2019 Montana Conservation Voters Municipal Candidate Questionnaire, Missoula

Candidate: Alex Fregerio                Date: July 8th, 2019

Please respond to the following questions as thoroughly as possible and include a short bio. Return the questionnaire via email to Field Director Ross Prosperi at ross@mtvoters.org. Email Ross or call at 406-880-7346 if you have questions. Thank you.

 

1.      Why would you like our endorsement? I would appreciate the endorsement of the Montana Conservation Voters because I am passionate about wildlife and land conservation and feel my values and ethics very align well with this organization.

2.       

a.       What do you think is the most pressing conservation and environmental issue facing Missoula and how do you plan to address it? Currently I believe the most pressing environmental issue facing Missoula is the Climate Crisis. As a city, Missoula needs to be a part of the national and global solution and take measures to reduce carbon emissions and contribute to clean energy goals. As a City Council member, I intend to support Missoula’s Zero by Fifty goal in full and will assist in implementing any plans and strategies that will help us operationalize and achieve this goal.

 

The most pressing conservation issue in Missoula is flooding, erosion, and water quality issues due to the Climate Crisis. While Missoula is not always subject to the extreme weather patterns associated with climate change, the impacts of dramatic watershed changes and drought/wildfires will be the way that we see the most effects and will result in real economic and environmental impacts to our city. 
 

3.      The City of Missoula is projecting significant growth in the next decade. The council has adopted a “focus inward” strategy in the Our Missoula 2035 Growth Policy. Do you support this strategy? Yes: x No_____ Please explain: I wholly support the new Missoula housing policy and I believe the research that Eran Pehran and Missoula Housing and Community Development did to establish this evidence-based housing policy that focuses on infill and urban development will help slow down urban sprawl and facilitate our city achieving more efficient commuting.

 

a.       Do you support mitigating the impacts of subdivisions on agriculture? Yes: x No_____ Please explain: As Missoula continues to expand, we as a city must be conscious of how this growth effects not only wildlife and wild lands, but also existing agriculture and its effect on our overall economic footprint. Local agriculture and local foods are an important component of our community and it is important to preserve this resource when planning for Missoula’s future.

 

b.      Do you support impact fees to reduce the public infrastructure costs of development? Yes:_X  No_____ Please explain:  Development in any form will alter the existing landscape and it is necessary to assess fees in order to offset the costs of these alterations and the intentional and unintentional future impacts to the landscape.

 

c.       What criteria do you think are appropriate for the City to consider in making annexation determinations and why?  The growth trends of the city and economic impacts on the landscape are some factors to consider before annexation. Annexation by the city is a significant decision that requires a strategy and sufficient time to plan and execute.  Landscape and environmental issues always need to be considered beforehand and assessed on an ongoing basis. 

 

d.      Given the City’s intent to focus inward, what policies and efforts would you support to encourage residential infill development? In support of Missoula’s new housing policy, I would stand behind any data-driven decisions such as re-zoning in favor of increased ADUs and infill, and believe that these policies will result in more efficient transportation and commuting and will help to Missoula achieve its Zero by Fifty goal. 

4.      Currently, the City and County have separate planning offices. What is your opinion on the relationship between the City and County in terms of land use decision-making? How might you improve communication and coordination between the two? In the future it would be great to see the City and County planning offices have a joint, shared space. As Missoula moves forward into the future it would be ideal for the City and County to make land use decisions jointly. In the process of making policies on land use I plan to continue to loop the County in on all proposed updates and provide an opportunity for the County to weigh in on land use issues and convey the wishes of the County as necessary.

5.      Septic systems are a potential source of nutrient pollution to groundwater, streams, and rivers.

a.       Do you support extending sewer lines to existing neighborhoods (i.e. Target Range or Orchard Homes)? Yes: x No_____ Please explain: I support any measures that will improve environmental quality and believe that in the not so distant future Orchard Homes and Target Range neighborhoods will be a part of the City of Missoula and being on City Sewer is a component of this.

6.      The city has formed a stormwater utility.  Would you support expenditure of utility funds for stormwater treatment improvements such as the project recently completed at Caras park?  Would you support inclusion of stormwater improvements in the downtown master plan? Yes: x No ___ Please explain: I fully support the stormwater improvements and I have personally heard Bob Hayes speak about the Missoula stormwater system and its importance. I believe runoff and stormwater management is an important aspect of the City of Missoula and I believe it should be a part of the continuing Downtown Master Plan.

7.      Missoula has made significant investments & improvements in its wastewater treatment system, in surface and groundwater quality, and has started a new stormwater management utility. Additionally, the City has acquired the water utility.  Do you support continued investment in protecting Missoula water quality and quantity, and if so, what would you prioritize? Yes, I am in full support of the recent improvements to the Missoula Wastewater Treatment Facility, the water utility acquisition by the City, and the formation of the stormwater treatment improvements department. I believe all of these entities are crucial and am in full support of investment into these systems for the infrastructure maintenance and additions in the future.

 

a.       Would you support capital programs to extend water service to large areas of the community currently without service? Yes: x  No ___ Please explain: Now that the City of Missoula owns its own water system, which operates independently of the city budget, I would fully support extending city water to areas currently without if the revenue provides.

