SCL City Council election profiles: Dyane Burgos Medina and Christina Fugazi

This week, SCL is profiling candidates for Stockton City Council. We asked questions about the growth of Stockton and let the candidates respond. Today, we profile the race for Stockton’s 5th District, which includes the Magnolia Historic District, Downtown Stockton and parts of South Stockton. The candidates running to represent this district are the incumbent Dyane Burgos Medina, and Christina Fugazi.

Chritina Fugazi is running to represent Stockton's 5th council district

Chritina Fugazi is running to represent Stockton’s 5th council district

Christina Fugazi

Stockton is set to grow at a faster rate than most of the state. By some estimates, more than one million people will call the Stockton region home by 2050. How should we plan for this population boom and where should these people live?

In my dealings with people in the real estate market, I find that we really need a mixture of housing options. Some want to live in a vibrant, urban environment whereas others want to live in a lower density, more suburban type residential area.  Some people would like a new construction single family home and others would like to live in the lofts of a multi-unit building. We need to plan for all of these types of housing yet do our best to maintain our vital agricultural land that feeds the world. I would like to see us build “up” where we can and within the sphere of influence.  While I seriously doubt the validity of Stockton having a population of 1 million people by 2050, we do need to plan for the potential, however it needs to be well thought out and responsible.

 

You’ve spent two terms on a Planning Commission that approved pretty much every suburban development proposal during the housing boom. In fact, you’re quoted as saying that you “loved” the Grupe Sanctuary project when you voted to approve the development in 2008. But you also voted no against the 2007 General Plan update that was the subject of a lawsuit from the state and the Sierra Club. What can citizens expect from you as a council member when it comes to expanding the city’s already sprawling footprint? 

I did say I loved the Sanctuary, and I still do because it had many different types of housing options, schools and business within walking distance of housing, plenty of open spaces and recreational areas. There were designated bikeways, walkways, and parks throughout. It was beautiful, but too expensive for me to ever afford.  I would have loved to put something like that along the North or South shore of the deep-water channel and still would. I think that there are untapped areas well within the sphere of influence that are prime for projects such as the Sanctuary. As a citizen, I’d rather eat than drive my car any day of the week. Citizen’s can expect that I will learn all that I can about a project and base my decision on public response and whether or not it is good for our city. If we have 1 million people by 2050, as stated above, we are going to have to plan to double our current inventory. It is my hope that we can do that within the sphere of influence.

 

We hear a lot about capitalizing on our proximity to the Bay Area and abundance of affordable real estate, but Stockton is still struggling to benefit from these assets. What does Stockton really need to attract people and business from the Bay Area and other places? How would you achieve this should you be elected?

The answer to this question has multiple layers. First and foremost, we need to clean up this city. By clean up, I am talking about crime, homeless, garbage and graffiti, blight, etc. I have ideas on ways I think we can clean up but it is going to take a commitment by policy makers including those at the county and state level. The next thing I would look at is making the city more business friendly. The amount of red tape and hoops that have to be jumped through are immense. Not only those, but the fees are substantial as well. The answer I always get is we can’t do anything because of the bankruptcy. My response is, what are your plans for fees at the conclusion of the bankruptcy? I think that many of them need to be eliminated or deeply discounted. We have an amazing port that connects to rail and truck. Why it is not being used to its fullest potential has me scratching my head. I know that our school system is also something that causes pause in bringing business to this city, but there are many successful programs and hard working teachers throughout Stockton. I know that the council does not oversee this, but we can play a supporting role by providing increased hours at community centers, libraries, and increased activities in the Parks and Rec department. We could also benefit from putting ALL of Stockton’s employees through customer service training. As I have said before, “Please, Thank You, and Have a Nice Day” go a long way with people who are trying to navigate through our city departments. We cannot lose sight that we have a job to do and we must always put our best foot forward to assist people in working WITH the city.

