LIFT Cypress Higher with Steve Mauss for City Council - Law & Order, Integrity, Fiscal Responsibility, and Transparency

L.I.F.T. Cypress Higher

Steve Mauss for Cypress City Council
Steve Mauss for Cypress City Council 2020
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Let’s L.I.F.T. Cypress higher, together.

In these uncertain times, we need leadership that respects Law and order, holds fast to Integrity, and is committed to Fiscal Responsibility and Transparency.

“I commit to listen to every citizen, be upfront, honest, and respectful. I would be honored to receive your vote.”

Steve Mauss

Law & Order

Integrity

Fiscal Responsibility

Transparency

Respect for Law and Order means supporting our excellent Cypress Police by providing the training, equipment and staffing levels they need.

A commitment to Integrity means always being honest with the good citizens of Cypress. We need the truth about how the city is being run in our name.

Fiscal Responsibility means continuing the long tradition in Cypress that balances business interests with quality of life, while listening to the citizens’ needs and concerns about open space, housing, and development.

Transparency means holding community outreach meetings that amount to more than just “checking a box.”

Steve4Cypress on Future of Housing in Cypress.

Video by Patron Property Management

I joined Rob Sittman, Business Development Manager with Patron Property Management, to discuss my vision of Cypress and what makes this city a wonderful place for business and families alike.

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Meet Steve Mauss

Family Matters

I have lived in Cypress for 20 years, and run a successful business here. I love this city for its standard of living, low crime, and beauty. My wife of 40 years and I raised our children here. I have volunteered for the Boys and Girls Club, H.O.P.E. food bank, and BSA. Just like you, my family means everything to me and I want to do everything in my power to provide them with a safe, clean, and prosperous environment.

Community Matters

I believe in service. Our lives have all been so greatly blessed by living in Cypress and I believe it’s time to give back. None of us lives in a vacuum, even though the pandemic shutdowns can sometimes make it feel that way. We are all, truly, in this together. It is nearly impossible to create a wholesome environment where our families can thrive without working with our friends and neighbors in the community. We may not always agree on everything but this much is certain: Our greatest achievements are those we accomplish together. Never before has there been a greater need for compassion, understanding, and civil discourse. It has never been more important than right now to focus on what unites us rather than what divides us. Together, we can lift Cypress to new heights.

Steve Mauss family
Together, we can LIFT Cypress to even greater heights. I ask for your support through spreading the word, displaying signs, and even financial contributions, if you can.

Together, we can LIFT Cypress to even greater heights.

believe our best days are still ahead of us.

I ask for your support through spreading the word, displaying signs, and even financial contributions, if you can.

But most importantly, I ask for your vote on November 3rd.

Volunteer your time.
Request Signage or Banners.
Schedule an Interview.

*Political donations are not tax deductible.

Federal law requires us to use our best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $99 in a calendar year.

My Positions and Principles for the Good People of Cypress

True to my word on Transparency, I’m very pleased to present my stance on a few of the important issues that are facing the city of Cypress.

The COVID-19 Pandemic

Many of us have lost friends and loved ones to this terrible disease, or have otherwise watched those we care about suffer.  Some of us have lost others we love to other causes during this time as well.  As a tight-knit community, we love and support each other during difficult times.  We all pray for a speedy resolution to the pandemic and look forward to resuming our normal lives and routines.  Not lost on me, personally, as a business owner, is the terrible impact the pandemic has had on our businesses and community organizations.  Many will have to close their doors forever. 

To understand how I would recommend we handle the current pandemic if the responsibility were to be handed down to the local level, it’s important to know a little bit about my background and philosophy.  First, I believe in freedom and individual liberty.  I do not believe in forcing anyone to do anything when their actions are not restricting the rights of others to their own “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Disagreements about how and when others’ rights are being infringed will always exist, but I think we should provide as much latitude as we can to “live and let live.”  Second, I think it’s important to live by faith, not fear.  Simply locking everything and everyone down because we are afraid they might be injured or infected is a fear-based approach.  Such approaches often come with many unintended consequences.  Individual choice is key and I sincerely hope that everyone will choose to help stop, or even slow, the spread of disease.

