Councilmember Sneddon Talks State Street

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.


Written by Jerry Roberts

“Newsmakers” is a multimedia journalism platform that focuses on politics, media and public affairs in Santa Barbara. Learn more at

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    • why trash Randy? Have you talked to him? i did and he changed my mind. I’m on the left almost always, but this isn’t left or right nor should it ever be. this is just us, santa barbarans trying to get a city council to ull their collective heads our of their rears and get some business done.

  1. If 90,000 people are the limit, then SBCC and UCSB need to house their students on their campuses. In addition to this, the crackdown on STRs should levelout the housing rental market. It seems like zllow is showing a lot of rental housing available right now – right after students left town…hmmmm. An odd coincidence that happens predictably every year.

    • There is no reason why SBCC should house students. SBCC is a local college designed to provide for local students who want to continue their education or obtain training here. Most will live at home with their families as they did before they graduated or moved on from high school. Some will be working and have housing that they occupied while doing that job. We all know that the idea of housing SBCC students is to encourage more student tourism from those who want to pretend to be going to college while really just coming to SB to party. SBCC has encouraged this as it also encourages out of state enrollment at high tuition charges. While California law allows any state resident to attend any junior college we do not have to facilitate that. Please keep SBCC a “community” college.

    • Exactly!!!
      SBCC (and all community colleges) were established for local students, hence no housing should be required. Presently, SBCC actively recruits students from Europe as well as all over the U.S. which is in complete violation of their charter. Every one of these students from outside the Santa Barbara community is taking the place of a local student.

  2. Rowse is the original can kicker.
    The universities need to house their own students if this town is to have any housing for workers.
    Rowse wants no part of the public process that asked for a pedestrian promenade, or for one free of obnoxious bicyclists. Other cities have a one way street and a bike lane on either side of their equivalent downtown core. We have anacapa and chapala, push bikes there.
    It would be easy to shuttle shoppers with electric golf carts from parking lot to store.
    This city needs to think forward not back. I’ve spent more time on State since the closure but there is no reason to go if the pedestrian space is removed-I’ll seek outdoor dining and shopping and entertainment in areas more conducive to a pedestrian space.
    PS Randy try coming up with actual solutions to the homeless issue and housing. You’ve had multiple terms to . . . kick the can. . . And you’re nowhere to be found when there’s heavy lifting to be done.

  3. The mayor represents _all_ of the City, all 5 districts. It is a full-time job. The last three mayors have treated it as such; would Kristen Sneddon do similarly? ….She has what some there would consider a full-time job at SBCC – and when the council salaries were raised some years ago to $45-50,000 (not sure exactly what it is now, it increases annually, with superb health coverage, travel extras) an argument was that the salary for a councilmember should be for a fulltime job. She is scheduled for 12 units of classes this fall, two of which are a field trip to the Eastern Sierra in October. If she runs, would she commit to only one full-time job, that of being the mayor?

  4. Today’s LA Times has poll numbers stating that at least 50% of Americans believe that democracy is failing in the USA and also that our elected officials no longer represent them. They are right on both counts.
    Five cowards on our City Council excluding Randy and Eric, have refused to tackle the disaster that is downtown State Street and swept it under the rug for at least another three years.
    Please take the time to read an article in today’s WSJ. Immigration is the #1 cause here and around the world for making housing scarce and unaffordable. Over one million illegal immigrantss have entered our country in the last year and hundreds of thousands have settled in California along with the almost 4 million already here. They have to have housing and have overrun tour housing market. Most are economic refugees and most do not possess the education or skills needed in a modern society. It’s not their fault. We pay a stiff price for open borders!

    • What would PC do? Well, she was not a politician, did not run for Council or mayor; what she did was study, look at other cities, and then convince others. Unfortunately, council member Sneddon is not a Pearl Chase-alike, except she started as a non-politician, without the backing of the local Dems. That changed in her second campaign where she actively sought (and got) the Dem support. And she now is party-line, she along with council member Harmon and, weaker, A. Gutierrez.
      Too bad, but it is harder to stand up independently of one’s friends.

  5. OMG, how many decades has this city been fighting over State St. revitalization? Ever since I can remember. They fought over the stoplights, and then La Estrada, then they fought over Paseo Nuevo, and now they are fighting over cars and parklets. Or fighting over just making the parklets look nice. Or fighting over bicycles, or cars. Even just making a damn plan is a huge fight. Of course, if they ever get a plan (unlikely) the chances of them actually executing that plan in my lifetime are close to zero. Meanwhile, retail is hanging on by a thread under the combined weight of incredible rent burdens and incredible competition from the internet. And the cost of downtown parking has gone way up.

  6. shes only looking at one thing, regardless of what she says. Tourism $$. Doesn’t care about what we want, not one bit. This City council is the absolute worst we have had in many decades. There was one promise made, we will reopen State Street when the COVID restrictions are lifted. Now they are catering to Bob Stout and a few other owners. Those guys are now allowed to dictate and control what happens on State street. Our opinions and voices matter not to them. The only two people on the City council that don’t seem to be paid by the eatery owners are Randy and Eric. They have run businesses out of town, run families out of town, allowed a few business owners to control all of State street, removing our traditions and parades. They push people on green vehicles like ebikes and scooters out of the way. They take away our safety lanes and call them mixed use paths and then when someone gets hurt they act surprised. Law suit inevitable. They have allowed more hotels on State rather than moratorium on them and only allow retail. Very soon downtown SB will be hotels and corporate condos that sit vacant for months on end while our citizens are sleeping on the sidewalks. Yeah good job SB City Council. Crime is rampant, homelessness is rampant, prices are higher than ever.

    • I agree with this. Even though i have a friend or two on the council and I didn’t vote for Randy, but i agree and he seems to be the only one, aside of Eric, that is thinking and not bowing to lobbyists. there should never be federal politics and ‘sides’ in city council, and there never was until the last batch under Cathy Murillo. Now there are red and blue politics in our city hall and that is just ridiculous. I’ve talked to Randy on many occasions about all of this and i agree also, we should listen to him. I did and my mind was changed and THAT is not easy to do….

  7. So appreciate Jerry Roberts Newsmakers. He asks great questions and has had important interviews with our Mayor and people on the City Counsel. Newsmakers is an excellent source of news that goes in depth to what is happening in SB. Good news reporting and interviews helps keep citizens engaged and informed which is sometimes a challenge in SB with limited news outlets. Thanks Jerry & guests.

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