Missoula City Council Ward 3 candidate Daniel Carlino wants to find local ways to fight climate change and make housing more affordable, he said.
Carlino, 23, works with developmentally disabled young people in Missoula in a program run though the state. He ran for the Public Service Commission last election cycle.
Housing is a personal topic to him, as he recently had to scramble to find a new place to live in Ward 3 after his landlord gave him a 30-day notice to move out after he'd already filed, he said.
While he did find a place within Ward 3 boundaries, two family members he had been living with were forced to find housing outside of Missoula.
"It's definitely an emergency right now in Missoula with housing and city council needs to be creative and do everything they can, before it's too late," Carlino said Tuesday. "Missoula is starting to turn into a place where you have to be very wealthy to afford to buy a house here and it's been like that for the last few years.
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"But now it's coming to a place where you have to be very wealthy to even rent here."
Drastic and urgent action needs to be taken in regard to housing, Carlino said. If elected, he would push for opening up areas in Missoula to multi-family housing and for a more dense city.
Infill housing, which is the process of putting higher density structures within already established areas of a city, is part of Missoula's long-term growth plan, but Carlino said more can be done.
Inclusionary zoning, where city policy dictates a certain part of new construction remains affordable, was banned by state House Bill 259, but Carlino said the city still has the ability to use covenants to push for affordable housing. Using city-owned land that has been land-banked for future development, Missoula could push developers to make new buildings available for low-income residents.
A universal rental application system that has been suggested previously by other candidates is a way to make the process more affordable, he said. Ward 3 encompasses much of the University District and a large part of the city's rental issues are centered on that, with many of those tenants being college students.
Putting limits on the number of vacation rentals through services such as Airbnb is also an important topic, he said.
"Missoula is a really special place and we have to do everything we can to preserve the culture of Missoula," Carlino said. "And the best way that we can preserve the culture is by making sure that everyday people can afford to live here. That artists can live here. That college students can afford to live here in Missoula."
Climate change is a major part of Carlino's platform and would push to mandate electrified heating for all new buildings in Missoula, he said. Currently, Missoula County is committed to 100% renewable energy by 2030, but still will allow for gas heating.
"We need to mandate electrified heating on all new buildings, that way we're not reliant on gas heating decades from now," Carlino said. "So that's something I'd like to do on the first day, too, because right now NorthWestern Energy is trying to build four new natural gas plants in Montana, doubling its energy portfolio."
On-site energy production at government buildings via solar energy is another thing he would push for, Carlino said.
"Missoula needs to say that we do not want to rely on fossil fuels decades from now," he said.
He would also like to see Missoula be a city where a person does not need to have a car to get around, he said. He would like to see more connections with the city bus system, as well as more connections of trails.
He will also push for TIF projects that benefit the community, treat unhoused people with more empathy and make sure the city budget reflects what its citizens want, he said.
City council races are nonpartisan and Carlino said he is running as an "independent voice that represents what my neighborhood and Missoulians are asking for."
Carlino's opponent is Dori Gilels and the election is slated for Nov. 2. Council members are paid $1,249 per month — around $14,990 per year — and serve a four-year term. Six council seats are open this year.
The Missoulian is profiling candidates in this year's contested city council races.
Jordan Hansen covers news and local government for the Missoulian. Shout at him on Twitter @jordyhansen or send him an email at Jordan.Hansen@Missoulian.com
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