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Open House brings out Santa Barbara departments and the public in De la Guerra plaza

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - In a festive setting, the City of Santa Barbara held an open house with every department represented in and around  De la Guerra plaza.

It was an informal setting to learn where tax dollars go, or to find out why something you thought would be done isn't getting the services you need. You could also hand out some compliments.

The event was family friendly, and even some kids got into it, for example, with a firefighting demonstration and props.

Santa Barbara City Fire Specialist Mike Lopez was demonstrating fire extinguishers to children using a "prop" extinguisher with water. "We're letting the kids have fun and making sure they are not afraid of anything, just have fun and work with a fire prop."

For those who are renters, as most of Santa Barbara is, they could get information about what to do in a dispute and some of the solutions in a confidential way.

Andrea Bifano, with Rental Housing Mediation said, "we explain the benefits of mediation. We act as a neutral third party, we help people work out their differences out of court and it doesn't become public record and so that's a benefit of it and there's no fee for our service."

For those who were looking to make a comment or a suggestion, the right department or staff member was likely at the Open House.

There are always people who will tell the city how things could get done more efficiently and when it comes to downtown solutions maps showed some bike riding options as part of the State Street Master Plan being discussed.

Project Planner Tim Bolton said, those illustrations show, "some initial frame work ideas on how the transportation network might work in the long term design for state."

There was a place for public input on a special board.

Tim Bolton said, "that's an idea board there so if anyone has any ideas on what they like to see in the long term, they can write it on a post it and put it up there."

Some departments aren't as well known but how they affect you is something they wanted to share.

Environmental Services Information Officer Bryan Latchford said, "I would say the biggest change the folks in Santa Barbara should know is that all of our food and different biodegradable materials it's all composted. Even though it's going into the trash. It's composted at the new facility at the Santa Barbara County resource center."

The afternoon event was in front of City Hall and featured snacks and informal conversations. DJ Darla Bea provided music throughout the event.

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community event
De la Guerra plaza
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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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