Answers on Business Issues from the 4th District Candidates
What are your thoughts on the infrastructure needs of the City of Santa Barbara? Are you supportive of efforts to raise funds through a sales tax increase to address these needs?
Jay Higgins: I have lived here nearly 30 years and know what it means to manage our family budget so that we can afford to stay. While I support at least putting the sales tax measure on the ballot, my preference would be to ask the voters to approve of a 0.5% sales tax increase, dedicated solely to the Police Station HQ project, or ask that the 1% sales tax rate have a sunset. A new retail tax is untimely to State Street retailers. If the voters approve such a tax increase, then I would ask that our City Manager orchestrate the same amount of cost cutting. Therefore, we can double down on our budget planning which is critical in light of pension return rate adjustments and dwindling federal and state contributions – so that we make sure we don’t have to ask the taxpayers for another increase in the future.
James Scafide: The infrastructure of Santa Barbara has been ignored for too long, and the results are obvious. I support the proposed sales tax that includes a new Police Station. Fundamentally, the purpose of local government is to provide services to the community that improves the quality of life for the residents, and infrastructure investment is in large part what contributes to the quality of life.
The current approach to transportation has yielded traffic gridlock, which was promised to be avoided with the completion of the 101. We must consider the environmental aspects of the implementation of our policies as we take a fresh look at our transportation funding structure.
I support investment in infrastructure that promotes the use of alternative and mass transit or public transportation–including bike lanes and bus routes. I also believe that public transportation should be priced to induce ridership. Additionally, we must examine the source of the demands on transportation infrastructure, which will necessarily include a discussion of affordable house, discussed below.
At the same time, we must recognize that, even if we reduce the number of Santa Barbara drivers of automobiles, national trends may still cause gridlock. If car traffic –even if made more efficient by self-driving vehicles –necessarily causes gridlock, it’s time to rethink our transportation policies.
Kristen Sneddon: Santa Barbara is a beautiful city with a long history of strong public services, including a heroic fire department, a vigilant and effective police force, a central library that serves as a cultural and community center, a bounty of unique parks, and access to varied and thoughtful recreational services. The esthetic of our city, and our commitment to strong services, is a hallmark of our community. Santa Barbara became what it is through innovative planning, as well as through preserving and maintaining the carefully considered infrastructure.
Infrastructure and public safety services are core public services. Santa Barbara currently faces approximately $546 million worth of unfunded maintenance over the next 20 years – the funds needed to maintain the current infrastructure of Santa Barbara. Over 60% of the City’s roads are graded as “poor, at risk, or failed,” creating a system of roads that is damaging to vehicles and inefficient for public safety. Our police station was built in 1959 and deficient in space, seismic safety, plumbing, lead and asbestos abatement, building and fire codes, and parking. Our police force deserves better. Community services supporting libraries, reducing homelessness, and improving after-school programs are also suffering financially.
Supporting a strong infrastructure supports local business, families, and individuals. Over the past 5 years, the State has reduced funding to the City by $100 million. To make-up for the shortfall, the City proposes a 1% sales tax increase. As written, the increase maintains and improves police, fire, 911 response, street repairs and bridges, parks and libraries, addressing homelessness, services for disabled veterans, youth and senior services. This is a significant return on a 1% investment, and I support the efforts to raise funds through a sales tax increase to address these needs. The City is committed to using all funds locally, with citizen oversight, performance reviews, and independent audits. The increase may also be ended by voters. There is minor risk in supporting the proposed increase, with the potential for significant gains for our city. As a councilmember, I will work to ensure that funds are spent in accordance with voters’ wishes.
What are your thoughts on the status of Downtown Santa Barbara and State Street? What factors, if any, are affecting business success in the downtown area? What would you do to address these issues? What is your position on incentivizing more housing downtown?
Jay Higgins: The El Pueblo Viejo district is still the envy of many cities – but we need to polish State Street. High rents, traveling vagrants, radically changing retail (internet) economics and ambivalence at City Hall have gotten us to where we are. So here is my plan:
a. More Police. The CBD and State Street needs more officers “walking the beat” to direct those in need to existing services. Officers should also actively look for criminal behavior from those that are not classically homeless, so that they feel a significant disincentive to make State Street their living room.
b. Visioning. Conventional urban planning solutions for ‘eyes on the street’ is prudent so let’s continue to study residential projects in the CBD. Any solution however, such as residential programming, active recreation for health club centers, or entertainment and art facilities must come with significant research, consensus and community support for a change to land use and development standards so that we don’t end up in ‘hindsight’ mode such as we now have with the existing AUD program.
c. We should look at slightly relaxing the infamous ‘change of use’ permits requirements, at least in the CBD. The current requirements are a practical solution to a noble goal, but they are poorly understood by commercial real estate owners, brokers and tenants. More importantly, they are not well implemented within our own government. We need to send the right message to the business community that City Hall is ‘open for business.’ There simply has to be a way to allow businesses to move more freely in and out of existing commercial spaces in town – such that we do a better job to encourage ‘adaptive re-use’ of our existing commercial infrastructure – without sacrificing life safety standards. We should help ‘mom & pop’ and local business owners so they do not end up filing for bankruptcy while on the hunt for a building permit.
James Scafide: As a former Mayor, I’ve worked hard to revitalize the downtown of a smaller community, and I understand the fundamental importance of having a vibrant commercial center and have the talent and skills to help revitalize Santa Barbara’s Central Business District.
Santa Barbara is at a crossroads. The City’s emphasis on growing the retail/service economy to the near exclusion of other economic sectors is coming home to roost as the backbone of our local economy –retail-- is suffering through a National realignment and adjustment. At the same time, the City has followed a policy that failed to facilitate the creation of housing for a broad spectrum of the population, which has created what can only be described as a housing crisis.
These two policies have recently sounded the alarm that things must change.
The Central Business District of Santa Barbara serves as the identity of the community and, in many cases, is what people identify when they think about our City. In my mind, the downtown should be a unique “Santa Barbara” experience that not only reflects who we are as residents of the City, but also serves the needs of those of us who live here. I believe the current downtown environment fails to meet these aspirations.
I am a lawyer by profession and my law firm’s office is located in the 900 block of State Street; I see nearly every day the conditions of the downtown area. In talking with business owners, customers, and visitors, it is clear that no one seems happy with the current status of the Central Business District. In large part, this has resulted from the national trend in retail decline. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times reported that up to 25% of shopping malls nationally will be closing in the next two years. Santa Barbara has recently witnessed the closing of downtown Macy’s among other major retailers, with more rumored to come.
