I would like to see the city expand its park-in-lieu fees to include rental unit development. High-density housing is going to help the city meet its housing requirements and residents (especially seniors and children) living in these complexes will need recreational opportunities for healthy living.
Collin Post: I’m not totally abreast of the numerous ordinances we have in this city. However, one that comes to mind that I believe should be repealed is the city removing people’s automobiles off of their personal property based on its value or how it looks.
Do you think the city has made fiscally responsible decisions?
Carlos Martin: We should produce revenue through service and job creation not through fees like red light cameras and unreasonable code enforcement. Our city provides neighboring cities with services such as street sweeping and IT support. Let’s expand these services and others to more municipalities to create new jobs in our city and produce needed revenue.
Karyl Matsumoto: Yes. We’ve balanced our budget without having any employee layoffs, furloughs or takebacks. Although reduced, we’ve allocated funds for CIP (maintenance of streets/roads and infrastructure). Reserves are good thus we will be able to invest not only in growth but community outreach as well.
Collin Post: We do have reserves, but I question how the city is using those reserves. We’ve spent quite a bit of money on the new quint trucks when they have poor maneuverability and are more expensive to maintain than the tiller truck. I believe there should be a review of the salaries of some of the department heads which I deem to be quite generous.
Education: University of California, Berkeley with three majors in economics, legal studies and rhetoric; Santa Clara University School of Law (J.D.)
Experience: Vice-Chairman, South San Francisco Planning Commission
Residence: Raised in South San Francisco
Education: B.S. degree in business administration
Experience: City council since 1997; San Mateo County Transit District board of directors; vice chair of San Mateo County Transit Authority
Residence: South San Francisco for 33 years
Education: P.D. Pruden Trade School for Carpentry, Electrical and Plumbing
Experience: U.S. Army: generators/mechanics; 20 years with Teamsters Local 85; previous small business owner; SFYPBL baseball coach
Family: Single, two children
Residence: 49 years in South San Francisco