I would begin with a public service campaign to make everyone aware of the risks and dangers of the COVID-19.  I would work to make sure everyone understands whether or not they are in a high-risk population and offer help and support to those who are concerned, in the form of information and supplies, so that they can take steps to protect themselves. This could take the form of self-isolation and (in the case of infection) self-quarantine.  I would promote common-sense protections like social distancing, masks, hand-washing, and other basic hygienic practices and make sure that everyone has access to the associated needed resources.  I would ask the business community to implement extra cleaning procedures.  But then, I would allow people to choose for themselves.  I would not close businesses, doctor’s offices, or even government facilities.  I would not close schools, either.  Instead, I would allow people to choose the level of risk they are willing to accept.  Where business, offices, etc., are concerned, those that feel the risk is too great to go into work should be provided with options to perhaps work from home (where possible), wear protective gear (like face shields, gloves, etc.).  Patrons that feel the risk is too great could postpone shopping in person, shop online, or have others help them with shopping.  Where schools are concerned, I would offer parents the choice to either send their children to in-person instruction or online learning.  This way, those that are concerned that they are at a greater risk than they are willing to accept are given choices that allow them the safety they seek, while those that that feel otherwise can continue their lives as they so choose.  For facilities that typically cater to individuals that are at higher risk, like Senior Centers, I think we could be more creative than simply shutting everything down.  More efforts could be made to reach them with technology in a safe way by mobilizing staff and family to help them connect.  For large-scale gatherings in close quarters, like Concerts on the Green, I would encourage the musicians to put their creativity to use and stream their performances, or pre-record them on YouTube, but I would suspend any such gatherings until we have a vaccine or have achieved “herd immunity” (or both!).

The Trash Contract Modifications

From the information I have (I never felt like we citizens were provided complete information about the negotiations), I would have voted against the modifications.  I understand that the City desired to avoid the time and expense of going back through the bidding process all over again; it is, indeed, a lengthy and expensive process and there are risks associated with it (such as not knowing whether any new deal would be better than the modification would be, not knowing anything about any new potential service provider, etc.).  However, on principle, the existing provider was given extra preference in the bidding process because of the “deep experience” of team members.  Without that preference, they would not likely have been chosen as the provider in the first place.  To have them come back a few years later and tell the City that all of the “deep experience” was not enough to accurately project their costs seems somewhat disingenuous to me.  Additionally, the contract that was signed contained no provision for this kind of modification.  Of course, the two parties can agree to make whatever modifications they mutually agree to; that is, strictly speaking, legal.  It was, however, in my view, bad policy.  It sets a bad precedent for future contracts, discredits the bidding process conducted by the City, and erodes public confidence in City leadership.  I would have voted to put the contract back out to bid. 

In the future, it would be wise to have policies in place that allow the City to automatically terminate the existing award and offer it to the second-place bidder, without having to go through the entire bidding process again (unless the second place bidder was no longer interested at the price they proposed, of course).

The City’s 13-Acre Site on Katella

My preference for this site would be for a project or projects that more fully integrate with the existing “Town Center” concept that has been approved by the voters for the rest of the LARC property if and when the Race Track closes and the land is sold.  Specifically, I do not believe that high-density, high-cost housing is a good fit in that location, nor is a parking garage to accommodate it.  More appropriate would be quality retail/restaurant/grocery/hotel use with plenty of open areas for gathering together in a “city center-like” atmosphere.  My preference, especially in light of the pandemic we are all experiencing, would be to include a fair amount of outside dining.

The Cost of Pensions

This is a sticky one, but I fall back to my original principles. When you promise someone a pension and they plan their retirement accordingly, you must do everything in your power to keep your promise. That being said, it is not necessary to keep the retirement benefits at the same level for new-hires; you cannot because you know that you will not be able to keep that promise. Knowingly making a promise you cannot keep is lying, even if you hope that somehow, some way, future generations will be able to keep it. This demonstrates a lack of Integrity.

Future Revenues

I believe our current sales tax structure needs to be updated but, other than that, I see no reason to raise taxes at this time. Our tax base should not be shrinking. Even though more of us are buying online, we are still consuming as much as we ever have. Sales taxes should be collected by online retailers based on your address – then distributed back to the cities as is done by the CA FTB now. Loss of brick-and-mortar retail is not really the problem, it is office/building use. The pandemic has taught us that many things we’ve always assumed must be done in an office building don’t really have to be. People can work from home. The likely outcome will be a glut of office space. This will be a good time to reevaluate how we live and do business. Shall we create a shared use concept so businesses can rent professional conference space as needed but otherwise have a limited physical presence? If there are too many office buildings, shall we encourage the owners to sell and raze the buildings to make way for homes? Parks? I think some careful, thoughtful, strategic planning for the future, with input from the Cypress residents, should be done from here.

