Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse breaks down 2022 — everything from Das Williams’ recent comments on planners and La Cumbre Plaza, to State Street outdoor dining and changes at City Hall.
The podcast gets off with a riveting discussion about the city’s proposed La Cumbre Plaza Specific Plan and how the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments board of directors, led by chair and former councilman Das Williams, voted against $1.1 million in state funding for a specific plan for the area.
An SBCAG committee had recommended the funding.
“I wasn’t very pleased with the way staff got treated, to be quite honest with you,” Rowse said. “What would be more transformational than putting 1,900, 2,000 units in the La Cumbre Plaza site?”
Rowse was on the losing end of the vote of the board, which includes the five members of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and a representative from each city in the county. The vote was 10-1.
Rowse said “it was a drop the mic moment.”
He joked that he went into the meeting with a “butter knife and a doily for a shield” because all the information wasn’t given to him prior to the meeting.
Watch the full interview in the YouTube broadcast below.
Williams and the other board members didn’t want the specific plan, which could take years to develop, to slow down an application that has already been submitted from the Taylor family, which would provide for nearly 700 units in the plaza parking lot facing State Street.
Rowse and Molina then pivot to talk about City Hall, and the changes since he was elected mayor last November. He said the return to in-person meetings, which coincided with his election, has made a difference.
“We’re in the same room and it does make a difference,” Rowse said. “Your meetings are way more effective. You are not wandering around talking to someone else in your office. You are up there in the public eye, no place to run and no place to hide, and I think we have been a better council for it.”
Rowse also chimes in on State Street’s outdoor dining. He said since the city closed the street to cars in the summer of 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants on a few blocks have recovered, but not retail shops.
“Are cars going to bring that back, I don’t know,” Rowse said. “But I do know a lot of retailers that will not sign a lease on a closed street.”
The mayor then talks about Ariel Calonne, new City Attorney Sarah Knecht, former Police Chief Barney Melekian, the outcome of the Community Formation Commission, and City Council morale.
And, Rowse also reveals the new career status of his son, Brian Rowse, who departed the Santa Barbara Unified School District to take a new tech job in the area.
Consider a donation to this podcast by clicking here. Subscribe to Santa Barbara Talks by clicking here. Josh Molina has been a journalist in Santa Barbara for 20 years. He also covered City Hall for the San Jose Mercury News. In addition to working as a reporter at Noozhawk, he teaches journalism at Cal State University, Northridge and Santa Barbara City College. Please subscribe to his You Tube channel for more content.