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Council Candidate Michael Self Advocates Planning, Fiscal Responsibility

The Santa Barbara Safe Streets founder says she would bring a real-world view to city government

As the most visible face of the nonprofit Santa Barbara Safe Streets, founder Michael Self has announced she’ll be running for one of four possible City Council seats in November.

Self founded Santa Barbara Safe Streets in 2006, which recently spent $5,000 to conduct its own traffic study of a dispute intersection at State and De La Vina streets when city staff proposed the intersection be reconfigured to slow down traffic.

Michael Self
Michael Self (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

“Certified traffic engineers found that it would congest traffic in that area,” she said. “We can demonstrate how things would have been made less safe if that plan had gone through.”

Because the project would have cost nearly $1 million of state funds and highlighted tensions between some of the community’s cyclists and drivers who travel the route, public comment on the issue was heated.

City planners told the council that the project would be funded with federal grants and city money designated for street improvements, but that answer doesn’t fly with Self. “I don’t care if it’s city, state or federal money, it’s all getting pulled out of our pockets,” she said, adding that she’s still getting letters in protest of the project.

Self argues that traffic measures have actually made the city less safe for pedestrians and cyclists, and said she no longer rides her bike in the streets because they’re too busy.

“The planners are in a bubble that they don’t peek out of to see how the real world works,” she said.

Self said transportation planning should not be punitive to working people, or come at the cost of hindering emergency routes and evacuation. “Free-flowing streets are a benefit to this community,” she said.

Self is also touting her business background during her council campaign. She started a cleaning and decorating business, and later worked as the chief financial officer of her husband’s electrical business, John Self Electric, and retired from another position as a national representative for a luxury eyewear company in 2001.

She said she would use a council seat to streamline and lose the frills in the city’s coffers. She said she’d also like to see a freeze on current wages and new hires, other than for public safety, until the city can financially stabilize. “They have no business sense,” she said of the current City Council.

Self said she can be an advocate for the community and feels a responsibility to run for the seat, and she has been holding community meetings to gauge what issues are important to Santa Barbara residents.

In addition to her work with Safe Streets, she’s also a member of the League of Women Voters and is active in the Samarkand Neighborhood Association and the Native Daughters of the Golden West, and the Pearl Chase Society’s Preservation Committee.

In addition to her emphasis on planning and fiscal responsibility, Self said she wants to emphasize public safety, especially enforcement. Quelling gang activity and aggressive panhandling rank high on her list.

When asked about the public workshops the city is hosting for input about affordable housing and density, Self was skeptical of putting a large number of units with fewer parking spaces so people could utilize public transportation.

“I think that it’s wishful thinking,” she said. “Everything has a capacity. Putting too many things in our city will not enhance it.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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