Santa Barbara Community Development Director George Buell announced last week that he has hired someone to help jump-start the State Street corridor.
Marck Aguilar, former redevelopment agency supervisor for the city of Santa Barbara, has been appointed acting business liaison.
He will begin working “immediately” to facilitate projects through the city’s review and permitting processes for private, non-residential development on part of State Street, and other “high-priority economic development projects throughout the city.”
“With over 20 years of service with the city in various capacities in land development, design review, permitting and capital improvement project management, Marck brings a wealth of knowledge, professionalism and skills that will serve both the city and our customers exceptionally well,” Buell said in a statement.
Aguilar will act as the central point of contact for development projects, with the goal of opening the lines of communication and offering solutions to issues or conflicting regulations, and will follow the project through to completion.
He will also facilitate communication between project applicants and city staff, and “allow for a coordinated and efficient movement of applications between departments,” according to a news release.
“This is most certainly a step in the right direction, and I’m very please that this tangible action has been taken,” said Councilwoman Meagan Harmon. “I see this as the beginning of a renewed partnership between the city and our business community. The possibilities for our downtown core really are endless when we work collaboratively.”
City Administrator Paul Casey said the position is not the same as an economic development director.
A recent $84,000 consultant’s report for how to increase activity on State Street suggested hiring an economic development director.
“I still fully intend to hire an economic development manager-director type position out of my office as outlined in the council meeting a couple of weeks ago,” Casey told Noozhawk. “This announcement is in addition to that position.”
Casey said that the position is a priority.
“But it’s months, rather than weeks, as I have to create the position, write a job description, recruit, interview, and hire,” Casey said.
The business liaison position will oversee any project that requires a building permit on State Street between Gutierrez and Sola streets; any improvement that requires a building permit and involves a hotel, large grocery store, or auto dealership; and other projects, as directed by the community development director.
Aguilar will also assist applicants in understanding the city’s requirements, which will enable them to submit complete applications and avoid possible delays; work as a liaison between city divisions, including Planning, Building and Safety, Transportation Planning, Engineering, Environmental Services, Creeks, City Attorney, and Fire Prevention, and others as needed from application submittal through permit plan check; and, facilitate communication and positive working relationships.
Acting in this capacity should significantly reduce the amount of time applicants spend going from department to department, according to a news release.