First and foremost, my heart goes out to anyone that has lost a loved one or family member due to COVID-19. The virus does not appear to be going away anytime soon, and with this notion we must learn to face a new reality, a new normal. I believe that the inconsistent and back – and – forth sector closures ordered by the county and state governments in recent months have not helped local business owners. If the response was left to the city government, I would follow the science in all decision making and ensure that we would be doing everything possible to save lives and also save our city’s economy. I wear a mask, but understand it’s not easy to do all of the time.
Certain closed sectors that I would like to reopen for limited indoor operations include gyms/fitness centers, salons and barbershops. We are fortunate that we live in a climate where outdoor dining can continue into the fall months in order to get the virus counts low. For social activities, which I am looking forward to in 2021, I think socially distanced concerts on the green is definitely an option that our city should have done this past summer. Buena Park did theirs with no noted issues. As councilmember, I would advocate for our Parks & Rec Department to work with all non-profit groups in Cypress that traditionally had events outdoors to ‘think outside the box’ for new, innovate, yet safe ways for social activities to still be held for well being of all Cypress residents.
I want to be clear. If I am elected, I will NOT defund our police department. The residents of Cypress enjoy a high standard of living with a very safe community and I in no way plan on changing that. We have an excellent police department who, after having a conversation with Chief Cox, already has a set of policies and procedures in place based on de-escalation, and no use of choke holds, among many other measures that have been raised over the last few months.
To deal with homeless and those with mental heath issues the city already has a contract with City Net to provide outreach, housing and support services to homeless/transient individuals and if elected I would continue on that relationship. I don’t disagree that police officers should not have to deal with these individuals and we are luck in Cypress that we have two officers who are apart of the homeless outreach team – but we supplement that with services from City Net who can provide experts in mental health and other services so our police officers can focus on truly keeping our city safe from crime.
Overall, I am OK with what was approved at the recent City Council meeting, with one big caveat. The proposed movie theater needs to stay as some sort of ‘entertainment’ venue vs. being transformed into another grocery store or car wash or anything that is not for entertainment purposes. That was the whole point of having that plot of the land be the ‘entertainment’ piece. The apartment complex is fine for me as is the hotel and retail. You won’t be able to see the parking structure from the street so in the end that works. I do think the entire development is rather boring architecturally. Their design looks very “cookie cutter” to me. Shea and other original bidders had a real opportunity to make a unique development architecturally speaking, but didn’t.
I am OK with the sale price, but would not have given such a large discount on park fees. In the end, Shea needs to have the apartment complex amenities to attract millennial to their facility and I don’t think most residents will be using that dog park – it is not big at all.
For any final approval voting, I would need to see some sort of ‘entertainment’ venue in place if the movie theater option is not viable. We have to remember; this development will take years to be built (Shea has 5 years to actually complete it if they’d like) so to think that movie theaters will not be viable in that long time frame would appear unrealistic. But I don’t think we need another grocery store.
Our city needs to do a much better job of bringing businesses back to Cypress. The Katella corridor will soon be left with 4 empty HQ buildings. This is such an unfortunate development over the last 5 years. If we can fill our Katella corridor again post COVID those people are somewhat likely to consider buying a home in Cypress, and then shop & dine in our city. The addition of retail to the new 13 acre property will assist with more sales tax revenue. But we have to “complete the cycle” so to speak, and that requires getting people into Cypress to spend their money here.
This is why I have proposed an Economic Task Force in which I would like to have one or two city council members have a weekly lunch with various companies in Cypress to discuss what matters most to each business. These lunches could include city management and the Cypress Chamber to bring all parties together for an informal meeting where real issues can be discussed. Our city has plenty of consultants on hand, yet none of that has seemed to work. By having one or two council members present (which are really the ones that care most about the city) we can hear first hand from our business community (from a small local sub shop to United Healthcare’s 13,000 plus workforce) about how we can encourage them to stay in Cypress and then expand within our city. At the end of 2020 our largest sales tax generator is leaving the city. I understand the business climate is shaky at best, but our city council and management should be doing everything possible to retain existing businesses and foster expansion/growth.
The thought of a new, worldwide name moving into Cypress is exciting and gives Cypress hope for a renewed growth of our Katella corridor business park. However, I do have some concerns with Amazon specifically. I can tell you first hand that the properties Amazon currently operates at have been poorly maintained and that the culture onsite is that Amazon, due to their name and finances, takes precedence, while other neighboring tenants take a back seat. I would love to see Amazon succeed in this new venture, but I want to be absolutely sure that having them in Cypress will not disrupt other neighboring tenants to consider leaving our city.
