The following questions were directed to the City Council candidates by members of the staff of Community Impact. The questions were written by members of the audience. I did my best to take down the crux of the candidates’ responses so please understand these are not verbatim responses, simply paraphrase. If you have questions about the responses, please contact the candidates directly as they are all willing to address further questions. Also, the candidates and their responses are listed in the order questions were asked, for no other reason.
a)How did you (or would you) vote on allowing the signs on the roofs at the Shops at the Galleria?
b)What is your view of the comprehensive plan and its guidance for variances against ordinances and zoning?
c)How do you feel about expanding the Bee Cave Library?
d)What are the plans for traffic along Bee Cave Road, 620 and 71?
e)How many Council meetings did you attend in the year before filing? Did you address Council?
f)What can be done to make the City more efficient and accountable?
g)Would you support leaving the LTYA Field of Dreams as zoned “public?”
h)What is your guidance to the LTISD School Board?
i)How do you envision the growth for the City of Bee Cave?
Chad Wilbanks- A resident of Bee Cave for 10 years with 3 children, married for 18 years. A member of the Lake Travis Leadership through the LTISD and Leadership through the Chamber of Commerce. President of LTYA building over $500,000.00 in the past two years. Supports trails, maintain low taxes, help small businesses. Benchmark and measure city services for accountability.
a) It doesn’t help to have vacant buildings. Regarding signs, we need to help the businesses when possible, but not in glaring, obnoxious ways. Small businesses help keep our taxes low; without small businesses, the big businesses don’t make it.
b) The comprehensive plan is a good document that is over 10 years and a lot of change has occurred. You need to take matters on a case by case basis.
c)Favor expansion of the library. However, it may not fall just on the City. There can be private/public partnerships with the community. Libraries are about community involvement and they encourage a life long habit of learning.
d)Bee Cave is at a crossroads both literally and figuratively. It is more than about fixing pot holes. We have to use ingenuity. Both TxDOT and the County Commissioner have been working out here to expand our roads and we must ensure the roads remain safe.
e)I have attended Council 6-7 meetings this year to discuss Hill Country Indoor Sports and LTYA issues.
f) Going back to my opening statement we need to benchmark city services. I don’t think businesses necessarily like to come here. Permitting is difficult. We need to listen to issues being raised by the small businesses.
g)That piece of land brings the entire community together as it is. In an ideal world keep it zoned public. However, we have to make sure it doesn’t become something such as apartments. Maybe we need a moratorium on apartments. If the Field of Dreams does sell, we need to address any potential zoning change with the residents of the Homestead.
h)The School Board is doing a good job right now.
i)The Council has done a good job so far because Bee Cave is a family friendly place with dark skies. Trails tie communities together. When I envision the growth, we need to make sure that Bee Cave keeps families together with parks and trail systems. Lets also encourage the right type of businesses to come here.
Wrap up- There are a lot of issues before city hall. Will we become a city of concrete or maintain our hill country views? We have to partner with federal and state to protect our traffic infrastructure. I joined this race to ensure that our town remains family friendly. I am excited about what we’ve done and our promising future. Going forward, we need to take a business approach to government with accountability and benchmarking.
Jack McKool- Resident of Bee Cave for 13 years and on Council for past four years. Has always believed his votes are for the sensible reasonable. We have a shopping destination that needs to remain vibrant. We run a $6,000,000.00 dollar business. Two big issues: a lot of concern about development in our extra territorial jurisdiction and its resulting traffic. Believes his experience in how the City operates will assist in introducing home rule.
a) This issue goes back a while. Initially, he was against the signs and he was asked to remove his political signs from the property owned by the Shops. Then lately, he has learned the business end of the Shops and learned that anchor stores need the smaller stores and vice versa.
b)In the last 6-8 months the citizens have come forward and forced the City to look at the plan when making decisions. It is easy to make decisions when the seats are empty, but those who show up at the meetings help. The plan needs more work and needs to be more specific.
c)The City should be proud of the library and I would like to see it expanded. We need to know how big it needs to be in order to serve the community.
d)The City should commission an engineering study to determine what can be done about traffic. This is the biggest problem in West Travis County.
e)Has missed two meetings this year.
f)This is being addressed through contracting. It is a tough topic.
g)Keep it public, but we aren’t the owner.
h)Concerned about traffic.
i)I would be happy to see no more major developments. I would like to see small estates and the things happening out Hamilton Pool Road. Assuming home rule passes, we need to protect the neighbors from adverse development and land use. We aren’t in the land business.
