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Local News

Santa Barbara County Supervisors to Tackle Full Agenda on Tuesday

The board will take up such issues as drug smuggling with panga boats, a pay raise for the medical director and the controversial special-events ordinance

A packed agenda awaits the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, when they will tackle everything from staffing to dealing with drug smuggling and the county’s controversial special-events ordinance.

The supervisors will be asked to accept a $50,000 grant from the California Emergency Management Agency to deal with the influx of drug and human smuggling operations that have cropped up along Santa Barbara County’s coastline over the past several years.

Abandoned panga boats — fishing boats with outboard motors — have been found on county beaches, and law enforcement officials say they’re being used to transport illegal drugs, undocumented people — or both — from Mexico by sea.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department has responded to more of these incidents, even though state and federal agencies are also involved. The grant would fund overtime for deputies.

“It’s becoming an issue up in our county,” Lt. Steve Robel said. “It’s a significant drain on our resources. It does take up a lot of manpower.”

Robel couldn’t estimate how many man hours were spent last year dealing with the panga incidents, but he did say it was “a significant impact” to the department.

“When you have seven or eight detectives dispatched to an incident ... even with $50,000 we could go through that rather quickly,” he said.

Also on Tuesday, the supervisors will consider approving a 5 percent pay increase in compensation for the person hired as the next medical director for the county’s Psychiatric Health Facility.

The medical director position was created in 2011 in order to comply with federal rules, and an additional $14,000 will go for the position next year. The facility falls under the purview of the beleaguered Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services Department, which is undergoing an independent audit.

Newly elected Supervisor Peter Adam also has put forward an item for Tuesday’s meeting, calling on the supervisors to look at repairing the county’s $300 million infrastructure maintenance backlog.

Adam is asking the board to ask staff to return with a plan to pay down the deferred maintenance liability in installments over the next 15 years. Staff would be tasked with proposing service level reductions in other areas to pay for the repairs.

“It’s about getting to the mission of county government,” Adam said in a statement released last week. “We have an investment in these assets — roads, buildings and parks — and we cannot sit back and ignore them as they fall into a state of disrepair.”

The controversial “special event” ordinance will also be up for discussion Tuesday.

The ordinance deals with events held on residential and agricultural properties, including vineyards, in the unincorporated areas of the county for both commercial and nonprofit events.

The county’s system surrounding special events is complicated, and allows charitable events, such as fundraisers for nonprofit organizations, to be exempt from permits as long as they meet certain guidelines. Commercial events require a conditional-use permit at all times.

County planners say residents have complained they couldn’t hold events because the rules were too complicated to understand.

Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in the fourth-floor Board Room of the County Administration Building at 105 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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