Down to the wire for the candidates

“Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It’s the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then we elected them,” said Comedienne Lily Tomlin.

Tomlin certainly wasn’t referring to this year’s crop of Santa Barbara City Council candidates, who were nothing if not sincere about their affection for this community and their desire to make it “an even better place to live, work and play,” in Helene Schneider‘s parlance.

To fill the three open slots, city voters have one incumbent (Babatunde Folayemi), and nine additional candidates to consider, including Brian Barnwell, Scott Burns, Robert Cawley, Bob Hansen, Michael Magne, Charles Quintero, Schneider, Das Williams and write-in candidate Bruce Rittenhouse.

Which of the contenders will best serve your neighborhood? Hopefully, The Beacon’s interviews help you decide.

Snapshot: Brian Barnwell

Age: 57

Occupation: Real Estate Appraiser and Carpenter

Background: Vietnam Veteran; Community volunteer for Peabody Charter School, Santa Barbara Junior High, Pony League Baseball, Public Education Foundation, Elings Park, Community Youth Performing Arts Center, Rental Housing Mediation Task Force, Planning Commission.

LD: Why do you want to be on the city council?

BB: … I love the town very, very much. I have no desire for higher political office, which has freed me to a great degree from any of the ego that’s associated with running for these offices. I just want to help the city and protect the city and save it and keep it, as I love it. And I think I can bring to that task my experience and do the kind of job that Santa Barbara really deserves. I don’t have a steep learning curve. I know how things are working and I’ve got some ideas about trying to continue to make it the great place it is. But it basically stems from a love of the town. I’ve been in love with the town since I first came here as a teenager. … This is the time; if I want to do anything I should do it.

LD: What issues would be your priorities if elected?

BB: If you’re running for city council and you don’t want to keep the place clean and beautiful, then you shouldn’t be running. … But having said that, I think the two largest issues facing us are housing and transportation. And I think they relate in the sense that housing is the issue and transportation is the key.

I don’t think either of those two issues can be handled anymore by the city of Santa Barbara alone, they need to be handled on a regional level

…I have a couple of pet projects – I’d like to see Pershing Park field turned into a legitimate ball field so that the Forrester’s could play there and maybe we could have visiting professional teams play there.

Because of my experience with the schools, I’d really like to establish some serious cooperation with the school district. The city has a huge planning staff with a lot of experience in land use and I know that the school district is pressed for funds … I would like to help them utilize their land better and maybe capitalize on some of the assets that they have that they don’t realize they have.

… We’ve got an outstanding Parks and Recreation Department … but I’d like to see some more skateboard parks. … One of the hoteliers down at the beach has suggested we continue the lawn that’s on the east beach side of Stearns Wharf … west between Stearns Wharf and the Marina; so there’d be green grass in that section. … It’s underused, and it would nice if we could just put in 30-40 feet with grass.

… I want to preserve neighborhoods and bring the focus back on Santa Barbara. I know that we owe our very existence to visitors and tourists and that’s a given. But I want to bring the focus of the city back to the citizens who live and work here. And I want to restore some confidence in governance. I want people to feel as though they can depend upon consistency. And I think I can bring that, if anything else I can bring that because I have a long record of both familiarity with the city and as well as how the city government works.

LD: What do you appreciate most about Santa Barbara?

BB: I like the way Santa Barbara is a walking town. … We are blessed by our geography, steam, mountains and beach… Probably the heart and soul of my platform … is neighborhood preservation. Trying to hang onto that old-timey feeling, that walkability feeling, while at the same time recognizing we’ve got to do something about housing. We’ve got to build a little bit more.

LD: What would you most like to see change?

BB: I think regional cooperation is top on the list. And transportation, I’d like to institute that light rail. I’d like to get that bottleneck removed in the least offensive way.

LD: What about your views on spending?

BB: We’re going to have serious budget problems. … I am a big supporter of police and fire, and I believe that we’ve cut that budget to the bone. I’d have to be very much convinced that we need to cut it any further. Having said that I think probably water (is a priority). I see water as one of those enterprise funds that generates its own money through the rate payment on water, so water is kind of taken care of.

And then after that we get to the things that make life wonderful … Parks and Recreation and the planning department and the harbor and things like that. … They’re all going to have to bear equally the burden of finding ways to trim even more.

LD: Where does preserving the environment factor in your values?

BB: Transportation is a huge issue. There is this growing … awareness in the environmental community that it’s a big picture deal. Not just globally with the weather and the oceans and the air, but it’s also globally and regionally with jobs and housing. And it doesn’t work to fight one individual housing project or one individual construction, without recognizing that growth will occur, that people will continue to move here, and they need to get back and forth from their house to their work. And that means that if you want to preserve the environment, you’ve got to get control, again, of transportation issues, and housing issues, and how is the land used most effectively to house the people.

And then how are transportation systems created to be most efficient in moving people.

LD: Which current or former city council member do you admire the most?

BB: Harriet Miller. She was a no BS woman. She was a practical idealist. I’ve never met anyone at any level of government that could run a meeting the way Harriet ran a meeting. She is efficient, a keen manager of time. She’s not hidebound by party politics or the way things have always been done. Plus she’s a really, really sweet lady.

Snapshot: Scott Burns

Age: 50

Occupation: Retired, former owner of Murphy Electric

Background: Community volunteer for Old Spanish Days El Presidente, Sunrise Rotary Club, Santa Barbara Children’s Commission, UCSB, Goleta Chamber of Commerce, Roosevelt School

LD: Why do you want to be on the city council?

