South Coast Cities Discuss Financial Wins and Losses During State of the City Luncheon

Randy Rowse speaking at the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce "State of the City" luncheon on April 12, 2024

Santa Barbara City Considers Sales Tax Increase Due to Potential $7 Million Deficit

Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Carpinteria city leaders came together at the annual State of the City luncheon to share their vision for the future of the South Coast. The gathering provided an opportunity for the business community to hear directly from local officials about their goals and plans for addressing regional challenges.

The event, hosted by the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce, drew nearly 400 attendees to the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort and featured lively discussions about business growth and sustainability, economic development, public safety, and community services. The speakers, including Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte, Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse, and Carpinteria Mayor Al Clark, also highlighted the importance of collaboration between the cities.

Kristen Miller, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, emphasized the significance of the event stating city lines don’t always impact businesses so hearing from all cities is a once in a year phenomenon to think about the areas as a region.

Networking during the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce “State of the City” luncheon on April 12, 2024

Housing was identified as a major challenge facing all three cities, with plans in the works to address the needs and requirements of state policies. Mayor Rowse elaborated on future developments, stating there are projects that will involve a lot of residential units on Milpas and Carrillo from Paseo Nuevo to La Cumbre.

The Chamber of Commerce presented their employee-sponsored housing consortium plan, known as “The Road Home” which aims to create 10,000 new housing units for local workers in the next decade. This initiative would enable employers to secure housing for their employees.

Additional topics discussed included budget constraints, namely an announcement from the City of Santa Barbara.

Assistant Santa Barbara City Administrator Rene Eyerly acknowledged that the proposed budget faces a significant challenge stating the city is facing a $7 million deficit. “Our revenue is not growing fast enough to meet our expenses,” said Eyerly. “We are going to have some challenging decisions ahead to make sure we are maintaining the quality of life that all of our residents expect.”

The city budget report is expected to be released at the end of the month but Eyerly already stated it’s likely voters will consider a half-cent sales tax increase.

The meeting highlighted the continued need for collaboration amongst the South Coast cities to develop comprehensive solutions for shared challenges. Mayor Perotte focused on Goleta’s increased resident participation in decision-making, exemplified by the creation of the Public Engagement Commission, nighttime-only City Council meetings, and Spanish-language communication services. Although City Manager Robert Nisbet noted the flat trendline for transient occupancy taxes, but property and sales taxes remained stagnant.

City managers speaking at the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce “State of the City” luncheon on April 12, 2024

Despite the challenges facing the region, Mayor Al Clark remained steadfastly optimistic about the South Coast. He underscored the economic benefits of Carpinteria’s natural beauty, noting these elements serve as assets for the city and maintain its small-town charm that’s aided by city implemented ordinances to limit big-box and chain retailers. Carpinteria City Manager Michael Ramirez discussed rising costs for supplies, including road paving.

As the region continues to grow and evolve, the event served as a reminder that collaboration and partnership will be critical to addressing the challenges facing each city and supporting the continued prosperity of the South Coast.

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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