The Santa Barbara City Council unanimously approved the proposed amendments to post-construction storm water requirements in the city’s storm water discharge permit.
City staff will now prepare and submit an application to the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board to allow the new development and redevelopment projects.
Cameron Benson, the Creeks Division manager, presented the project description, which includes amending the requirements to “improve fairness, flexibility and effectiveness,” maintaining the current level of water quality protection, and proposing modifications to tier thresholds.
“The more we can design our programs to fit Santa Barbara and actually provide water quality benefits with the greatest flexibility for the city… We’re unique — we have special resources we’re trying to protect,” Mr. Benson said.
Mayor Pro Tempore Kristen Sneddon addressed the city’s status on the impaired water bodies list, and said the amendments already represent compromise.
“There’s been an unfair burden to residences mitigating this runoff from the hill side,” she said. “This new flexibility allows that burden to be shared throughout the city. There are a good many people, community members and residents in our city who will be eased by these changes.
“If we’re incentivizing development, we have to take care of mitigations for our watersheds. I think we can have housing and clean water.”
Council member Jim Jordan echoed the support, saying, “I think we need to give this a chance. It’s not lost on me when I’m picking winners and losers, when the winners are the areas of the hillside district and the losers are downtown parcels.
“We may not be going backwards, but we’re still impaired, so just doing the same thing we’ve always done is not sufficient enough,” he said. “I don’t really think from a development standpoint for downtown… It’s not about the dollars; it’s about the space, and the space is at a minimum. I just hope we keep an eye on this and watch from that perspective.”
In addition, the council unanimously approved the $160,000 transfer from the Constituent Relationship Management project to the city website replacement project.
The prioritization of the new website project will allow for improvements in accessibility, provide a genuine multi-lingual experience and establish mobile device optimization.
The city will recommence work on the CRM upon the completion of the website replacement project, which the IT department estimates will be in 2023.
The last time the city website was updated was in 2013.