Engineer and former treasurer sees reason to support Measure M
By Jondi Gumz, Santa Cruz Sentinel
Editor’s note: The Sentinel is taking a look at candidates running for City Council. Jacques Bertrand is one of six candidates seeking three seats.
CAPITOLA >> Jacques Bertrand, making his third try for a seat on the Capitola City Council, hopes the third time is the charm.
“I’m persistent,” he said.
Bertrand, 65, an engineer who has lived in Capitola for 16 years, served as city treasurer for four years, checking spending reports weekly, getting to know city staff and serving on the finance advisory committee. Two years ago, he finished third in a race for two council seats, then spent two years on the General Plan advisory committee discussing a 20-year blueprint for Capitola’s future.
“I pushed the protection of Capitola’s neighborhoods,” he said, explaining the need for a transition from business to residential areas.
He is pleased with the resulting 196-page plan, which he said “emphasized the importance of community identity and to provide for a planning code that supports a balanced and sustainable transportation system, a healthy local economy and opportunities for residents to enjoy where they live.”
Capitola is preparing to update its housing element, as the state requires.
The city has more renters than homeowners; single-family homes make up 36 percent of the city’s housing stock with 64 percent being apartments, condos and mobile home parks.
Bertrand supports “affordable dwelling units” to increase housing for qualifying families so they can live closer to their jobs rather than commute so far.
“It is important to provide housing for a cross section of the population, including those on limited budgets,” he said. “This helps make Capitola a healthy community.”
He wants traffic mitigation measures for safety; statistics show injury collisions are up, compared to four years ago.
He would like to revive the Economic Development Committee, on which he served for seven years, to provide a forum for dialogue by stakeholders.
“The Economic Development Committee had a meaningful role in pushing the 41st transit station relocation,” he said. “Now, it looks like it will happen.”
To build stores along 41st Avenue where mall parking is requires changing the 40-year-old zoning code.
“It’s been patched many times and not fully understood,” Bertrand said.
As someone who ran a bookstore in San Francisco, he empathizes with small business owners trying to navigate Capitola’s zoning requirements.
As for the hotel proposal on the City Hall site, which surfaced this week, Bertrand observed it was “not on the table” for the general plan advisory committee.
“If people don’t want a hotel, there shouldn’t be a hotel,” he said.
He acknowledges there is “a lot of accumulated wisdom on the present board,” but would like to change “how we do things.”
He believes city officials must make more effort to get public input on projects that could affect their home or business.
Though Measure M, a ballot measure to raise the tax on hotel rooms and vacation rentals has drawn opposition, Bertrand supports it.
“I specifically want this revenue to address problem areas caused by the large number of visitors,” he said, citing greater needs for public safety, cleanup and traffic controls. “I also want a source of revenue to do things for ourselves to celebrate our neighbors, our community and just being here.”
Background: Semiconductor engineering and technical marketing for semiconductor products and services; member, Capitola General Plan Advisory Committee, 2011-2013; Capitola city treasurer, 2008-2012; member, Economic Development Committee, 2005-2012; member, Capitola Finance Advisory Committee, 2007-2012; past member, Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commission, Aging in Place Committee, Friends of Noble Gulch Park, McCormick Neighborhood Group, Village Master Plan Advisory Committee, recreation advisory committee, community site review committee; 2004 graduate of Capitola Academy; past member, Capitola Elementary Home and School Club; current member, Stars, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church; while living in San Lorenzo Valley, appointed to school board and founded Valley Unity Action Group.
Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics, business administration, public policy.