Sunday, September 30, 2007

More Sierra Club Survey Questions/Answers

Here are questions 2, 3, and 4 (of 8) from the Sierra Club Candidate Survey with my responses. I hope you will consider your own personal position on each of these issues - and share it with city council by email, letter, phone, or by commenting at an upcoming council meeting. Council needs to know where the community stands on these important community issues. Here is where I stand on the issues of improving local transportation, marketing locally produced foods, and promoting energy efficient building construction.

I will post the other four questions with my answers in the next several days. So, be sure to bookmark this site and visit again. Some of these issues will be addressed at the upcoming candidate forum at city hall at 7:00 pm on Oct. 3. Perhaps you can share your thoughts on some of these issues with council candidates then.

2) Do you have any proposals for the improvement of transportation in the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County and University of Virginia?

Yes. Below are several proposals I have been promoting over the past several years and will promote if I am elected to city council.

2.1 I am a strong advocate for expansion of pedestrian, bicycle, and public transportation opportunities throughout our region. I believe that the concept of an expanded trolley system connecting Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the University of Virginia should be explored in greater detail along with expanded bus service throughout our region.

2.2 I also have advocated for establishment of a true regional transportation authority that includes not only Charlottesville and Albemarle County as currently being proposed, but also including the surrounding counties (Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa, Nelson) that are part of our planning district. These jurisdictions contribute many vehicle trips to and from the Charlottesville and Albemarle County urbanized area that need to be considered in our regional transportation planning.

2.3 I propose expanded development of pedestrian and bicycle paths that connect residential, shopping, and employment centers in our area. Some of these types of facilities have been recently constructed and I will support continued – if not expanded – development of pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

3) The City of Charlottesville has sought to promote local marketing of locally produced foods. Are there any steps you believe the City should take to support local production and sale of healthful foods?

Yes, I believe that a permanent home for our city market needs to be established. I prefer that one market location be in the Charlottesville downtown area accessible to potential pedestrian and bicycle travelers. Additional market areas in other locations, and on different market days will also enhance marketing of local foods and provide added benefits to our environment, community health and our local economy.

4) Solar building design provides a means of reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the City. Are there any steps you would like to see the City take to further promote energy-efficient building design?

Yes. I believe that the city should promote use of solar building technology in all of its own buildings and explore use of these technologies when new buildings are designed and when building reconstruction and renovation projects are done. I also will promote establishment of energy reduction incentives to encourage private builders to use solar or other greenhouse gas reducing technologies in non-governmental buildings. These incentives could be included as guidelines for planned urban developments that require planning commission and city council approvals before necessary rezoning decisions.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sierra Club Endorses Local Candidates at City Hall This Morning

The Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club held a press conference this morning in front of Charlottesville's City Hall to encourage voters to consider supporting candidates who have demonstrated a strong commitment to environmental stewardship. I am happy to report that I was one of the candidates endorsed by the Piedmont Group. Their Endorsements of candidates in Local Races notice is posted on their website.

I have been actively involved both professionally and as an involved citizen in environmental issues since accepting a position right out of college in the National Air Pollution Control Administration in 1970 - just after the passage of the Clean Air Act of 1970. I am committed to ensuring actions taken by city council will always consider environmental sensitivity and will encourage input from the environmental community in helping the city work toward achieving its environmental sustainability vision.

To help you understand why the Piedmont Group selected me for endorsement, I will post over the next several days the eight questions with my answers in the Sierra Club's Survey of Candidates that were used as a part of the endorsement decision. The first question is of particular interest in that an item (including a public hearing) related to possibly granting a construction easement to VDOT for the McIntire Road Extended project through McIntire Park is on city council's October 1, 2007 agenda. So, here is question 1 (of 8):

1) What is your position on the Meadowcreek Parkway?

My Answer:

I am opposed to the development of the Meadowcreek Parkway (which I believe officially consists of three components: 1) the Meadow Creek Parkway project in Albemarle County; 2) the McIntire Road Extended project in Charlottesville, and the Route 250 Bypass Interchange at McIntire Road project also in Charlottesville). I have actively been involved in the community discussion about the project development process itself as well as the scope and design of this project and the impacts it will likely have on our local environment. In general, I believe that this project was designed to solve transportation problems of the 1960’s, but that this project is not a viable solution to our transportation problems of the present and future.

1.1 The Project Development Process:

McIntire Park is a public park protected under section 4(f) of the U.S. Department of Transportation Act that prohibits use of public parkland for highway development if federal funds are used except in very limited circumstances that do not apply in this case. I contend that the interchange and the McIntire Road Extended projects must be considered under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) as one project, and that development of this project as independent segments is not in compliance with these federal statues.

I have suggested to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the local Metropolitan Planning organization, and the city of Charlottesville that this project should be developed as one project and considered along with other alternative transit and roadway projects (such as a possible Eastern Connector between northern and eastern Albemarle County) in their ability to meet our current and future transportation needs.

