A sold-out crowd of local professionals gathered at the Rincon Beach Club on Friday afternoon to hear about the conditions of Carpinteria and greater Santa Barbara County during the 2019 State of the Community event sponsored by the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce.
The event featured presentations on the local economy as well as concerns about cannabis cultivation, the area’s debris basins, and the widening of the Highway 101.
Dr. Mark Schneipp, president of the California Economic Forecast, gave a positive report on Santa Barbara County’s economy.
The labor market is “one of the best labor markets we’ve ever seen here,” Dr. Schneipp said.
There are more than enough jobs to go around in Carpinteria and Santa Barbara County, similar to the rest of the United States.
“We don’t have enough unemployed people to fill these jobs,” he said.
Local industries currently in a state of growth include tech, professional business, and visitor services.
However, Dr. Scnheipp said local retail jobs have been lost because of a “retail apocalypse environment” due to online shopping.
On the other hand, jobs in restaurants and bars are on the opposite trajectory due to the increased abundance of wineries and micro breweries throughout the county. Dr. Schneipp predicted that the pace of jobs created during the first two months of 2019 meant the remainder would likely result in “a pretty good year.”
Carpinteria Mayor Wade Nomura spoke on the widening of Highway 101. The second stage of construction on the Casitas Pass overpass and the Casitas Pass southbound offramp are scheduled to begin in May, while second-stage construction on the Linden avenue overpass is scheduled to begin in July. They are tentatively expected to finish in March 2020.
Santa Barbara County 1st District Supervisor Das Williams addressed the subject of cannabis in the Carpinteria Valley.
Some cannabis cultivating operations – dating from before the city of Carpinteria passed its cannabis ordinance – have not yet acquired county permits, nor have they adopted the county’s odor control measures necessary to get one.
Mr. Williams added that the county’s current goal is to “bring folks in from the gray market into a legalized, reputable business, or if they can’t comply with our rules, shut them down.”
Mr. Williams also addressed the deadly Jan. 9, 2018 debris flow that brought destruction to nearby Montecito, and said Carpinteria was lucky to avoid a similar level of devastation because not all areas of the town are protected by the massive Santa Monica debris basin.
“The reason why we didn’t have the same level of death and destruction is luck,” Mr. Williams said. “And my personal belief is that luck is not a public policy mechanism that can be relied upon.”
The rapidity of last winter’s storms required the debris basins to be cleared immediately after each storm, he said. That came at a cost of half a million dollars per clearing, with added costs to transport the sediment to beaches, leaving only $20 million remaining in the South Coast’s flood control account.
As a measure to reduce the cost of clearings and maximizing the remaining $20 million, Mr. Williams suggested cutting a “fish-friendly notch” in each of the area’s basins.
This, he said, “lets the mud through but retains detains more rock, because rock is the thing that really causes the damage and destruction.”