Charles S. Morales
Incumbent Candidate City Council of Gilroy
AA Gavilan College
BA University of California, Santa Cruz
MA Psych/Ed. USF/Santa Clara
Family members:Three daughters, ages 38, 36 and 24. Seven grandchildren, raising two in my household, four grandchildren attending Gilroy High School.
Years in Gilroy: 58 years in Gilroy, attended K -12 schools in Gilroy.
Occupation/employer name/years worked:
Retired Supervising Probation Officer, Santa Clara County (37 years)
Clinical Director (12 years)
Past council/commission experience and term dates:
Elected Gilroy City Council 1992
Gilroy, CA 95020
List of endorsements:
• 28th District Assembly member – Honorable Simon Salinas
• Board of Supervisors:
• Honorable James T. Beall, Jr. – Santa Clara County
Honorable Pete McHugh – Santa Clara County
• Honorable Anthony Botelho – San Benito County
• Honorable Tony Campos – Santa Cruz County
• Honorable Judge Ron Del Pozzo – Santa Clara County
• Gilroy Unified School Board – Honorable Jamie Rosso
• Gilroy Unified School Board – Honorable T. J. Owens, PhD
• Council members/Mayors/Commissioners
• Honorable Mayor Richard Ortiz – Soledad
• Honorable Mayor Ana Ventura – Phares – Watsonville
• Honorable Mayor Pauline Valdivia – Hollister
• Council Member Greg Sellers – Morgan Hill
• Commissioner John Mc Lemore – MTC
• South County Democratic Club
• Santa Clara County Democratic Party
• League of Conservation Voters, (service club, open space)
Why are you running for city council?
It’s an honor to serve our community. My goal is to build a greater City of Gilroy and to strengthen the Quality of Life for all Gilroyans.
I believe that Public Safety enhances neighborhoods, schools, business, and jobs. I support economic vitality and housing needs for the community.
As a proponent of Smart Growth, we have improved environmental quality regarding water, air, transportation and land use. By formulating policies to achieve these goals without raising taxes, we have enhanced property values.
With the implementation of the General, Downtown, Master/Specific and Service Plans, we have provided efficient infrastructures for sewer, streets, parks, and administrative services.
I have built on partnerships with schools, colleges, businesses, and non-profit agencies. My investments in youth, our new Cultural Center, fine arts, our new sports complex, veteran’s issues, and our CalStar Emergency Rescue Helicopter, which I single handedly arranged for the construction of a new emergency backup heliport for, have enhanced the citizenry’s vitality.
The preservation of historical sites, agricultural and cultural diversity is the heritage of Gilroy.
We need to create a vision toward exploring a University site for the South County to focus on BioMedical Technology Studies. We can create such a campus through public private partnerships that do not increase taxes.
We need new development incentives that support solar and green concepts without increasing local taxes.
What qualifies you to represent the citizens of Gilroy and why are you the best candidate?
Through my 12 year tenure as a Councilmember, I have served in 24 Subcommittees some of which are listed below.
• Pajaro Valley Watershed Flood Prevention Authority
• South County Wastewater Regional authority
• Perchlorate Community Advisory Group
• League of California Cities Latino Caucus Board of Directors
• Historical Society Committee of Gilroy
• Housing Element
My other associated subcommittees are focused on families, health, adolescents, schools, childcare, Gilroy Unified School District Planning and neighborhood associations.
What are the three biggest challenges facing Gilroy and how would you address them?
The three challenges facing Gilroy are:
1. Budget – Keeping the budget balanced and services providing infrastructures intact. Keeping the City’s public safety services efficient and the response level superior to the needs of our public.
a. Regarding the Budget: I have been a proponent of being involved with the State assisted League of California Cities as Gilroy’s delegate to Lobby for the passage of Proposition 1A. The Cities of California were united in delivering to the Governor a message against financial take-a ways (Vehicle License Fees) and other fees that support public safety at the local levels. The shortfalls have created local budget instabilities. It is currently the responsibility of the cities to prioritize service. Currently our general fund receives $37.2 Million in revenues and we are currently spending $41.7, leaving a deficit of $4.5 million dollars.
b. Revenues: sales tax make $14.3 million or 38.4% of all general fund revenue.
c. Expenditures are as follows:
• Administration 9.46% total expense
• Police 42.37%
• Community Service 13.68%
• Community Development 14.78%
• Capital 1.28%
• Administration 7.39%
• Police 49.07%
• Community Service 14.82%
• Community Development 5.46%
• Capital 1.54%
Long term projected issues:
• Deficits project into the next decade – with revenues to be exhausted in the 2011 – 2012 area.
