2024 Voters Guide
Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce is proud to present our 2024 Voters Guide. Part of the Chamber’s charter and mission is to connect business with the government in meaningful ways. Our annual Voters Guide is not meant to tell you who or what to vote for. That is up to you. Our job is to identify the candidates and measures that are most aligned with our pro-business mission, as it relates to the quality of life in our communities.
The Chamber sent questionnaires to candidates running for County Supervisor in Districts 1, 3 and 4. Below you will find the candidates answers to these questionnaires.
The Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce also sponsors the South Coast Business Action Fund, a group of business leaders who work together for pro-business political action. We also endorse business-friendly candidates and raise money to help elect Chamber supported candidates, and recruit business leaders to run for office. Visit BAF.SBSCChamber.com to learn more or to donate today.
Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber 2024 Santa Barbara Voters Guide
Santa Barbara County District Candidate Questionnaire Responses
Question 1: Candidate Priorities
Please list your personal top priorities for the County of Santa Barbara and provide your plan for seeing these priorities realized.
Housing: Our region’s lack of housing is pricing our workforce out of our community and making it impossible for employers to hire. I have spent the better part of the last two years working to find sites for new housing, and I was proud to support the adoption of our Housing Element last month, which will create more rental and ownership housing opportunities.
Clean Energy: As the Chair of Central Coast Community Energy, I am leading the regional effort to invest in clean energy projects like the new Strauss Wind Project in Lompoc. I’ve led the charge for the County to do our part, adopting a landmark electric vehicle policy for our fleet, and installing over 200 charging stations.
Reforming the Jail and investing in mental health: The cost of the jail has skyrocketed and proven to be a major fiscal liability. I have supported our effort to get our costs under control, and have secured more mental health treatment beds, some of which are coming online as soon as January 2024.
1. Rebuild trust with county government. I want to create a County where every resident can trust that their government is acting in their best interest.
District 1 deserves better than political pandering and insincere promises.
2. Preventing unsustainable development. Preserving our open space, agriculture, character, quality of life and ensuring that we do not over-develop our beautiful beach communities.
3. Improving our infrastructure. Our infrastructure is more than just concrete and steel; it’s the lifeline of our community. Aging roads, outdated public transportation systems, and insufficient utility networks can hinder our growth and quality of life. Modernizing our infrastructure is crucial for ensuring safety, boosting economic growth, and enhancing the overall well-being of our community.
4. Economic Development. Despite the absence of a formal economic development department in our county, we possess immense untapped potential. From our vibrant agricultural sector to burgeoning tech and tourism industries, there is a wealth of opportunity waiting to be harnessed, but we must do a better job. I will create an Economic Development Department that targets new businesses and helps our existing businesses thrive.
5. Sensible cannabis regulations. As District 1 Supervisor, I will develop sensible cannabis regulations in Santa Barbara County. This complex issue requires balancing public safety, health concerns, economic opportunities, and the impact on our community’s quality of life.
a. Sound fiscal management of the County’s budget by maintaining reserve funds, keeping faith with long-term board commitments (e.g., IT, infrastructure, public safety) and planning for future lean years.
b. Careful tracking of the Housing Element implementation, including development and adoption of new policies and ensuring that new units are constructed according to the state requirements to avoid penalties. Would also like to explore the possibility of a housing bond to support workforce housing and am currently engaged in LAFCO’s effort to plan for the 7th Housing Element Cycle by identifying areas where housing should and should not be built as a way of creating more certainty and consensus around the process.
c. Continue the transition to a renewable energy economy with the County leading the way with its buildings, fleet, and policies (e.g, commercial solar ordinance) while supporting greater energy security in the “Goleta Load Pocket.”
d. Oversee implementation of the two-county Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) that seeks to bring higher paying jobs to the County through aerospace, renewable energy, ag technology, and precision manufacturing. The new bioengineering program at UCSB may also bring new types of start-up companies to our area. Relatedly, continue seeking funds to implement our Regional Broadband Strategy. I am also working with REACH and others to create a pilot school-to-workforce pipeline that offers opportunities for young people to achieve higher paying and more satisfying jobs.
e. Having pioneered the first tiny home village in the County for homeless people in Isla Vista, I am now planning a state-of-the-art homeless facility at the Bridge House just outside Lompoc that will offer onsite services, job training, and LifeArk modular housing. I am proud to partner with the City of Goleta in opening the Buena Tierra Project in Goleta (former Super 8 Motel) that will offer permanent supportive housing to those experiencing homelessness in the Goleta Valley.
f. As a board member of the Fire Safe Council, I am very involved in emergency preparedness and shared public safety with an aim to increase participation in Fire Wise community certification and thereby eventually to reduce insurance costs for home and business owners.
g. I initiated a countywide Recreation Master Plan that I intend to see completed and begin to implement and I also chair the Adult and Aging Network and we are developing a county Master Plan for Aging for which we are now receiving state planning funds.