 

How do you feel about the current state of transportation in Stockton? What improvements can be made to get people around the city in a more efficient manner?

The current state of transportation in Stockton is less than desirable. We have I-5 and Highway 99 being worked on simultaneously. We have road improvements on El Dorado in which I don’t even notice the difference between the before and the after. I like the new road in the south that connects I-5 at French Camp Road to Arch Road and Highway 99. This is important for business, but does not address the day-to-day traffic from school to work to shopping to home. I think it would be great if we could use public transportation more often, but that can be cumbersome and turn a relatively short trip into a much longer excursion. In the interior of the city, lights are on a timer. If I hit them at the right time, I can make it from one end of the city to midtown rather quickly, but that isn’t true for all areas of Stockton. I think the flow on Center and El Dorado should be converted back to two-way traffic. I think that we would have more options for events and better serve our downtown businesses and recreation by having traffic flow in both directions. We also have a Master Bike Plan from 2007 that has yet to be implemented. I think that with our relatively flat geography, many could benefit physically and environmentally from riding a bicycle, however we need to create space on the road for our cyclists.

I don’t have all of the answers, but I am willing and able to sit down with people who have ideas to improve our current situation. We have many talented and intelligent individuals that call Stockton their home. If we put our heads together, we can make this a thriving community where we can work, play, and live. We need to develop some unity in our community, not uniformity. If we place the task first, and put our differences aside, I think we can accomplish amazing things in Stockton.

 

Dyane Burgos Medina is running for reelection in Stockton's 5th district.

Dyane Burgos Medina is running for reelection in Stockton’s 5th district.

Dyane Burgos Medina

Stockton is set to grow at a faster rate than most of the state. By some estimates, more than one million people will call the Stockton region home by 2050. How should we plan for this population boom and where should these people live?

Stockton currently has a large inventory of homes available in areas throughout the city. We have many homes that are either not fit or not attractive for families, and I believe we should continue to use our federal funding opportunities to rehabilitate those homes to revitalize neighborhoods throughout Stockton. Additionally, there are significant opportunities for the development of housing throughout the City. There are also very exciting opportunities to reinvent and redevelop historical areas of Stockton, particularly the Downtown. There is already a very attractive architectural and historical appeal to the Downtown in addition to the beautiful waterfront. There is great potential for mixed-use and multi-story housing complexes. This should not just be affordable housing but a mixture of market rate, moderate, and affordable housing. As a councilmember, I will continue to work with our Community Development Department to create the right climate for development in our downtown.

With an influx in population in the Valley and Stockton in particular I can envision a vibrant and hip Downtown and waterfront. I believe the near future holds condo and apartment complexes filled with young families and artists, a boathouse with a lively aquatics scene, and utilizing Stockton’s diversity to bring various cultural experiences through the arts and through foods with different ethnic restaurants and businesses.

 

Your district includes Downtown Stockton. What have you done specifically in your short tenure as councilwoman to catalyze that neighborhood’s revitalization? What plans do you have for revitalization should you be reelected?

Since being on the Council, I have spent the majority of my tenure working on issues facing Downtown. I worked closely with our state officials to advocate for the early removal of water hyacinth, I strongly supported placing and keeping bike officers downtown, I hosted small business round table discussions to get a pulse on the issues of Downtown business owners, I brought the summer movie series to Weber Point to bring families to Downtown, I brought the spay and neuter clinic to Weber Point to help educate our Downtown area residents, I brought the Fourth of July Parade to Downtown, and I started the Crosstown South Coalition to improve the appearance of the entrance to Downtown while addressing the needs of our most vulnerable Stocktonians. I also pushed the City Attorney’s Office to become more active in our code enforcement activities to hold irresponsible property owners accountable for problem properties. Additionally, I pushed for the parking study so that we can move our parking lots and meters up to date with the latest technology. I voted in favor of dedicating some funding toward the ULI study, which largely focuses on our Downtown, and I pushed to finish the Weber Streetscape Project and develop plans for Miner Street. Finally, I advocated for the development of a practical Economic Development Plan and for it to focus on Downtown to bring business and vibrancy to our City’s core.