As Councilmembers, we learn to be responsible for the current revenues and not the projected future revenues. If our projected revenues increase this will assist us with our general funds.
These are the trends of our budget facts:
• I understand the triggers as we have created interval & tiers to prioritize our City services. Currently we have adopted the reality model that will enable us to work with the current level of service with some adjustment through out our service providing departments. If the triggers of more tore take a ways from the state of loss of revenues the following tier factors are in place, the current council will revisit the priorities and assess future cuts across the board. We have cut the “soft” public services before the hard financial services of each department.
• I will be a proponent of revisiting our partnership in assessing where the City can recover lost revenues. I will direct staff to evaluate where City services are used the most and evaluate if there is NEXUS where revenues can be recovered, i.e., business improvement district connecting the downtown to the east 101 business corridor and or a public safety district. A significant number of our Police calls are utilized throughout these business corridors in tragic, robbery, theft, etc versus neighborhood patrol. I believe there can be a NEXUS to recover lost revenues by assessing a fee within the BI.D. a significant of assessed district will be paid by our visitors instead of our local residents.
• I believe with the consensus of the Council and a committed partnership with the business and community we can revisit the programs such as T.O.T. transit occupant tax. I would direct staff to study this in neighboring regional cities and evaluate their T.O.T., hotel/motel tax. Cities are creative to sustain their budget by the T.O.T. with our tourist amenities and location, our hotels and motels are doing well; therefore our visitors support our revenues.
• As a Council, we need to work together to evaluate the different concepts that can assist our local economy and revenue.
• Realistically to sustain the budget and financial constraints we must request and be proactive of no new city projects and be proactive in requesting the development community for community benefits, dedication of city improvements and mandate city improvement of infrastructures in order for new development to occur. I will be proactive in requesting the development community to assist the city with our projects.
2. Keeping the cities public safety services effective and the response level superior to the needs of the public.
• As a proponent of public safety there is a NEXUS between economic vitality, education and healthy & safe neighborhoods. The quality of life is based on how safe a community is. This has been my goal since 1992 and if we can provide a safe environment, then everyone prospers: our schools, neighborhoods, businesses and our citizens. To attract, retain and expand our economic infrastructure, we must provide quality public safety services. As citizens, let us evaluate our neighboring cities where crime is unmanageable and communities are not safe. It is my belief that in the City of Gilroy, we are blessed with a good public safety system that has made us safe in our neighborhoods, schools, and businesses and will strengthen our industry forecast.
3. Growth and environment elements meshed with the interests of our City’s needs.
• I’m a proponent of smart growth and concentric development. It is important to keep the momentum of developing infill projects and the downtown district. Growth needs to be kept within the infrastructures of the City while providing services such as streets, sidewalks, sewers, and public safety. We also need to continue the neighborhood districts, specific plans and master plans. We have set up the limits within the RDO with a specific focus needs of the exempt categories in order for the city to continue the smart growth concept, infill and density projects must be supported to prevent sprawl. We cannot contradict the policies in which prior city councils set forth. We need to support the policies and priorities that are rebuilding the downtown, transit orientated housing and growth needs to be kept in balance and concentric.
• Environmentally friendly development needs to be promoted and supported. Currently the Governor is making environmental (solar) friendly development a priority. Within the City of Gilroy, we must promote environmentally friendly projects, concepts and recreational infrastructures to support a healthy community. Our environment needs to be protected with air, water and local use concepts integrated. I’m a proponent of the environment in regards to air quality, water and agricultural land & open space preservation.