Regional economic development, workforce housing, as well as childcare availability and costs are my priorities. My plan includes working with the local industries to create a county economic development plan, streamlining permitting and processes, and identify and implement funding to reduce costs. I want to bridge the divide between north and south county communities by acknowledging and sharing the successful programs on these priorities that our communities have implemented countywide. And finally, I want to bring diverse partners and businesses to the table and ensure that no single organization or industry dominates decisions as often happens with current ordinances and policies at the county level.
1) Revenue, 2) Revenue, and 3) Revenue. My primary priority is to present the County with the opportunity for $200-300 million in new recurring tax revenue to avoid the looming budget shortfall (click here). Our campaign has presented five options that leverage the County’s ability to utilize property taxes, sales taxes and transient fees to more than meet its budget needs.
My foremost priority for the County of Santa Barbara is public safety. Ensuring the safety and security of our communities is fundamental, which includes advocating for increased funding for more Sheriff deputies, supporting the EMS system, and implementing innovative approaches like the co-response law enforcement team. Enhancing community services, particularly in unincorporated areas, is also crucial to ensure these areas receive the necessary attention and resources. Additionally, I am committed to supporting economic development, fostering a business-friendly environment, and collaborating with local and regional organizations to boost job growth. Alongside these, I aim to advocate for responsible fiscal management and safeguard the rights and interests of taxpayers and property owners, ensuring that their voices are heard and their concerns are addressed in county governance.
As a School Board Member, Community Advocate and Human Resources Executive, I’ve gained the experience needed to deliver solutions for our County’s most urgent needs:
Housing: Ensure that hardworking folks, seniors and families can afford to live in our County. Advance forward-looking solutions to combat limited supply and runaway housing costs. Any solution addressing the County’s housing crisis must center and prioritize housing affordability for low income and middle income residents. Boosting low income tax credits, invest in rental assistance and subsidies, rezoning to accommodate multifamily buildings, duplex, triplexes, and townhomes, disincentivize corporate land lording of single family homes by requiring them to pay substantially into a fund for every home they purchase, therefore helping low income families purchase a home locally, support housing initiatives that leverage alliance between business, philanthropic and public sectors are all strategies to consider.
Living Wage: Our workforce deserves fair wages for their labor and workers’ rights protections. Our economy should work for everyone, not just the few at the top. That’s why I’m committed to policies that ensure wages are not just minimum, but livable, reflecting the true value of the labor our workers provide. Alongside this, I stand for robust workers’ rights protections—because a fair wage is just the beginning of our fight for economic justice for all.
Healthcare: Expand access to affordable health services through:
Community Health Programs: Implement community health programs focusing on preventive care, wellness, and chronic disease management. These programs, tailored to specific community needs, can effectively reach underserved or vulnerable populations.
Partner with Local Organizations: Collaborating with local healthcare providers, non-profits, and community organizations can greatly extend the reach and effectiveness of health services. Such partnerships are crucial for expanding access to care, particularly in rural or underserved areas.
Healthcare Clinics and Mobile Units: Establishing county-run clinics or mobile health units can provide essential healthcare services directly, especially in areas with limited medical facilities. These can offer a range of services from basic healthcare and screenings to vaccinations and mental health services.
Question 2: Santa Barbara County Business Climate
How would you describe the current business climate in the County of Santa Barbara, as well as the County’s current relationship with local businesses? Is there anything you would like to see change in this regard?
The biggest challenge I see to our business climate is our cost of living which is driven by the housing shortage. We have benefited from economic growth and the creation of over 8,000 jobs in the last decade, but we have not kept up on housing production. I have mentioned my efforts to allow for more housing, and I should also mention that I regularly work with businesses and constituents who are struggling to navigate our building and planning process. I am also working to remove from the County’s permitting regime the need for certain approvals that are not already required by State law.