 

b.      Do you support studies to investigate decommissioning the Rattlesnake wilderness dams? Yes: x  No ___ Please explain: I believe by funding studies of this nature it helps us make data-driven decisions on issues such as the Rattlesnake wilderness dam decommission.

8.      Would you support programs to buy out flood damaged properties in flood plains rather than rebuilding them? Yes: x No ___ Please explain: I would support buying out flood damaged properties in flood plains that are being damaged on a year to year basis.  Land like this could serve a better role to the community and as climate change becomes more and more dramatic, land use in some areas will need to evolve from its original purpose. 

9.      How would you support expanding bike and pedestrian ways in areas that are lacking and keeping them clear during the winter? I am a big supporter of the current Missoula Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan and I support expansion of these trails. In addition, I will be a staunch supporter of Mayor Engen’s FY 2020 budget which adds additional revenue for snow removal and streets projects.

10.   Missoula passed a $1.7 million mill levy in 2013 that paid for substantial Mountain Line improvements. In January of 2015, Mountain Line went to a partner funded “Zero Fare” service. With these commitments, the Missoula community has placed a high priority on ensuring increased Mountain Line service. 

a.       Will you support the continued use of local funds to improve transit services and infrastructure?  Yes: X No_____ Please explain: I fully support the partnership between Mountain Line and the City and the ongoing budget allotment to Mountain Line and the Zero Fare program. I believe having a strong public transportation system in Missoula is one of the keys to achieving the city’s Zero by Fifty goal.

 

b.      What other measures do you think the City should take to encourage and fund public transit to reduce dependence on single occupancy vehicles and move toward a healthier and more sustainable transportation system? The new city housing policy centered around infill and housing developments within the heart of Missoula will help focus growth in areas that have existing access to Mountain Line, bike and trail systems, and other carpool and non-single occupancy vehicle transportation. The city Bicycle and Pedestrian Board recently established criteria for classifying e-bikes and is exploring the possibility of signing a contract with an e-bike/e-scooter ride share vendor which will also provide Missoulians with additional transportation options throughout the city. As we move into the future I would also like to see programs where the City of Missoula incentivizes employers to allow eligible employees to telecommute, thereby reducing vehicle congestion and emissions.

11.   What is your approach to maintaining and improving city infrastructure, i.e., green spaces, parks, urban forest? I think the current city development requirements which include mandatory green space is an important mandate and I would like to see this continue. Parks and green spaces are a valuable asset to any community and improve the quality of life of its citizens and encourage outdoor recreation

 

a.       Do you support budget increases to fund the urban forestry program and maintain or replace our aging urban forest Yes: x No ___ Please explain: The Garden City is known across Montana for its urban forest and as these trees age and require removal, it is City Council’s priority to ensure they are replaced and replenished and encourage our urban forest continue to prosper into the future.

12.   The City Council passed a resolution in 2013 to support the City of Missoula’s Conservation & Climate Action Plan (CCAP) with the goal of “carbon neutrality” for municipal operations by 2025,. In April 2019, Council passed a resolution to transition to 100% clean electricity for the Missoula urban area by 2030. Will you support funding to implement the CCAP and 100% goal, including funding city staff or community partners to engage in ongoing data collection, activities and monitoring? Yes: x No___ Please explain: I fully support these plans and feel it is important Missoula join the global effort to halt the Climate Crisis. Utilizing all available data and information to help make decisions and in funding studies to support these initiatives is something I will back as a member of City Council.

13.   The City is also presently engaged in climate adaptation planning. Do you support involvement in, and funding for, this type of planning?  Yes: x  No___ Please explain: 

Yes, the effects of the climate crisis will be felt by the city of Missoula and I absolutely support planning for and funding dedicated to mitigating issues with water supply, flooding, wildfire, and water quality.

14.   What would you do to mitigate the health effects of poor air quality, i.e., heavy smoke from wildfire? Making Missoula citizens aware of poor air quality conditions and providing timely, frequent, accessible, and understandable warnings in situations of poor air quality is one way the city can help. In the future, Forest Service management practices will likely differ greatly from current practices and anything the city can do to support changes in wildfire mitigation practices will be something the City Council needs to actively contribute to.

15.   In 2016, City Council passed a Zero Waste Resolution, which set a goal for the city government, residents and businesses to reduce our waste 90% by 2050 (along with interim goals). A Zero Waste Plan was completed in 2018 (see zerobyfiftymissoula.com) . Do you support the goals of the Zero Waste Initiative, including funding to help make it happen?  Yes : x   No ___ Please explain: I am in full support of the Zero Waste Plan and anticipate the City of Missoula will include funding in its budget to meet those goals and priorities.

16.   What ideas do you have for the city to play a pro-active role in waste reduction and diversion?

The main way that the city of Missoula can play a proactive role in waste reduction is through the current regulation and incentivization of construction materials reuse and recycling programs, which I support. 

17.   Would you support city regulations limiting the use of single use plastics? Yes: x  No ___ Please explain: I do support the single use plastic bag ban and believe that although it is a small impact the incremental improvements we can make as a city are what contribute to a greater change across the nation and the world.

 

18.   Do you support creation of a year round collection center for household hazardous wastes? Yes: x  No ___ Please explain: In the era we live in, the electronic devices and chemicals used and disposed of on a day to day basis are increasingly toxic to the environment if left in the landfill and I support a city program that would facilitate the disposal of these substances in an eco-friendly way.