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Semrau questions appropriately

Dear Editor:Burlingame was a firestorm between those who support open space and those who want more affordable housing. Pam Lifton-Zoline’s letter (April 3) implies how tough the public process was for her. But it was clear reading it that she had no idea how tough it must have been for Tim Semrau who found himself the swing vote on a split council. Mick Ireland was in the lucky position of not being on council.Advocates to protect Deer Hill (the Burlingame property) were arguing for other sites for the affordable housing component and declaring that the public was underwriting the development for the Zolines. All the usual concerns were expressed. The council chambers were filled to capacity.Properly responding to public concerns, Tim Semrau was questioning the development as proposed. He was right to encourage council to evaluate all the competing sites for housing resulting in a clearer picture later for the voters when Burlingame went to a vote.It was easy for Mick Ireland to appear focused because his sole role was as an advocate for more affordable housing on the property … earning it appears the gratitude of the developer.But Mick’s advocacy has always stopped short of making the housing the public builds a better product for the consumer. On Oct. 28, 2001, Mr. Ireland helped author an editorial demanding both Mr. Semrau’s and my resignations from the housing board because of our joint push to make changes in the housing guidelines and operations.We were calling for changes that allowed recouping capital improvements when affordable units sold. We were proposing guideline changes that allowed professionals and dual income middle class families to qualify. We were questioning why it cost the housing office more to build than the private sector. Tim Semrau’s propensity to re-examine housing policies dates back six years and is not a sudden pandering to gain votes.What Pam Zoline’s letter does clearly illustrate was that during his term on council, Tim demonstrated the ability to separate truth from agendas and the backbone to take grief from applicants and other elected officials when he questioned. He also kept an open mind and tried to find solutions to the win-lose situation the Zoline – Burlingame application caused.The next few years are going to be focused on competing goals because the Entrance question and the replacement of old buildings and infrastructure can’t be put off. We need leaders that will try to integrate conflicting purposes into solutions we all can accept. Pam’s letter makes it clear that of the two, Tim Semrau is the mayoral candidate with the ability to do that.Shellie RoyAspen


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