We need to change the relationship between the County and its business community. As someone who has navigated the challenges of running a business here, I recognize the importance of having better representation and collaboration. Enhancing this relationship is key to understanding and addressing the unique needs of local businesses. For too long, our county has failed to foster a healthy business community.
I understand firsthand that our business climate has significant potential for improvement. One critical area is the need for more efficient processes. I propose the creation of a comprehensive County app that would streamline development procedures, health department clearances, and permit processes, enabling direct and efficient communication with county staff. I led the way to successfully implementing a similar tool right here in Carpinteria, and it has already shown positive results. We would greatly reduce bureaucratic complexity and start to foster a more business-friendly environment.
The County of Santa Barbara is home to some of the best run and most innovative businesses in the world. The Chamber’s promotion of our local tech companies through TechTopia – many of whom are along the Hollister Corridor in the 3rd District – is important because these companies provide good paying jobs that contribute to the high quality of life and prestige of our area.
I have had a keen interest in business development since joining the Board and have been a staunch advocate for our coordination with REACH that began in North County but is now countywide, and also includes SLO County on some initiatives.
With the new Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Initiative (see above), the County has started to lay a foundation for a more pro-active approach to supporting private sector businesses. Of course, streamlining permitting is also very important. The #1 issue I hear from employers is that there is a lack of housing for their workforce. I am actively engaged in trying to ensure that new housing production meets the needs of our workforce, in both type, location and price, and does not go to real estate speculators and out-of-town second (and third) home buyers.
Reliable energy and grid infrastructure are also paramount for the business community. I am an advocate for innovative projects like the Goleta Virtual Power Plant, Community Choice Energy, local wind energy and utility-scale solar projects. My unwavering support for local energy independence and cleaner, more reliable energy sets me apart in this field. Fast and dependable internet is another key priority and I am a leader in achieving this through the Countywide Broadband Strategic Plan.
In the next 5 years, I’d like to see the County as an organization focus more on economic development, perhaps through our CEO’s office. I would like to see the South Coast Chamber have an integral role in this process and I am committed to facilitating. I think this can only strengthen the County’s relationship with the business community.
As I see it the current business climate is resilient despite the difficulty and costs incurred being in Santa Barbara County. The county’s relationship with the local business community is difficult and costly from its fees and taxes to the rules and ordinances implemented. The county needs to engage with local industries early and often to understand the issues as well as the effects of the county policies and budgets on the businesses before approving them. Having an economic development plan would identify these issues, provide goals to reduce the impacts, and provide a touchstone for decisions. Streamlining county processes and permitting needs to be reviewed as well. Fees should cover the costs of providing the county services but be reduced where possible.
Non-functional. The current climate is anti-business and the current County relationship with business is virtually non-existent. The County needs to incorporate a more dynamic probusiness and economic development mindset/culture; and be less transactional. In addition, given the County’s work in quantum computing, AI, and private/commercial space travel it has an extraordinary opportunity to work with global MNCs who want to come to, and expand in the County (i.e. Google, Microsoft, SpaceX); and with global investors who see the County as a target rich environment for investment.
The business climate in Santa Barbara County is currently stifled by an environment that is far from conducive to the growth and success of local businesses. The County’s approach to business development is inadequate, with a glaring lack of initiatives to promote and incentivize business growth. Small business owners, in particular, face an uphill battle due to a development system that is overly cumbersome and expensive. This hostile environment is a barrier to success for the average entrepreneur, who is already grappling with high operational costs. Furthermore, the County’s failure to provide adequate affordable housing options compounds these challenges, especially in areas like Lompoc, where economic growth is significantly hampered by this shortage. There is an urgent need for the County to overhaul its approach, streamline its processes, and implement policies that truly support and nurture business development and economic expansion.
As a Democratic candidate for Santa Barbara County supervisor, I see our business climate as dynamic yet facing challenges. Our diverse economy, with strengths in agriculture, tourism, and tech, is resilient but not without its struggles. Small businesses are particularly affected by post-pandemic recovery issues and high operational costs.