• Jobs / Economy Seeking partnerships with Silicone Valley to attack prevailing wage industries while retaining, expanding and attacking new economic opportunities.
I’m a proponent of good jobs and continue to support a health environment. It’s paramount to create jobs with prevailing wages for our residents. I have been involved with the Silicon Manufacturing Group in lobbying for our local economy. Having environmentally friendly industry is a priority to keep our residents employed and for residents to live in their own home in Gilroy. I’m optimistic that industry will move to Gilroy. I’m proud of our light industry and industrial campus that I have supported. The local economy needs to be stimulated for our city to support the infrastructure we have created.
Do you have a financial rescue plan in the event the fire union wins most or all of its demands in the current arbitration process? How serious is this issue?
Yes, I do have a plan.
This is one of the top three most serious issues facing the City of Gilroy.
• I understand the triggers as we have created interval of tiers to prioritize our City services. Currently we have adopted the reality model that will enable us to work with the current level of service with some adjustment through out our service providing departments. If the triggers of more take-a-ways from the state create a loss of revenues the tier factors are in place. The council will revisit the priorities and assess future cuts across the board. We have cut the “soft” public services before the hard financial services of each department.
• I will be a proponent of revisiting our partnerships assessing where the City can recover lost revenues. I will direct staff to evaluate where City services are used the most and evaluate if there is NEXUS where revenues can be recovered, i.e., business improvement district connecting the downtown to the east 101 business corridor and or a public safety district. A significant number of our Police calls are utilized throughout these business corridors in traffic enforcement, robbery, theft, etc., versus neighborhood patrols. I believe there can be a NEXUS to recover lost revenues by assessing a fee within the B.I.D. A significant share of the assessed district fees will be paid by our visitors instead of our local residents.
• I believe with the consensus of the Council and a committed partnership with business and our community that we can revisit the programs such as the transient occupancy tax. I would direct staff to study this in neighboring regional cities and evaluate their T.O.T., hotel/motel tax. Cities are creative in sustaining their budget by the T.O.T. Considering our tourist amenities and location and the fact that our hotels and motels are doing relatively well; our visitors might easily support our revenue needs with no new taxes for the voters of Gilroy. A transit occupancy tax should only affect hotel rooms, not any other business, and could provide better public safety for our citizens.
• As a Council, we need to work together to evaluate the different concepts that can assist our local economy and revenue.
• Realistically to sustain the budget and financial constraints we must request and be proactive for no new major city projects and be proactive in requesting the development community for more community benefits associated with their projects. Dedication of city improvements and mandated city improvements of infrastructure should be a prerequisite in order for new development to occur. I will be proactive in requesting the development community to assist the city with our projects.
Should the city consider switching to contracting for county fire service?
Why or why not?
No, we should not consider such an option.
A city that is doubling in size every decade or two must have Police and Fire protection that is custom fitted to the needs of its people. The people of Gilroy must decide where new Fire Stations will be built, how area Policing is conducted, and when and where our children are protected. We can not rely on a county official in San Jose to do what is best for the people of Gilroy, as our own Chief of Police and Fire Chief now do.
We must have our own officials coordinating with other area agencies to prepare for a catastrophic earthquake or other disaster so that we can protect our people even in the worst of times.
Does the city–s residential development ordinance need to be updated to better meet growth needs?
If so, how specifically?
• The RDO has been a tool for the city to manage and create responsible growth. As we continue to grow and develop into a city, we need to meet the demands of today’s development. We are substantially meeting the needs of our affordable housing mandates via public private partnerships that do not increase our taxpayer’s burdens. The RDO exempt categories have managed focused growth on infill, density, and for seniors and below market rate housing. We need to continue our support of market and below market rate housing. South County Housing continues to be a critical component in keeping our housing elements intact. Credits and points should continue for our downtown corridor housing and retail development. This should be a special district for development. We need to continue the momentum for our small builders and developers. The Downtown District needs to be lengthened and extended throughout Monterey Street. I’m a proponent of continuing our transit-orientated housing through the downtown corridor.
