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Stuart Kasdin, Kyle Richards Vow to Slow Growth as New Goleta City Council Members

Newcomers, to be sworn in Dec. 6, say they’ll put brakes on development with more ‘assertive’ project reviews

Kyle Richards, left, and Stuart Kasdin, elected to the Goleta City Council on Nov. 8, will be sworn in Dec. 6. The two men, who endorsed each other in the election, cite growth and development as the city’s most pressing issue. Click to view larger
Kyle Richards, left, and Stuart Kasdin, elected to the Goleta City Council on Nov. 8, will be sworn in Dec. 6. The two men, who endorsed each other in the election, cite growth and development as the city’s most pressing issue. (J.C. Corliss / Noozhawk file photo)

Goleta City Council newcomers Stuart Kasdin and Kyle Richards are pledging to push for a future in which development doesn’t further erode the quality of life in the city, and to implement the services residents expect, such as water, public safety, libraries and road capacity.

When they are sworn in on Dec. 6, Kasdin and Richards will replace Mayor Jim Farr, who did not seek re-election, and Councilman Tony Vallejo, who ran unsuccessfully for the seat he was appointed to fill in 2013.

Kasdin and Richards won the two open seats in a five-candidate field in the Nov. 8 election, ahead of Vallejo and candidates Dave Haws and Aaron Swaney.

The race was the first contested election in Goleta since 2010.

Kasdin, a public finance professor, worked in the White House Office of Management and Budget during the 1990s.

Richards, 46, is a policy analyst at UC Santa Barbara and a Goleta Parks and Recreation Commission member.

The two men endorsed each other for the City Council just before the election.

Richards said in a statement that both new members are committed to returning to the vision in Goleta’s General Plan, protecting Goleta’s neighborhoods and resources.

“We both have similar ideas with development that has occurred, a common interest in protecting the environment and slowing the rate of growth,” Kasdin said. “The city has the authority to say ‘no,’ and it has to be more assertive about responding to projects.”

In November, the city released a cumulative projects list of major discretionary projects that are either pending, approved or currently under construction.

More than 10 residential, agriculture, commercial or industrial projects are still pending, according to the list.

Richards said he would like to see the city explore a possible growth management ordinance.

“This isn’t going to be an easy solution, and there’re many factors to consider,” he said. “My top goal is to manage Goleta’s rapid growth carefully. We have been experiencing a huge boom in growth. After meeting people in the community, I’ve heard their concerns about growth.”

With California entering its sixth year of drought, Kasdin said the city needs to have better communication with the Goleta Water District.

He suggested the formation of an ad hoc committee.

“It’s been an issue,” Kasdin said. “We are both responsible, and we need to talk to the water district on a regular basis. We all have a role and need to communicate, do our job, and it’s important to understand if opportunities come to do something better by communicating — let’s do that.”

Richards also said he plans to be thoughtful when he appoints people to other commissions, such as the Planning Commission or the Design Review Board.

“These are people who have the first look at the projects the city reviews,” he said. “People on the commission need to be knowledgeable about the General Plan and we need people who honor the different parts.”

Richards said the national election had provoked deep feelings of anger, fear and hopelessness in many people. He urged people to find ways to take action locally that will counteract their despair.

“I want to make sure all residents are supported and protected from any unfair national policies that are targeting them,” he said.

“I would do everything I can to make sure our residents are participants, involved and engaged in a local way that they feel like they don’t have to be in hiding.”

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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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