We recently sat down with Democrat Nick Tash who is running for one of the City Council At-Large nominations.
We recently sat down with him for an interview about his candidacy.
Nick Tash’s platform:
I see the precipitous rise in the amount Â of largeÂ retail development projectsÂ and the proliferation of big box retail chains as a very bad thing indeed for our localÂ economy. Numerous studies have been conducted that demonstrates the manifoldÂ negative impacts these retail giants (such as Wal-Mart, Target, Lowes, Home Depot,Â etc) have on local economies. I can provide a list of these studies. It must beÂ understood by policy makers that there is such a thing as “bad growth”. LargeÂ retailers contribute largely to sprawl and the destruction of communities. LocalÂ businesses and industry are essential for a community if it wants to achieveÂ sustainability. If we truly want to make the investment in our local businesses andÂ work to protect them,Â I have a few ideas about how to accomplish this.
[li]Issue a store-size cap ordinance. The larger the store, the more diminished the competition. Wal-Mart’s stores, for example, annually average $418 in sales per square foot [Wal-Mart’s 2005 Annual Report). That means that a 200,000 square-foot supercenter captures about $84 million each year. Nat only that but a superstore of that size typically generates more than 10,000 car trips on weekdays, more on Saturdays. They consume excessive amounts of land that could be used for other purposes (parks, public spaces, housing, etc.)[/li]
[li]Precedent: Madison, Wisconsin restricts retail buildings to a footprint of 100,000 square feet. Damariscotta, Maine (pop. 2,041)
prohibits stores over 35,000 square feet. Ashland, Oregon limits retails stores to no more than 45,000 square feet.[/li]
[li]Perspective: Average Rite Aid – 13,000 sq. ft., average Barnes and No le – 25,000 sq. ft., football- 57,000 sq. ft., average Home Depot-
128,000 sq. ft., Wal-Mart supercenters- average 187, 000 sq. ft.[/li]
[li]Issue a store number ordinance. Some towns in California have actually issued a store number cap within their city limits. This effectively prohibits the further development of excess fast food chains and large retailers. Insist on a mixed-use building and land policy. This would require that nothing be built that does not provide for a mixed-use of activity. For example, the bottom floor may be retail space, and the top floor may be residential housing. Apartments above retail space are quintessentially affordable housing.[/li]
[li]End tax abatement for large retailers. This would mean any retailer that brings in an excess of, say, $1 billion is sales in a fiscal year.
Implement a Livable Wage ordinance. This would require retailers netting over $1 billion dollars in profits to provide their employees with a wage that keep them well above the poverty line.[/li]
[li]Precedent: Chicago, Illinois. The Livable Wage ordinance passed through City Council, however Mayor Daley vetoed it, on the basis that
it will push business away from Chicago.[/li]
[li]Require incoming retailers to file an Economic and Environmental Impact Statement. This would be a detailed and exhaustive study of how the retailer would effect the local economy and environment that would be presented to the community for them to approve or reject.[/li]
[li]Promote alternative business models. A fine example of an alternative business model right here in our community is the Three Rivers Co-op. Business practices such as the cooperative and the employee-owned and run company should be championed. Democracy should extend to the work place as well.[/li]
I&M Light Lease
To avoid the light lease money becoming a political joke, I believe that the decision with what to do with the money must ultimately come from the citizens of Fort Wayne. Let the Council and the Mayor turn it over to the public in a referendum-style vote. Should the citizens desire the money to be saved, spent, or leveraged for development projects (as Mr. Doden has suggested), then so be it. Extend the community involvement process.
Increasingly, concern has been growing over the multitude of environmental issues we are beginning to encounter. I believe that if the “green revolution” is going to occur, it must begin at the local level. However, to make people understand the concept of sustainability, you must first introduce them to the word. The word sustainable is defined as “the capacity to endure.” Â We must create an enduring cityÂ that can weather all the problems that may arise due to climate change. Here’s what I believe the city can do to facilitate this.
[li]Move toward the evelopment and completion of a functioning “green” building code. ThisÂ would require all building projects (be it the retrofitting of existing building or the construction of new ones) to meet with a minimum of LEED Silver certification. LEED is the green building certification system developed by the U.S.Green Building Council. Buildings must begin to more efficiently us their resources, even to the point of generating their own electricity through various means.[/li]
[li]Work to make it easier for people to “go off the grid.” This may mean rewriting zoning la s if necessary to allow people to engage in community solar/wind project or things of that nature should they so choose.[/li]
[li]Have all municipal (meaning city government buildings and city-owned buildings) moveÂ toward being powered %100 by renewable sources.
This should have a deadline, say, within the next five years.[/li]
[li]Engage in an urban reforestation effort. New Zealand’s reforestation efforts have significantly cut down their C02 emissions and have put them well ahead of the Kyoto Protocol standard.[/li]
Livability and Transportation
Most people do not consider the tremendous effect the built environment has on their daily lives. This is probably due to the fact that they are confined mostly to their car in the day-to-day commutes. Let there be no mistake: Fort Wayne is a city built and designed for cars, with little thought for the pedestrian. As a consequence, sprawl has increased and a feeling of camaraderie and community has disappeared
for the most part. I would work to redress this issue and work for a more livable Fort Wayne. Here are some ways I believe this can be accomplished.
[li]Introduction and implementation of pedestrian-only streets. All forms of wheeled transport would be prohibited from using the street.[/li]
[li]Require edifices be built closer to the sidewalks. This would mean that storefronts would be accessible to the pedestrian, with parking in the rear.[/li]
[li]Work to integrate our city’s universities and campuses into their surrounding neighborhoods. We have some 32,000 students currently
attending our city’s universities.[/li]
[li]Introduce a citywide bike-sharing program. This has been successfully introduced in many cities throughout Europe as well as in our nation’s capital.[/li]
[li]More bike lanes on streets and further connectivity with various trails throughout the city. Bicyclist’s :,i.ghts should be protected and considered. I believe that bicycling should be officially encouraged as a viable means of transportation. Bicycling will only get more popular as we work to increase the walkability of our city.[/li]
I also believe very strongly in the value of public transportation. As such, I believe that we, as a community, need t engage in a discussion about whether or not we want to continue to be solely automobile dependent. I believe that a move toward transit-oriented development i the right move. As a City Councilman I would attempt to be on the advisory board for Citilink and use my capacity as said councilman to facilitate and generate discussion and debate about transit reform. A significant public transportation system (be it light rail or bus rapid transit) is a fantastic (and correct) step toward sustainability. Â However, we must not be fooled – it will require a significant investment of time and money, and considering our city’s past record of largeÂ scale public projects (Renaissance Pointe comes to mind), this may be a difficult thing to convince people of. However, I believe there is much that can be learned from the failures and mismanagement of those past projects. Learning from these problems will lead us to a better direction in the organization of our public projects.