1.2 Environmental Impacts of the Parkway project:

Building a highway of this type through our major parkland will have many negative impacts in the community as well as in use of the park itself. The roadway improvements will be elevated above the surrounding terrain and will generate a significant increases in traffic noise in surrounding neighborhoods and the park. My own noise analysis using FHWA noise assessment modeling tools indicates that the entire eastern portion of the park will be too noisy for quiet activities in the park. The anticipated noise levels will be only consistent with active recreation (e.g. sport activities) if the parkway is constructed as currently envisioned. Only a small portion of the eastern section of the park is currently experiencing traffic noise levels not suitable for quiet activities.

Other environmental impacts include increased stormwater and roadway runoff entering the environmentally sensitive Schenk’s Branch that is immediately adjacent to the proposed roadway, disturbance of 20 to 30 acres of parkland through regrading in the vicinity of Schenk’s Branch. No satisfactory solution for the handling of the stormwater in McIntire park resulting from this project has yet been engineered.

1.3 Traffic related impacts of the Parkway project:

As currently proposed, the project is anticipated to carry about 20,000 additional vehicles total into and out of the north downtown area of Charlottesville. McIntire Road, which is currently a heavily congested road, will carry those vehicles destined for downtown Charlottesville leading to further increased congestion. I anticipate that this congestion will lead to increased cut-through traffic in neighborhoods north of downtown and will result in congestion in other areas of Charlottesville as well.

The proponents of this project have not adequately demonstrated that this project – even if moved forward in compliance with federal regulations – provides identifiable transportation benefits consistent with the multi-million dollar cost of the project. I believe our transportation future would be far better if these resources were reprogrammed to other more beneficial transit, bicycle, pedestrian, and roadway system improvements.

* * * * *

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Passion for Policy?

The Daily Progress published a story by Seth Rosen today entitled "Ex-professor has passion for policy" based on an interview at Cafe Cubano on the downtown mall over coffee a few weeks ago. If you didn't see it in the paper, it is all available online - except for the photo (that I think is a wonderful photograph of me taken outside the Senior Center on Pepsi Drive just before the recent Senior Statesmen of Virginia Candidate Showcase). Seth Rosen does a great job covering news in Charlottesville, and I enjoyed chatting with him about my candidacy and the issues I am focusing on in the campaign. I think he has captured much of what I offer as a candidate for council and the spirit of my candidacy in the article and I hope you will take a few minutes to read through it. One of the enjoyable parts of being a council candidate is getting to know many of the print, web, radio and television journalists covering the campaign. I truly look forward to seeing these folks along the 'campaign trail'.

Fry's Springs Candidate Forum is Online

Charlottesville Tomorrow has just posted its audio podcast of the Fry's Springs Candidate Forum with all five council candidates statements and answers to the eleven questions from the audience. They also provide a brief text summary of the answers by candidates for each of the eleven questions asked to provide a quick comparison among the candidates' positions in the posting entitled City Council candidates discuss cut-through traffic, budget at Fry's Spring Forum. A video of the event will be available soon, too, but as the photo above shows, the lighting was not as bright as likely needed for crisp video. I thought the questions from the audience covered a broad range of issues - most of which are issues throughout the entire City, not just in the Fry's Springs neighborhood.

I do encourage you to attend one of the upcoming forums (Oct. 3, Oct.10, and Oct. 17 - all on Wednesday evenings) to participate in the questioning and to see the candidates in person. But, if you can't get to any of these, I strongly recommend that you visit Charlottesville Tomorrow regularly to check out their text, audio, and video postings of these events. Brian Wheeler, Sean Tubbs and Kendall Singleton (the staff at Charlottesville Tomorrow) are providing terrific coverage of the council candidate events. Their coverage provides voters with the best opportunity ever to make informed choices among the candidates on election day - November 6. I am truly impressed with the quality of their work and how quickly they make the material they produce available to the public.

NOTE: photo above linked from the Charlottesville Tomorrow Weblog.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Better Analysis Needed on YMCA Proposal

The discussion about whether Charlottesville should have swimming and other recreation services provided by the YMCA in McIntire Park, or should invest in its own facilities seems to be primarily focused on comparing the capital costs of the alternatives - but I believe it is essential to compare both the costs and benefits over the full life cycle of these facilities. I was pleased that Councilor Kendra Hamilton expressed this concern at the most recent council meeting, but I am not confident that this information will be considered - if even developed by staff - before a decision on the YMCA proposal is reached by council. One of the advantages of having a Triple-A bond rating is that large capital investments can be made with money borrowed at favorable interest rates. Spread over the life of the projects, even at higher capital costs, replacing the pools may have significantly higher recreational benefit and may well be superior to the YMCA alternative.

