By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers
Kristen Sneddon on Friday left the door fully open for a possible 2026 campaign for mayor, but declared that she’s currently fully focused on her present job, wrestling with the challenges of housing, city finances and the future of State Street.
The two-term Santa Barbara City Council member returned to Newsmakers TV for a wide-ranging conversation, in which she rejected the notion that the council locked itself into several more years of delay in dealing with the economic woes and design problems of State Street, with its recent vote to keep a nine-block stretch of the city’s main downtown corridor closed to traffic for at least three more years.
Sneddon disputed recent assertions by Mayor Randy Rowse that the council “kicked the can down the road” with its decision to extend the Covid-era, emergency closure of the street, saying there now is wide latitude to “experiment” with solutions, ideas and configurations involving the scope of traffic closures, the scales and design of restaurant parklets and bicycle regulations.
Highlighting her success in winning council approval to establish a new, public “State Street interim operations committee,” she said that panel will provide a pathway for City Hall to gather new suggestions from multiple stakeholders — mentioning the Historic Landmarks Commission, the disabled, older people and others those concerned about “full throttle, high speed” bicycling — to try out,short-term proposals, on a parallel track with the State Street Advisory Committee, which is working on a long-term master plan.
Answering questions from Josh Molina and the genial host, Sneddon also said the Housing Authority is best suited to manage the so-called “HOPE Fund,” which the council created last year, and which now contains about $3 million, to help people find housing in the city.
While stressing her commitment for the city to spur construction of thousands of units of workforce housing, pointing to Paseo Nuevo as a prime site for it, Sneddon also said that Santa Barbara’s current population of 90,000 people represents the city’s maximum carrying capacity for natural resources and infrastructure, from water supply to wastewater treatment; this means that local housing strategy should focus on ways and means of using its inventory of “existing structures.”
Discussing the recently approved budget, the second-term District 4 representative set forth a detailed explanation of why she publicly challenged City Hall staff during recent hearings, a round of tough questions that also drew criticism from Rowse, saying that her concern was about the technology and “tools” available to the public to track the process, not about city government’s fiscal administrators, whom she broadly praised.
In response to a question about her future plans, Sneddon noted that she would “termed out” in 2026, when Rowse is up for re-election, and volunteered that she has “not ruled out” a bid for the mayor’s job, the only council post that is chosen by voters citywide, not by district.
Plus: Sneddon’s passionate thoughts about the #metoo movement and how it was discussed on last week’s show.
You can watch the new episode via YouTube below or by clicking through this link. The podcast version is here. TVSB, Cox Cable Channel 17, airs the program at 8 p.m. each weekday, and at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. KCSB, 91.9 FM, broadcasts the show at 5:30 p.m. on Mondays.