Frequent public commenter seeks Mount Shasta council seat

Skye Kinkade
Mount Shasta Herald

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of profiles about the five candidates for three seats on the Mount Shasta City Council. Other candidates include incumbents John Stackfleth and Barbara Wagner, former council member Tim Stearns and CPA Tessa Montgomery.

Betty Kreeger

Those who regularly attend Mount Shasta City Council meetings will recognize the name and face of one of the five candidates on the Nov. 3 ballot. Betty Kreeger, a retired legal assistant, often makes public comments on issues and now seeks one of three council seats.

Kreeger, 75, moved to Dunsmuir from Mountain View in 2008 and has lived in Mount Shasta since 2011. Part of the allure of the area was its pure air and water, she said.

Kreeger often shares the findings of her “extensive research” on local issues, including cell towers, Crystal Geyser, smart meters, the downtown no-smoking ordinance, noise, the Freeze Car Wash proposal, and the cannabis referendum. 

Related:Candidate Barbara Wagner wants to continue work on Mount Shasta City Council

Related:Many candidates for Dunsmuir, Weed, Mount Shasta city councils

“I want to be part of the decision making process that brings projects to a completion in a timely manner,” said Kreeger, who graduated from San Francisco State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and criminal justice. She’s currently the secretary of the Mt. Shasta Library Tax Advisory Committee.

In the 1970s, Kreeger served as a police officer in Utah, where she conducted self-defense and rape prevention training for young women.

Her 18 years experience as a legal assistant give her an understanding of “the complexities of the law,” Kreeger said, and she has managerial experience, as well. She points to her strong organizational abilities.

While living in Dunsmuir, Kreeger was active during city council and planning commission meetings and served as a member of the Downtown Historic District Committee and the California Theatre Task Force Committee. “My legal research abilities came in handy as we considered beautification, imminent domain and condemnation,” she said.

2020 elections

Q&A with the candidate

Kreeger answered a list of questions via email.

Q: What are your main goals if elected?

A: The most important thing a council person can do is put community first and do so by listening to community concerns. I support putting major controversial community issues on the ballot, thereby allowing the community at large to decide instead of just the city council.  A ballot measure allows everyone to speak through their vote. 

One ongoing problem that must be resolved is the difficulty of businesses getting permits to open because of a lengthy delay with plans getting approved. The system is archaic with the response to owners being done through snail mail and not through email. This has caused numerous lengthy delays in getting building plans approved for several businesses. In order to streamline the permit process the city needs to set up an electronic response system. If elected one of my goals would be to work with city staff to make this a priority. Streamlining the permitting process will increase the time frame in which businesses can open increasing employment opportunities while also bringing revenue to the city.

Upgrading the interceptor line and the wastewater treatment plant as soon as possible is imperative. Mount Shasta is fortunate to have citizens highly knowledgeable regarding this project and as a city council member I will encourage their input.

Q: Do you have any ideas to increase economic development in the City of Mount Shasta?

The soul of Mount Shasta is tourism. I would like to see a small convention center that would support the many visitors who come here for spiritual and other conferences. 

I have researched opportunities for grants that will enhance the unique character and specific needs of our community and create a thriving Mount Shasta.  The U.S. EPA Smart Growth Implementation Assistance is such a program. They assist in sustainable programs for continued growth such as developing policies that support local retail opportunities, enable affordable housing, and much more. 

Q: What is your take on industrial cannabis businesses, and are they a benefit or detriment to the Mount Shasta community? 

A: Our community is known for its health, recreation and spirituality. Those are the things that attract people from all over the world to our beautiful mountain.  Making our community a hub of industrial cannabis which includes production, manufacturing and distribution of products that promote illness and disease, including addiction and lung damage does not support those values and what we love about Mount Shasta.  In my opinion that is not the type of economic development that is beneficial to us. 

Having said that, I must also address the misconception by some that regulating and ultimately eliminating “industrial” cannabis is somehow designed to take away a personal right to use cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes.  That is not the goal. And I would not support the ballot initiative if that was the goal. I support the right of adults to use medicinal and recreational cannabis as long as it is being done within the confines of the law, including the Downtown No-Smoking Ordinance.  

Q: In what ways could the city council support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic?

Assisting businesses through this situation is not a one-size fits all formula. There are downtown businesses of various types and sizes. Then there are restaurants, shops and other businesses further out.  It is important to reach out to owners and identify what they feel their needs are and then come to a mutual decision that meets both business needs, city ordinance guidelines, pleasing aesthetics, and doesn’t detract from the unique character of our town. 

One current example of assisting businesses is the way in which the city is working with restaurants wishing expand seating capacity by allowing outdoor dining, including “parklets” such as at Pipeline and parking lot dining at Mike & Tony’s.  

