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Annual honors handed out and Santa Barbara’s future downtown plans may include new funds for improvements

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Annual honors have been handed out and the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization has also laid out some plans for the future, including new ideas for aesthetics and safety.

The breakfast meeting was held at the El Paseo Restaurant.

Honors were presented including the Harriett Miller Youth Leadership Award to Elly Cuevas, George Gerth Volunteer of the Year Award to Ron Robertson, Business Champion of the Year Award to the Workforce Development Board of Santa Barbara County, Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Ramon Velazquez and Citizen of the Year Award to Jason Yardi.

The County of Santa Barbara's Workforce Development Board (WBD) won the Business Champion of the Year. "We at WDP have a lot of funding we want to get out there to the public," said Alma Janabajab the Business Services Strategist . "It is to help the job seekers but also the businesses." They are planning job fairs on State Street and at Santa Barbara City College coming up.

The Executive Director of the Downtown Organization, Robin Elander said there is also an effort underway to see if a "Community Benefit Improvement District" (CBID) is viable. It would generate money to help with economic vitality in the area. The property owners, " elect to self assessment themselves and pay into a pool of funds and they get to direct the services exactly where they want them to go."

That district would be from Sola St. to Highway 101 and from Chapala St. to Anacapa St. The CBID will be funded through property assessments within the district. The funds would then be used for security, landscaping and other causes that will benefit the property values beyond what the city is already putting in its budget.

If the plan is voted on and passes 66 percent of funds will enhance safety, cleanliness and maintenance, 14% toward beautification, and the remainder covering administration and contingencies. This would enhance the budget for services available downtown to approximately 2 million annually.

A survey of property owners in the area of the proposed CBID has been circulating.

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downtown Santa Barbara
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John Palminteri

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