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SBCC Neighborhood Task Force Presents Findings to Trustees, Santa Barbara City Council

The work of a Santa Barbara City College Neighborhood Task Force was deemed complete this week when its key players presented the final report — chock-full of more than two dozen recommendations to improve the relationship between students and long-term Mesa residents.

Now the real work of putting those suggestions into action can begin.

At the top of the list: consider adapting a version of San Luis Obispo’s noise ordinance — placing harsher, escalating fines on violators — for Santa Barbara, along with forming a similar San Luis Obispo Neighborhood Assistance Program (SNAP), which would hire students trained by local police to issue warnings to loud-noise violators, with police issuing fines on subsequent calls.

In a historic meeting Monday, the SBCC Neighborhood Task Force presented its report to SBCC’s Board of Trustees and the Santa Barbara City Council in a joint, first-of-its kind assembly.

The 18-member task force began meeting twice a month in October with the aim of making students better neighbors. Local residents are a group the college wants to keep happy, especially since the state has cut funding and left local entities with more of the burden to govern and mitigate neighborhood impacts.

SBCC President Lori Gaskin called the task force into being, and she said she was happy with the comprehensive report that came out of engaging with the community.

“This was the first time the two bodies have had a joint meeting about something that is a shared responsibility,” Gaskin said. “I felt it was an incredibly powerful process.”

As a next step, Gaskin and Santa Barbara City Administrator Paul Casey, who served on the task force, will create an implementation team to pick out recommendations that can be addressed effectively and efficiently.

She said city staff would also separately look into the possibility of implementing San Luis Obispo’s noise ordinance.

Some members of the task force could continue in the new team, Gaskin said, which should have an update on its progress in six months.

According to the task force report, stakeholders will commit to making progress on the San Luis Obispo-related noise programs by this fall, along with efforts to build stronger relationships between students and long-term residents through neighborhood meet-ups, street clean-up days and other outreach.

Other recommendations include enhanced street lighting, more stop signs and speed bumps, and better engaging of landlords.

Gaskin said she asked SBCC's legal counsel to draft an addendum landlords could attach to their leases, asking students to adhere to the college’s code of conduct or else face ramifications.

“It’s got to be sustainable outreach,” she said of the recommendations. “The city and the college share common goals. They share a common sense of what we will contribute to the community. I suspect we could have more meetings like this on issues.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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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