Amazon

After visiting with the residents that will be most affected by the Amazon “last mile” development at the vacated Mitsubishi headquarters site, I am no longer in favor of the project as it is currently proposed.

Naturally, we are all buying a great deal from Amazon and it is going to be delivered into our city one way or another, but we need to carefully plan how, when, and where these kinds of facilities are placed within our city. It appears that the current City Council will vote on the project before the new members are seated, which means that the project will probably be approved in its current form, but there is still quite a bit that can be done to mitigate the impact on local residents. For example, one resident suggested requiring the developer to erect higher sound barrier walls to lessen the noise. Another recommended asking the tenant (Amazon) to disable the back-up beepers on their trucks and vans while on site, just as was negotiated with Shaw Industries (so the beepers are not constantly going off all night). These are some good ideas. Residents need to be listened to and taken seriously.

Lastly, I am not in favor of extending Holder Ave. across the Stanton flood control channel at Katella. This would have a terrible impact on the homeowners there. These are our neighbors. They need to be heard and respected by all of us, even if we live on the other side of the city. If we allow impacts such as this in their neighborhood, it is only a matter of time before the same is allowed everywhere in the city.

As a general comment, though, I think the city leadership owes the residents of the areas surrounding the project an explanation of how it fits into the city’s long-term development strategy.

New Businesses

This item is similar to #6 but with a few additions. First, the citizens of Cypress need to be clear to City leadership what kind of living environment they want in their city. We need to decide what kind of balance between quality of life (this include parks), local jobs, and amenities we want. What will our demographics look like? It isn’t enough to simply say “we want more businesses.” We need to be able to say what kinds of businesses we want, and then go about trying to attract them. And to the question about how to retain existing businesses, once we have answered the preceding question, we can also focus our resources on helping those types of businesses flourish. Some ideas: Encourage doing business in Cypress. Go out to eat and socialize. Keep our neighborhoods clean and safe so that people want to live and shop here. Cypress needs to sparkle. People from all over should want to come here. From out of the area and going to Disneyland? What if we created an environment where word on the street was “stay in Cypress” because it’s cleaner, nicer, and easier to get around in? We should have express public transport that visitors can hop onto to get to larger entertainment venues so they don’t have to drive their cars. Who wants to park in those huge lots and wait hours to get out, anyway? There are lots of ways we could go about attracting and retaining businesses in the future and I welcome hearing from each of you with your ideas.

Lincoln Corridor

Frankly, I am disappointed with the mish-mash of retail and high-density residential going in on Lincoln Ave. The street was barely able to handle the traffic when it was just retail. When you add in high-density housing, how does the EIR come out saying it will be OK. Beyond that, the entire corridor is starting to look like we cannot decide what we want on Lincoln Ave. There is such a mess of old retail, new retail, big-box, and residential. If any area cried out for a “Master Plan,” it is the Lincoln corridor. I’m OK with enhanced retail (newer shops, stores, etc.), small service-oriented businesses and offices, lower-density housing, or other uses that do not drive a ton of traffic along Lincoln but we need a better, more organized, plan. How much of each? Where should they be located? How much of the traffic is “drive-through” traffic to get to Hawaiian Gardens or the freeway? All of these questions (and more) need to be considered. I realize the city has a plan to beautify the medians (restore) but this is only a minor step. We need a plan, and we need community input.

Defunding the Police

Let me state, categorically, that I am opposed to defunding the Police. I fully support the Cypress Police Department. The success or failure of Cypress very much depends on the professionalism of our police department and how well they can ensure our peace and safety. Perhaps the primary purpose of government, at any level, is to ensure the safety and security of ALL its citizens. Our Cypress PD does this, and does it well. Chief Cox has done an excellent job and I look forward to helping select his successor when his retirement is finalized.

Partnerships with Surrounding Municipalities

Of course, controlling costs is always important but I have learned through years of experience in business that we must be careful who we partner with. We need to understand and appreciate that Cypress is one of the best run, most fiscally sound municipalities in the state. Partnering with another municipality that is not well run always seems to end up shifting burdens to those that are. Los Alamitos recently had to raise its sales tax rate to stave off financial collapse. Negotiating with Rossmoor is not like negotiating with another city; they are part of unincorporated Orange County. Seal Beach is a great little city but quite different in character and demographics from Cypress. I would proceed with caution. We need to make sure it benefits Cypress and doesn’t leave us stuck with the bill. It’s often more expensive to unwind something and start over.

