District 5 candidates field voters’ questions at forum
The El Dorado County League of Women Voters hosted District 5 supervisor candidates Brooke Laine and Kenny Curtzwiler on Sept. 22 for a question and answer candidate forum at Pinewood Elementary School in Pollock Pines.
Both were given a chance to address some of the district’s biggest issues if elected Nov. 8.
Laine is a longtime El Dorado County resident and former mayor of South Lake Tahoe. She spent 20 years running her family’s photography business and has experience in banking and business management.
Curtzwiler, another longtime county resident, is the owner of tree service contractor K & K Services and apparel company Lake Tahoe Ski Bum. He has run for supervisor before, twice losing to current District 5 Supervisor Sue Novasel. He is also a 20-year veteran, having joined the Nevada Army National Guard at age 31.
The following are the questions asked of the candidates and their responses:
Q: How do you balance the push for more housing while protecting the environment and addressing the limited water supply capacity?
Curtzwiler referenced a study done by the South Tahoe Utility District, which he said found the Tahoe Basin would not run out of water for 33 years. He said housing is nearly built out in Tahoe’s rural areas.
“Pollock Pines is very similar to the rural area of South Lake Tahoe and the Meyers area, because we are limited in the areas that we can build,” Curtzwiler said. “We will not be able to build any large developments other than two to three homes. Other than that, the housing issue is something that will need to be addressed as it comes up.”
Laine stated the county is about 4,000 units short of affordable housing demands, which she said needs to be addressed, adding the county needs to do a better job capturing rainfall and creating different water supply.
“I do think a study should be obtained to determine what that water shortfall might be and what kinds of things we can do perhaps to address those shortfalls,” Laine said.
Q: How well do you think the vacation rental ordinance is working in District 5?
Both candidates said enforcement of the ordinance is an issue.
Laine shared her opinion of redressing the ordinance completely.
“The ordinance basically says right now if there is a noise after 10, you as a citizen are supposed to leave your home, go next door to the home in violation, find out who the local representative is, go back to your house, call your local representative and they are supposed to fix the problem within 30 minutes and self-report to the county within 24 hours,” Laine said. “That is not a good ordinance.”
Laine suggested taking the resident out of that equation and having law enforcement deal with the situation.
Curtzwiler shared his plan to implement a brick-and-mortar company, open 24 hours a day, that could address vacation home rental problems within 25 minutes.
He added that county’s Code Enforcement Unit is suffering from lack of funds.
“Enforcement is key,” he said. “We need to have the money from the (Transient Occupancy Tax) in South Lake Tahoe and Pollock Pines where the vacation home rentals are located to enforce the rules and we need a code enforcement officer there also.”
Q: Please provide your short- and long-term solutions for the homeless situation.
Curtzwiler responded that homeless people need to be near facilities and services to get them closer to assistance, stating Pollock Pines does have a homeless issue.
“The city of South Lake Tahoe does have somewhat of a homeless problem but they put (the homeless shelter) where the services are,” Curtzwiler explained. He made the case Pollock Pines is not the best place for a homeless shelter. “Where are the facilities to help these people? Are they located up in Pollock Pines? No, they are not. Is there a transportation system to get them from Pollock Pines down to the facilities in the Placerville area? No there is not.”
Laine touted the successes of South Lake Tahoe’s three navigation centers, previously hotels.
“We had 120 homeless people who were counted in February and of those 120, we were able to house 100% of the veterans and we got another 80% of that 120 housed,” Laine said.
While she recognized some may not want services or help, Laine commented that 400 homeless people on the West Slope have no services.
Laine said the county needs a permanent, long-term shelter on the West Slope.
Q: How do you make sure the concerns of South Lake Tahoe and Pollock Pines are given fair representation?
Laine’s idea is to start an advisory council with representatives from each of the 11 communities that make up the district, a group that would meet up regularly, she said.
“I think it’ll bring us together as a district in a way in which we have never done before,” Laine said.
Curtzwiler said showing up to community meetings and events is key and he plans to utilize an assistant working in the Pollock Pines area to make sure fair representation occurs.
Q: The Board of Supervisors deals with many complex and contentious issues. Please give an example of a group you’ve worked with when various member views are in conflict and the role you play in reaching consensus with that group.