There are a number of identified issues with the current downtown commercial environment, including primarily (1) a disproportionate mix of businesses catering to tourism as opposed to local residents; (2) the rent structure; and (3) the presence of a transient population in the Downtown.
The City Government can serve an important role in creating incentives that will achieve a vibrant Central Business District that includes locally-owned, “boutique”-type businesses that will enhance the identity and uniqueness of our commercial district. Residents, landlords, business-owners, and tourists all benefit from a vibrant Downtown that is uniquely Santa Barbara, and which represents who we are as a community.
Kristen Sneddon: In 1987, there was still a stoplight on the freeway, and Piccadilly Square was where Paseo Nuevo is. When Paseo Nuevo was introduced, there was a lot of debate locally about local businesses versus larger chains, about local employment versus large chains bringing in their own employees from outside the area. There was skepticism as local businesses were bought out and the mall was erected. Once Paseo Nuevo was established, it did seem to revitalize downtown. It brought people downtown to visit new shops and stores. Businesses surrounding the mall got more foot traffic, and the general economy was strong. The internet was not yet the host for online buying options. The national recession had not yet hit.
Now that the economy is improving, and rental rates are increasing, not all retail renters can keep up in time. The spaces left behind are often left vacant for an indefinite time period until an even more expensive or exclusive business can move into the space. Some spaces remain vacant for years. This hurts our community in multiple ways, including the blight of empty spaces, the loss of beloved community restaurants and shops, and the increase in even more expensive shops that are not accessible to a majority of our community. Creative solutions would require a task force to identify and assess.
Increased rental rates are not the only factor, though. It is easy and inexpensive to shop online. Parking downtown can be difficult. Times have changed. In the same way that a major overhaul of downtown emerged with the introduction of Paseo Nuevo, a new carefully considered and innovative plan needs to be considered for downtown. The first step in this consideration was the recent report released by the Downtown Santa Barbara, identifying our homeless population loitering in front of business and our lack of a unique mix of retail shops as some main contributors to empty retail spaces. For more than business-related reasons, we must address our homeless population. This is a complicated issue that deserves our humanitarian attention.
Meanwhile, lower State Street and the Funk Zone are being reimagined and revitalized. Some time may need to pass before the City can evaluate the impact of these projects and how this might inform plans for further up State Street. This is an opportunity for Santa Barbara to consider mixed-use development downtown to create a vibrant core to support residential and commercial use. While I have no desire to transform Santa Barbara into a big city urban area, a task force could investigate innovative ways to encourage a mix of development that includes non-vacation residential units. The City could be proactive in visioning possibilities for the space left vacant by Macy’s, for instance. We can do more to proactively vision for our future while maintaining the character of Santa Barbara we cherish.
Are you supportive of the current Average Unit-size Density (AUD) ordinance in the City of Santa Barbara? If so, explain your reasons. If not, what changes would you make to improve it?
Jay Higgins: As a Planning Commissioner I can see that a much needed change is coming to AUD. The Housing Task Force is tackling this issue with a comprehensive and thoughtful approach – and an earful from the neighborhoods. I do not want to second guess this process, but would nonetheless be interested in how increased parking (i.e. 1.5 or 2 spaces per unit) would affect or slow the program, especially in the outer neighborhoods where neighborhood compatibility issues are the most scrutinized. I also believe we are missing for-sale product in the program. ‘Eyes on the street’ works best when people own their asset, rather than rent. And returning investments to homeowners in the form of equity is a good thing.
James Scafide: When I first moved to Santa Barbara in the 1980s the lack of affordable housing was a problem, and since then, the situation has only gotten worse. The availability of “affordable” housing in Santa Barbara has reached a critical tipping point. The reality is that the City has not made any real efforts to achieve affordable housing (or more rental housing) since the 1980s, and the effects have been catastrophic. Unpermitted dwelling units, traffic congestion, high rents, and inequitable negotiation strength between tenants and landlords are some of the more obvious results of the the lack of housing, but there are others, including tenants who live in unpermitted units and who feel they have no recourse or protections under the law. To the extent that the AUD addresses these issues, I support the program.
The median home price in Santa Barbara requires an income that prohibits many who work in Santa Barbara –including employees of the City—from being able to afford a home. In the City’s General Plan, affordable housing (Workforce Housing) was identified among the top priorities, the Plan identified a need for approximately 4,099 new housing units through 2022. The need for thousands of units remains. The AUD seems to be the only program proposed by the City to begin to address this problem, and in that respect, I support its aspirations.
Though the focus of the AUD program is rental, there are opportunities within the program to create affordable home ownership. If elected, I would explore incentives that would provide more opportunities for home ownership, presumably within the AUD.
As with many citizens, I am dissatisfied with the initial results of the AUD efforts, and am concerned that the program will not meet its objectives. In fact, Santa Barbara needs to provide a broad spectrum of housing to address the increasing demands.
I believe that the first efforts of AUD housing should be focused on developing housing within the Downtown corridor. I am convinced that we can reconcile the creation of new housing in the Downtown corridor with maintaining the unique character we love of Santa Barbara.
Kristen Sneddon: Housing prices are hurting our community. Many of our teachers, public servants, safety officers, and work force cannot afford to live in the community they serve. This hurts everyone.
The intention of the AUD ordinance is to develop affordable work-force housing for our residents in areas that are close to public transit, services, and parks. These are all good goals, but they do not appear to be met under the initial implementation. One completed project is advertised as luxury apartments and charges up to $3,750 for a three-bedroom apartment. Though the market may bear this cost, it is not priced in a range to alleviate the housing crisis for local workers. There is no guarantee that local workers will be the renters. The luxury apartments may even attract renters from outside the area, which does not increase the availability of apartments for local workers, and does not drive prices down. The AUD ordinance was not intended to create more expensive luxury housing.
There are also concerns regarding the lower requirement for number of parking spaces, impacting local neighborhood parking and traffic flow, neighborhood compatibility, building height, and the sheer number of units that are being bid and completed in record time.
