I hope you all are enjoying your summer. As Council wraps up its session, I have been reflecting on what we have accomplished. Governing is often a series of conversations and compromises, and it is through working together that we all succeed, it is by working together that we make progress.
When I came into office the most pressing issue in front of Council was the competing timelines between the two minimum wage initiatives passed by the voters in November. After much public debate and conversation we were able to pass a compromise that honors the voters’ desire to gradually reach a $15/hour minimum wage while avoiding the potential loss of many of Flagstaff’s unique small businesses and cherished non-profits that would have been drastically impacted by an almost doubling of employee related costs within a six-month period.
Council also set taking concrete action on affordable housing as a priority. The high cost of living is one of Flagstaff’s most entrenched issues. The cost of housing is the number one reason young people and young families leave our community. They simply cannot afford to live here due to the high cost of housing. The waiting lists for affordable housing programs in this city currently exceed 700 families and in some cases families have been on them for more than two years. As a Council, we have resolved to make progress on this issue. The city has a responsibility to provide public services to its residents; this is such a service. Recently, we voted to issue an RFP to determine what possibilities exist for housing on three parcels of city-owned land. These parcels were specifically purchased for housing and are located in three different neighborhoods. Council is committed to working with residents in each of the neighborhoods to ensure that any housing built fits the character of the neighborhood should we accept one of the proposals submitted under this process. The housing on these properties would help some of our most vulnerable families. The Council will continue to look at other opportunities to assist our working class and lower income families gain access to affordable housing.
Another goal Council set out for itself was to become a national leader in water conservation in the areas of residential and commercial. This spring Flagstaff stepped up and pledged to conserve more water than any other city of our size. We were awarded first place in the Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. I’m so proud and grateful! Thank you Flagstaff (and the Greater Flagstaff area)!
Flagstaff is a wonderful place to live, and at the same time, it presents many challenges, whether it is the impacts of climate change in the high desert or the cost of living in one of the top 100 places in the nation to raise a child. As a third-generation daughter of Flagstaff, I take future of our city very seriously. It is a great pleasure to work together with my colleagues, staff and all of you to craft strategies to make life better for all of our families now and in the future. FBN
By Coral Evans
Coral Evans is the mayor of Flagstaff.