The New 3rd District Supervisor

Why should the June 3 race for the 3rd District County Supervisor seat matter to the residents of Goleta? After all, they have an elected City Council that decides local land use planning, fixes potholes, and takes care of city parks.

Margaret Connell

The answer is that the county covers a much broader range of issues that affect Goleta residents. It is directly responsible for providing all county residents with a vast array of healthcare services-those for children, seniors, and the disabled; those relating to alcohol, mental health, and drugs; and public health prevention programs for epidemic diseases such as flu and tuberculosis. The county also funds the District Attorney’s Office, the county jail, and probationary services, as well as elections, tax collection, and other countywide services. Additionally, the Board of Supervisors oversees land use issues in parts of Santa Barbara County not located in cities-a major portion of the county and land we all enjoy, including the Gaviota Coast, Goleta Beach, and acres of open space. The county also has jurisdiction over major areas zoned for agriculture now under development pressure, such as the South Patterson agricultural block, Glen Annie Golf Course, and Bishop Ranch on the mountain side of Cathedral Oaks. Finally, the county also provides funding for most of the major roads leading into and out of Goleta.

The five county supervisors, along with city representatives, also sit on a number of countywide commissions that make decisions directly affecting Goleta and other cities in the county.

For example, Santa Barbara County Area Governments (SBCAG) will soon be allocating a new set of housing units, necessitating rezones in each city and the county’s unincorporated areas. In 2002 Goleta was assigned 2,388 units, which had a major effect on the general plan’s land use and housing elements. New housing numbers this year may once again require amending the general plan. SBCAG is also putting forward a proposed renewal of Measure D, the half-cent sales tax for transportation related projects that will be on the ballot this November. The SBCAG will have considerable say in how much of this tax goes to roads and how much to alternative transportation.

County decisions about development on areas directly adjacent to Goleta will have a significant impact on Goleta’s water supply. A number of developments seek annexation to the Goleta Water District, which requires approval by the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), another countywide body with two county supervisors and city and special district representatives on its board. It should be noted that Goleta has more than 500 housing units in the pipeline now, with more likely to follow, all competing for a limited water supply.

The Santa Barbara Air Pollution Control District (SBAPCD), another county/city commission, monitors emissions from oil facilities throughout the county, including Venoco at Ellwood.

A more recent issue is Goleta’s desire to renegotiate the revenue neutrality agreement made with the county in a way that is more favorable to the city. The support of this renegotiation by the 3rd District Supervisor will be vital for it to have any chance of succeeding.

All these issues demand a collaborative relationship between the Goleta City Council and the members of the Board of Supervisors. The 3rd District Supervisor race is just beginning. Currently, five candidates are vying for this seat, which has responsibility for a vast, diverse area that includes Isla Vista, UCSB, half of the City of Goleta, the Gaviota Coast, Buellton, the Santa Ynez Valley, and Vandenberg Village.

It is not too early before the June 3 election to start asking these candidates where they stand on the above and other issues. Whoever is elected to this seat will affect the balance of power on the Board of Supervisors. That makes this election important not only to 3rd District residents, but to everyone in the county.

Goleta Grapevine appears every Monday morning online at independent.com/goleta. To contact the author, who helped craft the original General Plan during her time as a councilmember and as mayor, email margaretconnell@earthlink.net.

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