Santa Barbara City Council Passes Budget and Declares Racism a Public Health Emergency
Healing Justice: Black Lives Matter SB held a rally and protest Memorial Day weekend against police brutality (edhat file photo)
By edhat staff
The Santa Barbara City Council passed its fiscal year budget and declared racism a Public Health Emergency on Tuesday evening.
The total $345,641,205 budget for the city was balanced and finalized with a 5% cut to all departments, including the police department. The new fiscal year starts on July 1.
Councilmembers acknowledged the COVID-19 pandemic heavily impacted sales and hotel tax revenues.
Mayor Cathy Murillo advocated for transferring specific functions normally handled by the police department, such as parking enforcement and mental health assistance, to the Public Works Department.
A co-response team is being put together by the Department of Behavioral Wellness that will include mental health clinicians who will respond to the appropriate calls alongside police deputies.
On Tuesday, the Santa Barbara Police Department issued a press release on its response to "felony activity" over the weekend.
"During the weekend of Friday, Saturday and Sunday (06-19-2020 through 06-21-2020) the Santa Barbara Police Department received 496 calls for service from the community resulting in 18 filed felony reports (Including assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, rape, burglary, ID theft, domestic battery, terrorist threats, stalking, and DUI causing injury) Of the 18 felony reports, 8 were cleared with arrests and 2 were referred to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution. The other felony reports will be reviewed by the Criminal Investigations Division," the statement read.
Additionally, the council unanimously passed a resolution condemning police brutality and declaring racism a public health emergency.
The resolution was put forth by the local activist group Healing Justice: Black Lives Matter SB who advocates for transparency within the local police department and racial equity for the Black community.
"It is nice to see the Santa Barbara City Council finally listen to the community," said one of the Healing Justice leaders Krystle Sieghart. "If anything this pandemic has shown us that we need to really protect and care for our youth and funding programs and services, that protect and care for them is more beneficial."