The county’s relationship with local businesses is foundational to our economic health. We have made strides in creating a supportive environment, but there’s more to be done. I advocate for accelerating the pace of innovation in our county through stronger county-local business partnerships, especially in sustainability and workforce development and support substantive dialogue with business leaders to understand their needs, encourage innovation and growth, and ensure local policies promote sustainable growth. Collaboratively, we can build an inclusive, thriving economy where the benefits are widely shared by everyone in Santa Barbara County.
Question 3: Economic Development
Compare your priorities for economic development within the County of Santa Barbara to the County’s current economic development priorities?
A big priority of mine has been expanding our County’s broadband infrastructure, especially to communities that lack it entirely. As the Chair of SBCAG in 2022 I worked to make this a regional effort that can compete for the state and federal funding we need to make this happen. I have also supported the 101 expansion project and worked to secure the funding needed to finish it as quickly as possible. We are also moving forward initiatives that will allow for expanded hospitality/food service opportunities, through our Recreation master plan, working to allow parklets, and allowing wine/beer licensed businesses to serve food.
In Santa Barbara County, we are blessed with a wealth of natural beauty and a strong community spirit. However, there’s a growing need to invigorate our economic landscape. Our county has been woefully behind. Unlike many counties in California, we do not have an economic development department. Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy, but we have not done a good enough job of fostering or supporting our local business community. We will create initiatives to provide them with the resources, training, and support they need to thrive, including easier access to financing and business development services.
As a small business owner myself, I have seen it first-hand. Instead of helping small and local businesses thrive, we throw up unnecessary roadblocks to prevent early-stage businesses from getting off the ground.
I am dedicated to following through with the CEDS program. That process involved people on the ground from throughout the County and I am very supportive of their conclusions. Please see Q 1. d, above. I am also eager to promote Broadband (and helped spur the regional Broadband initiative) and the transition to renewable energy and increasing energy security through a Virtual Power Plant in South County.
Frankly, the County lacks clear economic development priorities. Much of it has been taken up by regional groups such as REACH, SBCAG, EconAlliance and the chambers. And while I applaud the county for partnering with these organizations who are already tackling some of the issues as no single entity can solve or drive economic development, not having a county economic development plan with defined priorities means once again the county is reactionary. Being dependent upon the other organization and hoping their issues align with ours is misguided both in decision making and financial investment. The county should have a defined plan and priorities that drives these partnerships and spending, and when those partnerships aren’t working on these have a plan to do so ourselves.
Status Quo vs Revenue. The current environment is “status-quo” and needs to shift to a focus on recurring revenue. The County today is not leveraging the existing economic development resources that it already has. There are existing agencies in Santa Barbara who have presented the County with options and have been ignored
While my priorities for economic development, such as supporting job growth and facilitating workforce and affordable housing, nominally align with the County’s stated goals, the actual implementation and political will to achieve these objectives are lagging. The current business environment in the County of Santa Barbara, hindered by cumbersome regulatory processes and a lack of adequate support for small businesses, starkly contrasts with these proclaimed goals. The County needs to be much bolder and more aggressive in its approach to truly support businesses of all sizes. Real progress requires more than just aligning on paper; it demands actionable strategies and a commitment to streamline processes that currently impede business growth. Our efforts should focus on transforming the overly complex and costly development system into one that genuinely fosters economic expansion, supported by tangible incentives for business development. Only then can we bridge the gap between our shared goals and their actual realization.
Sustainable Development: I aim to accelerate the county’s eco-friendly initiatives, focusing more
on green technologies and sustainable agriculture, in line with our environmental values.
Technology and Innovation: The county values tech, but I propose greater support for local
startups and enhanced digital infrastructure, preparing for a tech-forward future.
Workforce Development: While the county offers workforce training, I advocate for expanded programs in emerging fields like renewable energy and tech, ensuring our workforce meets future demands.
Small Business Support: The county assists small businesses, but I see a need for more accessible resources and simplified processes, vital for our local economy’s backbone.
Tourism and Agriculture: Both are key sectors. I propose sustainable tourism promotion and innovative support for our agricultural community.
In essence, while Santa Barbara County has solid economic development plans, I believe in a more aggressive stance on sustainable practices, tech innovation, and comprehensive workforce training, alongside stronger small business and sector-specific support.
Question 4: Housing
What do you believe is the state of housing in the County of Santa Barbara? What are your priorities regarding housing in the County of Santa Barbara?