SB: The main reason I’m running is my father. It’s a legacy…Back in spring; I got a little upset not with the city but with the state. If the state is getting so fiscally mismanaged, they’re going to start negatively impacting the city. There’s no one on the council with a long-term small business background, who is able to prioritize what they’re doing with the limited resources. Fiscal accountability slowly kept getting dropped off the list. Not that I think that professional staff is doing anything wrong. They’re doing an OK job, but not doing as good as a job as they could if they had someone looking over their shoulder saying OK, that’s good, but how come you don’t do this?

LD: What would be your priorities if elected?

SB: To maintain our quality of life in short term, we need to make sure our budget is balanced. We need to prioritize fiscal responsibility… at least running the city with the same regiment … a small business would. Audit the bed tax. From (City Finance Manager) Rob Peirson, I found out that he did not know what the accounts receivable aging was for the city … the finance department is doing a great job, but I think they’re just not paying as much attention as I would like them to on certain items.

… We can’t do every thing; let’s try to do as much as we can. If you were to look back at the last 10 elections: housing, traffic, have always been issues, and there’s not a whole lot the city can do. One of the unintended consequences of us being such a great city and making it so nice for the people that live here is other people want to live here.

LD: What would you most like to see change?

SB: Get it so people feel more accessible to the council. … As I’m walking neighborhoods, I’ve heard that issue probably as much as any one.

… I’d love to get a greater turnout. I would love to be able to say that Santa Barbara has the highest percent of voters per capita. With that being said, if you run the city smoothly, generally people don’t vote if they’re happy. So that’s a hard issue. If you want everyone to vote but you want to run the city so well that people are happy.

LD: How would you attack the problem of the jobs/housing balance in our town?

SB: … I’ve talked with a couple of different nonprofits about having homeowners pledge that when they sell their home a small percent of the selling price would go to a nonprofit that would help promote or fund or build workforce housing. …This is way they can give back to the community.

We’re working on … the details … because it’s an outside of the box proposal, a realistic proposal that will work. It’s not the only solution to the housing issue but it is one solution that these other groups have all gotten excited about.

LD: What do you appreciate most about Santa Barbara?

SB: The small town feel we’ve got. You can see people on the street, sit and talk with them; you’re able to communicate with them. We’ve got a diverse city, with a lot of different people and a lot of different interests and we’ve melted or melded together to a point where everyone cares about the city. It’s small enough where you feel you can do something.

And there are so many things the city has here, the arts, the natural beauty, the beaches, and honestly the safety. I mean realistically if there’s a shooting in Santa Barbara you hear that there’s a shooting and the person was apprehended.

… Fiesta makes the entire community go on vacation without leaving town and that helps makes this town very special. People can just relax, see their friends, have a party. The nonprofits, they make money from Fiesta. That’s something that makes this a special town. And it helps bring the historical significance of Santa Barbara and early California, which a lot of California doesn’t really have.

LD: How would you describe your political views?

SB: I would call myself a radical moderate. I’m more liberal than most of my Republican friends, and I’m more conservative than my Democratic friends. I would say I am a fiscally responsible person with a liberal or a tolerant social agenda or that I don’t have a social agenda.

LD: What about your views on spending?

SB: It’s not just making money, but it’s living within your means. Because of that I’m able to retire. I’m one of six children and the other five will work until they’re 65. What did I do different? What was I thinking? …. I’ve always looked at things in a way that makes sense, and I’ve always tried to live within my means. I’ve told people this and my wife is embarrassed, but the TV that we watch is a TV that we got as a wedding present in 1985. It still works. Why do we need a new TV? One of these years we’ll probably buy a new TV, but we’ll probably put that one in one of the other bedrooms. It’s … living within your means and I think that’s what I’m going to bring to the city.

LD: Which current or former city council member do you admire the most?

SB: Probably Rusty Fairly. He has given 12 years for the city. He’s also made (the point), “the more you learn, longer you’re on you, the more you realize you’re there to do the long term planning.”

Snapshot: Robert Cawley

Age: 58

Occupation: Owner, The Yoga Studio

Background: UCSB, Environmental Studies Degree; Peace Corp.

LD: Why do you want to be on the city council?

RC: It goes way back to 9/11 … I heard Ralph Nader out at UCSB and he said if you want to make a change, if you want to make a difference, you have to get involved. … The more I look into our city, the more I see why I am running. … I’m really running as a private citizen. I’ve met with the mayor, every department head, except for airports … I’ve been probably putting 40 to 50 hours a week into meetings and research and talking to people.

… The city spent about $40 million for a homeless shelter at Cacique Street, Transition House, Salvation Army and Rescue Mission … and then they turn around and they only give the homeless shelter about $60,000 a year. … The money that comes into the city is for everybody, not just for the Downtown Organization or the people like that.

LD: So what would your plan be to help the homeless?

RC: My plan would be to give this Bob Hansen (council candidate and homeless advocate) a little job. He knows what they need or what they want.

LD: How would you pay for these programs?

RC: Freeze all salaries and benefits for a year. What I would trade for that is if you have a guaranteed raise given to you in time off. … Say you had a 5 percent raise coming; you’d get 5 percent off (1 day per month). The result would be less traffic, time for family, alternative transportation. The city has been using its reserves, so there is no money. The tourists are pretty much maxed out; so there’s not going to be a whole lot more money coming from that.

LD: What would be your priorities if elected?

RC: I’d take care of the homeless folks. That’s just such bad karma. … I think if they had $600,000 a year they could really make strides.