Wrap-up- I would like to focus on where we are. People are coming. Falconhead West sold out quickly, one of the fastest in central Texas. People want to be here. The library, school district, shopping. We have problems, but we live in a great town with people making the best they could with difficult situations. We pushed the limits to get what we think the people need. We have a nice City.
Bill Goodwin- has lived in Bee Cave for 15 years and been on Council for 8 years. Has been in the voting minority for all 8 years. He does not want to vote with the group or figure out how to make a project work. He wants to work on behalf of the entire City. It isn’t fun, nor is it easy. He is a reluctant candidate, but believes he is valuable to the Council. The confidence of the Council is indicated by his appointment to the PUA. The comprehensive plan is a key issue.
a)I voted against the signs. What was promised was no signs. These signs will stand out like a sore thumb when they are built. It was 4-1 vote in favor of the signs. I spoke against it and would do so again.
b)It is old, but its visions are coming true. Decisions made on an ad hoc basis are disasterous. You need to have a plan and consistent strategy.
c)Against many things, but big supporter of the library.
d)This is hard to answer because these aren’t City streets, they are state highways and we have limited control. We have control over the developments that spill on to the roads and that is a place we can focus. The outlook isn’t bright.
e)I attended Council meetings regularly prior to running 8 years ago. That is why I was hesitant to run to begin. It looked like a boring job.
f)Our staff is fantastic and handle a tremendous work load.
g)I would like to see the Field of Dreams remain public, but we don’t own it. We will have proposals given and we will have to chose the closest thing to public.
h)No particular advice to the school board.
i)Not sure what the question means- Bee Cave will continue to grow. The Council has some limited power to control growth, but the Council is more reactive in nature. The Council reacts to the projects that come before us. If the projects meet our requirements, we have little power to control them.
Wrap-up- I have witnessed unbelievable growth. Making promises is easy, standing up to pressure is not and we get a lot of it here. Do the candidates have the fortitude to stand up for those who aren’t here? I probably vote in favor of more variances than against, but I have a reputation of being against them. We have become possibly too liberal with our decisions. I know everything is not black and white. We need people on the Council who can say “no” under pressure.
Michelle Bliss- is a 15 year resident of Bee Cave, married with two sons in the school district. She has a professional background in Quality Assurance. She feels like she has watched the community grow up. She served on the March of Dimes, her neighborhood HOA, volunteering at the school (Lakepointe Elementary mascot). She has served on Planning and Zoning for 4 years and can immediately assist in City decisions. She researches projects and makes the best choice for the City. She is concerned about the LTYA property, the property behind and adjacent to the Bee Cave Baptist Church and unwanted uses that are threatening our neighborhoods. She has asked staff to include on the agenda transmittals to Planning and Zoning whether items comply or don’t comply with the comprehensive plan. She believes strongly in the community, farmers market, the Galleria amphitheatre, the library, parks and trails.
a) When the signs originally came through Planning and Zoning we knew that we had previously been told that you would not be able to see the shops through the trees that were supposed to be transplanted from the construction of the Galleria. But that did not happen. The trees did not grow because of the drought. Since then, you have seen the owner paint the backs of the buildings at the City’s request. I voted to approve the signs so that people could identify the stores in exchange for the owners making the presentation nicer.
b)The plan is a guide and some sections are more specific than others. Regarding variances, we should be careful, but if they meet the criteria and it takes us to something less dense it may work. We need to help small business when possible.
c)As one of the first members of the library when it was at the old City hall, I am concerned about the need for growth. If expansion can be made at reasonable cost, we should try to make it happen.
d)I had a conversation with a friend from Lakeway the other day. Traffic is a bad situation for everyone because all of the traffic is coming through Bee Cave. We need to focus on what can we do to improve it.
e)I have attended most Planning and Zoning meetings over the past four years and all Council meetings regarding the home rule charter. I have been attending meetings off and on since 1998 and attended all of the meetings regarding the Galleria, Kwik Kar, Planet K, Covert and other hot issues.
f)I believe that city staff is stretched thin at times, however over all they do a great job. As far as accountability, if we adopt home rule, it will take a vote of 4 to pass anything. This will foster more discussion on the issues and lead to more consensus. Change it only if the Homestead residents think it should be changed.
g)I would love to see the Field of Dreams remain public. If any change would occur, we should certainly consult the residents of the Homestead and make sure it is a good fit for the City overall.
h)Like the others, I am concerned with traffic. There are way too many multi-family locations with transient type residents that the school must plan for.
i)Trails are important for growth. Regarding looks, we need variation, texture and color.