As previously outlined by City Council, when the AUD ordinance produces 250 units, it will be a good time for the City to pause and adjust the ordinance to better address our affordable housing needs. Some considerations may be: a) a cap on the number of units that may be built per year, b) an increase in the required number of parking spaces, c) a consideration of the effect the project has on the views of surrounding neighbors, d) height, e) a limitation on the ability of an AUD approved project to convert to a short-term rental or hotel, and f) dispersing these projects throughout the city, rather than disproportionately affecting some neighborhoods more than others, and g) other recommendations set out by the Housing Task Force.
Increased Housing Stock
What is your position on the state’s new mandates regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also known as granny flats?
Jay Higgins: As a Planning Commissioner, I understand the State’s mandates. As a homeowner in a single family neighborhood on an already crowded street, I am in strong opposition to this sledgehammer approach. We may end up with increased housing stock, but its unintended consequences will be crowded streets that are unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists (this is especially significant in neighborhoods that have no sidewalks) and potential street obstructions (parked cars) that will obstruct emergency vehicles or otherwise slow down evacuations. Plus this mandate will generally lower property values on average – so this will work against increasing property tax revenues. A more thoughtful approach based on lot size and neighborhood is appropriate, and it should include a discretionary permit.
James Scafide: I support programs that keep families together and allow the elderly –especially in their declining years-- to spend time with their families. I believe the breakdown of the nuclear family has caused great divides in our culture, and that these divides may be bridged by reconnecting generations, and the ADU law allows for that. At the same time, I appreciate the concerns held by many that the ADU program has the potential of fundamentally changing the character of our neighborhoods and creating parking problems. But I believe there are two counter-vailing points to that concern.
First, our neighborhoods are one of the greatest assets of our city, and the preservation of their quaintness should be a top priority for any decision-maker. To protect the neighborhoods, self-interested homeowners will stave off the desire add an ADU.
Second, it cannot be argued that there exist throughout the city numerous unpermitted dwelling units and the ADU program actually provides an opportunity to “legalize” these units. In these cases, the impact on the neighborhoods of these units can already be measured.
The housing crisis we experience in Santa Barbara is occurring statewide, and legislators understand that local governments are doing too little to meet the increasing demands.
I am aware that there is a potential that new rental housing will be created without the City’s current parking requirements. Unfortunately, the legislature adopted this law in response to local governments’ failure to address the housing shortage. I am concerned that, should the City fail to further address its housing needs (see my response to the AUD question, above), the State will issue further mandates. For instance, currently there are pending several bills in the legislature that permit the construction of housing (including high-density housing) without local approval. I would rather address the issues at the local government level than have matters imposed upon us by the State legislature.
Kristen Sneddon: This is a mandate from the State. Though Santa Barbara faces challenges in the sheer number of applications for these units, there are some benefits to consider. Across the nation, there is a growing trend for adult children to move back in with parents, or for aging parents to move in with their adult children. Young families or individuals priced out of our housing market may use the added income of an ADU to offset expenses and make buying a home possible. Retired members of our community often rent ADUs as an affordable and safe option. In reality, though, ADUs tend to not be used as this type of primary full-time residence. Part-time use has the unfortunate consequence of decreasing the housing stock, which is the opposite of what we need in Santa Barbara. We need more affordable housing, not less.
Concerns over neighborhood compatibility can be addressed through design review. We want to preserve neighborhood character and keep streets free of parking congestion, especially in high fire-prone areas. It will be important for the council to consider locations, parking, and design of ADUs as we move forward in implementing the mandate from the State.
Last year, the City Council unanimously voted to uphold existing zoning rules which severely limit short term or vacation rentals in the City? What is your opinion of that decision, and what steps would you take to change it, if any?
Jay Higgins: STR’s should be limited to R-4 zones, and perhaps limited again to the coastal area only (East and West Beach) because STR’s could be a source of revenue for the City that we should not overlook. No doubt, they detract from our rental housing stock, so mitigation fees might be a potential offset. A new class of use and/or permit type should be developed such that neighborhood compatibility and housing stock constraints can be vetted. This has been done in other jurisdictions with success, so I would not expect a herculean effort through our CDD. The Coastal Commission will likely provide guidance on this, either by stick or carrot, so it’s not an issue we can continue to hide from.
James Scafide: I support the City Council’s decision, but I think that any “prohibition” should be revisited regularly. Certainly this is an issue where the property rights of an individual collide with the needs of the greater community –both in achieving affordable housing and in preserving neighborhoods.
Applying the tradition micro-economic model, where long-term units are takin off an already out-stripped housing market, it is reasonable to conclude that housing prices will go up. Just how much housing prices would go up is up to debate, however.
As to the negative impacts that these units have on neighborhood character and solitude, neighbors are concerned because some units become “party” houses and subject neighbors to noise, traffic, and parking problems. Other communities have imposed strict regulations on these types of rentals, seting severe noise and traffic limitations and requires Short Term Landlords to have an agent available 24 hours a day to respond to any nuisances created by the units. If Santa Barbara does decide to adopt a system that permits short term rentals, it should only do so in a way that protects the neighbors who must live next to or near these units. Others have proposed allowing Short Term Rentals in the Coastal Zones. To the extent that this would not negatively affect neighborhoods, I would consider that suggestion.
Kristen Sneddon: I do not like to see out of town investors coming in to buy what would be a permanent residence for a Santa Barbara resident and turning it into a short term rental, decreasing our housing stock, funneling money out of Santa Barbara, and driving housing prices up. I see that there may be a way for homeowners to rent out their primary residence for a limited period of time over the course of a year. Many homeowners vacate their homes for the summer to allow for rental income to help subsidize the high cost of living in Santa Barbara. If the property is occupied while the primary residents are away, then there is no net increase in traffic or parking concerns. This option is already approved for rentals lasting longer than 30 days. I think the zones where this is allowed could be expanded somewhat. Again, I could consider this as an option for a primary residence rented long-term while vacated. I would also be in favor of a cap on the amount of time a primary residence can be rented, out of consideration for neighbors.
Short Term Rentals
How would you describe the fiscal status of the City of Santa Barbara? What proposals will you bring in the next budget cycle to improve the City’s financial position?
Jay Higgins: We should look seriously at the following concepts:
a. Without more pension reform, we may want to head further in the direction of contract services within City Hall, such that the service level remains the same along with a reduction in our long term liabilities. At first glance we appear to be well practiced in the behavior: CDD has awarded an outside contract for planning services to generate an ADU ordinance, and of course, the Golf Course has undergone a process to allow certain maintenance services to be let out for contract. STR’s as a replacement to lost TOT should be evaluated.
b. A redevelopment or tax increment replacement should be encouraged at the state level. We simply cannot withstand the lost revenue (from redevelopment) all while accommodating their new mandates (ADU’s for example).