Second on my list would be this Granada parking garage. … I would like to put that on hold, that’s redevelopment money intertwining all that is that part of Granada Performing Arts Center. … They want to build this garage that will destroy more of our views. It’s fine to have all these things, performing arts and this and that, but not when you have citizens living on the street. I just want it that everybody gets a fair shake.

LD: What do you think about the arguments that a project like this would actually help revitalize that part of downtown and bring more money into the city to help with social programs?

RC: You know they’ve been shoving that down our throats for so many years, patting themselves on the back for making State Street so nice. State Street’s a wonderful thing, but I don’t want to walk down lower State Street at night. There are 36 bars down there and it’s alcohol-driven. … The cost to society from this money that they say they bring in. … They do not have the overall concern for the city. … On the one hand, it’s what are you going to do about Highway 101 and all that traffic, and no one will step up and say here’s what we have to do, we have to scale back the special events that the city promotes every year.

During Fiesta, police officers put 147 people in jail, issued 509 misdemeanor tickets, 311 citations to errant drivers and pedestrians, and 278 parking tickets. What do you think that costs in police time?

… All of these things were wonderful in their inception; they were designed for people in the community to have a good time. Because the city so heavily promotes it with advertising money, they say 80,000 people attended the Summer Solstice Parade. That’s a lot of traffic, that’s a lot of pollution, that’s a lot of garbage. It all costs money. Those things are about maxed out. They have to start going backwards a little bit. …You just don’t advertise them as heavily. … (Police) Chief Sanchez … did say 80 percent of these are alcohol related. … We’re subsidizing the liquor industry.

LD: What do you appreciate most about Santa Barbara?

RC: The view of the ocean. You’ve got ocean, mountains, anything you want to do here. We’ve got art, artists, great food, you can get all of the schooling you want here, there are six colleges. … All of these problems, everybody has to pitch in. People that have this community time, give them a job. They’re just trying to find something to do. Work on the “Green Team” as a way to work into a job with the city street cleanup – stir up more toxins than they pick up sometimes. … No drive days – that’d be nice. A day without electricity, you find other things to do.

LD: How would you attack the problem of the jobs/housing balance in our town?

RC: There’s obviously an imbalance, a schoolteacher starts at $38,000 a year and an affordable apartment is $1,600 a month, so that’s 2/3 of your pay right there just to live in this town. I say you’ve got to free up some money, some redevelopment money, there’s a lot of money there to start with, and put those people that know what they’re doing to work with it. We have incredible amount of resources in this town, there’s every kind of expertise that we do need, it’s a matter of channeling it in the right direction. Start with condensing your nonprofits. I think that’s something I could get involved in.

Name: Babatunde Folayemi

Age: 63

Occupation: City Councilman

Background: Small business owner; community volunteer with the Housing Authority, the Human Service Commission, Pro-Youth Coalition and several other nonprofits.

LD: What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishments on the City Council?

BF: There are a number of things that I’m happy about. … The inclusionary (housing) ordinance, … the living wage ordinance, the forward movement of the Granada Theatre. … I’m happy about the fact that we started the street sweeping on Eastside … and the Westside. Those were really two important things that the people have been calling for awhile now. …The position on the Patriot Act actually, that we took a stand as a community.

LD: What issues are your priorities?

BF: Equity, and some people may think that’s vague, but it isn’t. It’s the essence all of my decision-making is based on. The fact that Santa Barbara is not a monolithic community. It’s a very diverse community, and yet all segments of the community not only don’t have representation but don’t have an equitable part of the pie. My priority is trying to make sure that that happens. … Especially now as we plan the next 10 to15 years of Santa Barbara’s future. If that plan doesn’t include that large segment of the community, then what kind of a city is it going to be?

… Santa Barbara’s relationship to its neighbors … the problems that Santa Barbara is facing are regional problems. … Un-addressed they will become Goleta and Carpinteria’s problems tomorrow.

It’s like the RV situation … in the beginning, Goleta and the county took the position that well, “that’s Santa Barbara’s problem because most of them were here.” But once the ordinances were passed and they started moving into Goleta and the county, then they realized “oh wow, that’s what happens, if you make a law that only affects this place, people will go out here.” As we plan the future, that coordinated vision has to happen because the solutions lie within that coordination.

When I was working with the gangs, it was one thing to address the gangs here in Santa Barbara, if we didn’t also address to the north and south then all that would do is actually make them more vulnerable. … The 101 is like an artery, it connects all of these communities, you have to find a solution that benefits everyone who feeds into that artery … You hear that all the time, we need to take a regional approach, well the reason you hear it is because it’s true. Now what we need to do is take it out of the state of being a mantra and put it into actual practice.

LD: What do you appreciate most about Santa Barbara?

BF: I’ve lived in communities all over the world, literally, and the unique thing about Santa Barbara is its combination of its size and diversity. It’s diverse enough, in all ways, I don’t mean just diverse in terms of race or ethnicity or anything like that, I mean it’s diverse in terms of its economic strata, it runs the gamut and there’s enough here that Santa Barbara can really accomplish anything it wants to accomplish and it puts its mind to. I’ve seen Santa Barbara rally around nonprofits that were financially in trouble, and in a matter of a couple of days, raise a half a million dollars to save a nonprofit. … They have a heart that’s very compassionate and they’re very involved in every aspect of their city’s development and group.

LD: What would you most like to see change?