Wrap-up- I am running for Council for the right reasons. I care about what happens to the City and I have no irons in the fire. I am very approachable and happy to speak to residents about issues as they arise.
Kara King- Has spent her recent life traveling with her husband who was in the Marine Corp. She has many experiences from many towns and she and her family chose Bee Cave because it reflected the values their family sought. They wanted a community where people would look out for each other. She believes that the City is traveling “off-base.” She can listen and compromise and help the Council through the growth.
a)She would listen to both side of the issue and consult the comprehensive plan. She would try to have the parties reach agreement. People who are out shopping need to know about the stores inside the Shops. They may not know about the smaller shops.
b)The Council that you elect will appoint the committee who will look at the plan in 2014. The plan should be their guide that isn’t being followed as of late. We have granted variances, but I need to know intent of the ordinance.
c)My choice within the budget would be to expand the library, but also look at its design. The restrooms are outside of the library where kids have to go outside where people are waiting to go to Court. This isn’t really safe.
d)Served on LTISD Bond PAC and was proud to make the decision to move the elementary school on Highway 71 due to traffic concerns and then was frustrated when we saw Cielo come in across from Falconhead. We can be proactive as a City.
e) Attended many meetings this year regarding Falconhead West issues, Covert and the home rule charter.
f)Our staff is overworked. Our Councilmembers are volunteers. We need more staff.
g) Unless the Homestead residents all tell us to change it, I absolutely would not vote to change the zoning from public use.
h)Concerned with traffic and growth.
i)This is the most passionate part of my compaign. Our growth will change a lot in the next 5 years. We have to protect the nature, synergy and aesthetics of our town. This must look like a small hill country community that is authentic.
Wrap-up- I am not a politician, but I am running because I care. I put my own needs aside to help people who need it. To be proactive, you must have energy and drive and I have both.
Paul Kline- Has been here for four years. He and his wife have 6 children and is very reliant on our schools. He has lived in multiple locations across the country and abroad. He is here long-term now and interested in helping the City manage the growth that is coming. Texas is a great place to live and Austin and the surrounding areas like Bee Cave are growing. More and more people want to live here or past us to the west. The key is how we manage this. His observation is that we have been micro-focused and may have missed the bigger picture. Home rule is a good example of how the City is behind. We could have moved to home rule faster, but we weren’t proactive enough.
a)He was not involved in that process. It is hard to second guess what was done. We have a major shopping center in the middle of the community. It was probably a hard vote for some that have lived here a long time, but easier on those that moved here later. We have to keep in mind that some people moved here because of the shops.
b) I believe the plan is vague and needs to be more specific. As an example, the plan references the “walkability” of the City. If there is a plan around that, we need to figure it out. We need to adjust or figure out what it means.
c)I do not like spending money. I would like to minimize our expenses that we spend. Can we cooperate with another locale? We may need to spend the money somewhere else.
d)There isn’t much to do about the traffic situation. Is concerned about our ratio of growth and multi-family and we need to watch what is happening in the ETJ.
e)Was involved in home rule discussions. His purpose is not to solve the Covert problem, but to ensure we don’t have the problem again.
f)We need more folks on our staff.
g)Short answer is yes. But we need to engage the people that live there. Are there other options that are good for everyone? You can’t take an existing piece and surprise the neighborhood with something radically different.
h)Moved here because of the school system.
i)Our boundry is restricted. The key is figuring out the right mix from a development stand point. Limit severely the multi-family. Be responsible with the areas that are going to grow.
Wrap-up- it is easy to arm chair quarterback the decisions on the Council. I know there are a lot of people who can complain. There are a lot of good things that have come about. I think pro-activity is missing with individual businesses- but how can we drive development. We can do better at this. The fact is that we should have seen the home rule issue before we did. The high density housing in the ETJ effects what happens in the City. We don’t have enough people on staff. I can help add a proactive nature to the Council.