If elected, I plan to keep working hard on these various projects. As a social worker, I believe I am uniquely qualified to continue advocating for a long-term solution to homelessness in our downtown and Crosstown South neighborhoods. I have already started collaborating with other stakeholders and agencies to make meaningful change a reality. I will continue to work with that coalition to improve the appearance and quality of Downtown’s entrance. I also plan to continue working with our Community Development Department to move our permitting to a market rate rather than full recovery model to reduce fees. I will also work with Community Development to develop creative ideas to incentivize development and bring amenities to downtown. I will also continue to work with our Economic Development Department to find creative ways to fund the market rate housing gap so that it will become practical for development of market rate housing.

 

We hear a lot about capitalizing on our proximity to the Bay Area and abundance of affordable real estate, but Stockton is still struggling to benefit from these assets. What does Stockton need to really attract people and business from the Bay Area and other places? How would you achieve this in your next term?

One of the greatest concerns among Stocktonians and outsiders considering a move to Stockton is our crime issue. Stockton has a chronically high crime rate that has outdone California’s rate since before the 1980s. In 1998, we saw the great success of a comprehensive crime fighting strategy. Unfortunately, as it was not institutionalized, local government at that time saw crime decrease and stopped implementing its strategy. We currently have a strategy that is in its implementation phase and was recently fully funded by our Measure A tax funds. Studies show that Stockton should increase our number of sworn officers from 1.2 per 1,000 residents to 2 police officers per 1,000 residents. We are currently at our highest number of officers in five years and are continuing to hire qualified candidates as quickly as possible to move closer to this critical ratio.

I will continue to push for full implementation of the Marshall Plan in addition to economic recovery and development to move toward a more desirable place for businesses and Bay Area transplants. I have shown that I am willing to put in the hard work to achieve these things as I spent my own time and resources to get funding to hire more police officers, and I plan to work closely with the Office of Violence Prevention to make sure we are creating more positive futures full of opportunity for our youth while institutionalizing the Marshall Plan with continuous self-evaluation. I will also continue working within the City and collaboratively outside the City as mentioned above to improve the economic climate to attract economic growth.

 

How do you feel about the current state of transportation in Stockton? What improvements can be made to get people around the city in a more efficient manner?

I feel that we have a long way to go as far as transportation is concerned in Stockton. I work with a large number of Stockton residents that do not have access to cars and have regular communication with them about transportation struggles. There are several things that need to happen in order to improve the state of our transportation in Stockton.

Stockton is a large city with various neighborhoods that have their own unique strengths and struggles. We need to tailor our plans to those neighborhoods and their needs. Each area should have employment opportunities nearby so that commute times are low which, studies show, increase people’s quality of life. We also have a regional transit system that has seen a great reduction in services over the past several years which affects people’s ability to get to and from work and other regular daily life activities. Although we have seen some innovation such as our electric and hybrid buses, we still need to work to increase services for Stockton residents that need to get around. Our City also has a significant struggle with availability of amenities, which increases the distance and time spent obtaining necessities such as groceries. We need to include this in our tailored services to our various neighborhoods. People need to be able to access affordable food and provisions in their neighborhoods. Finally, we simply need a city with increased walkability and bikeability. In our general amendment process, we need to continue to have these robust discussions on how to increase the safety and accessibility for walking and biking.

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Categories: SCL Exclusives

Author:Stockton City Limits

Stockton City Limits is a blog about growth, development, and urbanism in Stockton, California and the Central Valley. Contact SCL at stocktoncitylimits@gmail.com

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Yet more Stockton red tape - October 14, 2014

    […] SCL’s wide-ranging interview with Fugazi and incumbent Diane Burgos-Medina here. […]

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