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Letters: Preserving the Missoula way of life by keeping it affordable

I’m Daniel Carlino, and I’m running for City Council to ensure Missoula stays true to the place that we’ve all come to love. 

Our city is known for its vibrant culture, including great local music, art, and food. However, the cost of living in Missoula has rapidly increased, which is taking a toll on the heart of our community, particularly on those who bring so much flavor to our day-to-day lives.

Where will our baristas, teachers, and artists live when there are no affordable options for housing? What will happen to Missoula’s vibrancy when all of our working-class citizens are priced out? 

It is not too late to preserve the Missoula way of life, but we must act now. As the only working-class renter in the race, I’ll be the first member of City Council who actually represents the average Missoulian. As such, my work in office will address some of the largest issues facing our community, including the following affordability issues: Childcare, Public Transportation, and Housing.

See below my specific policy proposals for each affordability issue.

Childcare

  • Incentivize the building out of dedicated childcare units in low-income housing projects. People need childcare near where they live or work.
  • Ensure that Parks & Rec. childcare programming is amongst the lowest cost in town.
    • (Parks & Rec. showed a fantastic ability to do just this when COVID funding was available, and the Lowell School neighborhood Center is another innovative use of P&R funding. We should be building on those projects.)
  • Offer paid parental leave for City jobs (in addition to County jobs which already offer this benefit.)
  • Establish an Office of Children & Families to coordinate with and distribute grants to agencies that will provide low-cost out-of-school care via neighborhood centers.
    • (In other towns the Office of Children & Families centralizes family resources, parent education, and home visiting to make it easier for working parents to meet their children’s needs.)

Transportation 

  • Zone for mixed-use neighborhoods where commercial, residential and recreational spaces are combined to ensure sustainable transportation access for child care, schools, and daily services.
  • Expand our bicycle & pedestrian path network for safe, connected cycling & walking.
  • Re-open the Montana Rail Link bridge from Broadway to the baseball stadium with a bicycle and pedestrian path to connect the two parts of town.
  • Expand our bus service to new routes with higher frequency while maintaining fare-free transit.

Affordable, Secure Housing

  • Fully fund the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
  • Create a progressive property tax system to control rent inflation, reduce negative equity, and ensure that homeowners are not taxed out of their neighborhoods.
  • Reform our TIF (tax increment financing) funds to prioritize truly affordable housing projects in place of wealthy corporate developers like Marriott and Starbucks.
  • Regulate vacation rentals to prevent the loss of residential neighborhoods to Airbnb/VRBO.
  • Create a universal background check/rental application system so renters don’t have to pay a fee each time that they apply to a rental.

Once we’ve made these changes, Missoula will become a city that’s not just affordable but convenient to live in, too, more inviting. It will also become easier for us as a community to address other issues such as social justice, homelessness, and the environment. 

If we want to preserve Missoula’s culture and community, then we need to give all of our neighbors a fighting chance. My name is Daniel Carlino, and I’m asking for your support in this year’s City Council election so I can help to give every Missoulian a fighting chance. 

Daniel Carlino; City Council candidate for Ward 3