Miramar Group co-founder seeks 4th District seat in Santa Barbara
Barrett Reed, born and raised in Santa Barbara, believes now is the “most important moment” for his hometown in his lifetime.
That’s why he’s running for Santa Barbara City Council.
He told the News-Press Monday he feels he has the experience necessary for this crucial time.
Mr. Reed, who announced his candidacy this week, is a co-founder of the Miramar Group (not to be confused with Rosewood Miramar Beach), a local real estate developer. He is a board member of Downtown Santa Barbara and recently served on the Santa Barbara Planning Commission.
Mr. Reed, a candidate for the 4th District seat currently occupied by Kristen Sneddon, is not seeking an endorsement from a political party in the nonpartisan race. He said party politics distract from the city government’s functions.
Mr. Reed said the city council needs a small business leader and complains about the current council’s lack of consistency.
“For me, I think the cost is too great not to run. I feel there has to be, and voters are demanding that there has to be, a change in leadership,” he said. “I don’t see leadership on our city council. I see reactive decision making.”
Mr. Reed has ideas for housing, small business development and homelessness — an issue he wishes the city handled proactively.
“At the core of the issue, our city has to believe it’s a solvable problem — not just one that can be poorly managed,” he said.
He pointed to the current council’s plan to set up an emergency encampment. He said it creates the problem of having a temporary shelter so close to downtown.
Instead, he looks to Bakersfield’s model. The city announced it had functionally zero chronic homeless people in January.
To achieve this, organizations made a list of the chronically homeless individuals in the city and consulted them about their needs. And the housing authority in Kern County set up leases with landlords who were uneasy signing a contract with a homeless person.
Mr. Reed sees an opportunity to expand homeless outreach services through City Net and offer more support to the housing authority.
“I want to help the homeless who truly want and need help. As far as those who are trying to burn the city down … that can’t be tolerated,” he said.
He believes the city should enforce its ordinances when public health and safety are threatened.
“It’s just too dangerous,” Mr. Reed said. “It makes me wonder, think about, consider raising our kids here. It’s never crossed my mind until now.”
When he and his wife Caitlin became parents 15 months ago, it “raised the stakes” for him. Now, with a fourth member of the family on the way, the stakes are even higher.
“I want nothing more than my wife and I to be able to raise our kids in the same great town I was raised in,” he said. “But the struggles we all are experiencing right now, I’m not as enthusiastic about that right now.”
Part of the solution he sees lies in small businesses. The tax revenue from local business funds the open spaces, parks and libraries.
He wants to streamline the permitting process to better support business owners and homeowners. He also thinks a less burdensome process would help develop low-income and moderate-income housing.
Much like his business’s mission, he believes in restoring Santa Barbara using existing resources.
He sees an opportunity for the council to work with owners of large, vacant buildings to repurpose the structures for rental housing or other high-need areas.
“We don’t look to add square footage to the town. And now more than ever, there’s square footage that is vacant,” he said.
Mr. Reed also seeks to preserve single-family neighborhoods, such as the many residences in his district.
“There are few hills to die on. But fighting to save our single-family neighborhoods from overcrowding and density is a hill I would die on,” he said.
He sees a need for affordable housing but thinks crowding existing neighborhoods would create another problem.
“I think there is always going to be more demand for affordable housing than our city can provide, but we have to be relentless in our pursuit,” he said.
Leadership was a theme discussed by Mr. Reed. He believes private investment will increase if elected officials are consistent and direct.
His campaign website is barrettreed.org.