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Goleta Council

Stuart Kasdin

Stuart Kasdin
Stuart Kasdin - Goleta City Council candidate

Goleta City Council

Website: www.stuartkasdin.com
Facebook: fb.me/stuartkasdin.for.city.council
Why are you running for office?: In 2016, I ran for office because I was upset at choices that the then-city council majority was making. They added new developments, eliminating open space, without regards to traffic, mountain views, water availability, while providing minimal amounts of affordable housing and adding no new public parks.

My goals in office were two-fold. First, to pursue a different set of priorities than the prior council, which had concentrated on new construction projects. Second was to create more effective and efficient city administration.

Once I was elected with a new majority, we established a more sustainable growth rate for the city. Second, we completed projects that had been languishing or hadn’t been started. This includes completing the Jonny D. Wallis Neighborhood Park and the Old Town Sidewalks project, making our streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. In addition, we completed the Ellwood Mesa Monarch Butterfly Habitat Management Plan, allowing the city to secure nearly $4 million in grants to restore monarch butterfly overwintering habitat. The funding also provides safe and convenient public access to the beach and ocean supports enhancements of other wildlife habitat, trail improvements, and implementation of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

I am running for re-election to continue this trend of protecting and preserving the character of our unique city.
What makes you qualified for the job?: To produce outcomes, the city must be effective in implementing its programs. I am well equipped to help achieve the goals I have set for the city, because of my experience and training. I come by this focus because of the 12 years I spent working in the federal Office of Management and Budget, the White House budget office. During this time, I worked for three Presidents. I later taught public budgeting and political science at George Washington University and Santa Barbara City College.

Because of my experience, I pushed to establish clear goals and a new process to set project priorities for us to implement Instead of a multitude of projects, in which few seemed to ever finish, we focused on a narrower list of priorities and we have been able to get a host of projects completed.

I am also public service-oriented. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador for 3 years. I worked for the Freedom from Hunger Foundation and I also was an Eagle Scout. 
What are your two main priorities if you win?: First, we need to navigate and address the impacts of the coronavirus. Because you have a different question focused on our coronavirus response, I will respond with different priorities here. But, for the next year, our operations will be defined by increased public needs and fiscal restrictions imposed by the coronavirus. There are a lot of uncertainties, so we need to be patient and careful with our funds, targeting our priorities and hesitating on less essential projects.

We are providing funding to support local businesses and continue to work cooperatively with the business community to support their evolving needs as they emerge. For example, the city has helped businesses in funding PPE and in redesigning their facilities to accommodate outdoor eating and protective barriers. Even as we are accomplishing these ends, to date, no one on city staff has been furloughed and our priority projects have all continued as a planned. We also have not yet touched any of our substantial reserve funds.

I would like to see our Creek and Watershed Master Plan implemented. The plan covers protection and restoration of our waterways. Although an action item in the General Plan, it was not acted upon by the previous council. The plan examines each of the streams running though Goleta examining the risks and opportunities to the waterways. While the General Plan only covered management and protection, we expanded the analysis to include both opportunities for restoring creeks to more natural conditions and an evaluation of Goleta’s wildlife crossings.
How will you interact with other governments?: I have good relations with the representatives from the other governments, both vertically, like the County, State Assembly and Senate, and Congress, with endorsements from Hannah-Beth Jackson and Monique Limon, as well as horizontally, such as the Goleta Water District (endorsed by Lauren Hansen and Bill Rosen) and the City of Santa Barbara (endorsed by Cathy Murillo). I can work with these representatives and we can make progress on issues that are essentially regional - transportation, housing, water, public safety, and homelessness.

Some of this work already is on-going. For example, I am our city’s representative to the South Coast Affordable Housing Task Force. This group includes representatives from all the Southern Santa Barbara local governments and the state Assembly and Senate offices, non-profit groups and others with interests in housing. The group examines issues and opportunities for expanding affordable housing.

I have previously proposed a joint committee made up of Goleta Water District (GWD) and City of Goleta. There are many issues where working together in a coordinated, cooperative fashion would be advantageous. We need to continue to take actions that anticipate and address the next drought. There may be opportunities for us to work together on water capture technologies and water conservation incentives.

A similar form of ad hoc committee would be for working to restore the City’s creeks. It may be helpful for a committee to include the GWD, as well as the county of Santa Barbara and US Forest Service, since the streams flow through the jurisdictions. Stream restoration will depend on water supplies, as well as repairing physical structure of the creek. However, water supplies especially depend on coordinating with agencies outside of the city. Thus, our success in restoring the ecosystem and bring back steelhead and other species will depend on coordinating with all these entities.
What are your plans to help overcome COVID-19?: Meeting the challenges of the coronavirus means ensuring the safety of our families and helping local businesses to recover during this difficult time. Our response started with our requirement for the public to wear masks in public places. This helps to keep the public safe and allows businesses to operate safely. In addition, we have so far appropriated $250 thousand for struggling businesses and we adjusted our zoning to make it easier for businesses to operate outdoors.

The virus will also create more challenges for the city’s budget. There will be greater challenges in addressing our priorities, given reduced revenues. However, the city has tightened its belt, just as the residents and businesses have. In the Economic Development Committee on which I serve, we are continuing our efforts, examining an array of different measures to support the recovery. I have the experience from working with budgets to help us navigate this financial storm. We have been addressing our priority projects, and we have added additional funding to cover future pension liabilities.
Which two issues are most important to you?: The first issue is in ensuring public safety and community livability. Toward this end, we completed the Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan and added priority new bike lanes, including the path near the Ellwood School, designed to keep students biking to Ellwood School physically distanced from busy traffic on Hollister Ave. We completed the Old Town sidewalk project, making the area safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, at the same time ADDING more parking spaces. We are beginning construction on the fire station in West Goleta. We also completed homelessness strategic plan draft that will direct funding to the following priorities: Increased access to critical services; reduced impacts on the community; homelessness prevention; and increasing housing opportunities. Finally, want to see us put more resources into pavement repair. I have some plans that can help us to fund increased pavement projects.

Second, while maintaining community character and environmental protection, we need to address housing affordability for the community workforce. Part of the reason for this comes from state mandates, but there is also reflects an affordability crisis for many. This means creating new tools and programs and dedicating resources to increase affordable housing. For example, we voted both to enable residents to add accessory dwelling units (“granny flats”) on their homes and to require that any new housing must now include 20 percent affordable units. It also means that we add new park space to ensure that we aren’t over-stressing our resources. The city completed the Parks and Recreation Master Plan and it is currently guiding the expansion and redesign of the Los Armitos park, and guiding the city toward new park enhancements and expansions.
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