A three-year economic development plan is headed to the desks of Santa Barbara’s City Council members on Tuesday.
As COVID-19 restrictions ease, city staff said it was important to establish a mid-term economic development plan with strategies and objectives to support businesses and the city’s commercial districts, revitalize downtown and strengthen the local economy.
The plan lays the foundation for a full Economic Development Program, which the city hopes will support social equity and environmental protection while enhancing Santa Barbara. Three strategies drive the plan: supporting local businesses and commercial districts citywide; cultivating a business-friendly city government; and strengthening downtown as the regional hub of retail, entertainment, art and culture, higher education and business.
To support local business and commercial districts, the plan suggests to organize business assistance training opportunities, provide promotional support, develop business retention and more. To cultivate a business-friendly government, the plan aims to communicate and address business and land development processes, along with addressing the need for citywide marketing and an electronic newsletter.
Down the line, the city hopes to facilitate downtown housing development and support co-work/creative office and higher education uses.
“The adoption of this economic development plan sets Santa Barbara on a strategic path to strengthen the city’s economy and enhance downtown vibrancy,” the plan reads. “This plan establishes a foundation to support businesses, revitalize downtown and enhance the city’s quality of life.”
The City Council will also consider a request from Councilwoman Kristen Sneddon and Mayor Pro Tempore Oscar Gutierrez for a presentation from Healing Justice and local black organizations on the benefits of a black/African-American Cultural Resource Center during a regularly scheduled meeting.
The request points out that the council has voiced general support of a center like this, and “has affirmed equity as a core value by declaring racism a public health crisis in summer of 2020.”
“Santa Barbara City Council understands the historical significance of investing in this space as a way of honoring the first black resident of Santa Barbara, Jerry Forney, an enslaved man who later claimed his freedom,” the request reads. “City Council believes that this black history is Santa Barbara history and deserving of public acknowledgement and support, best accomplished by establishing a black-centered and led community resource center.”
There will also be a public hearing held at Tuesday’s meeting to review the public draft of the city’s 2020 Enhanced Urban Water Management Plan. The 2020 plan confirmed a 2020 target water use of 117 gallons per capita per day, which the city has met.
A hearing will also be held for the 2021 Water Shortage Contingency Plan, which responds to water shortages caused by drought conditions and/or catastrophic water supply emergency. The staff report details that a Drought Risk Assessment found that Santa Barbara would still have supplies available at the end of a five-year drought that starts in 2021.
“…the city has more than enough water supply to meet demands in normal hydrologic periods,” the staff report says. “During the recent extended drought, city customers achieved 40% conservation in 2016, which was year five of the multiple-year drought. Therefore, the city is confident customers can reduce water demand up to 20% in year five of future multi-year droughts.”
The council will adjourn Tuesday’s meeting in honor of former Santa Barbara Mayor Hal Conklin, who died Friday at age 75 after battling brain cancer. Mayor Cathy Murillo requested the flag at City Hall be lowered to half-staff today for him as well.
The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, and can be viewed on City TV Channel 18 or streamed live at www.santabarbaraca.gov/cap.