Pixel Tracker

Thursday, February 21 , 2019, 7:17 pm | Partly Cloudy 49º


Santa Barbara May Use Community Development Block Grants for Infrastructure

Amid increasing budget pressures, officials look to take care of city's own street maintenance and sidewalk in-fill needs first

The Santa Barbara City Council is again accepting applications for Community Development Block Grant funding, but the loss of the city’s Redevelopment Agency and underfunded infrastructure may cause officials to give priority to the municipality’s own capital projects in the future.

Each year, the city gets Housing and Urban Development Department funding, and allocates the Community Development Block Grant monies to human-services programs and capital projects proposed by both the city and local nonprofit organizations.

Santa Barbara allocates money from its General Fund and up to 15 percent of the CDBG money for public/human-services programs, with the rest of the CDBG money destined for “brick-and-mortar” capital projects.

At a meeting last month, council members said they would consider using more, if not all, CDBG capital funds — not public/human service funds — for municipal projects either next year or the year after.

There have been many concerns about pedestrian safety and traffic problems in the Milpas Street corridor and Eastside neighborhoods, so the council approved a Neighborhood Transportation Management Plan to pursue “quick-fix” improvements and longer-term projects.

The city already underfunds its street-maintenance and sidewalk in-fill programs, and Eastside pedestrian and traffic improvements — as highlighted in a September meeting — will probably cost at least $500,000, according to city transportation manager Browning Allen.

Community Development Block Grants could be used to fund some of those improvements, if more of the capital money were allocated to city projects, Allen said in September.

Transportation staff suggested prioritizing Eastside project applications for the CDBG funding, even for the current application cycle, but that didn’t happen.

“There was no need to make changes to the application process for 2013-14,” said Elizabeth Stotts, community development programs specialist. “However, at a recent orientation workshop for CDBG/Human Service grant applications, staff did inform all prospective applicants about council’s discussion.”

“We had that policy discussion when we released the funding (in October), just before the call for applications,” Mayor Helene Schneider said.

“If we look at the Eastside for street improvements, and we’re just now embarking on a process of prioritization, it was premature to even think what we were going to apply for,” she said. “Next year it might be a whole other discussion.”

The City Council gives direction to the Community Development and Human Services Committee on priorities, and the committee processes the applications and makes recommendations for funding in the spring.

The city has contributed consistent funding to the grants over recent years, but HUD amounts have been decreasing. City leaders won’t know how much money they have to allocate for the 2013-2014 year until about March, but applications are due Dec. 14 to the city.

Funding must be used for programs that benefit low- to moderate-income people, eliminate or prevent slums or blight, or meet other local community development needs.

This year, the council approved funding for 53 public service programs, for $747,098, and 11 capital projects, for $581,521.

Of that money, $281,146 was allocated for city projects — such as MTD bus shelters, community center improvements, access ramps and the Cabrillo Ball Field storm drain repair — and the rest was given to local nonprofit organizations for their projects.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli 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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • 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.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >