TCSD candidate Navid Fardanesh
Editor’s note: Candidates for a seat on the Templeton Community Services District (TCSD) were each asked the same set of questions in a timed interview. The questions cover the five main services under the TCSD umbrella (water, wastewater/sewer, solid waste, emergency services/Fire Department, Parks & Recreation), and included questions regarding Board policy and the current state of TCSD.
DR. NAVID FARDANESH
My name is Navid Fardanesh. I have been married to my beautiful wife Cynthia for 16 years. We have two wonderful children, ages 14 and 12, attending Templeton schools and our family has lived here since 2012. I graduated from U.C. San Francisco Dental School and established a successful dental practice for 15 years.
In my prior community of Ripon, CA (an agricultural town of less than 15,000 with similar municipal issues to Templeton), I served 5 years as a Planning Commissioner, two of those years as Chairman. I also served on the Board of the Chamber of Commerce, including 3 years as President, and was a member of the Lions Club for 8 years.
Currently, I am a member of the Templeton Lions Club and am both a member and an Ambassador for the Templeton Chamber of Commerce. And my family and I are active members of Templeton 4-H.
I have always been active in my local community and consider it a top priority to be involved and to make a difference in Templeton.
As a TCSD Director, I will establish a common ground and common sense approach for all issues to build a stronger, more cohesive community.
Templeton’s Fire Department (TFD) is under the TCSD umbrella of services. The Board of Directors oversees the Fire Department through both policy and budgetary considerations. As a department head, the Fire Chief answers directly to the General Manager. Funding for TFD comes from a small portion of local property taxes ($658,800 in the current budget), supplemented by occasional grants.
(a) What do you feel are the top 3 issues currently facing Templeton’s Fire Department, and if elected, how would you work to solve these issues?
• The top three issue are deciding the Fire Department’s organizational structure, assessing financial budget, and ensuring timely responses to all calls 24 hours a day. If elected, I will look at all staffing models that will best fit our community’s financial resources and improve the safety of our residents.
(b) If the challenges can’t be overcome, would you support folding TFD into another fire service like CAL FIRE or perhaps a regional north county service? If yes, which of these options would you choose and why? If no, why not?
• First, I will work very hard to maintain Templeton’s own Fire Department because based on my research our residents will have the most consistent, faster response time. If the challenges cannot be overcome, then definitely we must consider other options. My criteria to evaluate other options are 1) fire safety, 2)retaining our current personnel, 3)fair compensation, and 4)a department with a strong sense of community.
(c) What would be the pros and the cons for the town of Templeton if TFD was folded into another fire service?
(d) Would you support a “fire fee” / assessment on local property owners to raise funds to support Templeton’s Fire Department?
• (c and d) Any outcome, pro or con, will depend on the quality of agreement that we negotiate with another fire service department. If a contract needs to be created, then I will work very diligently to ensure that all safety and financial concerns of our town are addressed. I will meet with fire personnel, city staff, and residents to gather their input and incorporate the ideas into a well thought out document.
Historically, the Board of Directors has made many decisions through the lens of a policy that stated, “All new development will pay its own way.” This policy was regularly followed by previous boards since the founding of TCSD in 1976, and was implemented with the belief that current rate payers for water, wastewater, etc., should not have to pay for new resources or infrastructure needed for new development. But recently, some have questioned whether or not the policy should be changed.
(a) Do you support the current policy that states that new development will pay its own way, or do you believe current rate payers should foot part of the bill for additional resources and infrastructure needed to produce that development?
• (a and b) In my opinion, a new development should be eagerly anticipated rather than be dreaded and detrimental to our community. I support the current policy that developers should build the necessary additional infrastructure for their new project.
The town of Templeton currently has a dual wastewater collection and treatment system. In general, flows from the east side of Hwy 101 are collected and sent to Paso Robles for treatment, and wastewater from the west side of the freeway is collected and treated at Templeton’s Meadowbrook Wastewater Treatment Plant. Currently, TCSD is laying the groundwork to collect and treat all wastewater produced by Templeton internally at Meadowbrook – when and if, the Board of Directors chooses to do so.
(a) What are the pros and cons of bringing wastewater flows currently sent to Paso Robles back to Templeton?
• If all of our town’s wastewater is sent to Templeton’s treatment plant, then on the positive side, then we no longer will be paying Paso Robles for this service and will be able to utilize the effluent wastewater. The initial challenge will be the cost of expanding our facility.
(b) If elected, which option would you choose to support?
(d) If the flows are brought back to Templeton, who should pay for it and how should it be paid for?
• (b, c, d) If elected, I will support bringing the treatment of all wastewater to Templeton. Our wastewater facility needs to be improved and expanded to keep up with our town’s requirements. Funding for the development will be realized from the savings of no longer paying Paso Robles for their services.
