Campaign to focus on reducing traffic, improving infrastructure and protecting quality of life
Three-term City Councilman Chris Orlando today announced his campaign for Mayor of San Marcos. Orlando, who has served on the San Marcos City Council since 2006, announced his intention to run for mayor through social media and an email to supporters.
“My priorities as mayor will be reducing traffic congestion, keeping city finances and infrastructure strong, planning for our future with a more thoughtful approach toward growth, and constantly focusing on improving the quality of life in San Marcos for families, students, and seniors,” said Orlando.
In addition to serving on the Council, Orlando has represented San Marcos on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Association of Governments as the city’s primary member and first alternate since 2014. From 2007 to 2012 he was a member of the North County Transit District’s Board of Directors, serving as chairman from 2010 to 2012 and vice chairman from 2009 to 2010. Before his election to the Council, he was vice chairman of the city’s Planning Commission, serving on the panel from January 2005 to December 2006. He has previously served on the boards of directors for the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce and San Diego Youth and Community Services.
Orlando has been an active part of the San Marcos community for 16 years. As a community member, he advocated for improved fire protection and smarter development, and worked to add the citizens’ voice to city decisions. Orlando has been a strong advocate for schools and improving infrastructure – opposing projects that add to crowded schools and bring more traffic.
“When I was first elected to City Council in 2006, my goal was to be a strong voice for the residents of San Marcos,” said Orlando. “In my time on City Council, I’ve tried to do exactly that – standing up when I thought residents’ voices were not being heard.”
Orlando was the lone “no” vote on the San Marcos City Council in two recent controversial development decisions. In November 2016, the Council voted 4-1 to approve the Highlands project, which annexed unincorporated county land into the city and up-zoned it for the development of 189 units. In January 2018, the Council voted 4-1 to grant Brookfield Homes a General Plan Amendment to build 218 units adjacent to an existing 346-unit project that is under development. A referendum is currently being circulated by residents to overturn the Council’s decision to approve that General Plan Amendment. Orlando voted against both projects based on their traffic impact and a lack of capacity in the schools that would serve the new communities.
The election for San Marcos Mayor takes place November 6, 2018.
Here is an interview with incumbent Chris Orlando who is running for San Marcos City Council. San Elijo Life has invited all candidates for council the answer the same set of questions.
Why should the residents in San Elijo Hills vote for you?
San Marcos is on the right track. Despite a historic recession, we’ve added new parks, improved our traffic conditions, maintained a high level of public safety and taken several significant steps toward defining a future for our City. Most important, we’ve done these things while keeping San Marcos on solid financial footing during one of the most challenging economic environments in generations. I am seeking re-election to the San Marcos City Council to continue this progress.
In addition to helping to guide the City’s success, I also have played a very active role in improving the quality of life in San Elijo Hills by working directly on and adding a voice to important local issues such as:
Adding stop signs at Brightwood and Questhaven, and at Elfin Forrest and Schoolhouse Way;
Changing the color of the gas station;
Increasing traffic and parking enforcement in the community and in the Town Center;
Improving the fencing around the construction site in the Town Center;
Moving the Town Center project forward;
Allowing only a quality project at the site of the old recycling plant;
Improving coordination between SEES and SEMS, and the Fire and Sherriff’s Department during lockdowns;
Gaining participation of City public safety officials in crime prevention and preparedness events;
Helping to address and solve specific neighborhood concerns such as maintenance and residential traffic issues, and most recently
Securing a grant to add barriers and more sidewalk space at the crosswalk at the corner of San Elijo Road and Schoolhouse Way.
How can the council help address aggressive cut through traffic and school traffic in San Elijo Hills?
Cut through traffic remains a challenge. The opening of San Elijo Road over the hill was very positive for the community, but it also opened San Elijo Hills to more commuter/cut through traffic. The City has done targeted enforcement to help improve safety, and as I noted above, added stop signs at Elfin Forrest and Schoolhouse Way to help slow down traffic. Also, the City recently received a grant to improve the sidewalk area at Schoolhouse Way and San Elijo Road. That project will get underway next year. So, progress has been made, but cut through traffic and traffic safety in the community, in general, continue to be issues in which I plan to be very engaged.
