Santa Barbara County Wins Two CSAC Challenge Awards

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The California State Association of Counties (CSAC) announced earlier this week the recipients of its 2018 Challenge Awards that spotlight the most innovative programs developed and implemented by California Counties.  The County of Santa Barbara was selected for a special award – the California Counties Innovation Award – for a program the judging panel deemed as the most innovative and effective this year. County of Yuba also received an Innovation Award.

The Innovation Award being presented to Santa Barbara County is for a project created by staff after the Thomas Fire and the resulting January 9, 2018 Debris Flow.  The County of Santa Barbara Planning and Development Department consolidated site-specific information in a web-based GIS map to assist in the rebuilding process.  It enables property owners to see the same information after a disaster as staff without the need for staff to print out or assemble physical case files. The GIS map is a critical rebuilding tool for architects, agents, affected property owners, and County departments. The web-based GIS map and parcel information replaces paper case files, reduces staff time, and could be saving the department approximately $105,000-$110,000. 

The layers on the map can switch on and off including: zoning designations, 100-year flood hazard areas and pre and post disaster aerial imagery. This unique web-based map contains project specific information that previously was not available in one location. 

Board Chair, Supervisor Das Williams said, “I appreciate CSAC recognizing our staff’s hard work, dedication, and perseverance to innovate in the wake of an unprecedented disaster. The interactive GIS mapping technology they developed to assist constituents in evacuating, evaluating damage, and moving forward in rebuilding has proven to be an invaluable tool in the days and months since the January 9th debris flow. I’m so grateful for County staff’s leadership on this!”

The January Debris Flow resulted in loss of 23 lives, 477 destroyed and damaged properties and drastically different topography.

In addition, CSAC also awarded a Merit Award to the Counties of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo for their program, Co-creating Youth Advocacy for Healthy Communities.  This program integrated nutrition and health education for low-income communities. Over seventy youth leaders from the 4-H programs in the two counties provided this training to 4,100 elementary school age children at five schools.

County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato said, “Thanks to CSAC for recognizing the innovation and creativity of our employees to meet the needs of residents.  It is particularly satisfying that our awards highlight the efforts of our departments to work together and, in the case of the Merit Award, for neighboring counties to work together to improve the quality of life for our residents.” 

This year, CSAC received 267 entries and an independent panel of judges with expertise in county programs selected the award recipients.

CSAC will be presenting the award to Santa Barbara County at an upcoming Board of Supervisors meeting.

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