BF: It may sound simple, but again it’s not, what I would like to see is institutional and government bodies that are representative of the community they represent. Meaning, our school system in some instances at some schools is 82 percent to 90 percent Latino and yet we have no Latinos on the school board. Our city is a very diverse population, and yet there’s very little diversity on the council. Our principals and our teaching staff needs to be much more diverse because it’s important for young people in school to see teachers that look like them. … And that’s not a little thing, that’s a major thing because that’s what creates hope and imagination and creativity, that’s what unleashes it in a young generation.

LD: How would you describe your political views?

BF: Progressive and socially focused. Socially progressive, if you’ve got to put a label on it.

LD: What about your views on spending?

BF: I think it revolves around the priority being people. For example, I would be more inclined to spend money that ensured a certain security or stability for people or a group of people than I would to put designer tile on lower State Street or than I would be inclined to create another luxury condo or time-share. My emphasis would always go toward putting the people at the heart of our spending. … It’s about priorities. Spending is always about priorities. Sometimes expenditures now on the front end are more like investments on the long end.

LD: How would you attack the problem of the jobs/housing balance in our town?

BF: I see them holistically and I see them as related – jobs, housing, transportation, all of those they’re related and they have to be addressed in a holistic, related, fashion. For example, in terms of housing, I was at a forum out at Valle Verde senior complex and it hit me, why couldn’t we have similar types of housing developments for teachers, or for police, or for firemen or for nurses. Cooperatives if you will, where people could pay into owning these homes.

One of the things that’s important is a situation like that then would have to also have to transportation component that would allow people to get from that community to their work areas.

In terms of jobs, I really think we need to begin to retrain some of our workforce and to begin to encourage some other types of industry to come to this area. The high tech industry, for example, is particularly suited for that kind of thing, communications, industries that are clean environmentally and pay well. That calls for us to begin to develop a workforce that’s capable of fitting into that kind of a market. I think we need to begin to look at that. Because if we continue to just be a service driven economy, then we’ll never close that gap between what workers earn and the cost of living here. It’s just going to get wider.

LD: What about neighborhood compatibility?

BF: One of the reasons that Santa Barbara is so desirable to live in is because it is a planned community. Things don’t just happen haphazardly … You have the historic preservation side, you have a number of watchdog groups that make sure that the various kind of the unique little communities that exist here and unique types of architecture aren’t just bulldozed down and cookie box houses put in. I think that has to overlay all our decisions for future planning.

And the neighborhoods themselves should have input in that.

LD: What are your feelings about growth in the community?

BF: The cat’s out of the box now, you can’t put it back in. … Growth is inevitable but how we deal with this growth, the only way we can deal with it equitably

Snapshot: Bob Hansen

Age: 56

Occupation: Unemployed

Background: Homeless advocate, teacher

LD: Why do you want to be on the City Council?

BH: I would like to be a voice for the people that are unhoused in Santa Barbara. Help people that have been badmouthed by the people in the press. It’s disgrace what’s happening in our country. … Let’s try to help these people.

Some examples, the work wall on Yananoli Street, we should have like they have in Malibu, an office when a person comes back after they’ve had someone work.

… Most shelters turn out to be minimum-security programs. Basically why I would like to be on City Council is to represent those people … really try to be an example in the nation.

LD: How many homeless do you think there are in Santa Barbara?

BH: Way over what we really think. My guess would probably be 5,000 around. The visible ones would probably be about 1,000.

Now that rents are going up, people can’t even afford, making $8 an hour, either doubling up and barely making it that way. Some people are living out of a car. What’s going to be the end result? … There are so many big houses in Santa Barbara that could house more people. We should try to come up with other ideas. Shared housing. Having places where people can stay. The shelter is only open Dec. 1 – April 1. It doesn’t have lockers …just the size you would see when you were going to high school. They don’t have washers and dryers to wash your clothes … we really need to get the homeless involved. They should be helping at the shelter but they don’t do that.

Over at the Fellowship Club there are a lot of people helping each other. Still this whole thing we need to do it nationally. Like Earth Day started here in Santa Barbara. We need to be an example like Earth Day.

… Things have gotten better but things have gotten worse too. … Really homeless people don’t have any rights. (When) you step into a shelter; your rights are really gone.

LD: Other than the homeless, what issues would be your priorities if elected?

BH: … The restrooms downtown. In San Francisco they have coin-operated restrooms, self-washing restrooms, looks nice right on the street. Why can’t we have those?

Another thing is if you don’t have a restroom people have to go into a restaurant. In the night scene on lower State Street there are lines, people urinating in parking lots in stairwells, around the corners. The courts make a big joke about it. They do bring in some Porta-potties on Friday and Saturday nights but there are no signs like there are in other communities.

LD: What about your views on spending?

BH: I think right now our tourist trade is booming. There should be more for the people here…We need to think out of the box and come up with ideas. They talk about having the Internet, people could check in with each other to do car pools. Do rideshare. Anything and everything. The city has money to do that. That could be toward the community, not toward the tourist industry. It’s going to flourish forever. But you have people complaining because of taking in $9 million instead of $10 million.

I think the whole thing is crazy, basically money rules the world and Santa Barbara and the people down at the bottom get the shaft. …People really don’t care as long as they’re making money.

We’re spending $87 billion over in Iraq. We should be flying international distress signals … we need healthcare, we need education; let’s get something going over here. … There isn’t a national agenda of kind of really helping people. … Sometimes it takes a while. Like quitting smoking. It’s hard to get into housing and pay the rent. We got to show that we care. If something’s broken we don’t throw it away we do the best we can.

LD: What about neighborhood compatibility?

BH: The community really needs to decide what we all want to do. Is it going to be just another Beverly Hills? … I would like to see the community get involved in the whole debate of is this what we want instead of 50 years from now when it’s all done.

