Former Santa Barbara city councilmember and 2nd District county supervisor Jeanne Graffy died on Wednesday after several weeks of failing health, her daughter Erin Graffy confirmed. Graffy served for eight years on the city’s Planning Commission and was a leader during some of the most important decisions in its history, including the updating of the city’s General Plan. As a commissioner, Graffy initiated the review of commercial developments over 10,000 square feet, inaugurated city bike lanes, created the slope ordinance, and sought the removal of pole signs.
She won a seat on the City Council in 1979 and twice won reelection, including two terms as mayor pro tempore, a designation for the councilmember who receives the highest number of votes. Graffy served on the council until 1991, and then ran for county supervisor in 1994, where she served one term.
Graffy was known as a smart, diligent, and conscientious moderate Republican, supportive of the slow-growth movement in Santa Barbara and a champion for neighborhoods. She was also willing to listen to North County’s ambitions for greater growth. As a supervisor, she helped found the Friends of Arroyo Burro, which formed to begin addressing creek and ocean pollution upstream from Hendry’s Beach.
Her executive assistant during her supervisor days, Paul Bradford, recalled Graffy as “our local Margaret Thatcher — never brash, yet always steadfast.”
After leaving public life, Graffy was government affairs director for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors.
She was predeceased by her husband, Charles Graffy, last December. She is survived by her children, Kurt, Neal, Erin, Colleen, and Kerry, their spouses, and several grandchildren.