• We need to rebuild, remodel and improve the infrastructures of: un-reinforced masonry buildings, streets, sidewalks, lights, curbs and gutters with development in our downtown. A significant amount of unfunded liabilities are in the downtown area. With development stimulating our old corridor sections of Gilroy, improvements can occur at the expense of the developer and not the City. This plan can decrease some of the City’s $50 million unfunded liabilities.
• We need to explore new innovative programs to award points for sprinklers, solar and green building development. We also need to adjust the competition within the RDO for programs for market rate developers to dedicate lands for below market rate housing. We have already passed legislation to increase and mandate a percentage of 15% to 20% of homes be affordable to lower and moderate-income households so that our children can continue to afford to live in Gilroy.
• We need to create options for market rate developers to partnership with South County Housing to provide housing types such as duets, town homes, bungalows, and condominiums. We need to explore other incentives within our RDO to find in lieu fees programs, funding trust funds and zoning to meet the needs of housing.
• The number limits should be visited on a case by need basis to confirm our demands for our housing element.
Should the downtown area be exempted from the RDO in order to preserve redevelopment momentum?
We should continue to move forward with our fee waiver program. I support the concept of creating a special downtown Development District that provides incentives for revitalization without any cost to Gilroy taxpayers.
Should the city set spending limits for local elections?
I am relatively comfortable with the current limits, which require that no more than 50cents per citizen be spent. However this is an issue that we should regularly revisit, if the citizens of Gilroy wish this issue to be more closely reviewed, I would also support this.
The affordable housing index has been set at 15% for new housing projects?
Is that the right percentage, why or why not?
The affordable housing index is currently set for 15% for new housing projects. We have to be mindful that the City of Gilroy, according to Federal HUD standards has the lowest income levels throughout the Santa Clara County. Within our partnership with South County Housing, we have tried to meet the State’s housing element. On a voluntary basis, I support that a market rate developer cooperate with the below market housing needs for our residents. The 15% of development shall not be clustered into one area; it should be integrated with in the developments. On a voluntary basis, some developers have proposed an additional 5% for a total of 20% affordable. I support credits or points in the RDO be considered on this bonus for developers during the competition.
What are the five most pressing capital improvements in the city of Gilroy?
How would you prioritize them?
• Completion of the three new parks under construction and soon to be completed for our long waiting residents of the Northwest, Country Estates, and Los Arroyos. These projects are long overdue for our new families.
• The completion of the Santa Teresa widening. This is an entry gateway for our city and is in need of completion. This completion would trigger improvements on Day Road and the connection of Santa Teresa north to Morgan Hill to lessen traffic on other thoroughfares.
• The widening of 6th street and building the bridge between Gilman Avenue, San Ysidro, and 6th Streets. We need to improve the traffic circulation within the internal parts of our city. We need to relieve 10th Street by completing the afore mentioned projects. These projects will create an entrance and exit for our residents to and from the Outlets and Regency Center and help with public safety, traffic congestion, air quality, and overall service & efficiency for our residents.
• Downtown Streetscape. We need to continue the partnership with the Downtown & Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Valley Transportation Authority, and our City. The momentum toward improving the downtown streetscape compliments the widening of the 6th Street bridge.
• The Arts and Cultural project momentum needs to be supported with our CIB target dates. It’s imperative to complete and compliment the corridor widening of 6th Street, the streetscape and the Cultural Center. These projects have been concepts from four years ago and are realities of today. We must soon start our construction for our residents who have waited so patiently.
• The Sports Complex will be for regional and City use. Sporting events are a component for economic vitality in that section of our community. It will enhance that part of our city.
Do you think the city should ask residents to pay for capital projects, such as storm drains and or sidewalk repair?
No, I believe with the momentum of the downtown streetscape, improvements on 6th street, and additional development throughout the central core of our City, that some of the unfunded liabilities will be met. Curb and gutters, sidewalks, streets, etc can all be improved without cost to our taxpayers and without robbing Peter to pay Paul by taking away from other vital city needs. It is important for us to continue with the sidewalk task force, we need to assess the partnerships and programs to improve our sidewalk issues. I believe in partnerships to assist with our City wide sidewalk issue. I have a plan to fund this program with no new or increased taxes levied upon the voters of Gilroy.
