Santa Barbara’s newest member to the city council has seen quite a bit in the first week, and knows he has a lot to learn. At the same time he says his solutions might get some early looks. First things first, Oscar Gutierrez is learning the ins and outs of the city. “Getting to know all of the departments, what they do and who they are, has been eye opening,” said Gutierrez who is 34 years old. “There are subjects that I am facing that I have never ever thought of but it is gratifying that I know it is for the greater good,” he said. His district is mainly the Santa Barbara Westside. It’s District 3. The area is heavily populated, it has many locally owned businesses and it’s where he has grown up. Gutierrez says many stores are open and not failing like other parts of the town because residents have supported them for years and the location is convenient for those without cars. Gutierrez has a big list of questions. Some that might be long overdue. “It’s interesting when I ask the questions and every now and then their eyes open and they go “I didn’t think of that” so, it’s all about perspective. I spending a lot of time researching what these words are (in documents) and how they are used properly. When I am talking to my friends, I talk to them like we are sitting in their living room or a bar where I have to give them a two second pitch” Walking in the heart of the city, Gutierrez sees opportunities where others see empty storefronts. As a young boy, he stayed in his neighborhood except for rare trips downtown. “When I was a kid I would be so excited going to State Street. It was such a treat,” he said. Every few steps he sees a possible solution and even wonders why there’s no plan. “Look at this pathway here (Storke Placita.) During Fiesta they have shops and stuff but why don’t they do it at least one weekend out of the month a little mercado here, a public market or even the plaza . De la Guerra plaza it goes unused,” said Gutierrez. There are many bright minds ready to help revitalize Santa Barbara from all neighborhoods if given the chance he has been offered. Something he heard at a recent public meeting. “Don’t demean these people. You need to encourage them because they could save us.” Gutierrez says the younger residents look to him as an example of how they can have a stronger say in their future. “Now all of a sudden they are caring, because I am involved and they know someone who is involved,” said Gutierrez. “There is a disconnect between the generations and the younger people and their government.” It’s something Gutierrez wants to fix. From some of the areas suffering setbacks Gutierrez has hope saying, “if you flood it with positivity you chase out the negativity”
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