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Patrick O’Connor

Patrick O'Connor
Carpinteria City Council – District 5 Candidate: Patrick O'Connor
Candidate Name:Patrick O'Connor
Position Sought:Carpinteria City Council – District 5
Website / Social Media:N/A
Why are you running for office?
My name is Patrick O’Connor. I am running for Carpinteria City Council. My wife, Kathleen, and I have lived in Carpinteria for nearly 9 years. Three years ago we had the privilege of becoming the owners of one of the older homes in the downtown area of District 5. My interest in serving is motivated by the history of our property, its families and those of our neighbors and community.
What makes you qualified for the job?
I work in the aerospace industry with a background in both civil and mechanical engineering.I will bring engineering discipline to hold the Council and Staff accountable for customer service with a priority on transparent and timely solutions that benefit local business owners, citizens and resident property owners.  I will bring complex problem solving experience to the Council to make the City’s decision making processes fair.      

Carpinterians deserve fair decisions, without fear or favor. 
What are your two main priorities if you win?
Overcrowding and commercial development are my two main priorities.   Thoughtful development of both residential and commercial properties is critical to preserving the fabric of Carpinteria.   District 5 is comprised of a patchwork of non-conforming zoning and building codes that are inconsistently interpreted and enforced, particularly in the downtown and immediately adjacent neighborhoods.   The proliferation of Short Term Rentals has reduced available housing and disproportionately burdened the downtown neighborhoods with overcrowding.    The City Council has not addressed overcrowding, but rather reinforced it by allowing Staff designations of legal nonconforming zoning density and building codes that are deteriorating the fabric and quality of life in Carpinteria.   

Any determination of legal precedence in zoning or planning matters should always and only be the duty of elected, resident City Council Members and, guided only by Carpinteria residents and those appointed to its Commissions and Boards.    Carpinterians should govern Carpinteria.
How will you collaborate with other governments?
The 2023 Housing Element is an important planning document requiring collaboration with the State, Coastal Commission and other Santa Barbara County communities.  The plan outlines, among many things, the State’s quantitative measure of the housing shortage in Carpinteria.  The Housing Element also suggests zoning changes and incentives to increase density.  Zoning changes are not necessary to address the problem.

There are under-utilized properties in District 5 that could be repurposed as solutions to the housing shortage rather than increasing zoning density.   I would pursue repurposing what have become drug den hotels along Carpinteria Avenue near City Hall.   There are also under-utilized complexes along the south side of the freeway, west of Casitas Pass Road.   

The Downtown Overlay is an important underlying plan that promises to provide objective design criteria to eliminate subjective interpretation by unelected, nonresident Staff.   I will hold the Council accountable to fulfill this promise and create a transparent culture to keep the public informed of, and involved in, complex development issues. 
What do you think are the two biggest issues that need to be addressed right away?
Overcrowding and commercial development are the biggest issues to address now. 

The Council made a mistake in not allowing an Advisory Vote to receive public input on the Surfliner Inn project.    Poor governance leads to legislation by initiative.   Managing the General Plan’s land use and zoning ordinances by exception through a ballot initiative is a slippery slope.   And, relying on the dysfunctional relationship between the Council and Staff as the mechanism to anticipate and resolve unintended consequences is unlikely to succeed.    
Carpinteria's  choice for the District 5 Council seat and Measure T happen together.   In any range of outcomes, I believe thoughtful development of hotel beds and second floor residential space downtown should be promoted equally.    Successful cities’ downtown districts invariably have a thriving residential presence that contributes to daily support small businesses.  Mixed use development designs with street level commercial space and second story residential space like those at Linden and 9th St and Carp Ave west of Linden should be a priority.   Another alternative is ‘hop-scotch’ development where hotel space can be spread over multiple near adjacent properties.  The Council missed these opportunities with the commitment at 700 Linden Ave. 

Maintaining Carpinteria’s residential and commercial character depends on transparent and consistent application and enforcement of existing zoning ordinances and building codes.
Article Topic Follows: General Election
Carpinteria City Council – District 5
Patrick O'Connor

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