I am willing to ask and require new developments to dedicate funds for our city as a community benefit program earmarked for sidewalk improvements. We are at a point where new developments need to be a part of our community. In order to build in our city, they need to be part of our community’s visions and improvements. They need to help us on our sidewalks, streets, curbs, gutters, and tree improvements. We can negotiate with the developers.
Given the wide latitude the Supreme Court has given local governments regarding eminent domain, what is your position on its use? Please elaborate with examples.
I support individual’s property rights.
Do you believe LAFCO policies on annexation of –farmland– on the city–s edge is too restrictive, not restrictive enough, or about right?
I have been a friend to LAFCO through the participation of the South County with the County and the Agriculture Mitigation Programs to preserve open space. I believe that LAFCO is an agency that oversees land uses and protects cities from urban sprawl. Having said that, the City of Gilroy is in a favorable position, now better than before, with LAFCO because of my leadership, negotiating, and diplomacy. We can partner with LAFCO instead of alienating LAFCO as has happened in the past. I’m a proponent of responsible growth and smart growth land use concepts. We need to stay on course and cooperate with the LAFCO policies. I also have expressed that LAFCO needs to assist the cities vision of it’s autonomy on land uses.
LAFCO has policies of not creating islands surrounded by residential development. They need to show some flexibility in allowing our City annexation that is contiguous to our urban service areas. LAFCO representatives will be asked to meet with me and tour the sites that are inconsistent with LAFCO policies. Since I am a representative to other joint authorities committees, I would like to use my position to negotiate with LAFCO. LAFCO policies need to be flexible regarding our cities land uses. In my 12-year tenure, I have networked as a City representative with the LAFCO authorities on the Santa Clara County Agricultural taskforce, and on the Agricultural Mitigation Program.
Would you support having a High Speed Rail Authority stop in or near Gilroy?
Yes, but the cost must be first approved after the taxpayers of our state have had the chance to review the entire proposal. In the interim, I have created an even better alternative that would not levy any new taxes upon the people of Gilroy.
Currently Gilroy has one of the finest and most beautifully restored train stations in California. It is staffed with AMTRAK employees under contract with CALTRAIN to operate our commuter train to San Jose and up the Peninsula to San Francisco. Every day, twice a day the AMTRAK Coast Starlight and Coast Daylight intercity trains run right through Gilroy but do not stop here.
I propose that our station be included on the AMTRAK mainline so that passenger already going thorough Gilroy can come here from LA, Portland, Seattle, and many other points. We already are funding a Gilroy Tourism Bureau, this new tourism revenue could really boost local businesses if we put together tour packages with our hotels, wineries , and Bonfante Gardens.
Also, AMTRAK provides everyday travel discounts to seniors and students. These new trains would provide a wonderful fast, comfortable, and safe new way for college kids from Gilroy that attend San Luis Obispo, Davis, Chico, and Sacramento to come home and allow all Gilroy families more time together, as well as a great way to travel right from our city.
Best of all, my proposal provides all these benefits to our people and our economy with no new taxes for citizens of Gilroy.
What are the two biggest economic challenges facing Gilroy? How would you handle them?
Two economic challenges facing Gilroy are the impacts of the proposed Coyote Valley Master Plan and bringing micro 21st Century technology industries to the City of Gilroy. I address the need of housing for our city and spirit of providing affordable housing. I believe that the housing need can meet the current housing program we have in place. However, the Coyote Valley Master Plan will create a significant impact on transportation, traffic circulations, water & sewer, and service infrastructures to Morgan Hill, Gilroy, and surrounding cities.
Gilroy will need to step up to the demands of attracting industry. The industry component was removed from the Coyote Valley Master Plan and if Gilroy could compete for the industry required to sustain housing, this can place Gilroy in the lead of providing economic opportunities for a workforce and strengthen our economic base. I will work hard on this opportunity by seeking every possible new biotechnology university satellite campus here to incubate well paying jobs.