Incumbent Hughson vs. challenger Simpson for city council Place 4

Jane Hughson and Josh Simpson

2017 Elections

Here are incumbent Jane Hughson’s answers to the Daily Record’s question:

Q. What do you think are the lessons San Marcos has learned from the floods of 2015 – and subsequent brief rain events – about ways to best guide flood prevention efforts and to help with recovery and resilience?

A. The consultants we have engaged, using the funding provided by the federal government, have provided us excellent information as to how we can reduce flooding during smaller flood events. There is not much anyone can do about a 45’ rise on the Blanco River, with a flow the velocity of Niagara Falls.  However, by replacing some of our drainage pipes with larger pipes and clearing out and deepening selected drainage channels we will be able to handle smaller floods, which happen more often, and protect our residents’ homes.  We have merged those plans into our existing Capital Improvements Plan so that we can make those changes and using our tax dollars, complete the projects to repair the streets.

We now have data we need for the 2D modeling which will help us determine what is needed for new development in the floodplain areas.  We have also changed our codes to require a building to be 2 feet above the floodplain, instead of the previous one foot requirement.  We have made other significant changes to our codes so that new development is less likely to cause flooding in the surrounding area.

Q. How do you feel about how development in San Marcos is being guided – specifically, how future development is being pushed out east of the interstate and on the south side of town, away from environmentally sensitive areas?

A. We must develop in the areas that can handle the growth and density.  There are impervious cover limits in the environmentally sensitive parts of our city, mostly north/ west, and it’s also more expensive to build there.  This is not where our major growth areas should be.

On the east and south sides of our city we have a lot of floodplain so we must be careful there also about where we direct growth.  However, this land is easier and cheaper to develop.  We have identified our Comprehensive Plan Intensity Areas with this in mind, although we need to shift one of them due to data collected during the Memorial Day flood of 2015.

Q. What do you think are the most important aspects of Code SMTX?

A. Code SMTX provides for more housing options, including home ownership of smaller types of housing and cottage courts.  It includes a section on affordable housing for San Marcos.  Also included is more protection for our environmentally sensitive areas of town including the San Marcos River and its tributaries. There are also new zoning categories that will give developers new options, such as more mixed-use options (commercial and residential in the same building). As with our current land development code, Code SMTX also defines the development process along with subdivision standards, parking standards, signs and much more.  We are almost to the finish line as our last vote is scheduled for January 2018.

Q. What is your opinion of the city’s Transportation Master Plan and the areas the city has identified as in need of more transportation infrastructure (such as the extension of Craddock)?

A. The plan’s update began in 2014 and will be finished soon.  The last plan was completed in 2004.  The new plan will look 30 years ahead and include elements of the city’s Comprehensive Plan.  The TMP will include multiple modes of transportation – walking, bicycling and transit, in addition to driving.  The city adopted “Complete Streets” several years ago so every street includes bike lanes and sidewalks.0  The layout of different types of streets are included, along with bike lanes and sidewalks, illustrating the width of each element.  It is time to update the plan and it should guide us for the foreseeable future. An important TMP element is the Thoroughfare Plan, which lays out needed roadways (street to major boulevards) for cars and bicycles for the future and improvements to existing ones.  It also includes walking trails.  Currently the extension of Craddock Avenue to the east is included.  It is not on the plan intended to create development, but if development occurs in this environmentally sensitive area, this provides a path for a roadway to support it.  By having the road on the plan, anyone developing in this area will have to provide right-ofway for the road.

Q. What is your stance on the Cape’s Dam issue?

A. Last year I listened to the Chief Science Officer for the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment give a report on the effects of removing Cape’s Dam, the potential effects on the endangered species, and that they will survive better with the dam removed.  So I voted to remove the dam. At the time of our vote, I was not aware of the uses of the Mill Race. Yes, I’ve lived here for almost 60 years but I don’t canoe or kayak, nor do I trespass on private property, which Cape’s Camp was until the city acquired it a few years ago.  I didn’t know the mill race is a slower pace and a good place for anyone learning to kayak, canoe or paddle board.  I support further study into how we can maintain, or replicate in another location, the uses of the mill race while we determine what to do with the dam.  We must also consider the historical nature of the mill race although the mill it supported is long gone.  

We must keep in mind that the dam has been damaged in each of our big floods and may not make it through the next one.

Q. How do you feel about the city’s existing $15 minimum wage requirement for new businesses that want incentives from the city, and would you like to see a $15 minimum wage implemented throughout the city, even for existing businesses?

A. I voted for the $15 minimum wage required for the number of jobs for which a business which is requesting jobs-based incentives.  It is a good plan and I would vote for it again.

I do not believe the city government can implement a minimum wage for the city.

