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Ron Fink: Santa Barbara County’s Legislative Priorities a South Coast Politician’s Dream World

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors recently approved (with Supervisor Peter Adam dissenting) a laundry list of legislative priorities that would make any pro government activist blush. This list would guide the supervisors as they lobby Sacramento for even more restrictive regulations.

The Legislature is full of pompous politicians who come from all over California, and this body is dominated by Democrats who take their lawmaking seriously. Their motives are far from supportive of business and agriculture, and this mood was reflected in the list that was prepared by two South Coast and very liberal supervisors, Salud Carbajal and Doreen Farr.

Liberal politicians in California and across the nation have had an ongoing effort to rid the country of fossil fuels, and one of the items on the new list reflects this county’s effort to ban oil production and transport.

As Noozhawk reported, one “new item involves oil research and infrastructure, which would promote stronger enforcement of state and local regulations over pipelines and other oil industry equipment used in the county.”

What this means is that through new rules that will require major modification of existing oil production equipment, severely restricting the number of ways oil can be extracted, and all but stopping surface and subsurface transportation, Democrats would succeed in “Getting Oil Out” of Santa Barbara County.

Of course these same Democrats use large quantities of petroleum products in their daily lives without batting an eyelash. Everything from the gas they use to propel themselves to and from environmental activist gatherings to the cell phones they use to coordinate attacks on the oil industry, they are all products of that very same industry.

Another plank in their agenda is “community sustainability,” a code phrase for providing top-end housing to those who normally couldn’t afford it. Now I don’t mind providing a warm, dry place to sleep for the poor, but take a look at recent “low-cost housing projects,” such as those surrounding the post office in Lompoc or in downtown Santa Barbara, and many of us wonder why we worked so hard to buy our own homes.

If you examine the threshold for “low income” you’ll be shocked. In 2015 in our county, the low-income level for an individual was defined as $44,950 per year! And, for a family of four, it was a whopping $64,150. These folks are eligible for low-cost housing today.

The headline on the Noozhawk article implies that the Board of Supervisors also supports economic vitality. That’s a joke; nearly every policy and program that the board has supported in recent years has had a strangling impact on business and agriculture.

Ground water discharge rules were designed to severely impact agricultural irrigation. The “hoop ordinance” was designed to put berry growers at a disadvantage since the height of the hoops they used to shade their berries was necessary to support plant growth. By limiting the height of the hoops without any effort to understand the process, South Coast supervisors tried to ruin a growing industry.

What the Board of Supervisors has done to the oil industry is especially discouraging; now they want to double down on their efforts to kill it through a legislative agenda. The oil industry, agriculture and manufacturing contribute large amounts of cash to the county’s General Fund so it is remarkable that elected leaders would want to kill the golden goose.

We will probably never rid ourselves of overzealous politicians who are ill equipped to create rules that favor the common man. To say you support economic vitality and then support legislation that kills it is both hypocritical and challenging to the ethics of the politician saying it.

I applaud Supervisor Adam for having the courage to vote against this agenda. Of the five supervisors sitting on the dais, only he had the courage of his convictions. These legislative priorities are part of our South Coast politicians’ dream world.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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