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Mount Shasta Council candidate Stackfleth wants to continue work he began four years ago

Kelsey Shelton
Mount Shasta Herald
John Stackfleth

Mount Shasta City councilor John Stackfleth hopes to retain his seat in the Nov. 3 election so he can continue work he began when he was first elected in 2016.

Stackfleth, 58, has been employed in the textile leasing business since 1989. He currently works for ALSCO and has a route that covers most of Siskiyou County. 

His inspiration to run for city council came from suggestions from members of the “Mount Shasta, Open For Business” group, that “wanted to improve business conditions generally, and business ‘start-up’ conditions specifically,” Stackfleth said. 

Stackfleth believes the main qualification that will help him in a second term is the experience he has gained over the past four years. 

“I have served on ad hoc committees regarding Annual Fiscal Audits and Utility Rate Studies,” said Stackfleth. He has also acted as council liaison to the Library Tax Advisory Committee, where he “helped move the expansion project along, while keeping the resulting design exclusively focused on library related functions.” 

Stackfleth also believes his current and previous business experience helps bring a “private sector” outlook to his city government philosophy. He believes this is “an important attitude to bring to many aspects of Mt. Shasta City government.”

Stackfleth has also spent nearly a decade managing the Siskiyou Ice Rink. “This experience helps me to see the key role the Recreation and Park District plays in improving the quality of life in Mount Shasta,” said Stackfleth. 

Stackfleth has lived in Mount Shasta since 2005. He has a 32-year-old daughter who lives in with her family, where she spends most of her time caring for her three year old twins. His 30-year-old son lives in Florida and is a lieutenant in the USMC, where he will train as a naval aviator.

Q&A with the candidate

Stackfleth answered a series of questions via email.

Q: What are your main goals if elected?

A: If elected my main goals will be to continue the improvement of Mt Shasta’s aged and decrepit infrastructure. Hopefully, the new Wastewater Treatment Plant will begin construction in 2021, along with the upgrade of the interceptor line that takes sewage to that plant. The City will potentially receive sufficient grant monies to rebuild the decommissioned Water Tank #1 on McCloud Avenue, install new water lines down South Mt Shasta Blvd, and replace all water lines in the Pine St/Cedar St neighborhood between the elementary school and the hospital. The city’s storm drainage system will also require serious improvements over the next four years. A combination of grants and rate increases will finance these upgrades.

Also, I will work to improve the quality of life in the area by improving parks and recreation programs in cooperation with the Mt Shasta Recreation and Park District (MSRPD). The creation of the long discussed ‘Greenway Trail’ that includes a trail from City Park through Downtown and onto Lake Siskiyou can greatly enhance recreational opportunities for area residents. This project will hopefully receive attention over the next couple of years and is an example of a joint venture between the city and MSRPD. 

The amount of available AND affordable housing continues to lessen within Mount Shasta. The city needs to simultaneously pursue all housing grant opportunities and promote the creation of new private sector-built housing throughout the city at all price ranges. The State of California has tax increment programs that allow localities to dedicate part of the property tax increase, of an improved property, to pay for the costs of city led housing development (Assembly Bill 2, Community Redevelopment and Investment Authority, aka CRIA).

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

A: To enhance the ability of entrepreneurs of all types and sizes to start businesses in Mt Shasta, the City Council reduced Impact Fees a few years ago. That fee abatement should be continued, as I believe that that fee reduction helped several businesses to decide in favor of moving forward with their ventures. Additionally, the planning and building departments need to improve the speed at which permits are issued. There have been many complaints about the plan checker the city uses to review such documents.  The general complaint is that things move too slowly due to technological reasons on the plan checker’s side. Possibly finding a new, or more, plan checkers needs review. Most importantly, city staff need to work cooperatively and extensively with the Siskiyou Economic Development Council to find appropriate businesses to move their operations to such areas as ‘The Landing’ (former Roseburg Mill) and the area north of Spring Hill. 

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

A: I have voted against industrial cannabis measures since October of 2017. Legal cannabis businesses will under-perform and have liquidity problems until legal cannabis businesses have full and regular access to U.S. commercial banking and law enforcement agencies, at all levels, put black market cannabis organizations out of business. The city should not promote the placement of these businesses within city limits generally, as greater economic benefit will be had by pursuing other types of businesses, such as sales tax generating retail and TOT (hotel room tax) generating hotels. Regardless of my position, Mount Shasta has 23 licenses available for cannabis businesses, three of which are reserved for retail outlets. It would have behooved the Planning Commission to allow industrial cannabis firms to only locate north of Spring Hill, thus avoiding the current controversy regarding buffer zones.

