Longtime City Redeveloper Retires

Gustafson Checks Out After 13 Years Sprucing up Santa Barbara

Dave Gustafson, Santa Barbara’s low-key and soft-spoken Redevelopment Agency czar, announced he was retiring after 13 years at the helm of one of City Hall’s highest impact agencies. During his tenure as both assistant community development director and housing redevelopment manager, Gustafson oversaw the development of numerous affordable housing projects, most notably St. Vincent’s 170-unit development that opened two years ago after 10 years of wheeling and dealing. Gustafson also played a key role transforming a lower West Side apartment complex, then the number one source of police and fire complaints, into the current Milagro Ladera affordable housing project, run by People’s Self Help Housing. The Redevelopment Agency collects $20 million in tax increment revenue a year, spending $3.5 million of that on affordable housing and the rest on capital improvement projects like the Granada Garage, State Street’s new brick sidewalks, and even $5 million on the new Granada Theatre. “It’s the greatest gig I could have asked for,” Gustafson said, adding that he plans to enjoy his retirement reading, riding, canoeing, and serving on boards. Gustafson’s successor has not been selected yet. “It’s a big loss for me personally,” said Gustafson’s boss Paul Casey. “That’s my happy corner and he made it run.”

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