UNION DEMOCRAT: What do you mean by revisiting the 1996 general plan? What do you anticipate coming out of that?
JIM PETERSON: Well, it seems like people are unhappy with the zoning districts for one thing. It seems like we have a lot of industrial next to residential, things like that, that they would like to see revisited, and see if we can change that around.
Now, of course, it's difficult because the people that own those districts want that particular ... designation. And then the zoning follows the general plan.
But the other thing that really concerns me is Mountain Springs. Where the only way they were permitted to have the general plan designation they have basically residential is because that was supposed to be a self-contained community.
And when they came forward with the plans last time, we could see that it wasn't self-contained. That people would be making all of those trips back and forth to town because they didn't have a store, they didn't have a school, they didn't have the services you would expect in a community like Twain Harte.
So, if they're not going to follow the broad overall plan of general plan, then maybe we should revisit these areas that are designated for instant communities and eliminate them. Something like that.
UD: You've stated that you are open to reviewing a new Mountain Springs plan. What are you open to? What are you hoping they come back with?
JP: They have specific entitlements out there now, so if their plan falls within their entitlements, then it's obligated to follow the general plan and approve the project.
When they go beyond what they're entitled to already, then it's sort of a discretionary area. I fully support a person's right to use their land as they're entitled to under the applicable laws.
UD: Jerry Morrow and Don Ratzlaff have referred to you and Paolo Maffei as no-growthers, and your association with Voters Choice as a no-growth organization. How would you respond to that? What's your understanding of no-growth?
JP: (A candidate in the other race) says his opponent's ideas are to put a gate at the county line. And I guess that's what these accusations are, that we simply do not want any more people moving in here. Well, of course, that's ridiculous.
We're experiencing rather fast growth right now in this county, close to 2 percent I think ... which is fairly rapid, I would say.
I've never even proposed to touch this natural growth which is going on now. But now, this growth that we're having, this taxing the resources we have, the traffic and all the things we've mentioned this year the water, so forth if we haven't outrun our capacity now, we soon will, just with this growth that's going on now.
When you add on top of that a huge development, you have to be very careful to make sure that these new developments don't accelerate the problems that occur with rapid growth.
UD: Beyond the capacity of the county to accommodate them?
UD: What do you see as a way to address the lack of affordable housing, and to bring more affordable housing into the area without encouraging sprawl?
JP: Well, affordable housing, like the government programs, for example, federally financed, I think the money flows through this state.
Quite a few of those are redevelopment-type projects and those have to go in to more urban areas. If we were to more aggressively go after the federal programs that are out there, I think they would go in or close to existing development.
For example, the shopping center over here. The Twain Harte Shopping center. At the far end, there's a wing of basically unoccupied buildings ... if we had mixed-use zoning over there, for example, you could take that whole wing and turn it into apartments.
And you'd have people living right there where the services are, and you could add maybe a dozen units or more right there. And you wouldn't have any impact ... on the natural environment other than a little more traffic.
So it's a matter of being innovative.
UD: Do you feel like you have other innovative ideas, or at least just different approaches than the county has used up to this point?
JP: Well, I'm not particularly an innovative person, but I'm very receptive to new ideas. And when I see a problem, I also look outside of my own experience. What are other jurisdictions doing to help solve this problem? So that's probably what I would do. I think that affordable housing is an issue that will deserve my attention on the Board of Supervisors.
UD: How would you rate the campaign over all?
JP: I think both Jerry and I have tried to focus on issues that separate us and give the voters a choice, and I think we've both done that in a very gentlemanly fashion.
I'm grateful to him, and I think the feeling is mutual. It's far more informative to the voters that way than if we were slinging mud.
UD: Do you see the two of you being able to work together after this, to work for the county?
JP: I think so. I think that's one of my goals. Because Jerry is going to be on the planning commission for another three years and it's good to have a working relationship with the planning commissioners.
UD: Several times you have stated the county is in financial trouble, and Jerry Morrow has said he feels the county is doing pretty well. What's the basis for that charge? What do you see happening that troubles you so much?
JP: I guess recently there was a report on the Jamestown mine, and I think the latest estimate is it's going to cost the county between $3.5 and $7.5 million to close up, to clean up.
And I think the mine was a serious mistake when it was made, as an example of how members of the Board of Supervisors rely on information they get from their staff, rather than independently investigating it themselves. I think there's still a tendency, at least on some board members' parts, to do that rather than look behind the staff reports, to see if they are actually accurate.
The hospital, of course, is an ongoing problem. About a month ago they came in with a budget of $2 million of taxpayers' money to operate with this year.
Then last week, at the Board of Supervisors, it was reported that we're already a quarter into the year and $1.8 million of it is already gone. So, again, it would appear that the budget from the hospital that came in over three months late, was inaccurate even at that time.
I understand that its a very difficult problem there at the hospital. The current administration at the hospital inherited a very bad situation and I don't really blame them for not being able to be accurate and on top of these things. And yet, the way it was presented, this latest report that came up last week was very disappointing. I felt they were more on top of the situation than apparently they are.
UD: The amount of information produced that a supervisor has to wade through is fairly overwhelming. Don't you feel you're going to have to rely on staff, and in some cases take their word on it, on some issues anyway?
JP: I think that for any individual supervisor to investigate every individual item would be impossible.
I think I'll have to select which reports I'll want to look into further.
I know in other counties, supervisors have their own staff.
We don't have that, in this county, so the all the investigation would have to be done by individual supervisors.