LD: What are your feelings about growth in the community?

BH: I think it needs to be balanced. There are some people in this town that are rich and some are poor. … Like the bigger houses that are already here, maybe try to get some zoning so that we can share them.

LD: Which current or former city council member do you admire the most?

BH: Gerry DeWitt, I loved him and wish he had run for mayor last time. I think he had a conscience and stood up for a lot of different things. He was a great city council person and would be a good mayor. Babatunde is kind of like that now.

Snapshot: Michael Magne

Age: 44

Occupation: Owner, Jensen Audio Visual

Background: Community volunteer for Park and Recreation Commission, Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce, SPARKLE, Santa Barbara Young Professionals; Citizens Police Academy Graduate

LD: Why do you want to be on the City Council?

MM: One of the main reasons why I’m running is the financial crisis that we’re facing. The city itself has done a great job. I’ve had the fortune over the last year to attend all of the council hearings and budget hearings over the 2004 budget. The city is doing very good financially because of previous councils that have set up really prudent policies. And one of them is to make sure that we don’t spend one-time monies on ongoing expenses. It sounds simple, that people would say yes this makes sense, but that’s one of the problems that they didn’t get. Some people can view it as well, we got this money, let’s go ahead and spend it on this. Where’s it coming from?

LD: What issues would be your priorities if elected?

MM: Youth in the community has always been a priority and that’s one of my big involvements with the Parks and Recreation commission. I think it’s really important that kids get taken care of. Especially in these economic times when schools are making budget cuts, more and more pressure’s going to come upon the city to help.

… If you don’t give kids something to do, they’re going to do something. To me it makes more sense to give them more positive alternatives.

The third issue is the environment. I’m very much concerned about the environment with creeks advisory committee being under the parks and recreation and watching what they do with their budget and how spending is going.

LD: What do you appreciate most about Santa Barbara?

MM: I really have to say the people … when I was 25 I moved to Santa Barbara, and when I moved here it really became my home. And a lot of it had to do with the people. They’re very warm and welcoming.

This community gives back so much. You figure there are all the nonprofits in this community, how generous they are. … Even though Santa Barbara is big and growing it still has a lot of small town character to it. The city’s done a really good job of managing it. Of being able to continue to prosper and yet maintain its charm. And you know there are always people that are going to be complaining and (say) ‘I remember back when’ … but I think it’s awesome.

LD: What would you most like to see change about Santa Barbara?

MM: That it not change. I don’t want to change it.

LD: How would you describe your political views?

MM: Very moderate. I think before you can do anything socially you need to have a sound financial background and funding. I think it’s extremely important that financially that we’re very prudent with our funding.

LD: How would you attack the problem of the jobs/housing balance?

MM: The city’s done an amazing job of helping to provide affordable housing. The city controls four percent of the housing units, which are affordable. If you look back through the history of Santa Barbara, there’s always been a housing crisis. And I truly believe it’s always going to be. It’s a regional issue that the city will never be able to undo the problem. It can help, but it has to have the cooperation of the county, the cities of Carpinteria and Goleta.

It really needs to be a regional approach that we sit down together and work out how we can come to jobs/housing balance. There’s going to be a lot of give and take on many different issues, and so as a community we need to come to those balances. Whether it’s going to be traffic on the freeway or increased density or other forms of mass transportation.

LD: Do you feel like the different jurisdictions can work together effectively on this issue?

MM: They haven’t. Currently from what I’ve seen, the city of Goleta and Santa Barbara don’t even talk to each other. The city of Goleta is suing Santa Barbara over the airport because they don’t want these safety improvements to be done to the runway when it’s a regional airport. … It’s sad when a city’s going to court with another city over a safety issue. That to me is a complete waste of both cities’ tax dollars and a very poor use of our legal system.

LD: Would you try, if you were on the council, to reach out to Goleta?

MM: Oh, absolutely. I have even attended many of the Goleta City Council meetings. I think it’s important that there is a dialogue between them. To just sit down and say we need to sit down and work on these regional issues. Guess what. We’re not going to agree about everything. I don’t agree with my wife about everything but we work through it. The issues don’t stop at the city or county lines. The issue of water quality doesn’t stop at the county boundary or the city boundary. Traffic doesn’t matter if you’re in the county or in the city; traffic is traffic. The jobs/housing imbalance, it’s all one. The city of Santa Barbara is in a bind because we’re landlocked, we don’t have much space, we have those types of geographical limitations.

LD: What about neighborhood compatibility? Appeals of planning commission decisions?

MM: There have been problems with neighborhood compatibilities. The city is working on the Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance, to help solidify it and make it streamlined and more understanding. …I think the process has worked fairly well, but there are some examples where it has to be adjusted. You drive through different neighborhoods, and go “this doesn’t fit.” But then you have Bungalow Haven, it’s great. The passion that those folks have for their area is just great. It really is a great sense of community over there.

LD: Which current or former city council member do you admire the most?

MM: Current, Rusty Fairly. What he has done for our community has just been astounding. Here’s a man who was a teacher and a coach and he still brings that to the council. He’s been a great teacher and supporter and I still sit down and talk with him quite frequently. It’s really been rewarding to have his support.

Ex-mayor Hal Conklin. He’s been a good friend. I felt the city lost a great mayor when he was ruled ineligible to continue because of the laws with the term limits. I was very supportive of him. I thought he was a great mayor … he’s been a great supporter of our community, he’s done a tremendous amount with the arts, and he’s been a good friend and advisor over the years.

