This is the third in a series of candidate profiles before the Nov. 5 election.
Agoura Hills Patch: Why are you running for City Council?
William Koehler: Aside from my ongoing commitment to serve our community having served 12 years on the Planning Commission, and finishing my 8th year on the City Council, it is my desire to work to see the city remain fiscally sound while at the same time continue to improve the infrastructure such as the re-alignment of Agoura Road, safeguarding our surrounding environment through the acquisition of open space, and adhering to our long commitment to careful development while minimizing traffic impacts. It is further my desire to see through completion the construction of our community center.
Agoura Hills Patch: What do you think are some of the biggest issues Agoura will face during your first term if you are elected?
William Koehler: Without a doubt there is a need for realistic legislation dealing with the Malibu Creek watershed. What is now proposed by the EPA is unrealistic, mandates an impossible goal, and at a cost that would economically devastate Agoura Hills as well as our neighboring cities and the Las Virgenes Water District. Also of importance will be our working to achieve a smooth transition of approximately 51 acres we are acquiring just east of the city limits into permanent open space.
Lastly, the loss of our redevelopment agency coupled with a history of state government often times trying to balance their budget at the expense of local government, the ability each year to produce a balanced budget yet continue to provide services the city needs and wants will be an ongoing challenge.
Agoura Hills Patch: How would you get people more involved in local government?
William Koehler: First of all you cannot force someone to become involved, as this is a matter of choice. I would submit that perhaps the community already feels involved through their monitoring of our meetings which are televised, our city news letter, and our website. The fact that people are not saying anything does not mean they are not involved.
Perhaps this is a sign that they are happy with what they see their local government doing.
One thing I would give strong consideration to would be periodic town hall meetings where the public can address the City Council with their questions and concerns. This would give one an opportunity to have their concerns heard, and perhaps create greater involvement on the part of the community.
Agoura Hills Patch: Do you have any environmentally friendly endeavors you would like to pursue if elected?
William Koehler: As we have for the past 8 years, I would continue to be pro-active to any opportunity to acquire open space. In the last 8 years the city has acquired approximately 55 acres which is now open space, and currently 42% of our city landmass is open space.
Secondly, I would actively pursue realistic yet responsible legislation to deal with the Malibu Creek watershed. While it is important to our local watershed to minimize its bacterial count, we need a realistic goal at a cost that would not bankrupt our city.
Lastly, perhaps it is time to look at moving away from plastic trash bags due to their negative impact to our local streambeds and eco system.
Agoura Hills Patch: What is the first thing you would like to do if elected to the Council?
William Koehler: In my first term as Mayor, I introduced the idea of establishing a Cultural Arts Committee to act as the cultural conscience and facilitator for our community.
From that idea, our very active Cultural Arts Committee, (90301) was formed.
If re-elected I would like to initiate periodic workshops where the community can address the City Council on issues, both pro and con. I would also reach out to the Homeowner Association Presidents to conduct a roundtable discussion regarding the issues facing their respective communities. I think this would help the City Council understand the needs and wants of the various sectors within our community.
Lastly, I would continue to look for opportunities wherein we can join together with our adjoining communities on shared contracts, such as the one we entered into with Westlake Village for street paving which saved our city several hundred thousand dollars by offering a larger scaled project to the contractor, resulting in a significant cost savings.
Agoura Hills Patch: What is your stand on development in this city? Do you think Agoura needs more of them or do you think the city is at its status quo when it comes to commercial or non-residential development?
William Koehler: Currently, we are seeing a high vacancy factor in the commercial office space sector, and I think this high vacancy rate will stall any development in the near future in that market.
As the economy rebounds, I would like to see activity in the area described in our general plan as Agoura Village, which would be a mixed use of residential and commercial, primarily retail. Retail would create sales tax beneficial to the city’s finances, and residential would hopefully provide a product now in short supply in the city; housing for individuals who want to downsize yet remain in the community, affordable housing for young adults wanting to live in a family friendly community, and workforce housing.
Agoura Hills Patch: What do you think of the job the current Council has done?
William Koehler: As a current City Councilman and former Mayor, I am probably biased, however I think we have done a very good job serving our community.
In my 8 years on the City Council a few of the things we have accomplished are:
a) We remodeled the Reyes Adobe Bridge, which was completed on time and within budget, using predominantly Federal funds,
b) We acquired land above City Hall to build a new Community Center
with previously budgeted funds,
c) We established a very active Cultural Arts Committee,
d) We acquired approximately 55 acres of open space, when added to the existing open space totals approximately 42% of our city landmass,
e) We provided much needed financial assistance to support our schools technology program,
f) We accomplished all of the above, and more while maintaining a balanced budget each year.
Agoura Hills Patch: Do you have any ideas or programs in mind that could help generate some additional revenue for the city?
William Koehler: Certainly the development of Agoura Village would create a stronger sales tax base.
Upon the completion of our Community Center, the city will be in a position to rent
out the multi-purpose facilities within the Center which would create rental income from these private functions to not only defer the cost of maintaining the Community Center, but freeing up funds that could be used for other civic needs.
I would continue to push our recently created tourism bureau to find ways to feature our city as the gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains and all of its resources, including but not limited to miles of biking and hiking trails and their unsurpassed scenic beauty. As a byproduct, these visitors would be inclined to stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and make purchases within the community, all of which would create sales and occupancy taxes for the city.
Agoura Hills Patch: Anything else you would like to add?
William Koehler: In addition to the accomplishments I have already mentioned, I would like to see the Council continue to look for opportunities to work with our school board to find funding opportunities that would assist our school district in maintaining its stellar reputation. I would also work with our fine Department of Community Services to continue and enhance the numerous events and activities that we currently offer to all age groups within our community; events such a Reyes Adobe days, concerts in the park, movies in the park and the Teen Art Show, as well as other events the entire family can enjoy and participate in.