The state of housing has never been as dire as it is today. We must take steps to meet our regional housing goals, not try and thwart them. We also must continue the momentum to address homelessness by getting folks off the streets and into housing. Since the pandemic, we have housed 3,000 people formerly experiencing homelessness, and we have 300 permanent units and 180 temporary units under development. I led the creation of the DignityMoves project on Santa Barbara Street, which has been a massive success. Unfortunately we have a sizable number of recently homeless individuals living in those temporary housing units – clean and sober, working jobs – that we cannot find permanent housing placements for. As we enter uncertain budgetary times it is my commitment to prioritize funding for shelters and permanent housing.
We need workforce housing solutions, and our county can do better. But it has not been a real priority. New development in the county has generally happened up north and has not effectively addressed the needs of the South County economy.
My housing priorities are:
1. Targeted Workforce Housing: We need to channel more funds into creating housing specifically for our workforce. By building affordable homes close to employment centers, we can reduce commute times, enhance the quality of life, and support our local economy. I will work with employers
2. Utilizing Unused Properties and Infill: We will explore the potential of underutilized properties for affordable housing development. This includes working with local governments and private landowners to identify suitable sites. We will encourage infill projects rather than new development to help meet our housing needs.
3. Streamlining Planning and Development Processes: Reducing bureaucracy and streamlining the approval process for affordable housing projects can accelerate development and reduce costs. We’ll work towards making these processes more efficient while maintaining high-quality standards.
As noted above, The #1 issue I hear from employers is that there is a lack of housing for their workforce. We are at critical “code red” with regards to housing throughout the County but especially in South County. The housing crunch is a critical factor for businesses which can’t attract and retain talent and for communities, which are being hollowed out, losing economic and ethnic diversity. My priority is to build and protect housing for people who work in our County. I am proud to have a strong partnership with the South Coast Chamber of Commerce to move this work forward.
The state of housing in the county of Santa Barbara is difficult at all levels given the overwhelming demand and the large lack of supply as reflected in both housing prices and rent. The unique geographical limitations of the county make it difficult to solve with a simple solution like “just build” while also ensuring each community has a fair balance of low-income housing, middle missing housing, and executive housing for a healthy real estate market. My priority is to support housing. What does that look like? It depends on the community needs and the proposed solutions. Blocking housing development with hurdles like CEQA and LAFCO is unacceptable. Processes, permits and codes need updating to both streamline production and reduce costs. Every solution needs to be considered and made easier to accomplish.
Inadequate. The current state of housing in the County is inadequate and being ill-served by the current Supervisors. For the county to achieve its revenue objectives we need stronger white-collar jobs to come to the County (i.e. Google) and stay here safely with their families, and provide a competitive education (STEM) for their children. The key battle? Pushing back on Sacramento.
The housing situation in Santa Barbara County is deeply concerning, necessitating urgent action to expand and diversify housing options. While my priorities include promoting a mix of affordable, workforce, and executive housing to cater to the diverse needs of our community, I believe the focus should be on areas poised for growth, such as the South Coast and the Lompoc Valley. These regions, in particular, present unique opportunities for sustainable and strategic housing development. I support initiatives that not only encourage homeownership but also ensure that new housing development aligns with our community’s character and long-term planning goals. It’s essential that we address the housing shortage in a manner that respects the identity of our communities while also catering to their evolving needs. Working towards policies that facilitate this balance is key to addressing the housing crisis effectively.
In Santa Barbara County, we’re grappling with a significant housing affordability crisis, characterized by high prices and a shortage of affordable homes. This situation is particularly challenging for middle and lower-income residents and contributes to the unhoused population and long commutes for essential workers.
My housing priorities include:
Increasing Housing Affordability: Accelerate the construction of housing that meet the needs of low to middle income residents through partnerships with developers and non-profits, and streamline development processes.
Supporting Renters: Strengthen policies to protect renters from excessive rent increases and unfair evictions.
Exploring Innovative Housing Models: Promote diverse housing solutions like co-housing, tiny homes, niche retirement communities, and the adaptive reuse of buildings.
Sustainable Development: Ensure new housing is environmentally sustainable.
Regional Collaboration: Work with local governments and stakeholders for a comprehensive approach to the housing crisis.
Addressing housing affordability is critical for the well-being of our residents and the health of our
local economy and community.
