Here are some issues the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization I work for, is tracking on behalf of our community.
1. The redistricting of county supervisorial boundaries. This is for all the marbles, as drawing political boundaries is how politicians choose their voters.
The recently formed commission in charge of redistricting is already facing an issue that serves to threaten the independence of the commission. That is, Democratic Party operatives have put intense public pressure, replete with a disinformation campaign and skullduggery, on the commission seeking to induce them to hire an attorney of their choosing to guide the process.
This effort deleteriously affects the political and partisan independence of the commission. What’s more, the attorney of their choosing is actually not qualified to serve via the provisions of the ordinance that governs the process.
2. Continued advocacy to reopen our economy vis a vis the COVID lockdown. In my 30-year career as a government watchdog, this has been the single biggest government overreach and debacle we have ever witnessed.
It affected our economy and well-being across the board, not to mention increasing our national debt by 25%, and it completely decimated the separation and balance of powers in government. Moreover, it is the dominant issue on the county supervisors’ agenda every week, taking up one to two hours of their time and attention.
3. Known as the Regional Needs Housing Assessment, this state mandate, which has serious teeth, will require local jurisdictions to prove they have created the capacity, via planning/permit allocations, to build 24,000 housing units in Santa Barbara County. The majority of these units are slated to be built in the south county due to the jobs/housing imbalance. The options we have are “sprawl” or extremely high-density, highrise, stack-and-pack housing.
We are trying to educate the community that a couple of master-planned communities can actually enhance our quality of life. That is, the vast majority of the land in this county is zoned agriculture; thereby it is off limits to development. The truth is, developing some of this land that is not truly suitable for agriculture due to water, soil and gradient restraints, would be a better option than living in an urban jungle.
I am not a fan of this mandate because the state dumps the requirements on local communities without lifting a finger to help them deal with the impacts of the same.
Two of the biggest impacts have to do with traffic and water. And the state will neither send any money to accommodate the traffic on our streets and freeways, nor will it allocate more water to serve the development. This will put a tremendous strain on both urban and agricultural uses of water.
4. The war on oil and gas is manyfold. First, as it pertains to domestic production, there are many restrictions on permits for new oil and gas projects, as well as, existing operations. Second, as it pertains to consumption, there are several different ways the industry and its reliable and affordable supply chains are being undermined and eviscerated.
This includes the greenhouse gas regs and carbon auction credits in this state that will make production and consumption less and less affordable over time. Additionally, there is the impending ban on gas and diesel engine vehicles.
Finally, community choice energy programs serve to reject natural gas electricity generation for existing homes and businesses, and then there are the bans against natural gas hookups in new construction.
The problem here is that we simply don’t have the electricity supplies to go all electric across the spectrum and we never will. Renewable energy, in the form of wind and solar, takes up inordinate amounts of land, and they do not reliably produce 24/7. Just ask a Texan.
Andy Caldwell is the executive director of COLAB and host of “The Andy Caldwell Radio Show,” weekdays from 3-5 p.m., on News-Press Radio AM 1290.