What is your position on Proposition K?
I strongly support Proposition K. I think it is extremely important for our schools, our kids, and our community.
How can the city of San Marcos work with San Elijo Development to complete the San Elijo Hills Town Center?
As most residents are aware by now, the recession significantly slowed the completion of the Town Center. Over the last few years, I’ve meet with the developer many times to discuss moving the project forward. There has been some progress. The Town Center was originally planned to be completed as one project, rather than the phased approach that brought in the portion of the Town Center that’s now built. The City has actively explored a variety of ways with the developer to jump start the remainder of project, while ensuring a quality project is built. The major hurdle remains the flagging economy. The goal, however, is unchanged: get a quality Town Center built as soon as possible.
What is your position on changes to the San Marcos general plan?
I voted to initiate the process to update the City’s 30-year-old General Plan because San Marcos has changed so much in the last three decades that the existing plan did not reflect the San Marcos of today. Having an open, interactive and thorough public process to update the General Plan provides residents the opportunity to express their views about the future of San Marcos. By updating the plan now, when the recession has halted most development, San Marcos will be well positioned to bring jobs and quality projects to the City when the economy recovers. The update process is still very much underway. I encourage residents to participate in the process, and I look forward to hearing feedback about the recommended plan once it is completed.
What is your position on future housing and commercial development around San Elijo Hills (Creekside District, and university area projects, recycling plant, Quathaven and Attebury road area)?
The Creek District and University District are award winning plans, which I voted to support. One of my goals, if re-elected, will be to move those projects forward because they will bring jobs, needed amenities, and quality projects to our City. In terms of the other areas mentioned, I believe we need to be extremely careful about the projects that may come into those areas. We’ve already had a few concepts put forward that would not have been good for our community (think motocross facility). If I am returned to the Council, I will continue to work hard to ensure that any project that comes to San Marcos adds to our quality of life.
What are your goals to improve the quality of life in San Marcos, such as events, parks, and trails?
In the next four years my focus will be:
1. Improving Quality of Life
Continue to expand our parks and trails system by acquiring or protecting more parkland in San Marcos
Move the Creek District and the University District projects forward, securing the environmental approvals and other steps necessary to advance these important projects
Implement solutions to our traffic challenges by furthering improvements on SR-78 and completing key infrastructure projects to improve traffic circulation on our City streets
Improve programs for families, seniors and students who call San Marcos home
2. Keeping Our City Strong
Maintain a conservative approach to City finances, keeping our budget balanced and our fiscal house in order
Continue strong support for public safety
Protect the open spaces and natural resources that make San Marcos a great place to live
3. Planning for Our Future
Complete the modernization of the City’s General Plan and pass an updated Plan with broad public support
Support only projects that make significant additions to our quality of life, improve our local economy, or bring needed services
Would you care to comment on the recent excessive compensation concerns for San Marcos city staff?
Concerns about compensation are absolutely valid. However, I believe very strongly that San Marcos is one of the best-run cities in the county. San Marcos has fewer staff members per capita and spends less per capita on its operating budget than the average city in the county – and that’s after many cities in the county have slashed services and laid-off employees to balance their budgets. San Marcos avoided those types of cuts because we always operated efficiently. By taking a conservative approach to the City budget and making early, decisive moves to cut the budget where possible, we guided San Marcos through a historic recession, balancing our budget and increasing our reserves while continuing to provide responsive, quality services. Maintaining a balanced budget and operating efficiently remain the most important factors in keeping our City strong. It’s an operating philosophy I seek to continue.
If elected what are the top 3 issues you would focus on for San Elijo Hills?
Improving traffic and safety
Getting the remainder of the Town Center underway
Supporting a high quality of life for residents
How will you clean up the campaign signs after election? will they be recycled?
I’ll be out with a team of volunteers to get the signs done right after the election, probably within 25 hours.
Editors note all San Marcos, Calfifornia candidates are welcome to contact us to conduct an interview.