James Scafide: I think the fiscal status of the City is sound. The rainy day fund is rebuilt, and the economic strength of City Government is growing. In terms of raising revenue, I support requiring those who impose a burden on the City services to pay for those services.
Kristen Sneddon: Santa Barbara is expected to experience increasing shortfall over the next two years. Some of this is due to lack of funds from the State, and some is from reduced revenue. The budget is balanced through these two years, largely through budget cuts. If passed in November, the sales tax increase will be used to address the unfunded infrastructure maintenance, but more would need to be done to boost the budget. It is also important for the City to create an economic development plan with the potential to create businesses and increase the tax base. This could be a tremendous opportunity for Santa Barbara to reimagine how to encourage these endeavors in the green or blue job sectors. Looking to other cities that have been successful in this suggests that a green economy thrives with multiple smaller businesses rather than one larger industry. This may be one way to address multiple empty business or retail spaces along the State Street corridor, including the Macy’s space.
The most important principle is that the City is spending wisely and effectively, with the goal of increasing services without increasing additional taxes. We have to be mindful of supporting both businesses and public services.
One of the biggest financial issues facing the City is the pension liability for past and current employees. How would you propose addressing this problem in a way that meets the City’s obligation while not straining the provision of City services?
Jay Higgins: We are obligated, first, to provide pensions. And again, without a further holistic pension solution from the State, a decrease to the overall number of City employees (outside of public safety) by attrition or by contracts is mathematically understandable. Remember, we are trying to increase revenues, or decrease expenditures by 7% (that’s roughly the $24m needed for our infrastructure maintenance obligations), so staffing reductions over time do not need to be dramatic.
I am now more than ever acutely aware of the cost of healthcare, being a small business owner, and so I don’t wish today’s heavy burden of healthcare on anyone trivially. However, new group health-share plans might be a place to go for early retirees (age 53) as a gap up to Medicare so that we do not further load unfunded liabilities beyond what we can sensibly afford. Exotic public works projects, such as more curb extensions should also be put on hold – especially if the November sales tax measure does not pass.
James Scafide: Simply put, the City must meet its existing pension liabilities, as unfair as that may sound. I am certainly not happy that past councils “kicked” financial obligations down the road by making concessions on pensions in exchange for lower wages, essentially forcing onto future councils their obligations. Still, we have a duty to honor those agreements. The men and women who took lower wages in exchange for pension concessions not only worked hard for the money that was earned, they bargained in good faith for that arrangement. It is simply wrong to suggest we should avoid those obligations.
That being said, what we can do is make sure that these obligations don’t occur again. I would support compensation agreements only after it can be demonstrated that they are affordable not only today, but in the future, so that we don’t saddle future citizens with the financial decisions we are making today.
Kristen Sneddon: Our city work force is invaluable to our safety and quality of life in Santa Barbara. I like to see the City valuing public service and upholding standards of being a good employer with competitive wages and benefits so as not to add to the housing imbalance. While I support the City leading by example in terms of supporting a high-quality, well-trained professional work force, I will also prioritize the financial sustainability of our workforce. This is one of the biggest issues of our age. We see this in cities, on school boards, in counties. When pension structures were unsustainable, the State created a two-tier system, which is in effect in Santa Barbara. I support the State’s efforts for pension reform. participants. Any new pension plan would require careful planning and consideration by the council.
It appears that the statewide gas tax increase will provide much of the remaining money needed to complete the widening of Highway 101 from Carpinteria to Santa Barbara. What is your position on this project? Are there additional mitigation steps that need to be taken for the project?
Jay Higgins: The voters approved the widening and we should implement this project immediately to get the southbound onramp re-constructed at Cabrillo. This will offset traffic on Coast Village Road. The City is currently playing CEQA chicken with Caltrans/SBCAG in hopes that further impact fees will spawn. This exercise is tiresome and should only be protracted if the likelihood is high that the amount of mitigation fees is high. Ultimately, we need to approve the designs, get Union Pacific on board perhaps without an extreme bicycle lane widening solution (at Los Patos/Cabrillo), and get the Olive Mill roundabout designed, approved and out to bid.
James Scafide: I support infrastructure improvements, especially investment in transportation that encourages multiple ridership, such as Diamond Lanes. For this reason, I support the widening of Highway 101 as described. Until we realign our planning objectives to realize fewer cars, the number of cars on our roadways will only increase. We saw in the 1970s and 80s when there were lights on the 101 through Santa Barbara that a punishing commute does not reduce traffic because people need to get to work. Diamond Lanes encourage carpooling and other ride shares, thereby reducing the number of vehicles. I support that.
In a larger sense, however, we have to find alternatives that will actually reduce the number of cars. We need to put all options on the table: light rail, extended bike lanes, and enhanced public transportation. In large part, the use of automobiles in California and the United States, generally, is a cultural phenomenon. But if we are going to talk about really reducing the number of cars on the road, we must offer meaningful alternatives. This issue is further addressed above in my discussion on “Infrastructure.”
Kristen Sneddon: For the widening of the 101 project to be successful, the flow of traffic needs to be improved both on the freeway and on the connecting roadways of our city. Side streets are potentially negatively impacted by widening the freeway without further considerations of mitigations. I believe the mitigations are essential to the freeway widening plan. It doesn’t make sense, for instance, at the East entrance of Coast Village Road to complete highway construction without having planned and implemented a roundabout at that location and a reconstructed onramp from Cabrillo. I believe these need to be considered in the plan prior to construction. We don’t want to trade more fluid freeway traffic for more side street situations like what happens on Coast Village Road during peak times.
Santa Barbara could also consider mitigations including a commuter rail or commuter buses to provide relief for commuters and to lighten traffic. Another part of a plan to reduce congestion on the 101 would be to support affordable for-sale housing to encourage our workforce to live locally. More mitigations need to be considered for the project to be successful.
Recent rains have pushed back immediate concerns about the City’s water supply, but the City remains in a drought. What are your thoughts on how the City should proceed in addressing our ongoing water concerns?
Jay Higgins: a. Continue conservation. This has worked well.
b. Further study and investment in water recycling.
c. Study de-silting Cachuma and Gibraltar for better regional storage.
d. Evaluate renewable energy sources to power a desal plant that can increase its capacity.
e. Rate payers deserve a break for conserving, by at least capping residential fees.