In Mount Shasta tourism is our most important industry, and the COVID-19 restrictions have made it difficult for businesses to survive, much less thrive. Siskiyou County has experienced a mere .019% of positive tests (not cases). Positive tests do not equate to cases (sickness). And 99% of positive tests never become “cases” – and only .0001% of those ever require treatment. There have been no deaths in our county. A plethora of scientific evidence exists detailing how masks and social distancing do not work. Dr. Lee Merritt addresses those issues and more at the 2020 Conference of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness: It is time for the city council, other Siskiyou cities and the county health department to push back on the unreasonable COVID-19 restrictions. Let’s provide a more strategic approach to harm minimization for those most at risk. 

Q: What is your opinion on water bottling companies in south Siskiyou County, particularly Crystal Geyser?

Over the past two decades bottling companies, including Crystal Geyser, have vied to take our water, pay nothing, and make billions.  Coca Cola closed its doors in March 2010 because of “market conditions and overcapacity in the bottled water industry.”  But now CG claims it is urgent they get up and running to “meet increasing market demand.” In the intervening 10 years nothing has changed except lakes, rivers and oceans are filled with more plastic debris and chemicals. During Coca Cola’s occupation of this plant several neighborhood wells either went dry or had significantly reduced capacity – called sucking sand. This is one of our current worries. 

Crystal Geyser’s purchase in 2013 has been very controversial and two lawsuits are pending in Superior Court because the County’s Environmental Impact Report is unscientific, incomplete, and essentially deceptive. Also, CG has not been forthright from the beginning with regard to numerous issues. Initially they promised 250 jobs, reduced to 150, then 60, and now I believe that number is 12. The previous Coca Cola facility produced only bottled water, but CG plans to brew Tejava tea as well. That change required an EIR. On-sight plastic production puts the aquifer that supplies domestic wells at risk of chemical pollution. CG’s wastewater will go into the City’s Waste Water Treatment Plant. Yet CG failed to disclose what chemicals it will use, stating merely “cleaning agents.” Sadly not all the water will go to the WWTP as they are allowed to use the leach field for chemical containing rinse water.

 Other unmitigated issues of significance are:  noise, diesel pollution, wear and tear on local roads and freeway exists by more than 100 heavy trucks, traffic jams at Ski Village Drive/N. Mt. Shasta Blvd. and all-night bright lighting from eight docks into nearby homes.  None of these can be mitigated adequately.  Heavy trucks damaging roads could negatively impact the budget of the city when repairs must be made. When a project is so controversial the “precautionary principle” should be applied. Clearly that has not been the case – the county virtually ignoring these environmental impacts.

Q: The city’s homeless population has been a source of contention, especially in recent years. Do you think the issue is being properly addressed and do you have any ideas to curtail homelessness in Mount Shasta?

A: This is a complicated issue as the reasons for homelessness are many: 1) lack of affordable housing, 2) unemployment (which recently skyrocketed), 3) poverty, 4) mental illness and 5) substance abuse. Add to that the lack of needed services and we have a formula for homelessness which requires compassion.  Some simply choose to be homeless travelers.

My observation as I walk around town almost daily is that Mount Shasta does not have a homeless “problem.”  Generally, the homeless who come to Mount Shasta often are “seasonal transients” just traveling through staying a few days to a week.  As with any housed population, there will be some unhoused who do not comply with laws. That is a genuine source of contention. However, sometimes what is perceived as a source of contention derives from a misunderstanding of the law and a desire not to see those “others” loitering.  However, loitering isn’t against the law, but what sometimes goes hand-in-hand with loitering are drinking in public and panhandling which are unlawful. I believe the police handle those situations correctly while also respecting their rights.

Several years ago Team Shasta held a workshop to address the needs and impacts of homeless and transient populations. Have the goals established been accomplished? They included: 1) Providing safe environments for community members and visitors, 2) creating a public engagement and outreach process around homeless and transient populations; 3) providing local homeless services including emergency services, and 4) Improving behavioral health (mental and substance abuse conditions) services for local homeless populations. Have they followed up? There is a transition home for men in Yreka, but that clearly is insufficient.  Are we as a City taking advantage of the grant programs offered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development?  

Q: In your opinion, what is the most pressing issue that is currently facing the City of Mount Shasta?

Currently one of the most pressing issues is COVID-19 which I have addressed in part above. Secondly, community disaster preparedness, especially fire notifications including evacuation routes as we enter yet another fire season.  Programs and incentives that will allow our Volunteer Fire Department to grow.  Absent these things being mitigated in advance all else doesn’t matter. An example of a good mitigation might be an agreement with Crystal Geyser, should they open, to share their water source to fight fires immediately upon need. 

Q: What is your favorite thing about living in Mount Shasta?

There are so many; it is hard to name just one.  I moved here for the non-toxic environment with pure air and clean water.  Then discovered I love the peace and quiet of being able to hike the mountain and walk in the local forested areas.