I am very interested to see what the cost and benefit streams would be for a twenty year (or whatever is appropriate) period under the competing alternatives. Certainly the capital cost of replacing the city pools is higher than having the YMCA provide much of the capital investment, but the city would then have the ability to provide recreation services to more people for more hours every day. Without some reasonable life cycle analysis, I don't see how the economics and recreation benefits to our community of the alternatives can be adequately compared.

If capital cost was our only consideration, we would always choose the alternative with the lowest initial investment. One doesn't need to study economics to know that this is not always the best investment strategy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fry's Springs Neighborhood Association Council Candidate Forum on Thursday, Sept. 20

The Fry's Springs Neighborhood Association is holding a City Council Candidate Forum on Thursday Sept. 20 at 7:00 pm at the Fry's Springs Beach Club. All five council candidates are planning to attend - and I hope you will consider attending, too. There will be brief statements by the candidates and an opportunity for audience members to ask questions.

Charlottesville Tomorrow has a schedule of election events posted on its website and information about all the candidates as well.

If you can't attend this or other upcoming forums, you can view the Senior Statesmen of Virginia Candidate Showcase video that is now available through Charlottesville Tomorrow. This video includes brief statements and responses to audience questions from all of the Charlottesville city council candidates and all of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisor candidates on the November 6, 2007 ballot.

Monday, September 17, 2007

On the Hot Seat - Check out the HooK story online.

In case you haven't seen the Sept. 13 issue of the HooK and seen the HOTSEAT article by Lisa Provence entitled Outspoken: Squeaky wheel runs for council, why not click here to see the story online. I do hope you are more interested in my qualifications for candidacy and ideas for city council than what is in my refrigerator or my favorite book - after all I would love for you to support my run for council, and come out on Nov. 6 to vote for me on that basis. Also, I hope you will chat with your friends about the upcoming election and who among the candidates will best move Charlottesville forward.

The photo to the left is the one posted on the web as part of the article - taken by Jen Fariello for the HooK. I thoroughly enjoyed cruising the downtown library, East Market Street and the downtown mall with Jen finding photo opportunities and chatting about a broad range of topics - including issues in the city council campaign. I am delighted that one of the shots on the mall was the featured photo because I believe the downtown mall is the heart of Charlottesville and a place I spend a great deal of my time.

I also enjoyed being on the HOTSEAT and being interviewed by Lisa Provence. I have read dozens of previous HOTSEAT articles and now I am the latest one in that series. I do hope you will read it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Charflottesville Tomorrow's Council Candidate Interviews Now Online

Charlottesville Tomorrow recently interviewed all of the city council candidates on a broad range of topics (there were 17 questions in all) and is posting them online for all interested voters to hear as podcasts. Transcripts of the interviews are also to be posted soon. To hear my interview, link to Candidate Interview - Peter Kleeman. It runs just under one hour. Of course, you may wish to listen to the other candidate interviews as well to get a feeling for where each candidate stands on issues related to growth, water supply, transportation, responsible government, city - county - university cooperation, and related topics.

I thoroughly enjoyed the interview with Kendall Singleton and Sean Tubbs of the Charlottesville Tomorrow staff. I look forward to hearing the interviews with the other candidates myself as time permits. Some of the interview material will be included in the voter guide that Charlottesville Tomorrow will be mailing to voters before the election. So, if you don't get to hear all the podcasts, you will get a glimpse of the interview responses in the voter guide.

Will $41.1 Million Mitigate Biscuit Run Impacts

Jeremy Borden's Sept. 14, 2007 Daily Progress article "Developers ready to build: Officials glad long debate over Biscuit Run has been finalized," states that "the proffers that were accepted will likely be one of Biscuit Run’s lasting effects. What supervisors deemed worthy or unworthy for proffer credit will be a model for area developers and may serve in the near future as the policy itself."

I question if this is the right way to establish a proffer policy. Charlottesville Tomorrow has provided terrific coverage of the proffer discussion related to the Biscuit Run project and it is not clear that $41.1 Million will even cover the transportation improvements needed to accommodate the project. You can see VDOT's analysis of Biscuit Run proffers which I believe underestimates the true transportation cost impact of the project. I provided comments to that posting showing that $32 million may be needed to improve Route 20 alone as a direct result of the Biscuit Run project (because no widening of Route 20 would be needed without the project).

I believe Albemarle County supervisors should resist having the process used in 'negotiating' Biscuit Run proffers be the model for future proffer decision-making, but instead develop a project specific approach to evaluating actual needs (and the associated costs) to mitigate future project impacts.

County taxpayers will be the ones footing the bill for all of the additional infrastructure needs not adequately covered by proffers, and I believe these costs are likely to be substantial.

