The Santa Barbara Historic Landmarks Commission is at Ground Zero of some of the city’s greatest debates.

Whether it’s housing, the future of the State Street promenade, or De la Guerra Plaza, the HLC is often at the center of the conversation about the city’s future.

“1925 devastated Santa Barbara, devastated the city,” said HLC member Keith Butler. “The good news is that it gave Santa Barbara, Pearl Chase and others, the opportunity design a new city.”

Butler in the latest episode of Santa Barbara Talks with Josh Molina explains the role of the HLC amid a rapid change in housing policy, and a State Street in limbo.

“On a personal basis and a commission basis, we are very invested in helping what we can to move the addition of housing forward in Santa Barbara,” Butler said. “How can we support the developer and the creator to try and work within what I think is the boundaries of freedom.”

Click on the YouTube link below to watch the full conversation.

YouTube video

Butler was appointed as an at-large member to the commission. He is currently the vice president of a marketing firm, Visus.

He also weighs in on De la Guerra Plaza. He said he goes to the plaza often and it is unattended, and the grass is overgrown. He supports transformation of the plaza into a European-style plaza, and removal of the grass, but has opposed the proposed water feature.

“I came out pretty hard against the bubbler, the water feature,” Butler said. “I am not sure that’s really in context of what’s required.

Butler also offers his harsh critiques of former President Donald Trump, and chimes in on artificial intelligence and how he believes ChatGPT and other AI will revolutionize the world’s economy greater than the invention of the internet.

Joshua Molina is journalist who currently writes for Noozhawk and teaches journalism at Santa Barbara City College and Cal State University, Northridge. He formerly covered politics and land use for the San Jose Mercury News. Santa Barbara Talks is an independently owned podcast where Molina looks to bring together voices from all perspectives to discuss and provide solutions to the challenges related to housing, education, transportation and other community issues. Subscribe to his podcast here and consider a contribution here.