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

A: The most substantial thing the city council can do to help businesses through the COVID-19 crises, is not add more regulatory burdens to businesses than the State has already prescribed. Thankfully, the current council has not added any rules or mandates to the existing COVID-19 state ordered prescriptions with respect to individual citizens, visitors, or businesses. Additionally, should a business create innovative ways to compensate for lost capacity due to COVID rules, the city should help the business to implement the idea. One can see examples of this with several restaurants that converted parking spaces to dining areas.

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

A: There are three successful water bottling operations in South Siskiyou County currently: Castle Rock in Dunsmuir, Mt. Shasta Spring off Mott Road, and Crystal Geyser Roxane in South Weed. Castle Rock and Mount Shasta Spring are relatively small compared to the seven line, highly automated Crystal Geyser. Aside from the City of Weed/Roseburg Forest Product dispute regarding rights to Beaughan Spring, complaints regarding depleted aquifers or dry wells seem rare as relates to the three bottling operations.  These existing water bottling plants have proven to me that this industry helps our local employment situation and fits well within the region’s economic landscape.

The Crystal Geyser Roxane plant employs around 150 people and, due to recent human resources policy changes, nearly all are permanent employees receiving above average wages and benefits when compared to other private sector employers in Siskiyou County.  The ongoing controversy regarding the reopening of the water bottling facility in Mount Shasta by Crystal Geyser Otsuka, continues in the court system. While it remains unclear how many employees this plant would employ and how much water it would extract at full capacity, my research into the company indicates that they exhibit positive stewardship qualities with respect to environmental issues. I tend to think that the opening of this plant would have a net positive effect on the economy of the City of Mt. Shasta. But alas, seven years into the process of trying to open this new facility, rumors abound that the company will abandon the project.

Another company, that specializes in the bottling of water for athletes, has approached the City of McCloud about converting an old mill building into a bottling facility. It should be interesting to compare the reception this small, specialty bottler receives versus Nestle.

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: With respect to homelessness, I support the findings of a report by Dr. Marbut of July 2017. Team Shasta commissioned this effort to clarify the local homeless problem and receive recommendations to solve the problem effectively.  In the report, Dr. Marbut differentiates between under-funded tourists that tend stay in area for a short time, from those homeless people with mental health and/or substance abuse problems that tend to remain in the area long term. His recommendation regarding the former population, and he mentions in the report that they constitute the majority of those we consider homeless, seems almost harsh. He strongly recommends we, as a community and the city government, do nothing to encourage these folks to feel welcome and to prolong their stay in our area. He states quite strongly that this will only promote more underfunded tourists to visit and exacerbate the problem we aspire to solve. For those in the latter group of people, Dr. Marbut recommends a coordinated approach with County Health professionals and facilities, to establish practices of treatment that will attempt to solve the underlying cause of homelessness for the individuals receiving attention.

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

A: The single most pressing issue Mt Shasta faces right now, is lack of housing. Not just affordable housing, but housing in general. I am quite convinced that far more people want to live within the City of Mt. Shasta, than we have available space. A proactive approach by the city must be made to inspire private sector residential development from high density townhouse structure and apartment complexes, to low density single family detached homes. Community Revitalization and Investment Authority (Assembly Bill 2, aka CRIA) enables localities to invest in projects that will lead to increased property tax collection. The increased property tax can then be used to pay down debt acquired to fund the beneficial project. For instance, if the City of Mt. Shasta were to purchase a large parcel of vacant land and then contract to have an affordable housing developer build townhomes on the land, the increase in property tax would be dedicated to paying the loan to buy the land. In this scenario, the cost of the land would not be factored into the purchase price of the dwelling unit, thus making the asking price, or rental rate, more affordable to the public.

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

A: Whether it is the four seasons, village setting, wonderful vistas, recreational offerings, or friendly people, Mt Shasta is a great place to live.  And, because I do love Mount Shasta so much, I want to see this town thrive economically for everyone while maintaining its unique charm.