Charlottesville and Albemarle County staff would do well to work together and determine an objective way of analyzing impacts from these large rezoning projects to ensure that current residents are not paying more than a fair share of the very high costs of growth.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Submit Comments Without Registering

Several readers of this Kleeman for Council blog opted not to leave comments because of the need to do a one time registration as a commenter. Apparently, this is the default setting on Blogspot.Com. So, to encourage more comments from readers, I have just figured out how to allow comments from anybody without registering. I hope this works. This blogging thing is a new thing for me, so I am learning as I go. This is also true in running for office as an independent candidate - a great learning experience.

So, feel free to comment on any of my postings. I hope this works better for my readers.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club Endorses Peter Kleeman for City Council

I was delighted to get a notice from the local Sierra Club that I have been endorsed by them as a candidate for city council. Their decision to endorse candidates was "based on review and discussion of a host of factors, including past performances in public life and responses to our survey questionnaire."

I have been actively involved in a broad range of environmental issues as a federal and Commonwealth of Virginia staff member, as a faculty member at the University of Virginia, as an independent consultant, and as an involved citizen in Charlottesville. I can assure you that respect for our environment will be a concern for me in all decisions I make should I become your city councilor.

I have always enjoyed working with members of the Sierra Club and look forward to working with them in the future. The announcement has not yet appeared on the Piedmont Group Sierra Club website, but I hope you will check there later to see their announcement when it gets posted.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Candidate Showcase Happening September 12

The Senior Statesmen of Virginia will host a Candidates Showcase featuring the candidates for the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and the Charlottesville City Council. All candidates - including me - will make a brief statement and then the session will be open for questions from attendees. I hope you will attend this session and bring your questions for the candidates. This meeting is open to all interested members of the public.

Meeting Announcement:

Candidate Forum
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
1:30 pm - 3:30 pm
The Senior Center on Pepsi Place

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Sarah Hendley Takes Action to Preserve Pen Park

Here are two photos to complement my previous blog entry showing Sarah Hendley taking action in her effort to preserve Pen Park by speaking out at a recent Charlottesville- Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Policy Board Meeting. The MPO must approve use of all federal transportation money for projects or studies in our urbanized area. These photos are provided provided courtesy of the Charlottesville Tomorrow weblog.

You can provide your thoughts on local and regional transportation planning issues to the MPO at its regularly scheduled monthly meeting. The MPO meeting schedule is available along with meeting agendas and background material on the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission website. Time for presentation on matters from the public are provided at the beginning and end of each MPO Policy Board meetings.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Public Involvement Does Make a Difference

I wish I had a handy picture to post of Sarah Hendley wearing her "Preserve Pen park" sandwich board roaming through the city market or other event collecting well over 1000 signatures on a petetion to keep the proposed Eastern Connector roadway out of Pen Park. Her many months of effort appear to have made a difference. Charlottesville Tommorow posted a summary of a recent Eastern Connector Steering Committee meeting entitled "Pen Park route not among Eastern Connector alternatives." Not one of the eleven proposed roadway alignments by PBS&J (the project consultants) goes through Pen Park. A Pen Park alignment was previously a favorite among promoters of the road.

Pen Park has two different protections against being used as a highway alignment under federal law. First, most of the park was developed using federal funds available through the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act signed by President Lyndon Johnson limiting use of that facility to other parkland or conservation land; and second, all public parkland is protected against use by a federally funded roadway project where other alignments are feasible and practicable under Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966.

PBS&J project leader Lewis Grimm is quoted in the Charlottesville Tomorrow posting saying "it would be hard to convince the federal government that the use of parkland would be justified. Section 4(f) of the National Environmental Policy Act requires planners to show that all other alternatives have been considered before parkland can be used." Perhaps PBS&J would have made the same recommendation without Sarah Hendley's "Preserve Pen Park" campaign, but I think she clearly raised the issue to a point where it required a clear statement like that given by Grimm. This is the first time these protections were actually cited as a reason to avoid the park to my knowledge in the development of this project.

There are other parks threatened by highway projects in our region and I hope other project consultants, steering committees, and project proponents get this clear message - that parks are very special parcels of land and are given and worthy of these protections. This is a terrific example of the difference one knowledgeable and committed individual (with a bit of help from others, too) can have on our community. But the work must continue. I am sure I will see Sarah Hendley collecting more support from local residents and I will be there to help in any way that I can. Perhaps you can get involved in working for a better future too - there is plenty of work to go around. Any chance we can get PBS&J to provide their thoughts on the Route 250 Bypass at McIntire Road Interchange project that will (along with McIntire Road Extended) use a significant part of McIntire Park for a roadway and a federally funded Interchange.

Providing opportunities for the public to participate in projects like this is one of my key themes in my city council campaign. Meaningful public input shouldn't require effort of the magnitude provided by Sarah Hendley. If elected to council, I will work to bring all responsible members of the public into the conversation from beginning to end. I believe this is essential in finding the best solutions to our community's needs.