Answers to Key Issues
Following are Douglas' answers to questions asked by Patch readers.
As our City's demographics continue to change with a smaller and older population (many young families move to outer ring suburbs when the kids show up) what is your 10 year vision for the city? With that vision what are your strategies and tactical ideas to get us there?
A vision for a city should spring from the visions and will of the people, not from the designs of any one elected official. As a Royal Oak planning commissioner, I voted in 2012 to approve the city’s master plan, originally developed in 1999 with extensive public involvement. According to SEMCOG, Royal Oak’s population and average household size will remain stable in the coming years, so the plan remains a viable guide for the city’s future. Its strategies remain viable, notably:
- Maintain the architectural character of our neighborhoods
- Enable non-motorized transportation
- Encourage a mix of uses in a vibrant downtown
- Improve the function and appearance of commercial corridors, especially Woodward Avenue
- Provide demographically-relevant recreation and cultural amenities
While we are seeing some larger new homes being built, Royal Oak will always be a city of primarily smaller homes, appealing to singles, retirees and new families. Our downtown amenities will continue to attract and serve them.
Royal Oak still has a half dozen outdated and dangerous motels that are havens for parole absconders. Do you have a plan on disposing the remaining?
As I understand it, the police are working with prosecutors to closely monitor people staying in those hotels and the city’s code enforcement department scrutinizes them closely. The city can’t seize private property and can’t afford to buy the motels, if they were even for sale. If the city had an economic development program and staff, I would suggest that they develop scenarios that might make it profitable for developers to acquire those properties, as we saw on 11 Mile Road with the development of the Market Square condominium project.
How are you going to address the problems with rats throughout the City?
I have campaigned in precincts all around Royal Oak and have not heard that there are rat problems throughout the city: It’s in a few areas. The city has a system to address it; however the solution is incremental and requires cooperation by residents and businesses, who sometimes do not remove the habitat and food sources that encourage the rats. As the commission prepares the city’s budget, I’ll review the data and make sure we allocate appropriate funds to address the problem effectively.
Some citizens are concerned that in recent years the City Commission has been majoring in the minors. The dog ordinance, the human rights ordinance, the fence ordinance for examples. What is your opinion on this? Regarding your opinion how does that get implemented in the coming years?
The city commission must respond to the issues that come before it, large and small. This is government at its smallest. It’s what we’re here for.
I’ve knocked on several thousand doors so far in this campaign and can tell you that the “majors,” like legacy costs and street repairs, are not high in the minds of the voters. These are not sexy topics. They’re long-term decisions and not often on the agenda. Few people come to the microphone at a commission meeting to talk about them, but they are vitally important. We will probably take action to solve these problems in the next four years so, if I’m elected, I will have to make some hard decisions. The “majors,” as you put it, are definitely on the horizon.
What is the most important thing you would like to accomplish if elected?
I think Royal Oak is going in a good direction and a majority of the voters I’ve talked with over the past four months agree. Home sale prices are increasing. Our property tax revenue will grow a little, year after year. The police department will reach its ideal level of staffing. We’ll replace some playground equipment, we’ll rebuild tennis courts. Those incremental improvements won’t necessarily be visible from day to day.
My “accomplishment” will be being part of the commission team that maintains that momentum.
About Sharlan Douglas
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 248-548-5459
- Facebook: facebook.com/SharlanDouglasForRoyalOak