NOOZHAWK: What experiences from your professional or personal life make you uniquely qualified to be a Santa Barbara City Council member?
FRANK HOTCHKISS: I have been an actor, journalist, public relations executive and writer.
NOOZHAWK: With all of the city’s fiscal challenges, why are you running now?
FH: The city’s fiscal crisis presents a unique opportunity to restructure city government and reduce its size and cost.
NOOZHAWK: What three steps would you take first to resolve Santa Barbara’s financial crisis?
FH: Staff size in planning and traffic should be reduced. Other departments should be rolled back to 2000-year levels. Police should be increased as soon as is feasible.
NOOZHAWK: Public safety accounts for more than 50 percent of the city’s operating budget. With more spending cuts likely, how much would you trim from fire and police services?
FH: None if at all possible. Replacing badged officers with civilians in certain roles, such as information technology, could mitigate some costs.
NOOZHAWK: Would you support increasing or adding new municipal taxes as a revenue source?
FH: Now is not a good time to be increasing anyone’s taxes or fees.
NOOZHAWK: Should any municipal services be privatized? If so, which ones?
FH: See above.
NOOZHAWK: Why do you support or oppose Measure B, the ballot measure that would restrict downtown building heights to 40 feet?
FH: I support Measure B because it would ensure a more aesthetically pleasing city.
NOOZHAWK: Do you feel the direction of the General Plan update is consistent with your vision? What kind of city will Santa Barbara be in 30 years?
FH: Plan Santa Barbara is terrible. It aims to restrict automobile access to key areas, such as shopping centers and the downtown business corridor. In fact, it states that one of its goals is to convert most existing parking garages to car-sharing stations. I can’t think of a better way to choke off business activity and gut the heart of our city than that.
NOOZHAWK: The General Plan update will have consequences for housing, transportation and other key issues in the region. Does the city have a responsibility to think regionally when it makes policy decisions? How would you rate the city’s record?
FH: The city’s recent record is dismal when it comes to planning. Projects such as bringing traffic to a halt at State and De la Vina streets, where as many as 550 cars an hour now flow easily into downtown, and reducing the number of car lanes on Milpas Street would increase traffic congestion, travel times and pollution.
NOOZHAWK: If elected, what is the one issue on which you would focus to improve Santa Barbara’s quality of life?
FH: Gangs and gang violence must be brought to a halt. Kids as young as 10 are being recruited. Gang activity in Oxnard and Santa Maria is a harbinger of what could happen here if we don’t act decisively now with increased enforcement and an emphasis on parental and community responsibility.
NOOZHAWK: What is Santa Barbara’s most neglected neighborhood?
FH: Probably the Lower Westside.
NOOZHAWK: How would you control aggressive panhandling?
FH: About one-third of our indigents are people passing through town on the transient trail from San Diego to Portland. They make a living panhandling. Restrictions on aggressive panhandling will reduce their ability to make money, and hopefully therefore reduce their numbers.
NOOZHAWK: Santa Barbara has a plethora of medical-marijuana dispensaries, relative to other tri-county cities of similar size, but has yet to reject a single application. Why? Is that in the public’s interest?
FH: Medical marijuana centers tend to attract illegal activity, the police report. We have enough already.
NOOZHAWK: Even with two catastrophic wildfires within the city limits in the last year, the danger is hardly diminished. What can the city do differently to prepare for the next one?
FH: Other than encourage brush clearance, there is probably not much the city can do. However, it could ease the recovery process by halving the time now required for permits (one year) to six months. That would help our construction industry as well as those seeking to rebuild their destroyed homes.
NOOZHAWK: A grocery clerk asks you, “Paper or plastic?” You say:
NOOZHAWK: How often do you use alternative transportation?
FH: I walk a lot. Occasionally I take the train to Los Angeles.
NOOZHAWK: What is Santa Barbara’s most precious asset?
FH: Its people.
NOOZHAWK: What’s your favorite view?
FH: There are so many wonderful views in the city that I have no favorite.
NOOZHAWK: Health care is all over the news these days. What do you do to stay fit?
FH: I walk and swim regularly.
NOOZHAWK: The Coast Village Road roundabout is slowly nearing completion, but the island inside it is missing something. Do you support our plan to erect a Noozhawk statue there?
FH: Sorry, but probably not.
Click here for Frank Hotchkiss’ campaign Web site
Click here for Noozhawk’s candidate interview
Larry Nimmer’s “Touring with the Candidates” video (www.nimmer.net)
Click here for SBCityVote.org’s candidate statement video