Clayton City Council candidate questions: Peter Cloven

The Concord Clayton Pioneer newspaper presented a list of questions to the candidates running for Clayton City Council in the 2020 election. To read other candidate answers, click here. For our story on all the candidates running in this race, click here.

Peter ClovenPeter Cloven

Why are you running for the City Council? The future look and feel of Clayton faces serious challenges from continued Sacramento higher density housing mandates that threaten the city’s character. As a planning commissioner, I have felt the community’s angst during recent meetings. I want to be at the table helping to make decisions that slow down the legislative onslaught, frame future zoning and allow us to Conserve Clayton’s Character.

What are your professional/personal qualifications? I have a degree in biochemistry from Cal-Berkeley. I am an environmental scientist with 35 years of experience. I am a fiscally conservative owner of an environmental consulting company, and many of my company’s projects are associated with real estate development and finance.

How long have you been a resident? 14 years.

What other civic positions have you held? I have been on the Planning Commission since 2017 and am currently serving as chair. I am a proud member of the Clayton Business & Community Association (CBCA) and volunteer at many of the local festivals and events.

What experience do you have that qualifies you for the City Council? As planning commissioner for three years, I understand the city process and citizens’ concerns. I am a business owner and understand budgets, payroll and finance. I have also served on several non-profit board positions with titles of treasurer to president.

Do you believe Clayton has a problem with racism that needs to be addressed? If so, how would you address the issue? Clayton is not a racist city. Is there racism in Clayton? Yes, but we combat racism through ongoing dialogue among family and friends and with the wider community through social media as with the ongoing “Race Relations in Clayton” webinars. We must consciously recognize our own biases and prejudices and call out injustice and racism whenever and wherever we see it.

The governor has made the housing crisis a No. 1 priority for the state. Cities are being mandated to provide more housing units than has been required in the past, and it’s likely yet even denser housing plans will be required in the future. How should Clayton address these mandates? We’ve already seen how developers used the Housing Accountability Act (HAA) and the Housing Density Bonus in a recent Clayton project. This type of use was not conceived of by the City Council when the last Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) was derived. Combatting this type of unforeseen overreach by developers will require not only informed City Council members and planning commissioners, but also an educated and engaged public. We must take control of future projects as much as possible through careful planning and keen following and review of state legislative mandates. The City Council needs to embrace informed and engaged citizens who provide unique ideas for alternatives to development (e.g., for downtown parcels) or quality crafted arguments against developments as we face them in the future.

Clayton has historically been very fiscally conservative with a limited budget. What are your spending priorities in keeping with a commitment to a balanced budget? I am a fiscally conservative, small business owner. I would approach Clayton’s budgets consistent with prior councils by ensuring the safety, services and quality of life (e.g., road, trails, landscaping) that citizens of Clayton have come to expect. As such, I would be very wary choosing a path of litigation against the state relative to housing unless we had very solid legal footing.

What do you see as the single biggest challenge for the city going into 2021? Housing, particularly high-density housing, is and will continue to be the priority challenge to Clayton. As Sacramento hands down more and more legislation to allow high-density housing and dilute local control, Clayton will and must continue to fight to keep its unique small-town, bucolic character.

What is your vision for Clayton in the next four years? Long term? Clayton has a character that is unique and truly deserves conservation. Clayton should remain the charming, welcoming place that we all love. With help from the community, I will look to find a solution that preserves the undeveloped parcel at the entrance to our city (behind the Clayton Community Church office). We cannot afford to let Sacramento dictate development on that parcel or other city-owned land.

What role will you play in realizing that vision? In my career as an environmental professional, I am constantly battling the competing needs of my clients with lending institutions, landowners, land purchasers, attorneys and regulatory entities (city, county, state and federal). I am experienced at seeing technical, bureaucratic and scientific (environmental) solutions. This experience, along with my desire to “do that right thing” and come away with win-win solutions, makes me uniquely qualified for the role as a City Council member. I do not come in with an agenda. I am fiercely independent and will always vote for what I conclude is the best decision for Clayton.