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South Coast Cities share goals and challenges in 2024 and beyond

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce welcomed the leaders of Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria to share their goals and challenges going forward.  

The annual meeting of the State of the City luncheon was held at the Hilton Beachfront Resort.

South Coast Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Kristen Miller said, "the city lines may not impact our business so much so seeing them speak to each other as well as us is a  once a year phenomenon. Only once a year do we get them thinking about us all in a region."

The chamber said it is a convergence of vision, leadership, and collaboration that is critical for the future success of our local economy and community at large. 

Speakers included Mayors and City leaders of Goleta, Santa Barbara, and Carpinteria.

Attendees heard presentations from City of Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte, City of Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse, and City of Carpinteria Mayor Al Clark. 

These presentations covered business growth and sustainability, economic development, infrastructure improvements, public safety, and community services.

City managers also sat in a session to talk about issues ranging from budget constraints from the state government to hiring and retention efforts.

Assistant Santa Barbara City Administrator Rene Eyerly said, "we are looking at around a seven million dollar deficit." She said the proposed budget will be presented at a City Council meeting in the next month. "Our revenue is not growing fast enough um to meet our expenses."

She said, Santa Barbara may consider going to the voters for a half cent sales tax increase.

Housing issues were high up on the list of needs and also fining a formula to get a work force that lives locally. There were some indicators about the coming years showing through about the emplyees desire to live near their jobs. Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte said, "more and more people want to live and work here and businesses want to expand here. "

Carpinteria Mayor Al Clark said, even with challenges there are many aspects of living and visiting the region that draw people in. "The golden sun on our golden bodies and gold in the tills of hotels restaurants and bars and in our tax coffers," he said.

Housing plans by all three cities are in the works to meet the needs and state requirements.

Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse said, "on Milpas and Carrillo from Paseo Nuevo to La Cumbre there are some truely transformative  projects  coming our way in the near future that will involve a lot of additional residential units."

Civic and community leaders filled the room of about of about 350 attendees.

Goleta City Manager Robert Nisbet said transient occupancy taxes are flat. "When I looked at the trend for  hotel tax two years in a row it actually was going down.   When I looked at the ten year year trend for Goleta that had never happened."

The costs of supplies has hit hard including what the bill is to pave roads.  In Carpinteria, waiting for prices to drop didn't work. Carpinteria City Manager Michael Ramirez said "we tried that twice, if anybody else in here tried it you know how well that went. You ended up getting less and paying more."

 In a room full of business leaders and government decision makers, the shared challenges were across the board. Miller said, "cities are evidentially seeing the same economic uncertainly businesses are so our concern is in order to make things better for the cities can we make things better for businesses."

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
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John Palminteri

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