Redmond City Council candidates seeking Pos. 7 are incumbent David Carson and Carlos Jimenez. Carson has served on council since 2007 and works as a software test engineer. Jimenez is a community and social justice advocate and is the executive director of Centro Cultural Mexicano.
How will you keep Redmond affordable to live in?
David Carson: The region generally and Redmond specifically suffer from a case of being very desirable places to live. So, since it’s unlikely that living in the Puget Sound will become less attractive to transplants because of economic opportunities and our beautiful natural environment, the one effective strategy is to increase the supply of housing in the area. This and previous councils have done this by streamlining our permitting and planning processes, created new zones to include more housing and opened neighborhoods to innovative housing types like cottage housing and accessory dwelling units. We continue to look at new types of housing and the appropriate places to site them to increase the supply and therefore the affordability.
Carlos Jimenez: Anyone who works in Redmond should be able to live in Redmond. An affordable home is a basic right. Every person in our community deserves a safe place to live. We are a multi-faceted community and we must ensure that everyone, including our seniors, can remain in the city where they have built relationships and built their lives. One way to keep housing affordable is to require a decent percentage of new construction to be affordable housing and to offer a variety of housing choices that serve the entire community. Cities can expedite permits and reduce regulatory barriers to increase density limits in certain areas, which allows for a variety of living arrangements and easy access to city amenities, reducing secondary costs. We can also support nonprofit organizations who are working to create and maintain residences for people on a limited income. Cities can seek grants and foster partnerships that promote innovative ideas to make Redmond more affordable for all. Another aspect of affordability is attention to infrastructure so that transportation costs can be minimized. A forward-thinking plan will help with affordability in the long run.
What are some solutions for controlling/bettering traffic? Especially in higher traffic areas like Avondale or Red-Wood Road?
Carson: There are improvements that are being designed specifically for Redmond Way at West Lake Sammamish Parkway as well as Red-Wood Road (a bypass route in the longer term) that will ease congestion when these solutions are constructed. In the case of Avondale, there are some programmatic aspects of it that can be modified with the advent of our intelligent traffic system (ITS) as well as some improvements to school bus pick up/drop off zones that could improve throughput but capacity additions on Novelty Hill Road and even a fly-over at Union Hill Road would be necessary to significantly improve traffic on the Avondale corridor, which would be WSDOT or King County projects.
Jimenez: As a civil engineer and former professor of community development at the University of Guadalajara, I know the challenges that a city like Redmond, surrounded by new development, faces. Finding a solution to our traffic congestion problems has to be a regional effort. We must work with surrounding cities to plan our roads for future use, and we must streamline our public transit system so that it can meet the needs of residents in order to reduce traffic congestion. The city should study the feasibility of providing free public transportation within a specified perimeter. If public transportation is affordable and efficient, people will be more inclined to use it. Our public transportation could offer more timing flexibility for the needs of the community, youth, and seniors, in addition to what it offers for commute-hour workers. This will encourage public transit use between homes and the future light rail stations. In addition, studies have shown that if cities add safe bike lanes and corridors, bike ridership goes up. With the increasing density of housing in the urban centers of Redmond, much of our city is easily accessed by bike and will likely be used if we provide safe routes.
What would be your budget priorities and why?
Carson: My main priorities are dealing with congestion (WLSP widening and the other projects mentioned above), connecting and developing the parks on Redmond’s eastern edge to bring more recreational opportunities to the community and planning for the arrival of light rail in Overlake and downtown in a couple of years. The latter is going to require some real attention to ensure negative impacts are mitigated effectively and it’s well integrated into our city. I also think we have some progress to be made on updating our comprehensive plan to include some other areas outside of the urban centers where some modest residential development can occur.
Jimenez: We should prioritize the budget according to our most basic needs as a community. We all have a desire to live healthy, full lives. Our residents deserve to spend less time on congested roads and more time with family and friends. My budget priorities are those that focus on the people, and their quality of life here in Redmond. Infrastructure is of the highest importance; a healthy city needs functional roads and well-maintained buildings that meet the needs of the community for years to come. In addition, we can focus on finding real and impactful solutions to the lack of affordable housing. We could always do better to provide services for some of our more vulnerable communities. Our city is a vibrant, culturally rich place. We can continue to provide city-wide engagement opportunities for our communities to gather and form deep connections. Environmental issues are also important to the residents of Redmond. We can promote ways to lessen negative impacts on the environment, and to make sure Redmond stays green and that the city acts in an environmentally responsible way.
How do you balance development and growth against maintaining the town’s current character?
Carson: We now have a vibrant and dynamic downtown that has become a safe and wonderful place to be day and night. We have a plan for Overlake to become a place much like the downtown has become, where residents and visitors to Redmond want to be out eating, shopping and recreating (concerts, walking, biking, etc.). And we have deliberately concentrated growth in the two urban centers so that single-family neighborhoods can maintain the character that made us want to move to Redmond in the first place. Living in an economically successful area certainly has its challenges with managing growth but it’s a good problem to have considering some of the communities in the Midwest that are shriveling and whole neighborhoods are dying. I’d rather have to deal with our “growth problems” than have to figure out how to maintain a city with shrinking tax bases and budgets.
Jimenez: Redmond has a unique character. Our local businesses, diverse community, historic downtown, and green spaces all make Redmond an attractive family friendly place to live. Growth is inevitable. Growth brings more amenities for a vibrant downtown. Growth brings more options to consumers, and the creation of jobs and opportunities for cultural spaces and community engagement. We can manage the negative aspects of growth through thoughtful planning so that our urban core meets the needs of the longtime residents as well as the newer residents. As we grow, we need to acknowledge the entire community, in order to be an inclusive city. We can start planning now to maintain the kind of environment that makes Redmond so unique and beautiful far into the future. We have an obligation to the next generation to preserve the character of Redmond and its green spaces while benefiting from the positive aspects of growth.
The general election is Nov. 5.