Santa Barbara City Council members funded a variety of capital projects Monday night with one-time money available from the Redevelopment Agency dissolution, a property tax refund, property sales and the insurance payout from the Police Department employee embezzlement case.
After much discussion, the council voted to support Eastside neighborhood lighting, a sidewalk for the Montecito and Yanonali streets bridge, Fire Department communication equipment upgrades, the Central Library plaza improvement and matching funding for the children’s library project, Laguna Flood Control Facility repairs, a community arts workshop, Kid’s World renovation, designing citywide signage for tourist destinations, and money toward a roundabout at Cliff Drive and Las Positas Road.
Assistant City Administrator Paul Casey presented about $8 million worth of projects with only $4.3 million in available funding, so council members debated the merits of different projects before coming up with the final list.
Councilman Dale Francisco voted against putting $700,000 toward the roundabout, saying the city should put in half now and allocate half next year since construction won’t start for a few years. Every other council member voted for it, so the roundabout contribution — which won’t pay for the whole project — took the biggest piece of the pie.
There was also debate over the $250,000 design cost for citywide destination signs that are similar to those in Monterey, Pasadena and Santa Monica. That price doesn’t include the fabrication or installation of the signs, which will be much more, Casey said.
The first attempt to approve the signage plan failed, with council members saying it was too much money. They changed their minds, saying a citywide design effort like this shouldn’t be done halfway and they wanted to fund the staff-recommended amount.
Councilman Bendy White called it “a tip of our hat to our primary industry.”
One of the high-priority projects for the council was replacing the HVAC system in the Police Department building, but members decided to have the facilities department take on that cost. There are a lot of complaints about temperature control and ventilation with the 50-year-old system, according to facilities manager Jim Dewey.
As a result of facilities paying the $600,000, the department will skip a dozen or so smaller projects that were in line for next year, such as painting the outside of the library, repairing the municipal tennis stadium building, repaving the Public Works corporate yard, repainting Skater’s Point, renovating Shoreline Park’s restroom and putting a new roof on the Westside Community Center’s auditorium, Dewey said.
Many people came to Monday’s meeting to support specific projects, especially the children’s library remodel, Eastside neighborhood lighting improvements and the community arts workshop, which will be a permanent home for the Summer Solstice Celebration and house other local arts organizations year-round.