Question 5: Energy and Reliability
What do you believe is the state of energy and electricity reliability in the County of Santa Barbara? What are your priorities regarding energy and electricity reliability in the County of Santa Barbara?
This year I am serving as the Chair of Central Coast Community Energy (3CE), the new electricity provider for the area spanning from Carpinteria to the Santa Cruz line. While SCE and PG&E continue to provide the infrastructure for transmission of electricity, we are responsible for the procurement of electricity. While most of our contracts are for renewable energy produced in California we have recently focused on purchasing contracts at facilities with a different load profile than ours, such as a wind project in New Mexico, allowing us to provide more stability and reliability to our energy supply.
Our infrastructure is a disaster. Modernizing our infrastructure is crucial for ensuring safety, boosting economic growth, and enhancing the overall well-being of our community. Unfortunately, much of the infrastructure in our county is crumbling. Our county currently has $50 million of deferred maintenance. We struggle with outdated electrical systems that are badly in need of updates.
I have heard a lot of talk about green energy, yet have not seen the kinds of improvements that I believe our County is capable of. We need to streamline solar permitting and encourage microgrid infrastructure in cities and our rural communities. This will ease the burden on our aging grid system and allow us to make the most of our current state of affairs.
As Supervisor, I will push for improved infrastructure spending in every budget. Our county is behind economically in part because of its disinterest in bringing its infrastructure up to date.
South County is at the end of the SCE line and the Santa Ynez Valley is at the end of the PG&E line. I am eager to see adoption of Virtual Power Plants to create greater self-sufficiency and energy security and have been working on this. As stated above, reliable energy and grid infrastructure are also paramount for the business community. I am an advocate for innovative projects like the Goleta Virtual Power Plant, Community Choice Energy, local wind energy and utility-scale solar projects. My unwavering support for local energy independence and cleaner, more reliable energy sets me apart in this field
The state of energy and electricity reliability is unstable in the county. My priority is balance. The first action would be to assess the county’s current energy sources and demands to develop robust and resilient solutions for energy generation and distribution. This requires recognizing that locally produced oil and gas are still needed and has an overall smaller carbon footprint than imports of this resource. Then identify the infrastructure needs to sustain current and forecasted energy demands. And finally determine which sources of renewable energy production and storage should be built in Santa Barbara County and utilize this to set a timeline, budget, and goals to accomplish it.
Unreliable and non-Scalable. The 3rd district includes two different utilities; SCE and PG&E which provides some unique challenges. SB has some of the most expensive electricity in the country and some of the most unreliable infrastructure. The lack of reliability in the tech regions of the county is unacceptable, and our demand for electricity is only going to grow. My priority will be to look at the current policies to determine if any of those policies are exacerbating the reliability situation. While it is important that we transition to renewable energy, it is important for elected officials to not pass regulations that cannot be supported by current technology.
Energy and electricity reliability in Santa Barbara County is indeed a critical issue, particularly with the increasing demand and pressing environmental considerations. In addressing this, I believe in an ‘all of the above’ approach to energy policy. While renewable energy sources are a part of this mix, it’s crucial to balance these with traditional and reliable sources like oil and gas. Santa Barbara County has a long-standing tradition of responsible energy production, and we should not shy away from this heritage in an attempt to conform to anti-oil national narratives. My priority is to ensure a reliable and efficient energy supply by harnessing both renewable and conventional energy resources. This balanced approach is not only pragmatic but also essential in meeting our current energy needs while preparing for a sustainable future. Responsible development and utilization of all energy resources is key to achieving energy stability and economic growth in our county.
In Santa Barbara County, energy and electricity reliability is increasingly challenged by factors like
aging infrastructure and climate change-induced events. Frequent power outages and the threat of
wildfires have highlighted the need for a more resilient energy system.
My priorities for energy and electricity reliability are:
Investing in Renewable Energy: Transitioning to solar, wind, and other renewable sources to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and increase sustainability.
Upgrading Infrastructure: Modernizing electrical infrastructure to improve resilience against natural disasters and reduce outage occurrences.
Promoting Energy Efficiency: Encouraging energy-saving measures in homes and businesses to
decrease overall demand and strain on the grid.
Community-Based Solutions: Supporting local initiatives like community solar projects, microgrids that enhance energy independence and reliability, and expand network of EV charging stations.
Emergency Preparedness: Ensuring robust emergency response plans for energy-related crises, prioritizing public safety and continuous service.