James Scafide: The days of assuming that there are unlimited amounts of water available for all sorts of uses have long passed. I support incentives for water reduction so that those who reduce their water use are rewarded, and I support policies that require new development to meet water efficiency standards. I support City Council’s activating the desalinization plant and I would oppose any efforts to again mothball the facility. I believe that water generated from the plant should come first to those who paid for it: the current water customers of the City, but I would also support selling capacity to neighboring communities to help offset the cost of water generation.
City Council recently lifted the so-called “water ban” prohibition, once again permitting watering lawns and lowered the reduction target from 40 percent to 30 percent. While we experienced significant rainfall in the region, we remain in the midst of a drought. I support lifting the water ban, but would not have supported the reduction of the conservation target.
Water conservation should be part of our everyday practices, and while the drought has placed a greater emphasis on the need to conserve, we should be mindful that water is not an unlimited resource and we should still conserve wherever possible.
Kristen Sneddon: I teach Environmental Geology at Santa Barbara City College. Over the past two years there have been dramatic changes to the water levels at Lake Cachuma. In one semester, we are discussing 17% water levels while considering the unthinkable dead pool and contemplating whether the desal plant will be up and running in time. In the next semester, we reach dead pool and the desal plant is not yet completely operational. Students ask what the plan is? What is going to happen? It is uncomfortable to answer that no one really knows for sure. By the end of the semester, torrential rains have brought Lake Cachuma up to the 50% mark: what now seems like an incredibly full Cachuma is at the same level it was the last time Santa Barbara declared extreme drought. The City went from the unthinkable status of beyond extreme drought to “recovering” to extreme drought levels. At this point, it is difficult to predict future weather patterns, which some say may now lead to monsoon conditions. The City needs to be prepared for both extreme drought as well as extreme flooding – either case is possible in Santa Barbara’s future. The desal plant is an integral and essential part of a sustainable plan for Santa Barbara, but it is not a cure. It is essential that the City keep the desal plant operational and to bring it on long before dead pool is actually reached again. Aside from conserving water, there may be concerns with the potential for massive runoff and issues of water quality following the Whittier Fire. Managing water is clearly a major issue in Santa Barbara.
It would be prudent for Santa Barbara to continue to monitor water consumption to keep Cachuma as full as possible. We could also be innovative in water efficiency by encouraging greywater (“Showers to Flowers”) training and implementation, which works particularly well on the steep hillsides of Santa Barbara where water flow can be gravity driven. The City could encourage training peer groups from our area colleges and high schools to implement these systems throughout the City. Water scarcity will continue to be an issue in Santa Barbara. The recent rains gave us a chance to regroup and assess our efforts. We should use this reprieve to diversify our water portfolio wisely to plan for our future.
The City of Goleta has recently asked the City to delay moving forward with the development of leasable tech space on ground adjacent to the Santa Barbara Airport. What is your position on this project?
Jay Higgins: This issue came to the City’s Planning Commission and I was left with the impression that the City of Goleta liked our project, but was in the hunt traffic mitigation dollars (akin to how the City has held Caltrans ransom on Hwy 101 expansions). Interagency conflicts on regional traffic impacts are not new, and the City of SB should negotiate with Goleta to solve the problems such that our tax dollars go to fixing problems, rather than paying lawyers.
James Scafide: I support the plan to develop leasable tech space, and I think the City should do more to foster an environment that will lead to the creation of jobs. The City’s past emphasis on growing the retail/service economy to the near exclusion of other economic sectors, is coming home to roost as the backbone of our local economy –retail, is suffering through a National realignment and adjustment (as discussed above). Santa Barbara needs to diversify its economy and work regionally to create an atmosphere conducive to attracting high-technology and software jobs; what are commonly referred to as green, “head of household” jobs. UCSB graduates each year the brightest and the best among software engineers, and each of them is hired by a technology company to work in the Silicon Valley. Santa Barbara is positioned to compete for those types of jobs, and if elected to council, I will cooperate with leaders in the business community to work to bring those jobs to this area.
I also support creating opportunities for entrepreneurs to start businesses in Santa Barbara that will create jobs. As Mayor of East Liverpool, Ohio, I helped establish a small business incubator that resulted in the creation of hundreds of new jobs for the community. As a Councilmember in Santa Barbara, I would support similar efforts to encourage investment and economic opportunities. (Further discussed below.)
Kristen Sneddon: This development project has been a long time in the planning. The plan is to develop tech based enterprises where any revenues generated would be reinvested into the airport. Ideally, this also adds to the tax base of the regional Goleta economy and contributes to the Goleta workforce. It seems in the best interest of both cities to work together to reach an acceptable agreement. We are neighbors. It may be that staff of both cities agree to Santa Barbara financing mitigations to offset the traffic impacts to Goleta. I am confident that both cities can work together to see this project through.
The City of Santa Barbara does not have an active economic development program. Do you believe one is necessary? If so, how would you create it? If not, why not?
Jay Higgins: Not exactly. ‘Economic development’ is historically used in cities or rural areas that have little to no definable economy. That’s not us. Rather, the City simply needs attract high tech jobs to help the middle class and we don’t need to add a new department into our existing structure of Government to accomplish this. Office and R&D space can be adapted from existing industrial or retail spaces. Residential development in the CBD that targets middle or upper middle income families is also another opportunity – since the main objection that employers have to locating or relocating here is the cost of housing.
James Scafide: I believe that City Government can and should play a vital role in achieving economic development, and I support the fostering and implementation of an economic development program. In large part we benefit from the fact that Santa Barbara is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and it has been the conclusion that, because the region is beautiful, people and jobs will come. While people have come, the jobs have lagged behind, which has resulted in the disparate conditions between wages and housing costs, how forcing to the forefront of our discussions the need for housing that is affordable for those who live here.
Economic development requires a sustained and focused effort. The City of Santa Barbara should be working regionally to attract green, sustainable jobs with high wages. At the same time, a concerted effort must be made to make it easier to do business in Santa Barbara –no protections should be rolled back, but someone who wants to open a business in Santa Barbara should not be punished with impenetrable zoning and business regulations. We should support and encourage these entrepreneurs.
