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Andrea Marr, Costa Mesa District 3 City Council candidate, Election 2022 questionnaire

Ahead of the November elections, The Orange County Register compiled a list of questions to pose to the candidates who wish to represent you. You can find the full questionnaire below, with responses only edited for grammar and punctuation.

MORE: Read all the candidate responses in our Voter Guide

Name: Andrea Marr

Current Job Title: Council Member / Vice President, Willdan Energy Solutions

Age: 39

Incumbent: Yes

Other political positions held: None

City where you reside: Costa Mesa

Campaign website or social media: www.marrforcostamesa.com

Would an inclusionary requirement for affordable homes work in Costa Mesa?

Yes, but of course the details matter. If we create an inclusionary housing ordinance that is too onerous, we run the risk of not getting any housing built at all. I believe we can craft a thoughtful policy that ensures we create additional workforce housing. We have begun the process of analyzing what type of ordinance we should consider, and I have called for a study session in the near future to publicly discuss the merits of in-lieu fees and the percentage of affordability that we might require.

What can the city do better to fund and address aging roads and water and sewer systems and prepare for future infrastructure needs?

Good governance is budgeting for infrastructure improvements over time, even for the things no one sees. There’s no silver bullet for upgrading aging infrastructure; you must consistently fund projects to incrementally update systems. Regular maintenance, good upkeep, and a skilled workforce are fundamental to the most basic functions of a city for this exact reason — we need to keep the roads paved and the water running, or we’re not doing our jobs.

Unfortunately, too often city councils would rather fund projects that result in ribbon cuttings. A recent example is the City Hall elevator project — upgrades were postponed for more than a decade because previous councils had different budget priorities. Eventually, parts were no longer available, and we had no choice but to undergo an expensive retrofit. One of my priorities has been finding legacy problems exactly like this and working to find a solution before an emergency arises.

Do you see more benefits or detriments from retail cannabis businesses for the city?

I’m cautiously optimistic that the cannabis dispensaries that have been permitted to date will be good operators and will help to drive out the illegal dispensaries through competition. But I am concerned about the number of dispensaries that we allow to open in Costa Mesa. I think that after this first tranche of stores opens, we should consider pausing the application process to evaluate the impact of those stores.

How can the city best meet the demand and mandates for more housing, including at lower prices, while also preserving the quality of life for existing neighborhoods and residents?

As part of the Housing Ad Hoc committee, I learned firsthand that we were unlikely to have an approved state-mandated housing plan under our current ordinances. That puts our state funding at risk (which are dollars we use to combat homelessness, amongst other things) and may result in a total loss of local control if Sacramento were to intervene. The city is currently proposing locating some housing along major commercial corridors like Harbor and Newport boulevards so that we can keep single-family neighborhoods intact.

I support Measure K because it allows us to start the planning process — we can consider how to incorporate housing into our major corridors while providing much-needed revitalization and ensuring thoughtful development. It does not itself result in development — developers will still have to go through a normal entitlement process and be subject to fees and building restrictions like height and density.

Why would you make a good leader, and how would you represent the diverse communities of your city? 

I’ve spent the last 20 years thinking about leadership — first as a midshipman at the Naval Academy, then as an officer in the Navy, later as a doctoral candidate in Leadership Studies at the University of San Diego (graduating May 2023), and now as the Mayor Pro Tem of Costa Mesa. I’ve come to believe that leadership is far less about me and much more about the way in which I engage with others. Does the community feel safe, included, and heard? Am I making sure to include all voices, not just the loudest voices? How do I make sure I’m hearing opposing views, not just my own echo chamber? These are the questions I ask myself every day.

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