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2012 Santa Barbara County Supervisor Q&A with Steve Pappas

[Noozhawk’s note: One in a series of questionnaires with the candidates running for three seats on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors in the June 5 election. This installment is the 3rd District. Click here for the complete series index.]

NOOZHAWK What, if anything, should Santa Barbara County do to make up for the loss of funding from the state of California’s elimination of redevelopment agencies?

Steve Pappas
Steve Pappas

STEVE PAPPAS: I feel that the leaders of the county should allow the private sector/free market to take its course. I don’t feel that the county should do anything at this time.

NOOZHAWK: Given the loss of redevelopment agency funds throughout the county, should the revenue-neutrality agreement with the City of Goleta be modified? Why or why not?

SP: Given today’s financial instability at every level of government, I feel we must re-examine the commitments that were made during lucrative times. We need to be realistic as to whether we can sustain those agreements in today’s environment or not. This is a time for open and honest discussions, and a great deal of compromise, between the City of Goleta and the county.

NOOZHAWK: Several local jurisdictions are considering an increase in the transient-occupancy tax as a way to address revenue shortfalls. Should the county increase its bed tax?

SP: No. Increasing the transient-occupancy tax may discourage people from visiting our area. We need to stimulate our local economy, not burden it with more taxes.

NOOZHAWK: With gas prices at record highs and chronic budget shortfalls prevalent at all levels of government, should Santa Barbara County encourage more oil and gas development? If so, in what ways? If not, why not?

SP: Yes, if done safely. For example, we can increase the output of the “existing” wells and platforms in Santa Barbara County by five to 10 times by safely utilizing today’s technology in the drilling process. By using the high-tech measurement-while-drilling (MWD) methods, they can now monitor every step of the drilling process in real time, allowing it to be adjusted along the way, avoiding drilling errors.

                        |  2012 June Primary Coverage |  Complete Series Index  |

NOOZHAWK: Although realignment of California’s criminal justice system was imposed abruptly, it appears to have potential for real reform. How should the county’s justice system be re-created, and how would you ensure that the reforms are successful?

SP: I would need more information on the topic to formulate an opinion.

NOOZHAWK: Assuming funds can be found to build a North County jail, how will the county pay for ongoing operational costs?

SP: The savings that would be achieved by not having to transport criminals back and forth between the North County and the South Coast would go a long way toward paying the operational costs for the new North County Jail.

NOOZHAWK: What should the county be doing to address deficits in county Fire Department budgets?

SP: We need to change the retirement package for all new-hire employees from this point going forward while moving funds from nonessential services to the Fire Department. Safety for the citizens of Santa Barbara County must always be a priority.

NOOZHAWK: Do you support reforming the county’s pension system, and if so, how aggressive should that reform be? If not, why not?

SP: Yes, and we must do it now. The first step is to change the package offered to all new employees. We can no longer afford to make promises we cannot keep. For instance, gone are the days when the county can afford someone to retire at the age of 55 at 90 percent of their ending salary.

NOOZHAWK: Do you support Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed tax increases on the November ballot? What impact do you foresee if voters approve them or reject them?

SP: No. If we approve the tax increase, it will be business as usual in Sacramento and the wasteful spending will go on and on and on. If we reject the tax increase, it will force Sacramento to get serious and be accountable to the people for spending their money.

NOOZHAWK: What solution do you support to help prevent erosion at Goleta Beach County Park?

SP: I would need more information on the topic to formulate an opinion.

NOOZHAWK: What changes, if any, do you think the county should be pursuing in its Housing Element?

SP: Challenge it all together: eliminate it. The State-driven Housing Element is antiquated and severely flawed. For instance, a developer can pay an “in-lieu” fee to buy his way out of building any affordable housing at all (in exchange for a higher density re-zone), which the state claims is the main purpose of the Housing Element — to encourage affordable housing.

NOOZHAWK: Do you support the Goleta Heritage Farmlands Initiative and similar land-use measures? Is ballot-box zoning an appropriate practice or does it circumvent the established planning process? Explain.

SP: I support land use and a planning process that is in accordance with each Community Plan, not ballot-box zoning.

NOOZHAWK: How effective is the county’s current approach to issues confronted by the Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services? What changes would you like to see?

SP: I would need more information on the topic to formulate an opinion.

NOOZHAWK: Explain your views on efforts by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians to expand the tribe’s sovereign territory, especially in the noncontiguous Camp 4 area of the Santa Ynez Valley.

SP: I am opposed to it and, furthermore, I am opposed to the Band obtaining any additional county-controlled lands via the fee-to-trust process. When land is taken in to trust by the Band in this manner, it is taken off the tax roles. More important, if this happens, this land is no longer subject to local land-use and zoning regulations. This is not acceptable. They must play by the same rules that the rest of us play by.

NOOZHAWK: Does the county need to change the way it oversees agencies like the Lompoc Housing & Community Development Corporation? Why or why not?

SP: I would need more information on the topic to formulate an opinion.

NOOZHAWK: Concerns have been raised about the rapid growth of wine tasting rooms and the potential impacts on public safety. Is the county effectively managing the issue? Explain your answer.

SP: I believe the issue is not so much the growth of the wine tasting rooms but rather our driving-under-the-influence laws being enforced adequately. I will always encourage the Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol to protect our community to the fullest extent by monitoring the drivers on our roads to ensure our safety.

NOOZHAWK: What role should the county play in economic development? Is the county doing too much, too little, or the right amount?

SP: The county is doing far too little to aid in economic development. Our county leaders must develop a more business-friendly environment. The current polices are strangling the business community. For instance, just a few months ago, the county came to downtown Los Olivos and wrote more than 70 citations for business-owner sign violations, in many cases for signs that had been up for over 10 years. Moreover, there was no first warning and the citations came with fines. This kind of harassment by the county must stop.

NOOZHAWK: What is the major public issue in Isla Vista and how should the county be addressing it?

SP: Affordable and quality (clean and safe) housing for the students. The county needs to work intimately with both the UCSB administration and property owners “together.”

NOOZHAWK: Panga boats favored by smugglers have been found abandoned with increasing frequency and marijuana eradication requires considerable annual resources. Are our shores and backcountry safe? Is the county’s approach to these problems sufficient? With respect to smuggling from offshore, are you satisfied with the federal government’s response? Explain.

SP: I would need more information on the topic to formulate an opinion.

NOOZHAWK: Rate the county’s management of issues relating to the preservation of open space. What definitive steps should it be taking?

SP: The county is not in charge of open space; the ranchers and agricultural communities are in charge of it. We must fully support our ranchers to make sure that they stay in business and remain viable. If they stay in business, then the open space (the beautiful ranches) will remain for all of us to enjoy.

NOOZHAWK: What county government issue should Noozhawk cover more thoroughly?

SP: Transparency in educating and communicating with the public.

                        |  2012 June Primary Coverage |  Complete Series Index  |

Additional Resources

» Click here for the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund’s Touring with the Candidates videos for Third District supervisor.

» Click here for Steve Pappas’ campaign Website, or call 805.705.5236. Connect with Steve Pappas on Facebook.

» Click here for more information on Santa Barbara County’s June 5 election.

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