We live in the most wonderful place in the world, and we must continue the struggle to protect the unique small-town charm that we have come to love. At the same time, we must recognize that our very economic survival is challenged. Many of the wonderful assets that we enjoy, our museums, zoo, theaters, and the like, require having a population able to financially support them, and that support necessarily comes from jobs. Because most of the land within our municipal borders that is appropriate for technology-based jobs is unavailable, we have no choice but to work regionally to achieve economic development.
I believe that the Office of Economic Development should report to the City Administrator so as to gain a perspective of all City Departments.
Kristen Sneddon: A primary function of a city is having an active development program. With funding shortfalls from the State, open store fronts, a housing crisis, and AUD to implement, an intentionally structured economic development program is required. Any economic development plan should be developed through meetings and hearings from stakeholders.
We are an imaginative city – we can work together to plan intentional goals and benchmarks for the economic development of our community. Now that the City has adopted the commendable resolution of 100% renewable energy, it will be important to integrate this goal into any plans for active economic development. Again, the goal of 100% renewable will be met through intentional planning and consideration that will need to be built into the economic development program, and has the potential to stimulate a green jobs economy. I would also like to see incentives for local residents to start small businesses. This is an opportunity for our City to be leaders in developing breakthrough projects that stimulate our economy and support our renewable goals.
One of the fastest growing areas of Santa Barbara is the Funk Zone. What are your thoughts on this area, and how would you respond to some in the community that feel the area is getting more attention and benefits than other more established business zones?
Jay Higgins: I support the Funk Zone (although I wouldn’t want to create another one somewhere else) and applaud its investors as well as our City Planners to encourage adaptive reuse of its existing buildings and infrastructure. This same energy can be replicated in our CBD and along State Street. Valet parking should be expedited in the Funk Zone as a solution to this area’s parking demands.
James Scafide: An important part of attracting economic investment is providing a high quality of life. The rapid rate at which the Funk Zone developed, and its tremendous success evidence that it filled a tremendous demand. In talking with leaders of local software companies, I heard from them the biggest concern in attracting talented workers to the region was addressed with the development of the Funk Zone. The Funk Zone has created a region in the City that has a “vibe” that is appealing to the very Programmers and Software Engineers that these companies were trying to recruit. From that perspective, the attention that has been given the Funk Zone can be seen as an investment in creating more opportunities for economic growth.
Kristen Sneddon: The Funk Zone is an exciting area of development in our city. The explosion of creative restaurants, wine rooms, galleries, and shops is revitalizing the lower State Street area. I do regret that the smaller arts and crafts shops were displaced and would like to develop a plan in support of local artisans (another possible vision for the Macy’s space?). I had a friend from Denver ask me about “this new Funk Zone and a restaurant I heard about called the Lark” and came to see it for herself. The zone is bringing visitors to our area who are interested in a different experience. Rather than being the zone a tourist might avoid, it has become an area that tourists are coming here for. It’s not just for tourists either. Many locals have also experienced a renewed interest in the zone that offers very different experiences in dining and entertainment. As a parent of a teenager, I also appreciate that the area is now more open and accessible from the skate park.
For those in the community who feel that the area is getting more attention and benefits than other more established business zones, I would say that what is newly developed now will become the established business later. The area surrounding Paseo Nuevo was the newly developed zone nearly 30 years ago, and will be again as we address the issues of open store fronts on State Street. We are a dynamic city, capable of adapting to changing markets.
As part of the New Zoning Ordinance (NZO), the Planning Commission has agreed to change parking requirements on restaurants to 1 space per 250 square feet of space in the restaurant. Do you support this decision? Why or why not?
Jay Higgins: As a Planning Commissioner I looked at all sides of this issue and ultimately supported the change. Without placing too much of a burden on our streets, we were able to prove that an updated parking standard is appropriate for businesses and restauranteurs that are trying to adaptively reuse our City’s existing (and historic!) buildings.
James Scafide: I support the “relaxed” standard of 1/250 rather than the prior 1/500 for several reasons. First, it is consistent with what other communities in the region require, which allows the City to be competitive in attracting businesses. Second, whether a business succeeds or fails will be determined by the quality of goods it provides. This is true with restaurants, as well. If the cuisine is excellent, people will come and, if there is not adequate parking, they will find alternate methods to getting there. With the availability of Lyft and other alternative methods of transportation, the old requirement no longer seems appropriate.
As an aside, I applaud the efforts of the NZO to make the Zoning Ordinance more accessible and easier to navigate and understand.
Kristen Sneddon: I support the decision to try the New Zoning Ordinance, but would like to take a wait and see approach to assess. It would be helpful to have an assessment of the parking patterns before the change and to re-evaluate in a few years as AUD projects increase downtown.
Parking for Restaurants
What do you see as the city’s role in helping residents and businesses access renewable energy, either on the grid, or installed directly on homes and commercial or industrial buildings? What is your position on the City’s Community Choice Energy effort?
Jay Higgins: The City should provide access to renewable energy, and should evaluate Community Choice, as long as it is affordable. Over time, perhaps renewables via Community Choice will become more affordable than fossil fuels, once the industries evolve and community education increases.
James Scafide: As an environmentalist, I support efforts to move to renewable sources of energy. The Community Choice Energy effort applies traditional market-based methods to achieving that goal. By allowing consumers to choose energy based on its method of generation, the program empowers consumers to buy based on their preferences, which will cause those who supply energy to respond. As more consumers choose energy produced by renewable methods, more suppliers will seek to meet that demand.
I also believe that the City should encourage residents and businesses to access renewable energy off the grid.
Santa Barbara should seek to assert itself into the forefront of creating an atmosphere that promotes “green” approaches to every aspect of our community, from business to transportation to recreation. Allowing citizens to choose their source of energy is a great start.
Kristen Sneddon: This is one of the main reasons I am inspired to run for City Council at this time. I applaud and support our city’s strong resolution to transition to clean and renewable energy by 2030. This is an ambitious goal that places Santa Barbara, once again, at the forefront of environmental leadership. I want to be the city that other cities look to as an example. I come from a background of applying Geophysical techniques to environmental problems. At this time in the history of our city, the City Council could benefit from adding a member with a science research and application background. We all will benefit from varied perspectives in tackling this challenge.
This ambitious commitment will require a community-wide effort to increase efficiency as well as develop renewable energy. We want to improve the reliability of our network and grid. We want to keep costs low and reliability high. The City can make the solar permitting process easier and we can move to being a city that is a leader in providing solar energy. Accessing renewable energy will also require a well-developed plan addressing nearly everything the City is involved with from water conservation (including wastewater recovery), energy management and development (including solar and natural gas), transportation planning including master plans for cyclists and pedestrians, management of solid waste. This goal should also be integrated into the economic development plan to support green jobs and innovative industries. The plan will also need to include a social service and educational component.
