Project planner Marck Aguilar was appointed Acting Business Liaison this week as part of City Hall’s latest efforts to revive Santa Barbara’s flagging commercial core. “With over 20 years of service with the city in various capacities in land development, design review, permitting, and capital improvement project management, Marck brings a wealth of knowledge, professionalism, and skills that will serve both the city and our customers exceptionally well,” said Community Development Director George Buell in a press statement.
The move comes amid sustained outcry from downtown business interests that the permitting process through the city’s Community Development Department is unfairly onerous and expensive, and that customer service from staff is consistently inconsistent. City leaders have vowed to streamline the approval process and focus on business needs by establishing a new Economic Development Program. Aguilar described his appointment as “just the initial step in the larger process of bringing higher level economic development staff on board.”
Aguilar said his experience in moving capital projects through the city’s various commissions and committees gives him the perspective of being “on the other side of the counter.” In his new liaison role, Aguilar said, he’ll act as the central point of contact for applicants by opening lines of communication between various city departments, monitoring projects as they move through the pipeline, and putting out fires as they pop up.
Buell said applications that fall under Aguilar’s purview will include private nonresidential or mixed-use developments on State Street, between Gutierrez Street and Sola Street; any work on a hotel, large grocery store, or auto dealership that requires a building permit; and other projects he prioritizes.