Santa Barbara City Council supports community benefit district
The Santa Barbara City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to loan $30,000 to the Coast Village Association for consultant expenses to prepare formation documents establishing a community benefit district in the Coast Village Road area in Montecito.
The council also adopted an enabling ordinance setting standards for CBDs other than what the state law provides, and to potentially guide the formation of new CBDs in other parts of Santa Barbara.
The enabling ordinance establishes a 30% petition threshold, along with a 30% dissolution for any property owners unhappy with the assessment. It also establishes a five-year initial term with up to a 20-year renewal without a petition upon written request from the property owners.
“I think that we’ve reached a real workable balance in the way the district would be formed and the way it would perform and the way it would renew,” Council member Mike Jordan said. “I’m looking at it as a way of balance. The starting 30% being balanced as, once it’s in place, by a 30% amount of people who are unhappy with it and wish to reestablish it.
“To me, those two numbers are really in balance …”
This move didn’t establish an actual benefit district on Coast Village Road yet, but it provided the council with the authority to establish one and to provide the legal requirements of it. The council will also be allowed to, at its own discretion, dissolve the district if it hears things aren’t going well with the CBD.
“I think the Coast Village Association has already led the way and shown what they do when they have opportunities to reinvest in themselves, and this is just allowing that process to move forward,” Council member Kristen Sneddon said. “I think it’ll be an example of being managed by locals, and I think this really could be scaled to different areas of the city.”
The CVA’s consultant, New City America, Inc., will draft the CBD management plan and engineer’s report, as required by state law, which will outline: the assessment formula; assessment budget; services to be provided; and proposed administration of the CBD.
The CVA and New City America will continue to meet with property owners and businesses to refine the management plan and the types of services to be funded.
After that, if the 30%-minimum petition threshold is reached for the Coast Village CBD, the City Council will be asked to hold public hearings to adopt a resolution of intent for the assessment area.
City officials would then mail out ballots to all property owners within the boundaries of each proposed assessment area, which would require the support of no less than 50% of ballots received, weighted by assessment.
“I really look forward to seeing the management plan,” Mayor Cathy Murillo said. “I would like to see more outreach to the community, to the tenants of those buildings and to the residents of the area. I’m interested in the range of assessments and a budget and exactly how the money will be spent, but at this time, this seems like a good idea to put it forward.”
Members of the CVA expressed their support of the CBD in public comment, saying this will greatly impact the area.
“There’s been no shortage of people asking me over the years, ‘Why do the medians look so … unlandscaped? Can we make this place look more inviting for the city?’” Francois De John, a board member of the CVA, said at the meeting. “We’re very excited to get where we are at this point … Coast Village Road has had its licks recently, and I’m very excited to see us get the possibility of a sustainable revenue source for the road that would help the city, community and tenants and have that area really shine like it should.”
If a CBD plan is approved by the City Council, the assessment will fund special services such as beautification, robust marketing, special event programs and promotions.
“This is something that everybody rallies around,” Rick Lemmo, another CVA board member, said. “It’s an aesthetically beautiful place, and we need to live up to that and this will help us do that. We have a board that is active and listens to the business owners and tenants as well as the guests, and this helps us get there.
“The area has gone through fires, floods — you name it, it’s happened.”
In other business, the City Council unanimously adopted the Five-Year Measure A Local Program of Projects for Fiscal Years 2022 to 2026, funding maintenance, improvement and/or construction of roadways and bridges.
“We’re very fortunate to live in a community with Measure A and Measure C, and we’re seeing a lot of the benefits of those two, so thank you to the residents for supporting those programs,” Council member Eric Friedman said.
Lastly, Mayor Murillo closed the meeting in memory of the 500,000 people who died from COVID-19 in the U.S. She added that the city’s flags flew at half staff last week in honor of the lives lost.
She and the council also honored the memory of Robert Lagomarsino, the former Santa Barbara-Ventura congressman and state senator who died Feb. 12. Mayor Murillo read letters sent in as a tribute to him, mentioning that Mr. Lagomarsino authored legislation ranging from marine wilderness and wild and scenic river protections to returning the Santa Barbara Harbor’s naval reserve building to the city, along with helping create the Channel Islands National Park.
“Someone else writes that he was shy and not a self-promoter, and that his strong-willed wife Norma perhaps had something to do with that,” Mayor Murillo read. “He was liked by both sides, and this allowed him to get significant, complicated and lasting legislation through the system, and we honor him today for his public service.”