As we join 29 other cities across the nation in this goal, we will not achieve it alone. The City will need to develop committees and task forces to address individual issues, and will need to take an active role in helping residents and businesses access renewable energy. This may be on or off the grid, depending on results of analysis. The City’s Community Choice Effort is likely to play a key role in achieving this goal. Santa Barbara has been a leader in environmental integration. This is the time to make this happen.
What are your thoughts on the level of City regulations affecting individuals attempting to develop property in our community? Are there steps you would take to limit the regulatory burden faced by those who wish to invest here?
Jay Higgins: As a Planning Commissioner, I see how our hyper regulated environment translates into the community we now enjoy. First, newcomers to Santa Barbara need to take a class in “Santa Barbara Land Use 101” so they know what to expect, and I will organize this diploma program (as I have in the past with the American Planning Association). Second, an ombudsman or conciliator within City Hall should be empowered to swiftly resolve conflicts between departments, particularly those that are ministerial (i.e. that do include Planning Commission action). Such a person or group of people would begin know where and how applicants fall down – and offer them an actual service in terms of minor design solutions that are constructive and expedient. Remember that the origin of the City’s Architectural Board of Review was to actually offer design services to applicants as long as the applicants were OK with the Spanish colonial theme for their redeveloped projects. Let’s look back in time for something that used to work well!
James Scafide: The City of Santa Barbara is a nightmare of regulations and impenetrable processes all designed to slow development in an attempt to protect the unique character that is Santa Barbara, and I support that goal. However, at the same time, anyone wishing to do anything in our city, whether it is install a fence, replace a window, or develop a parcel of property, should be able to understand the process and what they can expect on the other side.
I do not support efforts to roll-back the hard-fought protections that we enjoy that serve to protect the uniqueness of our community. At the same time, I believe the City can do much more in explaining the processes and requirements. One should not need to be an attorney or planner to try to understand the requirements for undertaking a simple project, such as planting a hedge on one’s property. Regulations and processes should be stated clearly in plain language so that they can reasonably be understood by everyone.
Kristen Sneddon: An important thing about regulations is that they stay relevant and reflect the values of our city without becoming overly burdensome. The City can do more to help build businesses. We can do more to improve plan check turnaround time, without compromising quality. When a boom of projects is coming through the system, as is the case now, the City can increase staff in the permitting process. Some regulations could be eased, but it seems that new guidelines relating to AUDs, ADUs, and renewable energy will take their places. To those who wish to invest here, I would say that in the end, the regulations will turn out to have been worth it to you. The relevant regulations maintain the character of our city and are a large part of the reason that real estate in the City is so valuable.
The City of Santa Barbara is served by MTD buses, but as with many smaller, suburban communities, the service does not meet all of the need. What proposals would you have, if any, to increase public transportation options? Would your options include other forms of mass transportation?
Jay Higgins: We should study this with an eye towards removing as many barriers as possible such that MTD ridership can increase without passing costs onto its customers. In fact, customers costs should be reduced because these folks are our least apt to be able to stomach expanding government expenses.
James Scafide: Public transportation is fundamental to the livelihood of a community, and reduces traffic congestion and pollution. Though we have a very good system, I believe the MTD can do more. For instance, I am a resident of the Riviera and have no access to public transportation. Why not?
I would also explore a regional system that allows for rapid transportation along the Central Coast, as further discussed in the “Infrastructure” section, above.
Kristen Sneddon: The MTD buses provide excellent transportation along a narrow zone adjacent to State Street and out to Goleta. When I was in my early 20’s in Santa Barbara without a car, I could live at the Magnolia on Santa Barbara Street, work full days at the YMCA on Hitchcock, attend classes at SBCC, and go to the Farmer’s Market on State Street. My housing, employment, and schooling were constrained by the limits of public transit. This is not a realistic limitation for someone who wants to expand beyond this corridor, bring children to friend’s houses off this path, hold professional meetings at multiple locations, or visit with friends beyond a narrow zone. It is not enough.
We need creative ideas to do more with less. We need to continue and expand the important work of creating safe bicycle routes. We could plan to make use of Zip cars to ease congestion. There may additionally be enough of an interest in bicycle sharing programs. The City can do more to offer alternative modes of transportation to make more room for those who use cars and to support those who would choose not to.
How would you approach issues where the interests of your district conflict with the needs of the City of Santa Barbara as a whole?
Jay Higgins: Well, at this point, and without this question providing a specific example, let me say that I would tend to put my constituents first (4th District voters). For example, I will push for Hwy 101 widening to get through the permit process faster, so that the traffic on Coast Village Road is improved. I will work hard on emergency preparedness as a top priority for those who live in or near the urban/wildland fire interface. I believe as a Planning Commissioner, I’m well prepared to address neighborhood issues in a fair and balanced way.
The City has settled the issue of whether District politics should or shouldn’t be ‘in play.’ Therefore, I will seek consensus on the Council to bridge gaps in District issues, but then fight for a more equitable distribution of general fund dollars to be spent in District 4 and generally then put District 4 voters in the drivers seat if consensus building breaks down.
James Scafide: The fact that one lives in a particular area of the City does not necessarily mean that their interests diverge from anyone else who lives in the City. In fact, District Four is so large that it encompasses several neighborhoods --and parts of others-- with little in common. There are issues that are unique to particular proximities or regions, but those tend to be more geographic in nature.
For instance, Santa Barbara enjoys wonderful neighborhoods, and protecting their character and safety must be paramount. But those aren’t inconsistent interests despite the fact that neighborhoods are in different parts of the City. Moreover, as a councilman in East Liverpool, elected from the Second Ward, my experience is that there are few issues that apply only to one particular area of a city that cannot be resolved to benefit the entire city.
An upside of a district-elected councilmember is that it allows for a resident to know who to call if there is a particular issue that they want to discuss –a pothole, the need for a stop sign, infrastructure conditions, neighborhood issues, etc. In that regard, there is accountability of the Councilmember, and the City Government is more approachable. At the same time, the district is a part of the City, so addressing those issues and improving the district also serves to improve the City, as well.
I plan to hold regular District meetings at throughout the neighborhoods within the Fourth District to allow for unfettered communication and understanding, and to engage in informative discussions on important issues.