I also would like to see an Economic Impact Report. Many rumors have gone around Cypress that Amazon will bring us much needed revenue. As it currently stands in Orange County, this is not true. If approved today, the facility pays no local sales tax directly to Cypress. In lieu of this, an Economic Impact Study could shed some light on how many jobs would be created, and at what pay levels (I want to bring high quality good paying jobs to Cypress as much as possible). The study would also analyze how Amazon’s employees would use retail and other services in Cypress. I don’t know the answers to those questions and I’m sure many don’t which is why I consider an Economic Impact Study to be so important for a project like this that pays no local tax revenue.
In terms of the EIR and the lack of parking. I would hope that the EIR will consider a fully occupied former Mitsubishi building. I would hope that the property owner at some point would like to fill it with a tenant, and I certainly would like to see a new company make it their regional or corporate office. With all of that being said – it would be smart to analyze the site for both at full occupancy that way in the future when the former Mitsubishi building is occupied, we will already know now how much parking will be required for the new tenant.
I mentioned this briefly in question #6 & #7 above. I believe we should create an official City Council Ad Hoc Subcommittee (because you can only have two council members together at a time) and label it the Cypress Economic Task Force. Let’s face it – our city has lost some major businesses and the consultants we have hired are not producing desired results.
Residents of Cypress care more than anyone about the economic success of our business climate more than anyone, which is why an Economic Task Force, led by one or two city council members will show our business community that this is a top priority for our city. I think an hour or so, informal lunch between the task force and a businesses CEO or other executive in charge would be a great way to have an easy, yet real conversation about what businesses need from the city in order to 1. Stay in Cypress, 2. Expand in Cypress, and hopefully 3. Move to Cypress. This would be a good opportunity for businesses of all size (5 employees to 13,000 employees) to meet face to face with elected officials and staff to discuss ways to improve our city for them. Finally – the council represents all residents, so I would always keep in the back of my mind “is what we are doing going to have a negative impact on our residents?”
I think it is no secret that I have been against the building of many high-density housing projects along the Lincoln corridor. I would much prefer to see Cypress built out with single family homes, or elegantly designed town homes (not my first choice). I think the homes that have been built so far look like row-houses and are very cookie cutter with no attractive design aspect to them. Parking is exceedingly difficult to find on Lincoln Ave after 6pm because of the sheer influx of new residents due to the high-density housing. It has also upset the quality of life for residents who lived along Rainier Drive.
If I were on the council back when the trash contract modifications were being made, I would have voted to start the process over with a new bid process. It appears that the current trash contractor purposely bid low to get the contract and then steadily increase rates every year after taking away services originally signed for in the first contract. I have seen data from the city that if we opened it up for a new bid, the new bid could have been higher – but I don’t like the ethics surrounding the way the first contract was bid.
The soccer fields at the new sports park have been a long time in the making. When I was involved with AYSO years ago, we were told by then city leadership that it was the council’s priority to get much needed city owned soccer fields built. Never in my mind did I think that would take 5 years to start construction. Back in 2015 AYSO had over 2000 kids playing annually and fields were needed badly. Now with COVID times have changed, but just like I stated on the previous question, eventually things will get back to normal and the fields will be used not only by AYSO but also by Friday Night Lights and other city backed recreation programs.
In regards to the funding of the development, I don’t understand why the city council just doesn’t come out and say “we are using the money from the sale of the land to Shea to build this sports park” and be done with it. The decision has already been made, so no future council member will be able to change that. But to leave the Parks & Rec District with a huge unfunded liability, the city could just ‘forgive’ the loan and make up the payment by the $15 million sale price for the 13 acres to Shea in the near future vs. waiting until the apartment complex is built.
I would continue the strategy of the current city council be investing in our pension trust fund. Unfortunately, this will continue to be a huge liability for the city going forward. If the opportunity presents itself, I believe the city should pay down our pension liabilities to reduce the strain it imposes on our cash flow and general fund. If we get another chance to choose a shorter amortization schedule in the future I would seriously look into that option as well. While we would have less assets as a city, we would also have significantly less pension liabilities. Former councils entered into these agreements with our public employees and we have the duty to honor those agreements. Going forward, future councils should look at these agreements with a look towards the future.
I am not opposed to looking at various options and ways our cities can work together to reduce costs and improve efficiencies. Most don’t know, but our four communities already share a single dispatch center for our police departments and it has worked really well. If down the road a time came when it would be smart to consider a joint public safety or other departments, I would consider it and look at all options, but my number one focus would be to continue to provide excellent service and safety to our residents of Cypress.
At this point in time, I don’t see the City of Cypress as needing to merge with other cities such as Los Alamitos. I understand their budget is in dire straits, but thanks to our previous city leadership we are doing OK. I don’t disagree there would probably be some cost savings, but I love our unique identity as Cypress and the culture of community we have built. Because our city is stable for years to come, I don’t see it as a topic of discussion for me in the years ahead.