On 10/8 we interviewed Tony Kranz about his current run for Encinitas City Council. Here’s what we discussed:
Ruthless Hippies: The first couple of questions are just to give people an idea about you. How long have you lived in Encinitas for?
Tony Kranz: I moved to Encinitas in 1960 as a 9 month old kid. At the age of 24, moved to Alaska for seven years, then back to Encinitas for a short period of time and then moved to Minnesota for another seven years. I returned to Encinitas in 1997, I’ve been around ever since: for fifteen years.
RH: What about your background in work and education? What things would make you suitable to serve on City Coucnil?
TK: My experience served in the National Guard. I worked full time in the Nation Guard for many years. I served for ten years as an air traffic controller, a unit clerk and training NCO. I got a lot of experience working with the government and understanding better how things in the Federal government, State government and local governments work. And it always caused me to be more interested in more service. I also went to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo and studied printing, I studied printing at San Dieguito High School when I was there in the 70’s. And I work in the printing industry today.
RH: Do you feel that your current career will allow you enough time to devote to City Council?
TK: I do have some flexibility with my work. I will be able to arrange for daytime meeting as necessary. A lot of the work of the council happens at night. Meetings start at six and I shouldn’t have any work conflicts in the evenings.
RH: You’re pretty much at every city council meeting now anyways, huh?
TK: Correct. I’ve missed very few in the last couple of years. Prior to that I was a pretty regular attendee at the meetings.
RH: Do you have any favorite local artists or restaurants or places to see music in Encinitas?
TK: My favorite restaurant is Robby’s Roadhouse, though I hit the Tavern at the Lumberyard now and then too. I’ve grown to appreciate Peter Sprague’s music and catch him at Roxy on Thursdays when I can. I recently was reacquainted with Darius Degher from our days at San Dieguito in the 70’s. I enjoy his music—and his daughter Cleopatra’s music. My friend Benny Petrella, another San Dieguito alumni, is in a band I enjoy seeing at Peabody’s.
RH: People in Leucadia are concerned over the Street Scape Project. I’ve heard people worried that money could be taken away from the project or that it could be slowed down. We’ve seen with the Moonlight Beach Improvements and the Hall Property, the City has taken from other existing projects. How do you feel about that and what’s your take on the Street Scape Project?
TK: I supported the Street Scape as approved by the council and I still do. There is the money the city settled for from the City of Carlsbad that is available. It is my understanding that that will be used hopefully for the roundabout at La Costa Avenue that’s been approved as part of the plan. The details on the financing of the rest of the project, it’s never been real clear to me, but it is my understanding that there will be TransNet dollars and other monies that will become available once the plan is completely approved and it is ready to go.
RH: How would you try to strike a balance in prioritizing projects between the five different areas in Encinitas?
TK: It’s always a challenge with the economy doing what it’s doing. The pie is not getting bigger, but smaller. There are other non-capital improvement related costs that we’re having to pay more attention to—such as pensions. That’s a big concern. But I do believe that the for a city councilman serving city government, the priority needs to be on public safety—and that’s not just first responders but also includes things like roads and making sure they’re in conditions that are conducive to safe driving. I think that projects related to making our community more walk-able and more bike-able so that we can get out of our cars is important as well. My goal will be to prioritize those sorts of things that I think in the end will benefit the entire community. Because if you get on a bike and you want to go to the beach going through Encinitas, everybody benefits from a trail or a way of getting to the beach that’s not quite as hairy.
RH: Encinitas is a city with lots of environmentally minded citizens. What do you see as an overall vision of sustainability and taking care of the environment in Encinitas?
TK: Encinitas does have a special obligation with regard to environmental issues because we are bordered on three sides by water bodies. We’ve got two lagoons and a beautiful blue Pacific Ocean. I’m very concerned about the plastic gyre in the Pacific and I want to do everything I can to make sure that we as a community are minimizing the plastic waste that ends up in the ocean. So it’s my hope that the state will adopt a statewide single use plastic bag ban. But short of that, I would like to do something similar to what Solana Beach has recently done and get our single use plastic bag ban enacted. We were at the forefront with that for a while and in a 3-2 vote, with Jim Bond casting the deciding vote, there was action to pursue a single-use bag ban. However, there were threats from the plastics Industry for lawsuits against all of the various jurisdictions that enacted those bans and we put it on the backburner until the court cases settled out. That seems to be through. Now other cities are taking action and I think we should join them. If we do, I believe it will provide impetus to the state to enact a statewide ban.
RH: This question from one of our Ruthless Hippies Readers, Edie Paul. How would you preserve the Beauty, Charm and Integrity of Encinitas?
TK: I think when we start looking at the General Plan and looking at the protections that are in the General Plan for keeping our community the way it is, I think that it’s important that with the update, it stays that way. And with the general plan update still being developed we need to make sure that we don’t loosen up any of the safeguards that are in that document that will slow down density increases and more building that is going to bring more people and more cars and add to the existing chaos on our streets.
So I think that the General Plan Update is the area that I would focus on first. One good part about my background and having been here a really long time is that I do know how things have changed here over the years. And it does give me some perspective and I recognize that we live in a beautiful place and people want to come here. There will be development and it needs to be development that is smart and includes the appropriate infrastructure improvements that will keep our lives from becoming miserable.
RH: I’m a city lifeguard. I think our beaches are one of our greatest assets of the community. Moon Light Beach is considered the jewel of Encinitas. What sort of vision do you have for the beaches?