Addressing these priorities is essential for a sustainable, reliable, and safe energy future in our
Question 6: Childcare
What do you believe is the state of childcare in the County of Santa Barbara? What are your priorities regarding childcare in the County of Santa Barbara?
Childcare costs, which are already prohibitively expensive for working families, are growing, and we have a particularly large lack of infant care slots. As the Board of Supervisors representative on the First 5 Commission I have worked to advocate for more slots as a part of our legislative priorities, and secured $2 million to expand childcare slots for working families.
In Santa Barbara County, childcare remains difficult to find for many families. Balancing career and family is increasingly challenging, and the current state of childcare does not adequately support this balance. As a supervisor, my priority will be to address these challenges by advocating for more accessible and affordable childcare.
I will work to create initiatives to lower and subsidize childcare costs, making quality care more attainable for families of all income levels. By ensuring that childcare is both accessible and reliable, we can significantly ease the burden on working parents. This not only benefits the families but also positively impacts local businesses. Reliable childcare means that employees can focus more on their careers, take fewer days off, and generally contribute to higher workplace productivity.
Enhancing childcare services in the county is not just a family issue; it’s an economic one. It’s about supporting our workforce today and investing in the well-being and development of our future generations.
Childcare, especially for infants, is in critically short supply putting grave stress on working families. The County set aside $2 million in ARPA funds to increase the number of infant care spaces in our County; we have also modified regulations making it easier to build and operate child care facilities. We are exploring offering child care in the new Calle Real County Campus, now being planned, and I am open to using other county properties as appropriate in this manner. We must become more creative in creating incentives for improving the quantity and quality of child care. As part of the Housing Element re-zone projects, I am looking for proposed projects that provide community benefits, including child care.
Childcare is too expensive and not readily available throughout the county. During the pandemic we realized the need for better and more childcare as well as seeing the support for it. The demand has grown as more return to in-office work both from the employer and employee. The county should support building jobsite childcare facilities, zone for childcare facilities within industrial park areas, and require housing developments to build a childcare facility to create more options. Training programs and certification assistance for those wanting to work or own a facility should be implemented as workforce development opportunities as well as streamlining the permits and codes associated with these businesses.
Inadequate. A political change in mindset needs to occur with Childcare = Investment, versus the perception of childcare being an added cost with no benefit. The County needs to reduce the impacts to: Tax Revenues, Households and Businesses. This is not a “simple cost” but an investment that allows for greater family health, work productivity and tax revenues for the County as a consequence.
Childcare in Santa Barbara County is confronted with significant challenges, especially in terms of accessibility, affordability, and quality. My commitment to improving this situation is rooted not only in my professional background as a former educator and parent of three, who has personally experienced the struggle to find affordable childcare, but also in my active role in shaping policy. I have served on the Child Care Planning Council, and along with former Supervisor, now Assemblyman Hart, I championed amendments to the County’s Land-Use Development Code to facilitate the opening of childcare businesses in unincorporated areas. My priorities include supporting initiatives that boost the availability of affordable, high-quality childcare services and advocating for policies that back childcare providers and educators with adequate compensation and training. Collaborating with local businesses, non-profits, and community organizations to expand childcare options and resources is imperative for our community’s growth and well-being.
In Santa Barbara County, childcare availability and affordability are significant challenges. Many families struggle to find and afford quality childcare, impacting their ability to work and contributing to broader economic and social issues. My childcare priorities are:
Increasing Accessibility: Expanding the availability of affordable childcare options, especially in underserved areas.
Supporting Childcare Providers: Advocate for better pay for childcare workers so that we have more joining the field. Providing resources and support to childcare providers to enhance the quality of care and enable them to serve more families.
Subsidies and Financial Assistance: Implementing and promoting subsidy programs for low-income families to make childcare more affordable.
Employer Partnerships: Encouraging public-private partnerships to offer workplace-based childcare
Community and Parental Engagement: Engaging with communities and parents to understand their specific needs and tailor solutions accordingly.
Addressing childcare is crucial for supporting working families and promoting the overall well-being and economic health of our county.
Question 7: Workforce Development
What opportunities do you see for the County of Santa Barbara to collaborate with local industries on workforce development?
