Two candidates compete to represent District 4 on Santa Barbara City Council in November, as a local developer and town planning commissioner takes on an incumbent who has struggled through a difficult first term.
District 4 covers everything from the Foothills to Eucalyptus Hill, as well as the Upper East Side and the Riviera. This area can be considered one of the wealthiest areas in the city, with an average house cost ranging from around $ 1.5 million to $ 6 million. Santa Barbara went on to run for district elections in 2015, following a lawsuit against the city that claimed general elections often allowed people in wealthier areas to run for office, leaving the voices of residents in town speechless. low income and Hispanics living in other neighborhoods. .
Kristen Sneddon began her first term on City Council in 2017 and has lived in Santa Barbara for approximately 30 years, having left Los Angeles at the age of 16. Raised by a working single mother, she attended public schools, graduated from UCSB, and became a full-time professor of environmental geology at Santa Barbara City College. She and her husband, Chris Sneddon, have three children who also attended public schools.
Sneddon first decided to run for public office when she realized that there were no elected officials with a solid scientific background on the Santa Barbara council at a time when the city was facing complex environmental problems. When she ran four years ago, she did so without the support of the Democratic Party, despite her deep ties to the neighborhoods in District 4, including her tenure as chair of the Peabody Charter School Board. She won with strong voter support, and this time the Democratic Party backed her.
Sneddon’s first term on the board has been a turbulent four-year one, with the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns of a slow government and the homeless crisis all demanding the board’s attention and action in the past two years. years. She has also been an outspoken environmental activist, putting her at odds with other council members at times.
Sneddon has been criticized by those who oppose her, including Barrett Reed, for contributing to the ‘do nothing’ culture of Town Hall, a culture that creates more obstacles to policy advancement. , often by creating excessive delays.
Sneddon admits that this culture exists within Town Hall, but does not consider it to be part of it. Creating committees to review data or solicit community input is often mistakenly seen as delaying the bureaucratic process, she said.
“Part of taking decisive action is having the data to give us boundaries. “
To understand the roots of this “slow culture,” the council hired a consultant to examine the government structure. This culminated in the Novak report, presented to council last year, which suggested a lack of strong leadership and coordination at city hall, as well as the way development plans were managed within city administration. .
While many board members felt the report had several data gaps, a committee was formed to access the report’s suggestions and gather community feedback on how to move forward. “We had the report and I formed the committee to make sure action is taken and action is taken,” Sneddon said.
Sheila Lodge, town planning commissioner and former mayor of Santa Barbara, supported Sneddon, saying, “Kristen is thoughtful, does her homework and is an effective member of council.”
Homelessness has been a constant problem in Santa Barbara, made worse by the COVID pandemic, mass unemployment, and landlords illegally evicting tenants who have suffered lost wages.
The relationship between the city and its homeless population has not always been positive, but Sneddon said she hopes to provide some form of housing, such as a recent program at the Rose Garden Inn for those living in the street and in camps, is the first step towards creating a permanent supportive housing community.
Sneddon argued that having a place for the homeless actually allows the city to enforce its ordinances more conveniently. “The real answer is to have shelter and allow people to get the help they need,” she said.
Loy Beardsmore, a resident of Eucalyptus Hill and president of the Eucalyptus Hill Association, said she was disappointed with Sneddon’s leadership and felt that she had not given the district the same attention as the rest of the city. “We need a candidate who will not be distracted by issues that are not in District 4,” Beardsmore said. “She seems more concerned about climate change.”
Sneddon was supported by the Santa Barbara Democratic Party, the Santa Barbara County Democratic Women, the Santa Barbara Young Democrats, and the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee, as well as the Santa Barbara City Firefighters Association. Barbara and officials such as Congressman Salud Carbajal, state senator. Monique Limón and Assembly Member Steve Bennett.
As of September 18 of this year, Sneddon had raised approximately $ 94,000 in donations for the campaign.
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Barrett Reed is a local “renovator,” as he calls him, taking the place of incumbent Sneddon, and he has said he aims to be a more decisive voice in a difficult time for the city.
Reed grew up in Santa Barbara, attended elementary school there, and graduated from USC. He bought a house in Eucalyptus Hill about five years ago and has lived there with his wife, Caitlin Reed, and their child for three years. Reed was appointed to the Planning Commission in 2019. He said that at first he felt hypersensitive to his relationships with many business owners due to his role as a developer, but he no longer feels the need to withdraw from decisions, unless he has done so. a direct financial link with a company.
His detractors, however, say he still benefits from the passage of ordinances that affect every business in the city. Lodge, who sits with Barrett on the planning committee, said: “He seems, in terms of his vote, to be more concerned with letting the developers do what they want.”
One of those companies is the Miramar Group, a real estate company he co-founded that owns many redeveloped properties across the city. Many have been redeveloped into long vacant storefronts and have creative layouts that often include multiple businesses in one location. Some of these include the Waterline Bar in the Funk Zone and Kim’s Service Department in the Lower State. Thanks to his ties to development, Reed has a strong following among real estate companies and landowners.
Reed had never intended to get involved in politics, he said, until he moved to Eucalyptus Hill and inquired about his fire preparedness. “Until then, I hadn’t given much thought to emergency preparedness,” Reed said.
Although the Eucalyptus Hill Association does not endorse the nominees, its president, Beardsmore, has helped Reed on his walks through the neighborhoods of District 4. “Barrett will create clean, safe and vibrant neighborhoods,” Beardsmore said. “I have the impression that he is motivated and able to weigh the pros and cons.
One of the issues Reed would bring to council is the laborious process of approving development proposals and permits. Reed said that while he felt these issues were clearly clear to the board thanks to the Novak report, the recommendations are still slow to be implemented.
“The response has been to push back; more studies, more reviews, ”Reed said. “If our city hires an expert, we have to rely on him. “
Reed was part of a business advisory task force that made recommendations to council as part of the Novak report, and he said the issues discussed were being thrown up the ladder, rather than city leaders not really address them and take action.
Another issue Reed has vowed to tackle head on is homelessness, which has become harder to ignore with the protracted pandemic.
The city should make more use of its resources within the community, Reed said, and raise funds from many local philanthropists who would be ready to help. Projects like the Rose Garden Inn, he thinks, are just a quick fix that won’t bring long-term relief.
Reed is backed by Mike Jordan, District 2 representative on City Council, although Jordan has not confirmed this. Reed is also supported by the Santa Barbara Police Officers Association, the South Coast Chamber of Commerce, and the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors, as well as his fellow Planning Commissioners Roxana Bonderson and Jay Higgins.
Reed was more successful than Sneddon in his campaign donations, raising approximately $ 208,000 as of September 18.
411 | To rejoin Independent from Santa Barbara reporter Jun Starkey for a Zoom discussion with District 4 candidates on Monday, Oct. 11 at 5:30 p.m. independant.com / discussions. Don’t know what neighborhood you are in? To verify Independent.com/district-map.
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