Click on the links below to learn more about each of Randy's priorities for Santa Barbara.
When I first was seated on council, my stated priority was to increase uniformed presence. Along with my colleagues, we increased our sworn officer force by twenty. At the same time, we supported increased community policing, implicit bias training and de-escalation training that allows our officers to protect and serve our community in the manner we expect. In addition, I initiated what is now known as the “Ambassadors”, which are non-sworn personnel who provide an extra uniformed presence and act as a multiplier for our regular police patrols. The expansion of this non-sworn presence bolsters our commitment to community policing and customer service.
Our Fire Department provides excellent safety and medical response throughout our many stations in the city. Our recent Thomas Fire, Debris Flow and Loma Fire revealed the true quality of our public safety personnel, and serving in the Emergency Operations Center and watching these men and women perform was humbling and gratifying. Climate change has made public safety’s mission even more critical and omnipresent.
Our Mayor and council have not been supportive of public safety and constantly debate peeling away funding to satisfy a passionate anti-police movement. Not only is that logic horribly flawed, it is a violation of the precept of their highest and promised civic priority, which is public safety. Well-staffed and well-equipped public safety departments cannot be compromised.
The building department has been the subject of much scrutiny in the past few years, and is seen as a major impediment to a reemerging downtown business corridor. Recent efforts to make the process more “customer friendly” have been insufficient to provide the types of process reforms and expedition needed to bring this department to the level of service it needs to achieve. While the pressures to maintain the city’s fabulous aesthetic resources remain, there must be reform to simplify the sometimes arcane procedures contained in the permit process. Most of all, efficiency and certainty must be achieved, particularly as they pertain to minor approvals and interior tenant improvements.
My plan for a uniform “intake” process and definitive scoping of discretionary design review boards should achieve the desired reforms.
Santa Barbara, the birthplace of the Environmental Movement. The area's natural beauty and our proximity to incredible outdoor recreation is unmatched. Santa Barbara voters added 2% to our hotel bed tax to be dedicated to the maintenance of our creeks, minimizing pollutants in our marine environment. Organizations like the Community Environmental Council, Heal the Ocean and a host of others work constantly to ensure our environmental legacy. Reductions in the amount of waste going to the landfill and programs to provide clean energy are improving yearly.
When I chaired the Sustainability Committee during my council tenure, I was constantly impressed by the aptitude and efforts of our dedicated staff, who keep us ahead of State and Federal environmental standards. Our dedication to cleanliness in our commercial and residential areas as well as in our wildland interface and oceans is constantly tested. Leading the continuation of these efforts and supporting our environmental organizations is essential to our children’s and city’s futures.
The Santa Barbara community has never been short on compassion. The level of services provided by some very dedicated folks is exemplary for a community of this size. Yet, the problem persists, and lately seems worse. Legal and social pressures preclude what some might consider “solutions”, and the term “homeless” is itself overly broad. There are a myriad of issues for people living on the street and, while housing might seem a straightforward answer, it does not begin to address some of the most severe causes that make this malady seem prevalent, and the unique circumstances of some of those affected.
Status quo is unacceptable, and enabling its continuation is hardly what anyone could consider “compassionate”.
More laws are not needed. Our existing city ordinances are adequate and in place, but enforcement policies, as directed by the Mayor and council, have been hamstrung by a lack of political will. This is not serving our community. The number of services, non-profits, taxpayer dollars and volunteer participation is staggering for the number of clients identified. The City needs to do the job the voters tasked it to do, namely, enforce the laws that were publicly formed and agreed upon, while at the same time coordinate with the agencies that can provide the needed services. Our parks and other common areas belong to each and every one of us, regardless of wealth or social stature.
State Street is our main thoroughfare and invites visitors to venture up from the beach to experience one of the most renowned walking boulevards in the world with interesting shops, vibrant restaurants, cultural attractions and entertainment, all surrounded by the majestic Santa Ynez mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Our blend of architectural heritage and dramatic natural surroundings is one of the true wonders of the New World.
The current disarray caused by the pandemic, a global slump in retail sales and persistent lawless activity challenge our central business district like never before. Our new “Promenade” configuration must consider all uses while maintaining a fun and vibrant atmosphere. What is desperately called for is a cogent strategy, and that will take leadership, not yet another outside consultant contract.
Like most businesses and families, the City’s budget took a beating from the pandemic shut-downs. It will take discipline and tough decision making to maintain services and return those that were temporarily lost. We did it before, in fact, pretty recently, after the “Great Recession”. More taxes and fees are not the answer that people need right now.
The very best strategy is to create the most clear and straightforward pathways to encourage private sector investment, while driving efficiencies within our government to the extent possible, and maintaining vital services. Our reserve funds served their purpose during the downturn, but now we need to rebuild them. This catastrophe was of an unprecedented magnitude, but the foundations we laid a few years back kept our city in stable financial condition. We also need to be prepared for future events, so rigorous attention to our budget is mandatory.