City Mergers

Again, similar to (Partnerships with surrounding municipalities), we need to proceed with caution. Sometimes what seems like it would save us money costs more in the long run. That being said, I would be open to discussions. The pros would be the economies of scale, especially in terms of administrative costs. The cons would be the loss of local control, needed changes to governance structure (There would need to be districts, and the City Council would no longer be “at large.” The elected City officials, i.e. Mayor, would need to be full time), and, of course, the financial liabilities brought about by merging the pensions and benefits from city workers (in fact, although I haven’t seen the numbers for cities other than Cypress, I’m guessing that the cities surrounding Cypress have rather large pension liabilities that they haven’t yet figured out how to pay for, based on Los Alamitos’ recent tax increase). I’d need to see the numbers.

Public Hearings
I believe in Public Hearings but I have been disappointed in the way they have been conducted in the past.  Very little of the community input seems to make any real difference in the proposed projects or positions.  It is probably the case that those who show up to public hearings have strong feelings but do not necessarily represent all views on the matter.  What is equally likely is that neither the results of the public hearing feedback nor any other data that went into the final decision making is publicized in any real way, leaving the citizens who did, in fact, take time out of their busy lives to come to the hearings feeling like it was a waste of time.  None of us believes that we have the only voice in the matter but greater transparency may help all of us feel like we were heard, even if the decision didn’t go our way.
Sports Park at Cerritos and Lexington

We’re all glad to be getting another park where the community can gather and enjoy some open space and activity. Many of us associated with the “Citizens for Responsible Development” group fought hard to make sure Cypress kept its promises in the Costco/Cottonwood agreement. The expectation was that the park would have a wide variety of community uses but the proposed design used most of the space for soccer fields, with only a small portion set aside for more general uses. This was a disappointment for non-soccer players, of course, because the plans called for keeping the fields closed (which I assume means “locked”) when soccer is not being played. When public hearings were held on the project, this disappointment was expressed by a large number of the participants. Data also was presented from the City’s own study showing that we already had a surplus of soccer fields if the leagues were willing to schedule the school fields. None of this seemed to matter. The decision was made to go ahead with essentially the original design. No explanation was ever given. (Note: If anyone from the City would like offer additional information, refute their own study, or otherwise contest my assertions here, I would love to hear from them.)

United Health/Optum Care Parking Facility

A public hearing is scheduled regarding the proposed 5-story parking structure to be built on their property at 5701 Katella, just East of Walker Street. That’s a lot of parking. The question naturally arises: Why is so much parking needed at that facility? Are their plans for additional projects on this property? I have been informed that United Healthcare has been leasing about 300 parking spaces from the Race Track for some time and shuttling their employees back and forth. It makes sense that they would like to provide closer parking. But a 5-story parking structure should provide more than 300 spaces, I would imagine. Regardless, we should get the opportunity to ask this question at the public hearing. I will attend the hearing and report back what I find out here.

Measure P
I work in the technology field and, specifically, in the use of technology to automate processes. There are lots of ways to save time and money through the use of technology. Measure P proponents suggest that efficiency and progress is exactly the point of updating the city charter. But whenever a technology update is up for consideration (as with many ideas), it is important to ask if the costs outweigh the benefits.

Many costs are not monetary. Such is the case with transparency. One of my key campaign themes (the “T” in “L.I.F.T.”) is, in fact Transparency because it seems like we often either do the bare minimum, as required by law, or we simply “check a box” to show that we posted notices and held public hearings.

The effort to rely on more of an online posting of notices, although it sounds like progress, is presented as a replacement for newspaper or other “hardcopy” forms of notice. This will have the unintended consequence of disenfranchising those without internet access, like is the case for some of our Seniors and those less well off. I believe it will actually reduce transparency and I am therefor OPPOSED to Measure P as it is currently formed. I think it should be withdrawn and revisited during the next election cycle in two years, after a review of residents’ concerns.

In the interim, the City needs to keep updating its wonderful phone app and re-do the website to make it easier for residents and businesses to use. There are many areas where cost savings and efficiencies can be achieved online, such as permitting, business license renewals, etc., without sacrificing transparency. Let’s go there first.

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