The Goleta City Council this week supported steps to help local nonprofits and residents recover from the devastating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The city will receive an additional $132,676 allocation of the Community Development Block Grant money under federal CARES Act funding to address needs created by the COVID-19 epidemic.

The CDBG funding awards are annual, and traditionally go to nonprofits serving the homeless, low-income seniors and residents in Goleta.

The City Council approved the city using the new additional money to provide Goleta-specific assistance to nonprofits and people affected by the pandemic.

The funding will be distributed through a partnership with the established joint response led by the Santa Barbara Foundation, Hutton Parker Foundation and United Way of Santa Barbara County, with no money for administration costs. 

City leaders said the partnership will allow for quick assistance to nonprofits serving the community and residents facing hardship due to COVID-19, requiring an application for assistance, preventing duplication of support, and encouraging a regional approach. 

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve an agreement between Goleta and the Santa Barbara Foundation to fund the joint COVID-19 “Response Grant Program” through a one-time grant of $90,000 and the United Way of Santa Barbara County through a one-time grant of more than $42,600.

Goleta staff offered proposals to partner with other organizations — the Goleta Chamber of Commerce and Women’s Economic Ventures — to support small businesses as part of the recovery effort to help those affected by the coronavirus crisis.

The City Council members asked staff to bring the item back after discussions take place about next year’s budget projections, and proposals have been discussed with the city’s Economic Development and Revitalization Standing Committee.

Councilman Roger Aceves said the city’s Economic Development and Revitalization Standing Committee should start plans to reopen Goleta.

“If we were having this conversation in mid-late March, it would be totally different,” Aceves said. “Now I think the conversation, as far as helping the businesses, is helping them to reopen.”

Mayor Paula Perotte said she’s “impressed with the presentation and report,” but wanted more information about the financial picture of Goleta.

“I know we all want to help businesses because we believe in the businesses,” Perotte said. “Why? Because they also create jobs, and our people want to get back to work.”

Kristen Miller, president and CEO of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce, offered details about using a list of eligible businesses where grant applications would be scored by a committee of the chamber board of directors, based on standards agreed upon by the city.

Miller said the organization provided a list of 125 businesses that would be eligible if criteria are met.

“The branding on this will not be chamber of commerce,” Miller said. “It will be the city of Goleta is helping business — is sticking their neck out in a big way to provide some bridge funding during these unprecedented economic times.”

Ballot Measure to Increase Mayoral Term to Four Years

Aceves cast the dissenting vote in the 4-1 decision to approve the Goleta Public Engagement Commission’s recommendation to have a measure on the November ballot asking voters to decide whether to increase the mayor’s term of office from two years to four years. 

In November 2016, the ballot included a measure asking whether the Goleta mayor should be a directly elected position and to determine the length of the mayor’s term of office.

The majority of voters — nearly 60 percent — approved the directly elected mayor with a term of two years.

“A vote was taken, and now we are asking for reconsideration soon after the last election,” Aceves said. “The voters had an opportunity — two years, four years — they selected two years.

“I’d be uncomfortable going back to the ballot and saying, ‘We would want you to reconsider the vote you took, and now consider four years,’” he continued.

Councilman Stuart Kasdin supports a four-year mayor’s term.

“The council members are four-year terms,” Kasdin said. “There’s not a particular rationale why the mayor should be at a different cycle or a different length than council members. 

“When you have a rotten council member, you are stuck with them for four years also,” he continued. “Why you would have the mayor treated differently — it’s not clear to me.”

Mayor Pro Tempore Kyle Richards said many people told him they were confused about the 2016 ballot language.

In 2017, the seven-member Goleta Public Engagement Commission was established pursuant to a settlement agreement with the district elections committee, and a goal for the group was to explore whether the mayor’s term should be increased to four years. 

The city’s Public Engagement Commission recommends to bring it back to the voters for various reasons, including the time commitment required for a mayor’s job, personal out-of-pocket expenses, fundraising efforts and distraction from government issues required to run a campaign every two years.

The Public Engagement Commission believes a four-year term is consistent with the goal of lowering barriers for residents to run for office and will encourage more participation in local government.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.