I am concerned about the continued lack of bike lanes and trails in our City, and the absence of future funding for bike lanes and trails in Sebastopol’s $8 million six-year capital budget.
Given that Sebastopol is the only city in Sonoma County without bike trails, I promise to use my investigative and financial analytical skills to provide greater budgetary oversight to Sebastopol’s budget process. I believe that doing so will help resources be allocated to begin funding the implementation (not endless studies) of bike trails and bike lanes in the coming year.
Planning Commissioner Lynn Deedler, the leading bike trails advocate in our area, has developed an impressive plan for two beautiful bike trails that will connect to existing County trails. It will empower hundreds of residents, and our children, to safely replace local car trips with healthy, scenic bike rides. You can learn more about this promising and popular vision for our city’s green future at http://www.sebastopoltrailmakers.org/
The key problem with implementing this future is that our City government continues to proclaim that Sebastopol “cannot afford bike trails.” When considered in the context of other costly expenditures that taxpayers would be less likely to support, like hundreds of thousands of dollars in excess consulting fees for our General Plan, it seems as though the unwillingness to find funding for bike trails stems from unresponsive oversight and a lack of transparency. As well as an undemocratic deference to unelected City department heads to determine how our tax dollars are spent.
After four years of hearing Council Members proclaim their support for our long promised but never delivered bike lanes, it shocked me when I reviewed the Council’s latest budget, passed a few months ago. On this page of the City of Sebastopol FY 2014 2015 Budget, the list of $8 million worth of “Capital Expenses Currently Not Budgeted or Funded” for the next six years does not even include a line item for a single dollar for bike trails. Once our City commits to breaking ground on its overdue trails and bike lanes, it can receive matching funds form other governmental agencies to share the cost of implementation.
Vice Mayor and Council Member Patrick Slayter, who I am running to replace, has headed the City’s “Smart Streets” Committee for nearly four years. Although he talks about cycling and trails, he has not only failed to budget the buildout of a single bike trail or bike lane during the four years he has been in office, but he also been unable to secure a single dollar of funding from our City for the coming years. If I am elected, I will make sure that our City “walks the walk” of a green Sebastopol by funding, and not just talking about, bike trails.