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Politics / Issues

Tampa Mayor Candidates 2019: Jane Castor

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Castor campaign
Jane Castor

WUSF Public Media  asked all seven candidates for Tampa Mayor to answer a questionnaire outlining their stands on some of the major issues facing the city.

The questions focused on critical issues including transportation, affordable housing, growth, the attraction of high-paying tech jobs. They also were asked about their visions.

Here's the response from former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor:

1) Transportation:

What are your plans to ease transportation woes in Tampa?

As Mayor, I want to work to ensure that we are implementing effective transportation solutions with the new transportation funding from the sales tax referendum, so that we’re not just moving people from point A to point B but connecting our diverse communities. The growth our city is currently experiencing is only going to continue. While Tampa should be proud of what we have accomplished, taking the next step to being a worldwide leader requires a first-class transportation system that is affordable, accessible and innovative.

I’ve released a five-part package of solutions to improve transportation in our city. Increasing walkability, bike-ability, rapid-transit buses, an extension of streetcar routes, rail and ride-share technologies are all key to providing our citizens with the frequent, reliable, and convenient public transportation they deserve.

In my administration, instead of waiting for others to act, the city will proactively begin to take action to increase walkability, bike-ability, rapid-transit buses, and extend streetcar routes, rail and ride-share technologies.

I also plan to utilize the All for Transportation sales tax to immediately invest in reliable bus service for communities that need it most, such as West Tampa, East Tampa and Sulfur Springs. I will use my seat on the HART board to fight for a more dependable bus system through upgrading existing transfer stations and building multimodal hubs with fixed transit lines that connect riders from Westshore to New Tampa. 

In order to expand rail access throughout Tampa, we will make it a priority to activate the CSX line from Port Tampa to USF, expand the streetcar route from Tampa Heights through Seminole Heights, and construct a multimodal transportation hub to as the future heart of ligh trail that will connect the Brightline from Orlando to the airport and St. Petersburg. 

Finally, as the Tampa Bay region is currently the nationwide leader in traffic and pedestrian fatalities, the city will begin embarking on the implementation of real solutions to improve safety and encourage biking and walking for residents. This approach will include more well-designed bicycle routes, safer street crossing, new and repaired sidewalks, better lighting on roadways, and reducing the speed limit in high-traffic areas. 

Do you support using transportation taxes for expanding the existing trolley line in Ybor City and downtown?

I do support expanding the trolley line using the transportation tax money.

Do you support starting up light rail; or bus rapid transit that brings commuters fromHillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas Counties? 

I do support both light rail and rapid bus transit to connect commuters in the three counties.

What about the Tampa Bay Next plan to expand Interstate 275?

I do not support the Tampa Bay Next plan because it will cut through neighborhoods that we all care about, including my own neighborhood of Seminole Heights.
 

2) Affordable housing:

What is your plan to ease the affordable housing crunch in the city of Tampa?

As our economy continues to soar, we have to ensure this prosperity reaches every neighborhood of our city. That starts with keeping Tampa livable and affordable for everyone. As Mayor, I will immediately convene a working group of policy professionals in the areas of workforce and affordable housing development to work with stakeholders in our communities to craft an action plan based around solutions to our affordable housing crisis.

As part of that, I have released a five-part series of solutions to put in motion to ease our affordable housing issues.

We need to focus on smart growth. My administration will look into re-evaluating and revising city codes that burden development, such as parking minimums, retail requirements, and how to better streamline the permitting process. 

The city of Tampa currently has a program of providing city-owned lots to affordable housing developers. Under my administration, that program will be expanded.

In order to ensure it makes financial sense for developers to create more affordable housing units, as Mayor, we will look into providing incentives––whether through tax breaks or zoning exemptions. This will also include a requirement for developers to include a percentage of affordable housing in neighborhoods that are being renovated (though not so high as to discourage investors).

Also, I believe we will need to be creative to tackle this problem and make progress. As Mayor, Tampa will explore and implement innovative housing solutions that have worked in other world-class cities, such as housing constructed from storage containers, turning converting small motels and other facilities into micro-housing units, and other innovative options.

Finally, to make sure that Tampa receives its fair share of state and federal funds, I will take an active and aggressive role fighting to secure needed dollars for affordable housing development in our growing city.

Do your plans include using city-owned land to lease to private developers?

Yes.

Will you push to build more public housing?

Yes.

What about requiring a percentage of new privately-built apartments to be subsidized at below-market rates for those who qualify?

Yes.

3) The innovation economy.

What can Tampa do to attract higher-paying jobs in the technology, start-up and other cutting-edge industries?

I believe that a lot of what attracts start-ups and entrepreneurial investment is not necessarily giving incentives, but in paying attention to bread-and-butter issues that improve quality of life within Tampa. That means redoubling our focus on connecting our communities and our downtown area with reliable, green transit. That means making sure that people can live within our city and are able to find housing that’s affordable. That means investing in resilience and sustainability to protect our city from future storms and rising seas. If we invest in each community, especially in our most neglected areas of the city, we create an environment that is more conducive and attractive to outside investment, as well as for fostering small businesses and local talent here.

Should Tampa use city dollars to attract outside businesses, like what the statewide economic development agency Enterprise Florida is doing?

Possibly. I will look into it closely but we should only use city dollars if we know we are getting a return on our investment.

 

4) Managing growth. 

Do you support changes to zoning, allowing for higher density housing, or allowing taller buildings in established neighborhoods?

Yes.

How do you balance the need to grow with the desires of existing residents?

I believe that the best way to have balanced, smart growth is to listen to the community. That means holding regular meetings with constituents in each neighborhood, and making sure that regular Tampanians have a say in the decision-making process, so that no one is left out as our city continues to grow and expand.

5) Big picture.

What is your grand vision for the future of Tampa, such as the recent developments along the Hillsborough River in downtown?

I believe that we’re on the right track, and that Mayor Buckhorn has done a tremendous job of putting on the path towards success. The developments around the River are fantastic, and we should continue to developer smartly in a way that allows every neighborhood and community to succeed, not at the expense of any other.

A good quality-of-life is directly linked to good jobs and the ability to get to those jobs. But those jobs do not just mean attracting Fortune 500 companies, it also requires building a skilled workforce to sustain our growth and advance homegrown small businesses. That means tackling our problems with transit and affordable housing head on, providing better services to each neighborhood, even while we attract diverse companies and nurture entrepreneurship.  

What would you like to see here, if you could make it happen?

I would like to see Tampa continue to prosper, but in a way where that success reaches every neighborhood of our city. I want to see Tampa continue to flourish in a way that becomes a model to the rest of the nation.