Rob Dayton | Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

Rob Dayton, City Hall’s go-to guy in terms of transportation planning, traffic, electric bikes, parking, and increasingly the revitalization of State Street in times of the pandemic, has been out on paid administrative leave for the past two and a half months after filing a complaint about inquiries made by three members of the Santa Barbara City Council regarding his involvement in Believer’s Edge, an all-male Christian ministry he started. 

Among the missions articulated on the Believer’s Edge home page is a stated interest in influencing the culture of Santa Barbara in a myriad of ways. “Believer’s Edge is a movement of men who are being activated into their calling and destiny within the marketplace community,” it reads. “We believe that each of us have a God-given assignment to influence the culture of Government, Business, Arts, Media, and Education within our own community.”

Dayton has made no secret of seeking a position of leadership in determining the future direction of State Street. In his complaint, he reportedly expressed concern that he has not been considered for such a position because of his religious views and involvement with Believer’s Edge. 

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These allegations have been the subject of an ongoing investigation within City Hall; because of the legal and political sensitivities involved, no one is willing to say anything on the record. Off the record, Dayton’s religious beliefs have long been well known throughout City Hall, and the position Dayton was reportedly seeking did not actually exist. 

He had, however, applied for the job of community development director after George Buell resigned under pressure last year, but did not get the gig.

Dayton has long been one of City Hall’s most enthusiastic and creative proponents of change, especially on matters relating to alternative transportation. He was a major player in the post-pandemic redesign of State Street. 

Within City Hall, Dayton’s high-profile posture within the community has rubbed some the wrong way, especially within the historical preservationist community and some members of the Historic Landmarks Commission. With the new 15-member State Street subcommittee just having been formed, Dayton’s absence will be acutely felt.


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