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Davis cites housing shortage as greatest Rockland challenge

By Stephen Betts | Sep 30, 2019
Nathan Davis

Rockland — Nathan Davis said he believes the greatest challenge facing Rockland is a housing shortage.

Davis is one of four candidates seeking two City Council seats in the Nov. 5 election.

The candidate said the housing shortage discourages young people and people of low and moderate income from living in Rockland.

"This is a complex problem that involves not just housing, but also jobs and wages, transportation, zoning, gentrification, taxes, construction costs and other factors, only some of which the city government can directly influence," Davis said. "In general, I believe we should address this challenge by allowing and incentivizing the construction of additional housing while also attempting to mitigate gentrification, increase wages and keep Rockland a place where people are happy to live and excited to move to. Our approach will also depend on the city's new Comprehensive Plan, which is currently being drafted.

Davis said he seeks to serve on the City Council because he loves Rockland and it is his home. "And because I have the capacity to gather information, deliberate and make decisions that will serve Rockland well in its present and future," he said.

Davis said he is neither a proponent nor opponent of cruise ships of any size. He said he was content to let the current limits stand while waiting for the Ad-Hoc Harbor Management Plan Committee to complete its work. He said one approach that might balance concerns on all sides is to insist on performance standards regarding environmental protection, labor issues, responsible tourism, etc. for operators of cruise ships.

"That way we would not shut the door, but rather require that companies that wish to use our facilities comply with standards that address some of the bad behavior associated with the industry," Davis said.

He said he was not concerned about owner-occupied rentals, but is concerned about the proliferation of non-owner-occupied rentals. "These should be regulated and limited, but ideally not in a way that creates a privileged and exclusive class of operators.

Davis said he supports in general the effort to change lot sizes and setbacks.

"Our current zoning regulations essentially say that Rockland should not have developed as it did, and that we now know better. But when I walk around Rockland, I love the compactness, and the walkability, and the life of the sidewalks and streetscapes. We wouldn't have achieved those things if everyone had a big lot with huge frontage. As these are fundamentally questions of land use, the answers will also depend on the new Comprehensive Plan," he said.

The candidate said he is concerned that Yachting Solutions Inc. seems to have planned to infringe upon various public goods (moorings, the South Channel, view corridors) without offering the public much in return.

"In addition, I am not happy at the prospect of hosting mega-yachts for the very rich at the expense of public use of the harbor. However, to be fair to Yachting Solutions, much of their plan would serve smaller boats, and I am more open to those aspects of their plan," Davis said.

The candidate said he supports allowing retail marijuana stores.

"It makes no sense to me to welcome (and celebrate) bars and breweries, but reject marijuana. I am confident that we can establish a regulatory structure to balance the concerns of neighbors with the economic benefits of retail marijuana, just as we have with bars and breweries," Davis said.

He said he would like to see City Hall in a place more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists.

"I routinely walk and bike to City Hall, and it's a dangerous and uninviting trip. The center of the people's government should be accessible to all people, not just drivers," he said.

As for the McLain School, Davis said he would need to learn more about the building's condition before advocating a specific use.

Davis said there are two general options for funding road maintenance: either a relatively low yearly road maintenance budget, or a relatively large bond.

"Bonds can be painful politically, but can yield economies of scale when lots of road work is done at once, so I'd be inclined towards a bond. Either way, road maintenance needs to include pedestrian and cycling improvements, such as sidewalk repair," Davis said.

The candidate he would like to work to restructure public meetings to make them more participatory, inclusive and deliberate.

"I think the current structure of our public meetings inhibits free and open discussion, both among councilors but also between council and the public. I'm also excited to help Rockland move towards its climate and sustainability goals," he said.

Davis is the chief technology officer and co-founder of Steel House, a center for design, technology and education, located on Main Street. The Fulton Street resident serves on the Energy Advisory Committee and the Board of Assessment Review.

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Comments (3)
Posted by: T A Schwab | Oct 25, 2019 10:27

I’ve read all about each candidate he has my vote.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Oct 01, 2019 14:41

Have never met, but have had dealings with this man enough to know he is a thoughtful gentleman with integrity and a resolver attitude of living in the solution. Am sure if you have had anything to do with him that you have found the same thing. He would be an asset as tough decisions need to be made in a positive manner.

Posted by: George Terrien | Sep 30, 2019 09:36

Nate Davis has presents an orderly and rational set of priorities, based on abiding values.  From having observed his activity in civic and organizational structures, I cannot see how anyone running for Council--today or tomorrow--could be more constructive, in either manner or process.  His experience in Rockland, though far from flashy, is as substantial and solid as the rock in our city's name and heritage.  I welcome his willingness to serve in this elected capacity, and support his candidacy without qualification, but with great thanks.

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