Conversation With Maddy Larson For LFP City Council Position 5

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I recently posed some questions to Maddy and here are her answers:

What are your thoughts about Prop 1?

Our community values and has asked for improved pedestrian safety – sidewalks, trails, traffic calming measures, etc. - throughout our community (Safe Streets Report) and enhancements - including trails, play equipment, dog park areas, community gardens, etc. - to our parks (PROST Plan). Proposition 1 is our city council’s effort to fund these requests. Now, it is up to voters to determine if this levy is the right approach to funding these improvements. If elected and if Prop 1 passes, I will work hard to ensure the funds are spent wisely, with extensive public engagement and input, and with transparency and accountability on the part of the city. If it does not pass, I will work with my fellow council members and community to identify a path forward to achieve our community’s wants and needs.

Pedestrian safety is a major concern in LFP. What are your thoughts on addressing this?

We have a great start on identifying particularly challenging areas for pedestrian safety in our Safe Streets report, which had considerable public input. With increased traffic and speeding through our neighborhoods, I’d like to see our community revisit this report to include areas that may have been left out, to develop shovel ready plans for the highest priorities in this report (safety to and from schools and public transportation), and identify a development (plans, funding and a timeline) pathway for the rest of the work.

If you could make all the decisions, what’s your vision for LFP Town Center?

My vision for TC is one that includes having the patience to wait for the right community partner to come onboard as owners of the property. Through that partnership we would see a highly walkable mixed-use development that provides a variety of housing options, community spaces, robust small businesses that provide goods and services to LFP, and improved storm water management from paved surfaces – all at a scale and in character with the surrounding residential zones.

What special insight do you feel serving as chair of the LFP Planning Commission has provided you with serving as a city council member?

First, serving on our volunteer LFP Planning Commission for the last three and a half years has given me hundreds of hours of direct experience working with our community, city staff and city council on policies that shape our community. Through this I have been able to not only read the many documents that serve as guides for our city (Legacy 100-Year Vision, Comprehensive Plan, Lake Forest Park Municipal Code, City of Lake Forest Park Strategic Plan, etc.) but used them to inform policy discussions and decisions. As chair, I have had the opportunity to directly shape the processes we use to get work done. This includes a great deal of listening and collaboration to lay out the goals, scope, schedule and procedures that are used to tackle our work. Then, as we move through the work, I reach out to ensure each commissioner’s voice is respectfully heard and considered. All of these experiences provide me with the essential experience necessary to be an effective council member for Lake Forest Park.

How, specifically, do you hope to create more opportunities for community input if elected?

I would build on the work I have already done (expanding opportunities for public input on our PC at both the beginning and end of meetings, expanding both the time period of public notices, the number of households notified, and the input opportunities for residents on major development activities at Town Center, developing a community wide survey to inform ADU code revisions) to create more opportunities for community input if I am elected. I will, also, personally hold regular gatherings to foster the exchange of information and ideas that will inform my work on city council and, hopefully, build community and local civic engagement. I’d like to identify and employ community outreach opportunities that provide easier access to information about our city council’s work and greater context for the work itself.

Can you provide an example related to your desire to “help our community thrive without sacrificing what makes Lake Forest Park unique in the region?”

One way to help our community thrive without sacrificing what makes Lake Forest Park unique in our region is to encourage low-impact housing options (“the missing middle”) that complement our existing community while expanding the diversity (size and type) of our housing inventory. Current zoning in our region favors a very limited number of housing types (large apartment complexes, three-story townhomes, and larger single-family homes) that are being built with significant negative impacts to our natural environment and housing affordability. We can and should do better.

How does your experience as an educator and leader for non-profits position you uniquely to serve as a council member?

My professional work experiences have provided me with extensive opportunities to bring good ideas to life. As an educator, I worked to provide access to high-quality, holistic learning experiences that promoted both individual and community well-being. As a non-profit leader I’ve had the privilege of building teams, programs, and learning spaces to achieve the mission of the organizations I’ve worked for. In all cases, I have honed my skills as a leader who can effectively work on complex projects with sizable budgets and diverse groups of stakeholders to serve community. Through my participation in our city government, I have found my professional experiences to be well-aligned with the policy work, budget management and community building activities of our city council.

More information can be found at: https://www.maddy4lfp.com/

Thanks, Maddy!

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