Election 2022 Candidate Questionnaire – Greg Ladd
Running for: Council District 5
Question: What brought you to Lexington-Fayette County? What do you love about our community?
I was born here, and have chosen to raise my family a mile from where I was born. Lexington is a kind and generous place, and has the potential to be the best city in the country.
Question: Like the rest of the nation, Lexington faces critical challenges around developing adequate Affordable housing for low-income families and increasing attainable missing middle housing for the average income resident. What specific policy recommendations do you have to address these different challenges?
Enhance our relationship with HUD and CDBG to build affordable housing within the urban services boundary, where resident can afford the maintenance of their necessary infrastructure. Develop a high risk fund backed by the city, graded that way, so local banks can finance affordable housing projects. We can name a third party beneficiary like Habit for Humanity. This works. I’ve seen it work. I’m a bankruptcy attorney and have extensive experience in this field. This is just one of the many things I would call “low hanging fruit” to alleviate this burden. Additionally, we have a progressive tax code. We should do the same with local ad valorem tax to help residents with rising costs. Again, low hanging fruit that will work. This was done successfully in some European cities.
Question: The 2018 Comprehensive Plan, Imagine Lexington, prioritizes infill redevelopment within the Urban Service Boundary as a primary strategy to accommodate our growth needs. How do you propose we incentivize infill and redevelopment to activate the approximately 17,000 acres of vacant, underused and underutilized land (much of which exists on our major commercial corridors) within the Urban Service Area? What specific policy recommendations or incentives do you think we could utilize to ensure we sustainably use our existing resources to meet our needs?
Come up with a plan! A real plan with procedural steps and benchmarks. We need to attract companies whose needs meet our availabilities. Columbus, OH executed this perfectly. The metrics they used are in the public domain, and they are thoughtful and methodical. Inspiring even. That should be us.
Recruit companies whose needs fit our availabilities and who we want to be. Please see my website for full detail: ladd4lex.com.
Question: The balance between our urban and rural areas is essential to our unique economy, environment, and quality of life in Lexington-Fayette County. Since the last expansion of the Urban Service Boundary in 1996, only 51% of the land brought within the boundary has been developed, and no Affordable housing has been built in those dedicated expansion areas. Do you support an expansion of the Urban Service Area during the current Comprehensive Planning update process? Please explain.
No. For many reasons. But this question, I think, really sums up our platform. I rarely hear anyone discuss the specifics of expansion. And I personally doubt expansion is even a realistic option. There are two components to this question, the material and the theoretical. The theoretical is certainly of great interest to me personally, and of which I have strong opinions, but the material realities of expansion many seem to gloss over. I’ve worked in public infrastructure finance, and done hundreds of public infrastructure projects across Kentucky. Each project contained a feasibility study. Lexington’s outdated infrastructure lacks the feasibility to increase capacity. There are 4 key components to infrastructure that we can barely maintain as it is. In fact, there are two potholes at the entrance to the Fairway Neighborhood that cause many citizens to spill their coffee at least once a week. It’s a running joke amongst residents.
The origin of an urban services boundary is literally an inquiry into identifying a geographic point whereby a community could not afford to “grow” beyond because it lacks the tax base to maintain necessary infrastructure and services. So the expansion conversation is dead on arrival without substantial public invest, which would require dollars that do not exist or would otherwise far exceed our liability/bonding capacity.
Question: To grow Lexington-Fayette County sustainably, we must grow equitably and consider impacts on our marginalized and underserved communities. What specific policies would you recommend to incentivize community-driven investments in historically disinvested neighborhoods while preventing displacement which can result from gentrification?
Modernize our ad valorem tax code to a progressive system. Our last three presidents’ HUD appointees have noted tax policy as a leading cause of gentrification. As a bankruptcy attorney, I’ve seen this first hand. My clients, many on fixed income, can not afford the rising costs of home ownership.
Question: What do you see as the pillars of Lexington-Fayette County’s strong and diverse economy? What specific policies do you recommend for: a) activating existing economic development land for jobs, such as the nearly 250 acres at Coldstream; b) creating opportunities for job growth utilizing the significant vacant office and commercial spaces within our urban area, and c) leveraging our unique assets and community strengths to support job growth and continued economic prosperity?
A robust plan that calibrates our strengths with a modern economy. Identify what industry and commerce will look like and 2035, and start planning yesterday. We put out a policy paper on this very issue.
Question: Fayette County agriculture industries are a significant part of our local economy and cultural identity, having a $2.3 billion dollar annual economic impact, supporting 1 out of every 12 jobs, and anchoring a $2 billion dollar local tourism industry. What specific policies do you support to ensure the continued strength of our agriculture industries and the rural land that supports them?
10 years ago I wrote a land conservation tax credit bill on this very topic for this very reason. I’ve been passionate about this effort for a long time. The bill is on my website.
Question: The federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funds offer Lexington-Fayette County a transformational opportunity to invest in transportation, water, power and energy, environmental remediation, public lands, community resilience and broadband. What specific policy recommendations do you have for approaching quality of life investments and capital improvements to make the most efficient use of these funds in the coming years? What are the top priorities for investment in Lexington-Fayette County?
Infrastructure compatible with our needs in 2035, not 2014. In every facet. Be more proactive in identifying those needs. Again, a full answer to this question is on my website. In essence, it is this issue that caused me to get involved. Comparable cities (Asheville, Greenville, Knoxville) have out performed Lexington on this front for the last decade.
Question: According to the Center for Neighborhood Technology, the average Lexingtonian spends 24% of their income on transportation costs and 26% on housing. What specific policies would you propose to incentivize public transportation, bike/pedestrian improvements, and walkable developments near existing infrastructure to help alleviate both traffic and transportation costs in our community?
To start, placing an emphasis on mixed use development. There is a book called Strong Towns that spells this out explicitly, using centuries of data and examples from Pompeii, Italy to Toronto, Canada. I’d recommend we do exactly what other thriving communities have done. Let’s start there.