The town of Templeton is facing a number of water issues now and in the near future.
(a) What do you feel are the top 5 issues and how would you prioritize them (most urgent to least urgent)?
• The top water five issues in priority order are: 1) quantity, 2) conservation, 3) cost, 4) growing demand, and 5) quality.
(b) If elected, how would you work to solve these issues?
• If elected, I will look for new sources of water for our town, including working with other towns to create partnerships for new development costs. To improve conservation, I would like to create programs to offer education and assistance to residents that want to lower their water usage.
In 1999, the Board of Supervisors adopted a new solid waste franchise agreement that raised single can rates in Templeton as much as 70 percent over the previous rates. As a result, a number of residents petitioned TCSD to take over solid waste services, believing that Templeton could do a much better job than the County. Through agreements with Mid-State Solid Waste and Recycling, Templeton currently has some of the lowest solid waste rates in the county in conjunction with excellence in service, community participation, and leadership in innovation.
(a) Do you agree with this characterization of TCSD’s Solid Waste management thru Mid-State Solid Waste & Recycling? (yes or no)
• I agree with that characterization.
• As a resident, I have received very good service from Mid-State and the staff is helpful with explaining the products they have available. In my conversations with other residents, they also have had positive experiences with Mid-State.
(c) If elected, what changes to Solid Waste services or the franchise agreement would you like to see addressed?
• I would like to make certain that there are provisions to ensure quality of service is maintained, safety standards are followed, and Templeton’s financial interests are protected.
PARKS AND RECREATION
The fifth department under the TCSD umbrella is Templeton Parks & Recreation which is primarily supported by a small fraction of local taxes ($237,900 in this year’s Rec Department budget) in addition to participation fees for youth sports and sports events, sponsorships for events and youth sports teams, and fees for parks and facilities rentals. In addition to youth sports and events like Summer Concerts in the Park, Templeton Rec also oversees Evers Sports Park, Templeton Skate Park, the Community Garden, Tom Jermin, Sr. Park (formally Bethel Park) and the Templeton Community Center. The budget must cover the Rec department employee’s salaries and benefits, the care and upkeep of the parks and facilities, and all programs (youth sports and events).
(a) What, in your opinion, are the greatest challenges facing Templeton Recreation today?
• The greatest challenges facing the Recreation Department are limited financial resources, growing demand for activities, and limited green space to play.
(b) The current Board of Directors has asked staff to jettison any recreation program or event that doesn’t pay its own way – including staff time (salaries). As a result, two long-standing traditions in Templeton have been cut from the Recreation Department. Both the Templeton Easter Egg Hunt and the Halloween Party for Templeton’s youngest “trick-or-treaters” at the Fire Station have been done away with this year. Do you agree with this budgetary decision / perspective? Why or why not?
• It is always difficult to cut programs but if something needs to be eliminated, then it is best to identify activities that are also being provided by other community organizations.
(c) If elected, how would you work to help solve the challenges you believe are facing the Recreation Department?
• As an elected official, I will work with our wonderful service clubs to make sure that all of our town’s traditions are maintained. For example, I am proud to be a member of the Templeton Lions Club that is responsible for providing free swimming at the downtown pool.
STATE OF THE DISTRICT
The 2012-13 San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury published an in depth report in 2013 titled “Trouble in Templeton’s Community Services District” regarding the state of TCSD and a number of serious challenges then facing the district. The following year, the 2013-14 Grand Jury published a follow up report titled “Responding to Recommendations”, in part to see if TCSD had improved. “While progress has been made and the district has been characterized as now being on a positive, upward trajectory, there is still work to be done,” said Soaring Eagle Press Editor Nanette Fisher in an assessment of the District following the publication of the second Grand Jury report.
(a) Do you agree with this assessment? (yes or no)
(b) What challenges do you feel still need to be addressed?
• While it is great that improvement has been made, I think the biggest challenge for TCSD is to increase community involvement in local government. We need to create a meeting environment that is “friendly” and interesting to all members of our community, and then we can get their perspective and ideas on the important issues facing our town.
(c) If elected, how would you work with both staff and your fellow Directors to tackle any challenges you feel still need to be attended to?
• First, I want to work to create a good working relationship between the TCSD board members and the city staff. Then, I am excited about my ideas to have the service clubs, student groups, and all residents have an active role in our meetings. Also, I would like to see the elected officials attend more of the events held by the community organizations. The more we work together, the easier the challenges will be to solve.
ANY FINAL THOUGHTS?
A vote for me would mean that the residents will have someone on the Board who is committed, prepared and open to all ideas. I will welcome ideas from all sides of the issues to make a decision that would be beneficial to all residents. It will be my goal as your Director to ensure that Templeton’s best days are still ahead.
ABOUT SOARING EAGLE PRESS
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