I am working with County staff on developing a local preference program that would give local employers a “right of first offer” for new housing units, for their employees. I believe this will be instrumental in helping employers hire, as well as building public support for new rental housing for the local workforce. We are also working to allow and encourage live-work sites, such as local hotels and tech centers, by allowing higher densities, parking allowances, and even allowing modular housing.
Collaboration between Santa Barbara County, local industries, and government agencies is crucial for developing an effective workforce plan. Our approach includes valuable inputs from The Housing Authority, City Councils, planning commissions, and the community, ensuring diverse perspectives in workforce development.
Key to this collaboration is working with local companies like Procore, LinkedIn, QAD, and others to create targeted workforce housing. This helps provide affordable living options for employees, improving workforce stability and retention. A successful example is our partnership with The Rosewood Hotel in Montecito, which led to staff housing solutions.
The County should explore programs that align education and training with the specific needs of our local industries. This can be achieved by forming partnerships with educational institutions for curriculum development, creating internship and apprenticeship opportunities, and offering upskilling programs. By doing so, we ensure that local students are prepared for the job market and can meet the needs of growing our County’s economy.
With the County Office of Education and Workforce Development Board, the County has two critical
organizations. I recently convened people to discuss a pilot program (sponsored by REACH and my office) with the Lompoc Unified School District. Future for Lompoc Youth and the County Economic Alliance, along with the Space Force Base are critical partners who attended and are eager to carry the work forward. I think expanding workforce development through Alan Hancock College programs in Lompoc and the Santa Ynez Valley can be beneficial. I see the county’s main role as bringing people together and helping facilitate the discussion and getting out of the way.
My office stands eager and willing to support local businesses in their efforts to draw down state or
federal funding opportunities. An example of this in action is when I was able to secure Board of
Supervisor support for Teledyne FLIR’s Federal CHIPS Act funding proposal to the Department of
Commerce. This type of collaboration is only possible when the Chamber is able to facilitate
partnership between our local and federal representatives and the business community. This type of
collaboration and focus on funding opportunities makes our businesses and region thrive.
With the expansion of the space launch industry, the demands for renewable energy production, technology driven agriculture, childcare needs, teacher and nursing openings, public safety employment, and housing development, just to name a few, there is huge opportunity to collaborate with local industries on workforce development. Having two community colleges, a university, and numerous adult education programs as well as investing in high school career path programs are all desperately needed to supply our local industries with trained staff. This would be an important aspect to identify and include in the much-needed county economic development plan.
Significant. The County has the opportunity to partner with local industries, and new ones entering the County (i.e. Google) to develop new high paying white-collar jobs. In partnership with the local universities (UCSB) there is a terrific opportunity for both undergraduates as well as graduate students. In addition, given the advances in AI, there is now the opportunity for high paying jobs in AI for those with just a high school education. Ironically, the vocational jobs of tomorrow will be in technology!
As the County’s representative on the Workforce Investment Board, I recognize the immense opportunities for Santa Barbara County to collaborate with local industries on workforce development. This includes forming partnerships with educational institutions to tailor training programs to industry needs, promoting apprenticeship and internship programs, and creating networking and mentorship opportunities. It’s essential to encourage industries to invest in developing local talent and work closely with business leaders to pinpoint and address skill gaps. Additionally, addressing the housing needs of our workforce, especially those who grew up in our county, is a critical component of this collaboration. Ensuring that our workforce has access to affordable housing is not just a social necessity but also an economic imperative. This holistic approach, combining skills development with support for housing needs, can foster a more robust, skilled workforce that meets the evolving demands of our local industries and contributes to the overall economic health of our community.
In Santa Barbara County, there are significant opportunities for collaboration with local industries on
Partnerships with Tech and Green Industries: Working with burgeoning tech and green sectors to create training programs that prepare residents for future-focused jobs.
Hospitality and Agriculture Sector Engagement: Collaborating with key local sectors like hospitality and agriculture to identify skill gaps and develop targeted training programs.
Education Sector Involvement: Leveraging relationships with educational institutions to align curricula with industry needs, ensuring a pipeline of skilled graduates.
Apprenticeship and Internship Programs: Encouraging the establishment of more apprenticeship and internship opportunities in various industries, providing hands-on experience.
Career Transition Support: Offering retraining programs for workers transitioning from declining industries to emerging sectors.
By fostering these collaborations, we can create a more dynamic, skilled workforce that meets the evolving demands of our local economy.