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Spano Stakes Out Pro-Growth Stance in Pacifica Council Race

Candidate says he stands with pro-development councilmembers Stone and Nihart. He is seeking a two-year term in his first run for public office.

The first candidate to file for the November city council race says he stands with the sitting council's pro-development wing in setting a course he believes will promote economic vitality in a city teetering on bankruptcy.

And longtime Pacifica resident and political novice Victor Spano says he's determined to make growing Pacifica's economy his top priority.

"I feel I'm aligned with (mayor pro tem) Len Stone and (councilmember) Mary Ann Nihart and the direction that they've tried to take in recent months," Spano said.

"I support the idea of economic development for Pacifica. I believe that city planning and the building process can be streamlined more to assist with new projects coming to Pacifica."

A structural deficit has trimmed a reserve fund of $6 million five or six years ago to just $600,000. And although the current fiscal year's budget has a surplus of about $200,000, Pacifica is by all accounts just one frivolous lawsuit away from being the next Stockton.

Along the way, funding cuts in recent years have left parks, beaches and roads in disrepair, Spano said.

"All this is fueled by a lack of economic development," he said. "If you have more businesses in Pacifica you're going to generate more sales tax revenues."

For Spano, Pacifica's downward economic spiral is personal, as his passion to return the city to a economic vitality, he says.  

"I used to drive around Pacifica and we had three car dealers, a movie theater and all the shopping centers were full," Spano said.

"Now we have 45 to 50 vacant shop spaces. That's sales tax dollars that's going to other cities."

Spano says his experience could help bring some of those tax dollars back to Pacifica.

He's made economic development his life's work, serving as an economic development coordinator in Daly City since 1999 and on Pacifica's economic development committee as an appointee since last year. He completed his master's degree in economic development at USC.

"As a council member I want to be a sales person for Pacifica and try to bring back that retail that we once had in the (1980s and 90s)," he said.

He said his economic development experience, combined with his understanding of the inner workings of local government he developed in Daly City, make him uniquely qualified to serve on the council.

Spano touted the Pacifica economic development committee's efforts to get an art gallery off the ground and set a small business incubator program in motion among the accomplishments to which he's contributed.

"I am the only candidate I know of who's worked fulltime in local government," he said. "I feel that gives me an advantage over the other candidates."

He said his status as a political newcomer makes seeking the two-year term a logical choice. The race for the two four-year terms, he says, is for those with more political experience.  

"I think there would be the expectation that anyone in that (two-year) seat would have to work twice as hard," Spano said.

"I'm willing to do that."

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hutch August 08, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Great. I think this is the kind of candidate we need to support. Ones who will pledge to put the economy on the front burner. I'll look forward to hearing more about him.
Lynn Voccola August 08, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Small business is the engine of our economy. It is the responsibility of every council member to support the development, expansion, and sucrcess of new and existing businesses in Pacifica. All of us who live or work in Pacifica have to support our local business community by shopping, dining, and utilizing services here.
Pacificat August 08, 2012 at 08:16 PM
I'd like to know what his specific ideas are for economic development in Pacifica. For instance, Round Table Pizza in Linda Mar just closed because they raised the rent on them too high. Same thing for all the empty storefronts in Eureka Square - rents are too high. What would Mr. Spano do about that?
Lionel Emde August 09, 2012 at 02:07 AM
I, too, am glad to see a new face in the council race. But this statement: "A structural deficit has trimmed a reserve fund of $6 million five or six years ago to just $600,000. And although the current fiscal year's budget has a surplus of about $200,000, Pacifica is by all accounts just one frivolous lawsuit away from being the next Stockton.", is not quite accurate. We had a $7 million reserve in 2008, and it has been spent on an unsustainable payroll/pension scheme for the city's workforce. S & P (the credit rating agency that downgraded Pacifica's credit rating) reported that the reserve had shrunk to less than $300,000 last year. I no longer trust the financial reporting of Pacifica's city government as, unfortunately, thay have every motive to lie. What will this candidate do about more open and transparent government here in Pacifica?
DM August 09, 2012 at 08:23 PM
I'm not sure there's much Mr. Stone, or any new council members or a a new mayor for that matter, can do to help failing businesses here in Pacifica. Rents are high because our retail base here has been assailed with high B&O taxes, hefty fees to permit businesses here and the same ever increasing property taxes Pacifica homeowners are subjected to. There has never been a tax which was paid by a business. Taxes and fees are passed through to consumers (ie, people) in the form of higher prices, including rent. Stick it to Pacifica's business owners (residential landlords and commercial property management companies included) and they will either fail, not locate here or raise prices to stay afloat. Many of Pacifica's businesses are hanging on by their finger nails. Don't believe me, talk anyone employed trying to fill commercial space here and you'll get an ear full. The bottom line, the next Pacifica City Council must preside over serious financial and compensation reforms or this city will go the way of Stockton. It's shocking to me that the same cast of characters who managed us into this mess is now under consideration to lead this city into the future.
Pacificat August 09, 2012 at 09:15 PM
"the same cast of characters who managed us into this mess is now under consideration to lead this city into the future." Not quite accurate. The only person running for re-election is Mary Ann Nihart. The current City Council adopted a balanced budget with no structural deficit. After the November election, there will be at least 2 new Council members who will join Len Stone and Sue Digre. Assuming Mary Ann wins re-election, 2 new Council members may join with her and Len to form a new majority. They will still be dealing with the same issues as the previous Council. Heard any new ideas out there?
hutch August 09, 2012 at 11:33 PM
You're right Lionel. The major cause of our current financial crisis IS the unsustainable pensions and wages we're paying. I would like to hear from some candidates what they would do to bring this way down and be more open about what we need from the unions. I know it all hinges on negotiating future contracts but I would like to hear who will make it their priority along with economic development.
hutch August 09, 2012 at 11:34 PM
How about a levy on commercial landlords for each empty storefront. That will give them an incentive to lower rents.
DM August 11, 2012 at 03:48 AM
Thank you, Pacificat, for the correction! As far as new ideas, given the ongoing discussion concerning the state of the city's reserve fund, I would like to see an independant audit of Pacifica's books and some details published surrounding the 'structural' budgetary problems facing the city. This would be good to know.

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