Curtzwiler said as an equal opportunity officer in the military he had to deal with thousands of soldiers experiencing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and his employees stay with his company for 18 years on average.
“The reason they stay is because we take care of each other and I can’t do what I do without them,” he told the crowd. “The same thing works with the community of Pollock Pines and Meyers. I can’t do my job without you guys; you’re the ones that we need to depend on.”
Laine shared her experience dealing with cell phone tower proposals while serving on the South Lake Tahoe City Council, which she called a “contentious” topic.
“We felt very stuck in the middle as a council. I read lots of reports. I spoke with people and met with residents who had this equipment nearby their homes and we were upset about it,” Laine said. “We agreed as a council that we had a right to govern our community and to put some rules down so that cell phone companies couldn’t come in and put their equipment anywhere they want.”
Laine said the issue was eventually solved amicably.
Q: Top three priorities?
Curtzwiler said his top three priorities are the vacation rental issues in South Lake Tahoe, GPS and app navigation systems sending traffic into Tahoe neighborhoods and obtaining funds to solve those issues.
Laine stated her top issues in the county included housing, transportation and fire preparedness.
Q: Should the county chamber of commerce get a county building for $3 a year rent?
“It sounds affordable but do they belong in a county facility?” Laine questioned. “I can definitely see some conflicts there. I haven’t thought about it much but it sounds like it could be a problem.”
“Absolutely not,” Curtzwiler said. “They should have their own building, paid for by chamber members.”
Q: What are you going to do about the (Placerville) courthouse?
Both candidates said they have not followed this topic closely.
Curtzwiler said he needs more information on this topic before he can make decisions.
“That would be something that I would have to come down, study and listen to the other supervisors and talk to other people in the district about, because I am not too familiar with what is going to happen with the courthouse down in Placerville,” Curtzwiler said.
Laine also said she has no “skin in the game” on this topic, but recognized the courts have been cutting back on personnel.
“We’re concerned when they start dividing services in that kind of fashion where our people in Tahoe who have to travel through the snow and be separated from families in order to have a case heard,” Laine said.
Q: What makes you stand out as a candidate?
Laine told the audience her experience in the public arena for 10 years makes her qualified as a supervisor candidate.
“This is a budget of $318 million general fund dollars and there’s a lot of pressure on how a budget gets divided up, so the more experience you have in that regard, hitting the ground running, the better you’re going to be,” Laine said.
Curtzwiler said his experience in business dealings in the county, longevity as a resident, military experience and the fact he is not affiliated with any county groups will make him effective at solving issues and dealing with the public.
“I have the experience to be out there, to interact with everybody and will never turn anybody down without listening to all sides,” Curtzwiler said.
Q: Our schools and youth are very important to us and our families. How can you assist the community with safe and healthy activities?
Curtzwiler said because the supervisor’s position is out of the scope of responsibility with school system dealings, it is crucial to be involved with the school board’s decision-making.
Laine answered that she will work with organizations and school districts to come up with ideas the public wants to see through.
Q: How will you work effectively with law enforcement and firefighters?
Laine said she will meet with all fire chiefs regularly discuss all issues and commented that having a good relationship with the Sheriff’s Office is important as problems develop.
Curtzwiler said he has experience working with firefighters in his tree service business and has met with the sheriff-elect, adding they are “on the same sheet of music as far as working together.”
“They do not work for us and it is made clear that we need to work with them and not against them,” Curtzwiler said.
Q: Since supervisors cannot vote for land use in Tahoe, why should the supervisors from District 5 vote on land use in other districts?
Curtzwiler stated a supervisor casts votes for the entire county. As supervisor, Curtzwiler said he would be present at meetings throughout other districts to hear the voices of residents and county groups.
“It’s important for us to get out of our shell and drill down into other districts to learn what is going on,” Curtzwiler said.
Laine answered similarly, stating the structure of the Board of Supervisors calls for making decisions outside of their respective districts.
“It would be incumbent on me to make sure I understand what the needs are in other districts as it will be incumbent on the other supervisors to understand our needs in District 5,” Laine said.
The full candidate forum can be viewed on YouTube at bit.ly/D5forum.
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