Snapshot: Charles “Carlos” Quintero

Age: 54

Occupation: Barber, real estate investor, actor

Background: Marine Corps. Veteran; Community volunteer for arbitration/mediation (State and Santa Barbara Bar Associations), Civil Service Commission, Latinos for Better Government, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Fire and Police Pension Commission, Mexican Museum of Art, Latino Peace Officer Association, Latino Advisory Crime Committee, Oakland Private Industries Council, Spanish Speaking Citizens Foundation, Merchants Association, Lake Merritt Breakfast Club, Carriage and Western Art Museum, Marine League

LD: Why do you want to be on the City Council?

CQ: I think with all the years of experience I have under my belt, my life experiences, I am a son of elder parents, I’m a brother, I’m a dad, I’m a grandfather. I know what it is to return a salute. I know what it is to be compassionate about our former heroes and current heroes. I understand what it is to deal with kids and issues, where they feel they’re separate or disjoined from this community; I want to make sure they don’t feel that way.

LD: What issues would be your priorities if elected?

CQ: I want people to see things happen. We keep blowing smoke about cleaning up creeks, cleaning up the waterways, etc. … Firefighters, and police officers, those are very special people. You’ve got to look out for them and make sure they have all the equipment they need. I know we don’t have EMTs that are going to protect lives in this community. I know the firefighters need more equipment to help them do their jobs. I want to make sure they get that equipment. I’m not worried about $1 million dollars; $1 million is pits compared to lives.

I want to take people out of county jail and go in creeks and the riverbeds, I want to go to the judges here in town, the probation department and I want to take these guys … We’re going to make them (guys from public works) now supervisors and assign them 25 people under them … clean up (and) separate the rubbish from the recycling, get the trucks and get them to where they need to go, and we’re going to make that happen. We’re going to clean up this community. And I want to see people feel good about doing their time rather than sitting behind bars because that’s very degrading.

… You’re going to teach kids to read, write, and keep up with their peers. Children in grammar school, in kindergarten, they don’t see color differences. If you live in a house with one or two families or more, there’s no place to study, there’s no place to get the help and attention, especially if your parents don’t speak the language. I understand that, I lived it. … I know what that feels like and I know where that stems from.

LD: What do you appreciate most about Santa Barbara?

CQ: Its environment, the feel, the look, the smell, this is chocolate cake, but you’ve got to take care of it too. You don’t leave it out, you don’t let it spoil.

LD: What would you most like to see change?

CQ: I’d like to get rid of some of the squalor. I see people living in these horrible houses, terrible; landlords are pulling big rents out of these dumps. I want to make sure that our building inspectors, they see a code violation you better clean those things up, fix ‘em up, if you don’t we’re going to come and find and shut you down. … Going to help with low cost housing and that’s going to have people have a little dignity around here. … I don’t want anybody to walk on a broken or a missing sidewalk.

If it’s a matter of issues and dollars, we fight landlords about not enough open space. Compromise, the money that would have gone to that open space or landscaping … it doesn’t have to go to that property, it can go to public improvements. There are all kinds of ways to solve issues; you’ve got to think outside the box for the better good of the public, for the better good of the city. … I want I want every gateway to Santa Barbara to look like its just greeting people saying, “welcome to Santa Barbara pal, this is our community, and say we’re proud.”

LD: How would you describe your political views?

CQ: I think I’m a moderate. I’m more interested in what’s happening in my community and my neighborhood.

LD: What about your views on spending?

CQ: I think the city’s pretty much in good stead. … If I think it’s an outlandish expense I’m going to question it. I’m going to say if we’re going to do that, why can’t we do that. What are the tradeoffs, where are we putting that dollar? Are we addressing the neighborhoods? Are we just getting a little bit out of our realm here? I won’t go over the top with anything. I’m going to be very responsible for the dollars that we spend. I want to drag people out of incarceration because I can give you an army of manpower, … to get into those creeks and stuff.

LD: Where does the environment factor in your values?

CQ: Any new construction in this community would have to go through the green programs where we look at double-paned windows, we have to look at solar, we have to look at the northwest setting of homes and apartments. We have to look at vegetation on planting of strategic landscape. We have codes in the books that have a requirement for two-car garages, we going to eliminate that. If it’s one bedroom, one car, if it’s two bedrooms, two cars. We’ve got to stop accommodating the car. 

And if we do new buildings, I want them to be classy buildings where the parking is underneath the structure. … Giving less priority to the parking, therefore we can improve public transportation. If you have to make them use it, then you have to make them use it.

Snapshot: Helene Schneider

Age: 32

Occupation: Human Resources Director, Planned Parenthood

Background: Has worked with Assemblyman Jack O’Connell, the Housing Authority, Santa Barbara Human Resources Association, Santa Barbara Woman’s Political Committee, Santa Barbara County Action Network, Building Bridges, California National Organization for Women PAC.

LD: Why do you want to be on the City Council?

HS: … I want to bring my perspective of the 30-something working person to the council on issues ranging from environmental protection and places where we can play and love where we are and try to have opportunities for people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and family-size and what not to be able to enjoy living here too. … I don’t want it to become a place for students and poor people living 20 people in a house and then retired and rich people over here and nothing in the middle.

LD: What are the priority issues for you?

HS: The biggest overarching one I think is how we deal with budget. I think the city’s done a good job in preparing for the rainy day, and the storm is a coming. It’s already gotten cloudy, it’s already rained a little bit but we don’t know what’s on the horizon. We still don’t know what’s going to happen to state, we still don’t know how the state is going to try to resolve its deficit on the backs of cities and counties and what is that going to mean to us. The city’s a service organization … all that takes money. So that’s the big picture.