Kristen Sneddon: When the City of Santa Barbara as a whole is doing well and thriving, the districts will benefit. When a district is thriving, the city as a whole benefits. If the needs genuinely conflict, I would do my best to present the council with my best understanding of the needs of my district, while working with the council as a team to collaboratively reach the best solution.
Jay Higgins: a. Emergency evacuation planning and services. Dedicated helicopter service to spot and douse flames. Flamesniffer systems need to be deployed in the Riviera and Mission Canyon/Sycamore Canyon areas. Community ham radio is already up and should be expanded.
b. “New neighbor” educational programs through the Board of Realtors for those wishing to expand their new retirement homes such that existing views are protected. Many in our community have a lot of their retirement savings tied up in their homes – those with views are rightly protective!
c. Street and water main repair in our hilly neighborhoods that were damaged by the drought and shifting soils.
James Scafide: Improving infrastructure, preserving these characters of the neighborhoods, improving communications among neighbors, and providing guidance on, and access to, City services are among the roles I anticipate I will provide as part of my constituent service.
The fundamental role of local government is to provide services to the community, and if elected to council, I would pursue investments and expenditures that enhance the quality of life for the citizens. That necessarily means investments in new streets, sidewalks, and other infrastructure improvements.
The Fourth District is comprised of residents in more unaffordable single homes and have unique issues beyond the general issues facing our city. For instance, much of the Fourth does not enjoy a strong public transportation system, nor the public infrastructure of sidewalks, which means that many residents are reliant on private automobile use for transportation. As such, there is a particular need for infrastructure improvements, especially road improvements.
There is no question that the infrastructure in the City is in need of improvement. According to recently published Noozhawk articles, half the City’s streets have been independently rated as poor, at risk, or failed and Public Works Department staff have said $12 million annually is needed to keep up with road maintenance, though only a sixth of the needed amount is allocated toward those needs each year. This clearly brings to light an unmet City service that demands attention.
Infrastructure and transportation also affect our common desire for children to have safe access to schools, playgrounds, and parks. Like other areas of the City, the residents of the Fourth District are concerned with neighborhood preservation, which includes issues of view corridors, tree preservation, and architectural considerations. Safety and security are fundamental to the feeling of “home” and the neighborhoods in the Fourth have enjoyed generally low crime rates.
Finally, I will hold regular meetings in neighborhoods throughout the Fourth District to meet face-to-face with my constituents, so that there is a constant connection between those I serve and me.
Drought and fire risk
State Street business closures
Top 3 Issues in District 4
What can be done to address the concerns of Coast Village Road merchants about traffic issues they experience in the afternoon during commute hours?
Jay Higgins: a. The Hwy 101 southbound onramp at Cabrillo needs to be re-installed.
b. The roundabout at Olive Mill needs to be designed, then studied via a traffic/circulation study (EIR), and financing needs to be researched. This is a long term project.
c. Valet parking. The City attorney’s office needs to move faster to develop this ordinance to facilitate a more orderly system of valet parking services, so that the service improves parking and circulation on CVR, rather than adds to the congestion.
James Scafide: Obviously, people seek alternate courses to avoid congestion, and that means commuters are traveling on surface streets, including Coast Village Road, to avoid freeway congestion. The completion of the widening of 101 through Montecito as well and the addition of the roundabout at the far end of Coast Village Road are designed to alleviate the traffic congestion in the City of Santa Barbara, specifically addressing the rush-hour congestion on Coast Village Road, as well as on Foothill Road and Salinas Street, among others.
A presence of traffic patrols may assist. I believe that decisions are best made through cooperation, seeking input from stakeholders, and gathering information. An open discussion with the business-owners and representatives of the City –including the appropriate representative from the Police and Traffic Departments is the best way to start that discussion.
Kristen Sneddon: Coast Village Road maintains the special and unique character of shops and attention to customers that locals and tourists both enjoy. It is an important part of our city. Businesses along Coast Village are a thriving part of our economy and contribute to the revenue of the city. The traffic situation along Coast Village during commute hours is unbearable. It has taken me 45 minutes before to travel from the West entrance to the East entrance during commute hours. This traffic drives neighbors away from shopping on Coast Village during those times, and poses a safety hazard. It seems clear that a roundabout needs to be established at the East end of the road, with or without freeway widening, and for the southbound onramp at Cabrillo to be reconstructed. At this point, all vehicles entering the 101 southbound are funneled across the bottleneck of Coast Village Road. Most importantly would be to maintain communication and welcome input from the Coast Village Association who is focused on the needs of the merchants along this valuable part of our community.
Coast Village Road
Do you support efforts to make traffic and pedestrian improvements on E. Los Olivos Street between the Mission and the Natural History Museum in Mission Canyon? Do you support a specific proposal, or do you have your own thoughts on how to proceed?
Jay Higgins: Not yet, no. Generally, though I am supportive of safer pedestrian connections and texting while driving is a major contributor to vehicle collisions with pedestrians. However, a reduced project design that does not add to increased speeds in this corridor should be our top priority. As a Planning Commissioner, with a lot of history on this and other traffic/pedestrian projects, I look forward to this process.
James Scafide: I support improving the transportation corridor to accommodate pedestrian and bicycle traffic, provided the improvement can be done that preserves the character of the corridor. I’ve cycled and walked the way numerous times and have always been concerned about the safety of the corridor, especially during the occurrences of major events in the region. While it is true that we must seek to preserve the “uniqueness” of Santa Barbara, public safety is always a top priority and one of the fundamental goals of any community. To the extent that the widening of the bridge over Mission Creek can be done in such a way that it preserves the rustic nature of the bridge, and the neighborhood.
Kristen Sneddon: This stretch of road is historically beloved, well-traveled by locals and tourists, crowded on festival days, and extremely dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. I support efforts to make traffic and pedestrian improvements along this corridor, but they must be done with care to preserve historic monuments in this location, and to preserve the character of the corridor. At this stage, I am in support of the joint City/County proposal for the multimodal improvements plan. I would want to reserve final opinion for after the feasibility and environmental impact studies are available. I am in favor of keeping in place the historic monuments in the area and doing our best to minimize impact around them. In addition to pedestrian and cyclist safety, the route is an evacuation artery for this area, and there are issues with how narrow it is in places. I would like to see as many monuments remain as possible, while maintaining the character of the corridor and increasing safety.