Among other things, a resident survey conducted for the county by the National Citizen Survey found that 96 percent of residents had visited a county park last year, that 71 percent rated access to affordable quality housing “poor,” that 20 percent lived in households that had been victimized by crime, and that 35 percent of those crimes were not reported. The report turned up certain paradoxes, such as the finding that most people considered population growth too fast, but economic growth too slow. Andy Caldwell, representing North County business interests, ridiculed the supervisors for spending $20,000 on a report that “tells you three things: what you already know, what you don’t want to know, and what you aren’t going to do anything about.”
Supervisors unanimously praised Assemblymember Pedro Nava for the hard-won passage into law of AB2265, which over the next two years will provide about $1.6 million to Cottage Hospital’s trauma center and other emergency rooms in the county. The funding, from a portion of court fines that legislators wanted to use for other purposes, was due to sunset. Twenty trauma centers statewide have closed in the past decade.
Supervisors encouraged state Senator Tom McClintock to continue battling for AB1617, which would grease the skids for Santa Barbara’s Flood Control District to remove willows from the Santa Ynez River. State Fish and Game, fearful of inviting environmental lawsuits, is not cooperating in the Republican-backed effort. Attempts to clear willows from the river in previous years have been met by legal challenges and protesters confronting bulldozers.
County employees called to active military duty will receive 80 percent of their county salary for the entire length of their service. The county had previously set a 30-month maximum benefit period; two employees now in Iraq who have surpassed that limit will be retroactively included in the indefinitely extended benefits.
The county supervisors announced they will lobby Sacramento for relief from affordable housing mandates. They will meet before the end of the year to work out a strategy with the county’s lobbyist, Cliff Berg of Governmental Advocates, Inc.