The Chamber weighs in on many issues annually as circumstances change and new challenges arise. Below is a summary of current and past advocacy efforts.
The purpose of the proposed Community Benefit Improvement District (CBID) is to ensure the future economic vitality of downtown and the Funk Zone by assessing property owners within the proposed District to independently fund and direct special benefits to address cleanliness, safety, beautification, maintenance, identity and placemaking, above and beyond what the City provides now and into the future.
This important initiative is presented by the Downtown Organization of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce and the CBID Steering Committee.
TechTopia refers to the thriving technology and manufacturing industry on the Santa Barbara South Coast. What began as the Chamber’s annual science, technology, and business summit, featuring guided tours of the local tech industry, has evolved into a moniker for the bustling hub of tech companies ranging from startups to industry leaders.
The Chamber recognizes the importance of stable childcare in our communities, ensuring a stable and equitable workforce. The Chamber supports childcare programs and initiatives, like the Emergency Child Care Initiative for Santa Barbara County, to ensure that community members can find affordable childcare and that local childcare providers can keep their doors open during periods of economic hardship.
Congressman Salud Carbajal was joined by the Santa Maria Valley and Santa Barbara South Coast Chambers of Commerce to show support for the Childcare Investment Act, sponsored by the Congressman. This new legislation was built with input from local businesses, with the intent to increase support for local businesses to offer childcare benefits like subsidized childcare or employer childcare centers. Representatives from Cottage Hospital, United Way, and First 5 of Santa Barbara County were also present to support the legislation and discuss the current state of childcare in Santa Barbara County. Read the full press release here.
The Chamber is monitoring the County of Santa Barbara’s 2030 Climate Action Plan and the potential benefits and impacts the plan’s policies could have on local businesses. The Chamber is exploring a County-wide Chamber collaboration to encourage the County to adopt climate policy criteria that ensures economically feasible and impactful climate policies.
The Chamber recognizes workforce housing as a critical piece of our region’s economic development. It supports development projects that retain and enhance the community and allow more flexibility in local housing development.
Additionally, the Chamber also works to secure partnerships with local businesses and developers to create workforce housing programs available for employees of local companies.
The Chamber is currently advocating for Heritage Ridge, an infill housing project featuring workforce and senior housing rental units in Goleta.
In March 2023, the Chamber released its Roadmap to Recovery: The Road Home, read more about it HERE.
Specifically, the Chamber is also monitoring:
- State and local legislation pertaining to Average Unit Density (AUD)
- City Housing Elements
- Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA)
During the pandemic, one of the highest priorities was helping businesses survive and navigate the ever-shifting, often contradictory series of guidelines and setting a course for economic recovery.
In October 2020, the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce created the Roadmap to Recovery, a thoughtful, research-based plan of action for the business community. It charted a course for businesses and offered tactics and milestones to help them through and out of the economic crisis. Additionally, the Chamber advocated for a statewide Restaurant Reopening Plan.
In October 2021, the Chamber released the Roadmap to Recovery Phase II, which addressed long-term recovery strategies, emerging issues, and additional challenges businesses faced during reopening.
In 2022, the Chamber launched its Data Dashboard to showcase the region’s economic development through community data points relating to the local workforce, real estate, taxes, tourism, homelessness, poverty, and COVID-19. (https://sbscchamber.com/data-dashboard/)
The Chamber believes that acknowledging and addressing homelessness is a needed piece of the well-being of individuals and the community at large. Additionally, the Chamber recognizes the impact homelessness has on businesses, tourism, and the local economy and encourages business participation in regional homelessness discussions and solutions.
The Chamber works with the Santa Barbara Alliance for Community Transformation (SB ACT) through their weekly Regional Action Plan (RAP) meetings and advocates for projects that help individuals experiencing homelessness transition into housing or other shelter options.
The City of Santa Barbara is creating a State Street Master Plan to address and implement a long-term approach for the State Street Promenade master plan created under emergency COVID response. Chamber President and CEO, Kristen Miller, serves on the City of Santa Barbara’s State Street Advisory Committee to steer the City toward a master plan that acknowledges changes in retail shopping, the need for housing, and an economy changed by the pandemic.