Council candidate Phillips: ‘A big no’ on roundabout
The following is a compilation of a question-and-answer session with Michael Phillips, a real estate agent who on the last day of the filing period announced his candidacy for South Lake Tahoe City Council.
He’s one of six candidates running for three seats on the council to be vacated by Councilmen Hal Cole and John Upton. Councilwoman Kathay Lovell is running as an incumbent, along with businessman Tom Davis, retired teacher Bill Crawford, innkeeper Jerry Birdwell and recreation enthusiast Tom Wendell.
The election is scheduled for Nov. 7, and the last date of registration is Oct. 23.
All the candidates except Phillips had sat down with the Tahoe Daily Tribune to go over pertinent issues in town. Here are Phillips’ responses:
Q. What do you specifically plan to do for the locals of this city?
A. We’ve put a lot of energy downtown into redevelopment, but I think it’s neglected the rest of us. We need to focus on business here. We need to make sure police and fire are staffed and streets are done. I think we got a big slap in the face with the (tourism promotion) business improvement district. People want accountability and responsibility.
Q. Do you want commercial air service at the Lake Tahoe Airport? And if so, why?
A. Yes, because we’re trying to be a world-class destination with the convention center coming on board. I’ve been at conventions, and you want them to be easy. Can we get back to the 1980s with a full-blown commercial airport? Probably not. But smaller commercial planes, maybe. Hopefully, (the airport) doesn’t have to be subsidized. Can the airlines make it? It will need to make sense to them.
Q. What can you point to that will retain and attract businesses to this community?
A. I think the problem (of business fluidity) comes from higher rents as a factor. Unless we have incentives to keep people on the hill, it’s a tough one. Look at Albertsons closing. We have to get to the point where the market (for the retail goods) comes back.
Q. Are you committed to a roundabout that would cost the city $2 million more than the scheduled traffic improvements for the “Y” intersection?
A. A big no – I don’t know why we’ve spent so much time and effort into it. I don’t see how a roundabout is going to help traffic. I think it’s a bad spot for it. Then, there’s the cost – how would we pay for it?
Q. What are your ideas on how to beautify the city?
A. We need to keep the (Highway 50) curb and gutter project going and keep Clean Tahoe (cooperative trash pick-up program) funded. When we don’t see trash, it’s out of sight, out of mind. (The Clean Tahoe board was) part of that (city) budget ax (of a few years ago). And if that project stopped for two weeks, you’d see it.
Q. How much more affordable housing needs to be done in the city?
A. We still need to try to get more. With a minimal amount of (houses) taken down, the question becomes how to make more and how to get the (Tahoe Regional Planning Agency) to loosen its restrictions. I think that’s the incentive.