Pixel Tracker

Friday, March 22 , 2019, 1:57 pm | A Few Clouds 60º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara Airport Director Karen Ramsdell Retiring

After 37 years of public service, Santa Barbara Airport Director Karen Ramsdell announced that she will retire from her position on Dec. 30. She has served as director for 26 years.

Karen Ramsdell
Karen Ramsdell

Ramsdell started her career with the City of Santa Barbara in 1976 in the City Clerk’s Office and accepted a variety of challenging assignments in the following years, including positions with the city’s Redevelopment Agency and Risk Management Program.

In 1980, she moved to the Waterfront Department to become the assistant harbor director managing services to harbor users and the boating public. By 1984, she transferred to a similar position at the airport, serving as the assistant airport director and was appointed airport director in 1987.

With more than 26 years at the helm of the Santa Barbara Airport, Ramsdell is responsible for the maintenance, operations, fiscal management and long-term capital planning for the airport. She leads a staff of 54 employees and manages a $17 million operating budget.

She has provided oversight to the overall planning and development of the $55 million Airline Terminal Improvement Project, which included the construction of a new 72,000-square-foot terminal, relocation and renovation of the historic 1942 terminal, and improved roadways and parking facilities. She played a lead role in planning and construction of facilities with an emphasis on modernizing the airport’s passenger amenities and incorporating public art and historical displays.

The Airline Terminal and Rental Car Maintenance Facility recently received LEED Gold certifications for operating as high performance green buildings with model sustainability practices. Today, more than 700,000 passengers begin or end their travel at the Santa Barbara Airport.

Under her leadership, the airport made great strides in adopting an Airport Master Plan in 2003 that charted out the use, development, and preservation of 950 acres of airport property, including not only aviation uses, but the airport’s commercial/industrial property north of Hollister Avenue. Since the airport property includes 400 acres of the Goleta Slough, significant attention was given to restoring the wetlands and habitat for native species, ultimately representing the largest wetlands restoration effort on the Santa Barbara South Coast.

During her tenure as director, the airport was successful in receiving more than $109 million in Federal Aviation Administration funds for projects that improved airport safety and security for the flying public. She also helped guide the airport through recent challenges in the commercial air service industry, as many airlines reduced flights nationwide and more time was spent to promote Santa Barbara as a viable air destination.

Ramdsell has worked closely with the Santa Barbara and Goleta Valley chambers of commerce to ensure a strong connection between the airport and the local business community. She is an active member of the American Association of Airport Executives and was named the Airport Executive of the Year in 2000 by their Southwest Chapter. In 1992, she was honored as Santa Barbara County’s Outstanding Woman of the Year (for the Third District), and she has earned awards and recognition from the California Association of Airport Executives, the Santa Barbara Business and Professional Women’s Club, Tres Condados Girl Scouts Council and Soroptmist International of Goleta.

In 2011, Santa Barbara Beautiful awarded Ramsdell the Heritage Oak Award for Lifetime Achievement. She received her bachelor’s degree in history from UC Santa Barbara.

“Karen has a tremendous knowledge of our airport and its rich aviation history. With her careful oversight of the terminal improvements and general aviation facilities, she has shaped the history of the airport’s last quarter century, ensuring the facility can serve many residents well into the future,” City Administrator Jim Armstrong said. “She set a very high professional standard for airport operations and staff. I wish her all the best in the future.”

Recruitment options are being explored to fill the department head position.

— Nina Johnson is an administrative assistant for the City of Santa Barbara.

 

Support Noozhawk Today!

Our professional journalists work tirelessly to report on local news so you can be more informed and engaged in your community. This quality, local reporting is free for you to read and share, but it's not free to produce.

You count on us to deliver timely, relevant local news, 24/7. Can we count on you to invest in our newsroom and help secure its future?

We provide special member benefits to show how much we appreciate your support.

Email
I would like give...
Great! You're joining as a Red-Tailed Hawk!
  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.