TK: The project at Moonlight beach is important and I’m looking forward to seeing that completed. And I think that in the end we’re going to have a nicer beach from that. I think the lifeguard tower at Moonlight Needs some attention because it appears as though it’s about to fall down. I was disappointed when the city moved the money for Beacons access over to Moonlight Beach. Having access to the beach at Beacons is critical and it’s at risk. It could very easily go away. And so I was disappointed when they moved that money. Keeping the beaches nice and enjoyable is something we’ve got to do. We’ve got to make sure they stay clean and welcoming. It’s always been one of those situations where the sand, it comes and goes. I’m not sure that taking red sand from construction projects and dumping it on the beach is such a good idea. But it’s important that we have that resource and have the sand, so when we have an opportunity to replenish that sand we need to make sure it gets done. It’ll be a challenge. I will continue to focus and make sure we do everything we can to make sure we keep our beaches inviting.
RH: A question from Dylan Barmmer, a ruthless hippies blog reader. I’m paraphrasing. The way he sees it, the arts in Encinitas have come under attack by the city over the last couple of years. Do you see it that way? And what’s your vision for the arts in a town where just about everyone is an artist of some sort?
TK: I have always been a really big fan of the Full Moon Poets Slam. I had attended that back in the day when Bob Naninga was emceeing and I continue to today. I was proud to have sponsored the most recent slam and we have other similar groups to the Full Moon Poets. The 101 Artist Colony and the San Dieguito Artist Guild. These are all groups that are critical to keeping our community thriving. There’s the Pacific View arts center project that they are trying to get in the works. I will do everything I can to see that Pacific View is developed into an arts center. I think that’s critical. The group that’s currently developing it has some great ideas for making sure that all of the arts—visual, performing, crafts and other things—are all incorporated into that facility. So I look forward to working with ArtPulse and seeing that that happens. The arts, to me, are critical; the city does have an Arts Coordinator that’s a full time staff person and I think that he’s doing a pretty decent job of making sure the community is aware of arts events. We have some concert series that are going on at the Library—which by the way, I think is one of the most beautiful libraries we have in the world, with a gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean. I will encourage him (Arts Coordinator) to continue and expand the work that he is doing to continue to see the arts thrive.
RH: I think what Dylan was referring to was the way the Surfing Madonna was handled. I would say even more so with the whole banner controversy, if you would like to speak to that…
TK: I think it was unfortunate that the Surfing Madonna was classified as grafitti. They didn’t have any provisions in the city ordinance to allow for a piece of artwork like that to be anonymously donated in a place that it wasn’t authorized. But I would have been a lot more careful to make sure people understood that what we were dealing with wasn’t graffiti. The way it was handled, with threats to tear it down, I just think it was handled a bit ham-handedly. There were efforts from members of the council to be a little more warm and embracing. Unfortunately that was the minority opinion. I would like to think that if I were in that situation, it would have been handled differently.
With regards to the banner controversy, that was a situation that became a mountain when it should have been something where the City was looking to honor Maggie instead of trying to make it so that she had to be covered by vinyl. In my opinion it was a very unusual situation that will probably never be repeated. And I wish the city had not gone to the great extents it went through to change the ordinance. The ordinance was working just fine and it’s unfortunate that they went through all the gyrations they went through to try and save face, when really what they should have done was leave Maggie’s face uncovered from the start.
RH: This is another question Dylan asked: Why aren’t yerts allowed in Encinitas?
TK: There’s this thing called the Uniform Building Code. And there are aspects of yerts that do not conform to the Uniform Building Code. It’s my understanding that there were complications with the Americans with Disabilities Act as well. You could argue that there might be circumstance where the provisions of both of those should be waived or reconsidered or whatever, but they are there and the city doesn’t really have a choice but to comply. Do I think that it might be worth forming a group to look at the building code and look at yerts and try find out a way that we might be able to enact something locally that would allow for them? I would not be opposed to that. But I do know that the problem with the yerts is that they didn’t meet building code and ADA compliance requirements.
RH: One last question in three parts: What do you think that the current city council has done best in the last four years or so? And what have they gotten wrong in the last four years or so? And what sets you apart from the other candidates for city council?
TK: I think that in the last four years they made a decision about the Leucadia 101 Streetscape that was good for the community. It was controversial though and I recognize that some of the concerns that people expressed could prove to be valid so I don’t want to dismiss their positions. It was very difficult.. There were definitely two sides to that and it was fairly evenly split. I think that ultimately making the decision they made was good and that when it’s built out we will find that it works very well for the community. Some of the decisions that have been made—and it goes beyond four years, but the pension problems that we’re getting ready to address are very severe, I’m afraid. There has been an unwillingness to address that issue and I think that has only exacerbated the problem. I’m hopeful that we can get the new government accounting standards in place, because there have been new accounting rules that are required to be in place by 2014 and my hope is that we can do it sooner than that and start confronting that particular problem. There’s also the issue of the roads and road maintenance. I’m afraid that the mount of money we’re spending on road maintenance right now is too little and that the deferred maintenance bill that our kids are gonna get down the road is going to be a little bit burdensome. So hopefully we can find a way to increase the amount we spend on road maintenance.
RH: And what sets you apart from the other candidates?
TK: My familiarity with things related to traffic and the open government issues that I think are critical for having an efficient city government. I have been pretty involved in exploring ways to increase transparency and allow more access to the process for those people that are interested in it. This city is blessed with quite a few people that you would consider to be watch dogs. These watch dogs are doing us all a favor. So I want to see that the opportunities they have to get access to information is unfettered. And so I look forward to looking at the possibility of putting in place a sunshine ordinance that includes many more safeguards to allow access to both the deliberative process as well as documents and financial decisions that are made and contracts that are let and other things that relate to city business.