 

Here are challenger Josh Simpson’s answers to the Daily Record’s questions:

Q. What do you think are the lessons San Marcos has learned from the floods of 2015 – and subsequent brief rain events – about ways to best guide flood prevention efforts and to help with recovery and resilience?

A. I believe San Marcos has particularly become aware of the necessity to address heavy flood events with drainage being a large topic of discussion during the campaign – not only rhetoric but the material steps taken to expand and maintain the drainage infrastructure. 

In my opinion the best guide to flood prevention is three-pronged. The first is the adoption and implementation of pervious concrete for new parking lots and new development. Long term it is the cheaper solution to the business owner and the city which is a great win-win situation. Second is boosting the porousness of our public land by spreading mulch either from city funded projects or contacting local tree experts to mitigate their own dump fees by using their mulch on public land or unused green space. The mulching adds biomass to the soil and increases the carbon sequestered from the air and simultaneously building a micobiome that naturally increases soil aeration and porosity. This will aid in holding more water in the ground where the rain falls directly. The third is promoting rainwater collection systems, which already exists but it should extend into drainage fee forgiveness proportional to the amount of rainwater collected from impervious cover.

Q. How do you feel about how development in San Marcos is being guided – specifically, how future development is being pushed out east of the interstate and on the south side of town, away from environmentally sensitive areas?

A. It makes logical sense to expand the area of development in our growing city. Yet I am seriously concerned with the building restrictions with the historic HOA aspects of San Marcos. My biggest fear is we regulate out innovative building techniques due to a historic label where the definition of a historic home is being loosely applied to say the least. 

In regards to building away from the river I do not know of anywhere other than the frontage road commercial property for sale that is on the river. I feel like this is as much an indicator that the market is not going to look at an extremely expensive piece of real estate on the river when they can set up shop a mile away for a fraction of the cost when considering flooding, environmental regulations, etc.

Q. What do you think are the most important aspects of Code SMTX?

A. An aspect of Code SMTX that concerns me is the development limitations within river buffer zones -- as I have already stated in the three-pronged approach to mitigating nonpoint source pollution from streets, roofs, and grass land area. 

An aspect of the code that is more promising is the supplemental standards to help with parking development and I would only the adoption and incentivization of automated parking garage companies to come to our city and apply this technology to everything from a large 500-1000 car garage to small localized systems near areas of recreation.

Q. What is your opinion of the city’s Transportation Master Plan and the areas the city has identified as in need of more transportation infrastructure (such as the extension of Craddock)?

A. The Transportation Master Plan is extensive and having a 10-year improvement program is fantastic. I am a cyclist so tackling the issue of bicycles on the sidewalk vs. the street is something I have a personal interest in.

I am not a fan of the bus system in general as I feel personally it is a great way to transmit illness especially during flu season. I feel more strongly that ride share, bike rental, and short term car rentals such as cars to go are the answer to public transit with less emphasis on using large buses. Cat carts are adequate, just do not depend on them to move large numbers of people because I feel that pours over into healthcare and overall productivity of an individual.

Q. What is your stance on the Cape’s Dam issue?

A. I am a strong supporter of keeping the dam. If you take out the dam the mill race will be a tiny fraction of the problems the removal will cause. The loss of the microbiome within the river sediments in this localized area will increase the likelihood of plant infection and failure due to nutrients being locked in the mineral sediments without the microorganisms to metabolize said minerals into usable plant food. Fish in the area will lose the nutrient sources that keep them in the area and will move on.

What I just described is grounds for more “research” to document what caused plants getting infections, having nutrient blockage (killing the plant through blockage or infection due to the stress imposed on the plant making it vulnerable to pathogens) and how to mitigate the effects. Dr. Hardy can scale down his science project and do a proof of concept in a lab. I haven’t even mentioned the multitudes of evidence calling into question his measurements and conclusions. It is worth noting, but I would take up multiple pages with information.

Q. How do you feel about the city’s existing $15 minimum wage requirement for new businesses that want incentives from the city, and would you like to see a $15 minimum wage implemented throughout the city, even for existing businesses?

A. It is an arbitrary implementation based on the false premise that such enforcement curbs turnover rates of employees or that it is somehow morally righteous. The only companies that will follow this ultimatum are the ones who can afford it such as mega corporations like Amazon. You are regulating out competition without even realizing it. Big business loves these type of government interventions because their small business competitors cannot afford such accommodations as it is not economically practical or feasible for any reasonable employer to pay an entry level worker $15 an hour plus health benefits.

If you implement it citywide you will effectively kill the majority of business here. Business owners would have to slim down hours or put people on part time hours to afford their employees ridiculously expensive time. Not to mention the price of goods will increase as well. 

Government generates winners and losers, the free market generates a win-win scenario or else the project never takes place. I am a free market advocate.

San Marcos Daily Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666