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Council candidates speak out

Second in a two-part series on the Loomis Town Council Candidates Forum
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Editor
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Loomis Town Council candidates Dave Wheeler, Gary Liss and Rhonda Morillas answered questions posed by audience members at a recent forum at the Blue Goose. Last week’s article covered questions on term limits, town issues, town benefits and improving citizens’ lives. This week, candidates discuss how to preserve Loomis’ small town, rural atmosphere; support of council goals; and tree mitigation fees. Q:How will you ensure the Loomis community remains economically and environmentally sustainable? Liss: “The key to sustainability is waste not, want not. Being efficient, doing things smarter, quicker, better than anyone else. Focus on the bottom line, but do what is environmentally right.” Wheeler: “I’m worried about the word ‘sustainability.’ Let business do what they need to do to support business here in Loomis. Goals here for the council, Mr. Liss in particular, is buying recycling receptacles … you’re talking about businesses having to recycle when we have the One Big Bin Program that works very efficiently now. You’re talking about our restaurants having to scrape the food off their plates in order to do recycling. All those things take a high amount of time for their employees to accomplish.” Morillas: “We need to let the businesses figure out for themselves what they have to do.” Q: How would you preserve Loomis’ small town lifestyle, rural atmosphere? Wheeler: “NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicles) lanes are not the way to go. I like the town the way it is. Neighborhood parks … at a central location … unlike the Heritage Park, which is pretty much a park for the trees. We’ve done a great job of zoning to preserve open space. I support that, I don’t want to see that change.” Morillas: “I like Loomis the way it is. In the last 20 years I’ve been on the council we haven’t changed that much. We’ve made improvements. We’re still a small, rural community and we’re the jewel of Placer County.” Liss: “The key to keeping our rural lifestyle is the General Plan. That’s our constitution. That’s our Bible. We need to fully implement that the way it was intended. The plan has the incredible language of maintaining our tree canopy and maintaining our parks and recreation. The Heritage Park II … in the land use plan it was zoned for one thing, but the rest of the plan calls for maintaining the … open space. This is going to be the only publicly accessible open space in the town.” Q: Which of the town council goals would you least support? Liss: “I support all of the goals set by the town council. We’ve listened to the public who’ve suggested ideas. We’ve listened to each other. We added sustainability goals, which I am a champion for and I don’t apologize for those. I believe this is strongly for the future of Loomis and the world.” Wheeler: “Some of (the town goals include) removing Loomis’ logo from One Big Bin Program. The One Big Bin Program is an excellent program that takes all of our garbage and in one central location does all of the recycling there. The food scraps initiative, the recycling receptacles that would require multiple garbage trucks to come out, I think that’s the wrong way to go. Participating in a study on greenhouse gasses. These are state and federal and international issues that Loomis has no business in. Morillas: “Recyling goals are my least favorite. We need to concentrate on economic development goals, which have not been a priority. Our community needs the services of small boutique businesses and other services we can’t find in town. Q: How do you feel about plant overgrowth on walking and bike trails? Wheeler: “We have a very small city staff … (I’d) encourage service organizations to adopt a trail program. We only have so much money available to us for maintenance and a very small staff. It’s next to impossible to keep up with what we’ve already got. So we want to add another nature preserve park?” Morillas: “In our neighborhood areas, if we all cut our own property, the weed eating around our property and our neighboring properties, we can all help each other and keep our kids safe. Liss: “The town council, in this year’s budget, included a part time person … to listen to complaints … and tell property owners about them. Friends of Heritage Park … is a voluntary group to maintain the preserve.” Q: What’s your position on the tree mitigation fees imposed on the nuns and the priory project? Wheeler: “Extortion … $660,000 just for the trees. That doesn’t include their building permits. That doesn’t include their grading permits or anything else. That’s just the tree mitigation money. Outlandish. Extortion.” Morillas: “Our tree ordinance needs to be worked over. Some of the wording has made it really hard. It’s not right to charge what we’re charging the priory because they’re taking out some trees on 40 acres and putting up that beautiful building for 150 women that are teachers. It’s something we need to change.” Liss: “The last council that last dealt with the tree ordinance was Miguel Ucovich, Rhonda Morillas, Guy Fuson, Hazel Hineline and Walt Scherer. I have not ever voted on tree fees. The tree fees need to have a nexus study, that’s a legal term that says what is the value of trees … that’s the next step that we need to do.”