LD: How do you address that?

HS: I think we obviously we need to be very careful about it, we need to be very smart, we need to be balanced, we need to fair in terms of what we do with money. I’m not someone to say absolutely no in terms of what comes across my desk. I want to ask, “OK, what’s the cost if we don’t do this?” In terms of staffing … the cost of training and turnover and what not, if we don’t do it. We can’t just freeze it and say we’re in a budget crisis because you’re going to spend money anyway.

And then it comes to safety issues and that to me is both public safety and environmental safety. I’m a housing authority commissioner, I talk about workforce housing, it’s extremely important, it is a priority, but you know what, if we don’t have a safe place to live and if our creeks are polluted and we don’t feel comfortable walking from point A to point B, nothing else really matters. That’s a huge part of what the city needs to accomplish. So it’s more broad-based.

And then the underneath it all, it’s all about how to be a good employer. The city’s a huge employer and that’s what makes the city run — the people who work for us. How do you approach so that you can recruit and retain talented, creative, motivated, hard-working staff to do all the things we want so we can make sure our creeks are clean, so we can make sure that we have people who can move the planning process forward and people aren’t gridlocked so that we can have a vibrant community of arts and festivals and you know things that bring people in to make this a vibrant community, so we can house people, all the things, so the potholes are filled, so the trees are trimmed.

LD: What about your views on spending?

HS: I think we need to balance the budget any chance we get. When times are good we need to put money away into reserves because times won’t always be good, and when times are bad it’s okay to dip into reserves in order to soften the blow. And I think the city’s approach they’re taking to the budget is a smart one in that they’re not doing a lot of layoffs, they are reducing the size and scope of the number of employees through attrition.

At some point I’d be careful and concerned about how many employees leave. … Firefighters are a great example. I met with them … and one of the men explained how he had just finished a 23-day stint … I know I wouldn’t want my house on fire on his 22nd day and part of that is because of the staffing issues.

… I think we need to ask just because something was done or has been structured a certain way in the past and it’s always been done that way doesn’t mean that it has to be done that way from now forward. Times have changed and there’re more people here and technology is different, and what are things we can do that can help people who work here and reduce costs at the same time.

LD: How would you attack the problem of jobs/housing balance in our town?

HS: Well, again that deals with the gap of workforce housing opportunities here. So in planning in a way to still protect our open space, keep our creeks and oceans clean and all that and look at mixed use projects along the downtown core, along transportation corridors, along with working with larger employers and trying to partner with them. … It’s still essential to have good paying jobs here. There are things that we can do to ensure those good paying jobs.

We still want, everything from our own city staffing, public safety and public works, cleaning our creeks, they’re all essential things. I’d like to see if the housing authority or other organizations are going to do workforce housing projects, to look at our critical workforce here. It’s crazy that our healthcare professionals and our teachers and fire, police … I mean they make good money and aren’t able to live where they work. I think the community loses. And administrative staff, they’re the ones that keep things going.

LD: What about neighborhood compatibility?

HS: That’s essential, absolutely. First I think there needs to be a lot of education about what it is we’re talking about when we talk about density or when we talk about mixed use or when we talk about larger units … so that if there are disagreements, we’re disagreeing over the same thing… I think the Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance is essential because that’s a great collaborative process and we’re going to hear from people who live in these neighborhoods and look at what does it mean to be a neighborhood. … So that’s a big piece.

LD: Where does the environment factor in your values?

HS: You can have anything you want in the city, but if you don’t have both environmental and public safety, nothing else matters. People love Santa Barbara because of where it is on the planet and its environmental beauty and that’s something that we absolutely have to protect and preserve.

Snapshot: Das Williams

Age: 29

Occupation: Master’s Degree Candidate and Teaching Assistant, UCSB, Environmental Studies; Legislative Aide (on leave) for Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson

Background: Grew up in Santa Barbara; worked with Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress, California Democratic Party, County Supervisor Gail Marshall, Community Environmental Council, Environmental Defense Center, Vote the Coast P.A.C, Santa Barbara County Action Network, Living Wage Coalition

LD: Why do you want to be on the City Council?

DW: This is my home. … To me the most important jobs in the community are city and county level, and the coastal commission.

… And I believe the people in Santa Barbara want or believe in the same things that I stand for, which are clean water, good transportation and good planning, and empowerment of the neighborhoods. Those are issues that transcend ideology. They’re not about left or right; they’re about Santa Barbara.

LD: What would you most like to see change?

DW: I would like to have the city respect and pay attention to its neighborhoods. I think when people come to city hall, they want to know that their council members haven’t already made up their mind before they’ve been heard and that their opinion matters as much as anybody else in the city no matter how powerful they are. I will be that kind of council member that listens to the neighborhoods. That not only listens to them when they come to city hall but go out to the neighborhoods and listens to them. … I think whether it is true or it is only perception, the neighborhoods — whether they’re working class, middle class or affluent in this community — don’t feel like their opinion matters as much as it should. Now I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but I think it’s a problem that they feel that way. And I want to make sure that they don’t feel that way by effectively engaging the neighborhoods and representing the neighborhoods.

LD: What about your views on spending?

DW: … I think being fiscally responsible goes beyond being fiscally conservative. You can’t address basic infrastructure and economic needs of a community by just shutting down and hoping the problems go away. … I think investing in basic infrastructure, like clean water, like a good transportation system, is one of the best ways we can do that. … In the short term it would create more jobs, because sewer replacement and rail authority create jobs. And in the long run it would also create more jobs because it would be easier for business to operate here in Santa Barbara.

