With Most of City Council on Ballot, Santa Barbara Officially Sets Nov. 7 Vote-by-Mail Election | Local News


Residents will elect a new mayor and three of the six other City Council seats, and may also vote on a sales tax hike

The Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday officially called vote-by-mail election on Nov. 7, with July 17 through Aug. 14 as the window for candidate to file their intentions to run for mayor or one of three City Council seatsClick to view larger

The Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday officially called vote-by-mail election on Nov. 7, with July 17 through Aug. 14 as the window for candidate to file their intentions to run for mayor or one of three City Council seats (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

The Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday officially called vote-by-mail election on Nov. 7, with July 17 through Aug. 14 as the window for candidate to file their intentions to run for mayor or one of three City Council seats.

City Hall at 735 Anacapa St. and one location each on Upper State Street, the Westside neighborhood and the lower Riviera area will serve as drop-off stations for residents’ ballots.

Voting by mail and voting in-person at City Hall will begin Oct. 9 and run through Election Day.

As of Tuesday, four candidates have filed campaign finance statements to run for the city’s 50th mayor. Helene Schneider is terming out of the city’s top post after eight years.

City Councilwoman Cathy Murillo, often the most reliable voice for the left on the dais, was the first to declare her intent to run, and frequently frames council issues around working-class residents’ needs and concerns.

On the other side of the political spectrum is Councilman Frank Hotchkiss, the most conservative member of Santa Barbara’s left-leaning council, who has framed himself as the law-and-order candidate.

In between the two stands former councilman Hal Conklin, who served a short stint as mayor 23 years ago, and entered the race calling for a rekindling of what he described as a loss of broad-based community collaboration and decision making on City Hall issues.

The latest candidate to declare is former Deckers Brands CEO Angel Martinez, who announced a month ago that “Santa Barbara is at a tipping point. We are at a moment in time when vision and leadership are essential for us to create the city that, by all rights, should be the best small city in America.”

Should Murillo win, her seat on the council would have to be filled. Hotchkiss and Councilman Bendy White are both terming out, while councilmen Randy Rowse and Jason Dominguez are not up for election.

This year marks Santa Barbara’s second districts-based election, where districts 4, 5 and 6 — the Riviera, the western swath of the city and the downtown area, respectively — are on the ballot.

As of Tuesday, five candidates have filed campaign-finance statements.

Current Planning Commission Chair Jay Higgins is competing for District 4, as is attorney James Scafide.

Eric Friedman, an aide to Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, when he was a county supervisor, will be on the ballot for District 5, as will former city Fire Chief Warner McGrew.

Current Councilman Gregg Hart, who was elected twice in the 1990s and is running for a second consecutive term, is running unopposed so far in District 6.

According to the City Clerk’s Office, no measures have been placed on the ballot yet, though likely to appear if the council gives its approval will be one that would raise the sales tax up to 1 percent to raise money for a backlog of infrastructure maintenance.  

Nearly two-thirds of residents polled earlier this year were receptive to an increase, which would require a simple majority to pass.

A 1-percent increase would bring in an estimated $22 million a year.

Funding for Safe Parking Program

The City Council on Tuesday also approved a new 5-year agreement with New Beginnings Counseling Center to administer the city’s Recreational Vehicle Safe Parking Program.

The agreement provides $43,500 annually for the 14-year-old program’s administration.

The Safe Parking Program oversees night-time parking spots in the parking lots of nonprofit organizations and churches for RV dwellers, and transitions program users to permanent housing.

The program and New Beginnings have received greater attention the past several months with Santa Barbara’s recently adopted ban on oversized vehicle parking on all city streets — a prohibition with a number of complex exceptions.

New Beginnings is now also searching for daytime parking spots for RV dwellers.

The parking ordinance has been criticized by advocates of the homeless and RV dwellers, who say it squeezes RV dwellers out of the city by cracking down on where they can live.

Many businesses have also charged that the restrictions make many of their operations infeasible.

The city and many residents, however, say oversized vehicles pose safety hazards to drivers by blocking lines of sight and taking up considerable space on narrow streets.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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