The Lompoc City Council has a lot of unfinished business they should try to take care of following the election, hopefully with a new majority. Instead of playing Trivial Pursuit with the city staff, they should try cooperating to make Lompoc a better place to live.
A new council majority focused on making Lompoc a destination for commercial and manufacturing businesses is a must if the city is to move forward, and a mayor who has demonstrated that she has the “can do; will do” attitude that’s needed to lead the team.
As unpopular as a tax increase seemed to be, the voters passed it thinking the council would begin refurbishing the city parks, which are in bad shape; provide competitive compensation packages to attract and keep police officers and firefighters; and fix our severely deteriorated streets.
Instead, the current three-man council majority dedicated most of it for 20 years to paying down long-term debt (AKA CalPERS retirements). To date, no one has asked: “How much will be left over for improving the condition of fire/police equipment, retention and training, the parks and the roads?”
Fire Station 2 must be relocated and properly sized to serve the north end of town, and Fire Station 1 needs to be rebuilt due to seismic concerns and the current, deteriorated condition of the building; and the police station needs to be expanded to support police operations.
As the city grew, the need for these two critical functions to serve new developments has been clearly justified. A bond issue would solve the problem, but once again the current council majority adamantly refuses to support any meaningful measures for improvement.
Traffic along the H Street corridor, specifically at the intersection of H Street and Central Avenue, has become increasingly congested as new businesses have been developed.
The city has collected some traffic mitigation fees for the projects that impact this route, but it has also waived many of the more substantial fees, so nothing has been done to improve traffic flow.
Each new project has included a traffic study, each one has identified increased congestion and each one has contained a mitigation measure aimed at fixing the problem. It’s past the time to stop waiving impact fees and start implementing some of these measures instead of just placing words in an Environmental Impact Report.
Then there is the quality of life in our neighborhoods. every corner of the city, shopping carts and derelict vehicles of all types are abandoned. The carts stolen from businesses are used to ferry goods home, and more often they are used to collect recycle materials from trash cans and move them to collection points or to build homeless camps.
Fireworks can be heard year-around in every sector of the city. The council needs to rescind the use of any fireworks in the city because many people simply can’t be trusted to follow the rules.
And then they need to launch an aggressive campaign to seek out and prosecute violators of both current and any future fireworks related ordinances, state and federal laws. In the recent past, tons of these materials have found their way into Lompoc, and it’s only a matter of time before a serious mishap occurs.
Both quality-of-life issues have been discussed by the council, but the current council majority has had no desire to enforce any quality-of-life standards. Code enforcement activity hasn’t been properly funded, the owners of the shopping carts haven’t been required to maintain control over their carts, and fireworks abusers go unpunished.
The last issue is the “homeless problem.” Vagrants can be seen in all the commercial areas of town day and night. Despite a nearly $500,000 cleanup effort, they still have encampments in the riverbed, behind commercial buildings and in the hedges of public buildings.
At first it was because of poor economic conditions, but now it has become a lifestyle for people who are not motivated to conform to societal norms. Many are mentally unstable, some are drug abusers, and others have simply lost their way in life.
This issue needs the attention of the City Council working with the county of Santa Barbara.
Allowing the homeless to congregate and create encampments in the public space is a nuisance and creates unsanitary and dangerous conditions. Many fires in their secluded camps have occurred in the past couple of years which creates a tangible danger to the community.
These issues should be on the new councils’ bucket list because the current council majority didn’t have the will or means to deal effectively with any of them.
— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry. He has been following Lompoc politics since 1992, and after serving 23 years appointed to various Lompoc commissions retired from public service. The opinions expressed are his own.