For Cedar Rapids City Council
Our zoning code needs a serious overhaul and a change in attitude. The current code is a one-size fits all model which hurts many people whose home doesn’t fit in this rigid model. We also have a zoning department which searches for problems with a zoning application change. This attitude needs to be changed to where the zoning department can identify problems and, at the same time, offer possible modifications to make a project work. The Historic Preservation Commission has a working model where they will work with an applicant and provide alternatives to make a project happen and the commissioners are very helpful, our zoning department should follow this same philosophy. This will help spur private investment and growth all over town.
This may sound like a simple concept, but our city government spends way too much time and money on on non-essential things which, in turn, takes away from things that should be a priority. Streets are the obvious example of where priorities have shifted away from necessities. Our city should sell the Doubletree Hotel which it owns, should sell land that can be developed, and then focus on things like street and sewer repairs, police, fire, water, and other necessary services. Priority number one should be the necessities and we should expect to have the best any city has to offer with these services. Only then, once we are the best at these things, should the city consider getting into other non-essential projects.
After four years as president of the Wellington Heights Neighborhood Association Justin has worked with many Wellington Heights neighbors and representative from other neighborhoods. This volunteer work has shown a number of issues in the core. Poverty is an obvious issue that needs to be addressed but some other issues, like a restrictive zoning code, discourages investment in older housing. Infill projects and other infrastructure also need to happen in order to see sustainable improvements. The city spent a few decades dis-investing in the core neighborhoods of Cedar Rapids and we need to bring that investment back now.
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Justin has lived in Cedar Rapids since he was two years old. After graduating Kennedy High School in 2006 Justin went to UNI then transferred to Iowa State where he received a business degree in finance in 2010.
After graduation Justin returned to Cedar Rapids and lived in a home that he purchased while he was in college. The home was on Washington Ave in the heart of the Wellington Heights neighborhood. He has been a proud resident of the neighborhood ever since.
One day while out doing yard work Justin was approached by Terry Bilsland, former president of the Wellington Heights Neighborhood Association, who asked if he would be interested in doing a little volunteer work for the neighborhood. Little did Justin know that this would lead him to becoming Terry’s successor as the neighborhood association president.
This is a role which Justin filled for four years until he stepped down and became vice-president this past February and let someone else take charge. While president of the association Justin has organized events, given pumpkins away to kids each Halloween, working with city departments to improve the neighborhood, and many of the other tasks that come with being in this position.
In addition to the Wellington Heights volunteering Justin has also been a part of the Boys and Girls Club’s Cafe 361, Citizen’s Police Academy, the Cedar Rapids Grants and Programs Committee, The Gazette’s Editorial Board, Stop The Violence movement, and much more. He also owns a small local pressure washing company, Affordable Pressure Washing.
Justin and his wife Andrea now live on 3rd Ave across from Redmond Park. They have lived here since mid-2015 and are now expecting their first kid this fall.
To get to know more please fill out the contact form to setup a meeting!
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