LD: What issues would be your priorities if elected?

DW: One of those is clean water. I’ve done a lot of environmental work for Hannah-Beth, including this oil bill that was just signed into law by the governor … I wrote that for Hannah-Beth … I’ve also helped on creek and ocean water quality issues with Hannah-Beth. And I’d like to take my policy experience to city hall to tackle the issue of water quality. I think it’s important to Santa Barbara, not just from an environmental perspective, but it’s part of our identity to have clean water. It’s a public health danger if people don’t know when it’s safe to take their kids out into the ocean. But it also poses an economic threat to us. Every time there’s a beach closure it means less business in town, fewer jobs and less revenue for the city.

I think it’s one of the best examples of why sometimes it’s the most fiscally responsible thing to do something rather than not do something. People say fiscally conservative but that implies that you don’t do anything about the economy or that you shut down operations in the city and you cut departments. My viewpoint is that there is a cost to doing something but there is also sometimes a cost to not doing something. Water quality is one of the best examples of that. If we don’t spend money to clean up our creeks and oceans we’ll have less money in the future.

LD: What do you appreciate most about Santa Barbara?

DW: The natural beauty of our coast, and the inner beauty of Santa Barbara’s people. We’re a different kind of place; we’re a place where the prosperity of Santa Barbara’s business and the health of the environment go hand in hand. I believe the interests of working families in Santa Barbara are also in the best interest of the economy in Santa Barbara. And our best example of that is transportation, which is the second most important issue. … We need to take a large step, which is to begin our regional rail authority with Ventura County and North County governments and split the cost of a commuter rail. I think nothing would be more beneficial for the working families here, I think nothing would be more beneficial for the environment. And nothing would be more beneficial for business.

LD: What are your feelings about growth in the community?

DW: I am a firm believer in protection of open space, protection of the coast and I have always supported slow growth candidates and helped elect those folks. But I do think that we need to provide enough affordable and workforce housing that we do not lose the middle and working class of Santa Barbara, which we are in danger of doing. … I also wouldn’t want to see inaction on our part in the city be a cause of the development and the destruction of adjacent coastlines which are a part of our identity and a part of our city. The Gaviota Coast may not be in the city boundaries but it’s a part of who we are. The Ellwood Bluffs and More Mesa, these are places that are part of Santa Barbara and part of who we are.

Snapshot: Bruce Rittenhouse

And don’t write off write-in candidate Bruce Rittenhouse. In his multiple runs for City Council, the 63-year-old retired insurance investigator, Michigan police officer and U.S. Army veteran has become well-known as a Westside activist and City Hall agitator.

Rittenhouse said the council lacks leadership, and that the other candidates will make little difference to the city.

“We don’t need any more nice people in office,” said Rittenhouse, who is campaigning on a platform that includes a referendum on district elections, medical marijuana implementation, ending the city’s use of consultants, replacement of sewer lines and sewer treatment upgrades, keeping the homeless shelters open 24/7 and full time pay for City Council members. “It’s time we recognize who we’re here for. I would bring a difference in tone and attitude in city government from day one. Somebody’s got to wake up,” said Rittenhouse.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon

Board extends comment deadline for county Draft Housing Element

The Hollister Area Neighborhood Association (HANA) scored a minor victory when the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors agreed to extend the deadline for public comment on the Draft Housing Element until Monday, Oct. 27.

The deadline extension was at least partially in response to a petition circulated by HANA and signed by 1,300 to 1,400 residents, to oppose re-zoning and developing the Hollister corridor between Turnpike and Patterson in the unincorporated part of the county, according to HANA spokesperson/consultant Dennis Baker.

Santa Barbara County 2nd District Supervisor Susan Rose and her executive staff assistant, Alissa Hummer, met with HANA members on Sept. 15 to discuss a variety of issues related to the Housing Element. HANA presented Rose with a number of demands related to the housing element and protection of agricultural zoning and open spaces in the county, but the extension of the deadline for public comment was the only concession granted.

HANA initially grew out of concern over proposed re-zoning and development of the San Marcos Growers property at 125 S. San Marcos Rd., which the neighbors learned about from a newspaper article, said Barbara Greenleaf, HANA Steering Committee Member. “It was such a shock to all of us that we turned out angered beyond belief. I don’t know why the planning department was so stunned. …This is a precious community resource and the fact that (Developer Michael) Towbes is already measuring … for the Berber rugs, is very discouraging,” she said.

“… There’s no interest in what the residents have to say in this area about the development, especially about the San Marcos property, which is agricultural property,” Baker said.

“… People are speaking up, but they’re speaking out on all sides of this issue,” said Hummer, who mentioned that in addition to HANA and other neighbors of the proposed development areas, she has also heard from “a number of people who support more housing, and more workforce housing.”

Rose was out the country and unavailable for comment.

“We’ve had a fair amount of phone calls and emails, but not yet a lot in terms of official comment to be included … I’ve been primarily answering a lot of questions,” said County Planner Alicia Harrison.

A public hearing on the Housing Element will go before the Planning Commission after the Oct. 27 deadline for written public comment and comments are also received from the state, Harrison said. She said she anticipates the hearings will begin this winter and that the Housing Element will go before the Board of Supervisors in early spring.

The Draft Housing Element is available online at or at the Planning and Development offices, 123 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101. Written comments may be sent to that address or emailed to

Originally published in South Coast Beacon