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2012 Santa Barbara County Supervisor Q&A with Salud Carbajal

[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 1st District. In response to Noozhawk’s questionnaire, challenger Carole Lieff announced she was dropping out of the race. 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?

Salud Carbajal
Salud Carbajal

SALUD CARBAJAL: There are opportunities in addition to challenges with this change. The elimination of redevelopment agencies will give the county and local school districts more resources to provide health care, mental health services, housing programs, public safety services and education programs that there are currently not resources for because dollars have been siphoned to redevelopment agencies. The county’s General Fund contributes $8 million in property taxes to local redevelopment agencies, and the county Fire District contributes more than $1 million. State law outlines how the transition away from redevelopment agencies takes place and the county is working with all stakeholders on this process. I am also committed to working to find new ways of promoting regional economic development.

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?

SC: The revenue-neutrality agreement with Goleta was approved by voters and is focused on ensuring the long-term fiscal health of the county and the City of Goleta. I have supported working with the city to make modifications to the agreement in the past and will continue to be open to dialogue regarding any changes as long as the county’s ability to provide services is not negatively impacted.

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?

SC: This is one of many revenue sources that need to be explored. The transient-occupancy tax in the county is currently 2 percent lower than the City of Santa Barbara’s bed tax. I believe it is important to give the voters an opportunity to decide whether they support increasing this tax on out-of-town visitors to help fund essential services.

                        |  2012 June Primary Coverage |  Complete Series Index  |

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?

SC: Oil and gas development already exists in our county and it is important that we ensure it is done in as safe a manner as possible. Any proposals for new oil and gas development need to receive thorough environmental review and must be analyzed in regard to risks to public health and safety and potential negative impacts to other sectors of our economy. I have stood against oil and gas drilling along Carpinteria’s coastline and voted to enact an ordinance to ensure appropriate environmental review for hydraulic fracturing.

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?

SC: More local control provides many opportunities for programs that improve public safety and decrease the number of people going to prison in the first place. We must continue to work to reduce recidivism and advocate at the state level for the necessary resources for alternative sentencing programs. I co-created and secured funding for a South Coast Gang Task Force and created a County Youth Corps program to provide training, mentorship and jobs to at-risk-youth. I am also currently working with the District Attorney’s Office to bring back a truancy program to keep kids in school and off the streets.

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

SC: Operational costs for the facility are estimated to be $17.5 million annually starting in fiscal year 2017-2018. This includes 53 additional custody deputies and 28 support positions, such as records, accounting, food services and maintenance. The Board of Supervisors agreed in fiscal year 2010-2011 to set aside $1 million for jail operations, and that amount is proposed to increase annually until the jail is constructed. It is also important that we consider additional revenue sources, including outside grants and existing county funds.

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

SC: It is important that we address the structural funding issues that exist in the Fire Department. This can be done through the Board of Supervisors approving a property tax transfer to reallocate existing resources and correct historical inequities in how property tax resources are provided to the department.

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

SC: I have worked with our employees to achieve cost savings and make significant reforms to our pension system. This includes enacting a two-tier pension system with a lower benefit formula for new employees. We have also required our employees to pay a larger share of their retirement costs. I am committed to continuing to work to make reasonable and mutually agreed upon modifications to the system. The modifications should ensure the long-term health of the system while providing the entitled retirement benefits and security that our employees have invested in through their years of service.

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?

SC: I support the governor’s proposed tax increases and feel they are the type of revenue-generating measures that are necessary to address the significant fiscal crisis that has developed at the state over the years. The revenues generated will ensure the state can play its required role in supporting critical public health, safety and education programs.

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

SC: I supported the previous plan to protect Goleta Beach that was denied by the Coastal Commission. Given that reality, I am also supportive of the current Goleta Beach 2.0 process and options that aim to pursue an environmentally sensitive approach that preserves and restores Goleta Beach and provides ample recreational opportunities.

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

SC: The county Housing Element must be continually updated to comply with state law. As we do this, we need to continue to look for appropriate opportunities to provide more housing, especially for our local workforce and lower income residents. However, this must be done while protecting the character of our existing neighborhoods and standing up to mandates from the state that don’t take into account the unique circumstances of communities like ours. The state needs to provide more options and creative tools to local governments.

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.

SC: I have not taken a position on the initiative yet and am in the process of learning more about it. I do support the goals of protecting our farmland and preventing development outside of already urbanized areas.

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?

SC: ADMHS is a department that has had a number of challenges over the years. I have supported having a third-party organization evaluate the department and look at combining it with our Public Health Department. For too long, I’ve been waiting anxiously to see significant improvements. Despite the gains we’ve made, I really feel a new paradigm is needed. I would like to see a serious analysis done for consolidation, including both the pros and cons.

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.

SC: I have not taken a position on this issue and do not know of any current proposal before the Board of Supervisors. I believe decisions regarding land use are best addressed when working with the local community to reach a consensus. However, I also think it is important to recognize the sovereign nation status of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.

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

SC: I have been very frustrated with the situation surrounding the Lompoc Housing & Community Development Corp. and believe we need greater accountability mechanisms. The county needs to be more aggressive in not giving amnesty to organizations that do not comply with timely mandatory audits.

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.

SC: This is an example of an issue that I believe is best addressed through working with all stakeholders in the comprehensive planning process. There is an effort that our Planning and Development Department will be undertaking shortly to work with the community to address this issue, and I am hopeful that it will result in an outcome suitable to all.

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

SC: The county is working hard to encourage economic development, but I believe there is always more to be done. I have supported local businesses and workers through the county’s local preference policy for procurement of goods and services and am currently working to explore ways to give preference to our local workforce on county capital projects. I also support tourism as one of the best ways to encourage economic development in Santa Barbara. I recently supported launching an effort in our Planning and Development Department to look at what can be done to encourage economic development, and the county is considering a Hotel Incentive Program to stimulate development in that sector.

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

SC: I think public health and safety is the most important issue in Isla Vista. The county should continue to partner with the Isla Vista Foot Patrol, the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District, UCSB and the Isla Vista community to continue to work toward these goals.

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.

SC: Local authorities should continue to work with the federal government on these issues. This challenge is new, so the county is currently working to develop the most collaborative and effective strategy. I am supportive of the leadership role that our Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement have taken in addressing these issues.

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

SC: I believe the county has done a good job of partnering with nonprofit agencies and local residents to protect our open spaces. Areas such as the Carpinteria Bluffs, Hot Springs Canyon, Ellwood Mesa and numerous properties on the Gaviota coast have been protected and preserved through these efforts. However, there is much work left to be done, including significant threats to development that still exist on the Gaviota coast.

We need to continue to enact long-range planning policies that protect these areas, do thorough environmental review on any projects that are proposed in these remaining open spaces, and work with all stakeholders to build partnerships and secure resources that will allow for their long-term preservation. We also need to plan for and create segments of the California Coastal Trail in our region.

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

SC: I believe Noozhawk does an excellent job of covering issues in Santa Barbara County. I would like to see more coverage of the issues and challenges associated with those living in poverty in our community.

                        |  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 First District supervisor.

» Click here for Salud Carbajal’s campaign Website, or call 805.637.6022. Connect with Salud Carbajal on Facebook. Follow Salud Carbajal on Twitter: @SaludCarbajal.

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

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