The Santa Barbara City Council unanimously passed a motion at its meeting on Tuesday to introduce and subsequently adopt an ordinance of the council authorizing the city administrator to execute a grant funding agreement with the State of California Department of Water Resources in the amount of $10 million for the reactivation of the Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant Project.
They also directed staff to establish a dual purpose designated reserve for the plant to fund capital maintenance and modifications of the desalination plant facilities, and to mitigate the potential repayment risk associated with accepting the grant.
The council agreed that the dual purpose reserve is a good answer to the question of if the city will need to pay back that grant, and that desalination usage is for a drought buffer, and to not change that trajectory without an open-ended and rigorous civic engagement process.
In other news, the council members were unanimous in supporting the commercial fishing industry in Santa Barbara. The city will now work with the industry to find 15,000 to 20,000 square feet for fisheries infrastructure, integrate fisheries (and all local foods) into post-COVID economic recovery and provide council level oversight on these activities.
The council passed a motion to elect council members Mike Jordan and Eric Friedman to the Harbor Commission Subcommittee.
Participants in public comment agreed with supporting the industry, including members of the Harbor Commission, the Santa Barbara Fish Market and commercial fishermen.
Nicole Hernandez, the city’s urban historian, provided an update on the proposed amendments to the Historic Resources Ordinance. She shared that the objectives of the amended ordinance are to update terms and definitions; develop criteria and process to establish historic districts; streamline the designation process; increase enforceability; improve organization of the chapter; and eliminate redundancies.
Santa Barbara Mayor Cathy Murillo and council member Eric Friedman also passed a resolution opposing the proposal to restart offshore oil production and oil transport by truck. There were six “yes” votes and one vote to “abstain.”
“Our community has been harmed by oil accidents and spills,” the mayor said. “We owe it to public health and public safety (to stop this).”
Mr. Friedman added that restarting this process would be “inconsistent with both policy and public expectations on the measures we need to implement as we prepare for changes to our coastline.”
“To have another type of spill would really have devastating impacts to the South Coast in particular,” he said.