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Meagan Harmon

Santa Barbara City Council District 6 Candidate Meagan Harmon
KEYT
Santa Barbara City Council District 6 Candidate Meagan Harmon
Candidate Name
 Meagan Harmon
Position Sought
 Santa Barbara City Council - District 6
Website
 www.meaganharmon.org
Facebook
 https://www.facebook.com/meaganharmonsb
Other Social Media
 Instagram: @meaganharmonsb
Twitter: @meaganharmonsb
Why are you running for office?:
 I am running for the 6th District to continue my work on behalf of working families and all of Santa Barbara’s residents and businesses. Since joining the Santa Barbara City Council in 2019, I have had the opportunity to work on a number of measures to make our lives better: restrictions on no-fault evictions and rental assistance for tenants; opening the State Street Promenade to revitalize our downtown and help businesses and community members survive the pandemic; reducing red tape and rules that obstruct local businesses; meaningful programs to reduce homeless encampments and help our unhoused residents; increased proportions of affordable units in new housing developments; community-based solutions to ensure fair policing; and real policies to address climate change, to name a few. I particularly look forward to continued service on the State Street Advisory Committee, as we build a long-term Downtown Master Plan to ensure the revitalization of our central corridor. There is so much to be done to help our City weather the serious challenges we face, so it can continue to be an amazing place to live, work, and play.
What makes you qualified for the job?:
 Two+ years in office have been my best education for serving my community effectively. I grew up in Santa Barbara County, so I understood the basic issues, and I brought my education (Wellesley, Harvard, New York University School of Law) to the job when I started. That background was my starting point. Working successfully on a range of issues has been the best education, as I have learned what does, and doesn’t work, for our beautiful City and its diverse residents. I have learned how to navigate the bureaucratic roadblocks that had prevented us from opening State Street sooner and that continue to get in the way of our revitalization efforts. I have worked collaboratively with my colleagues on the Council to pass measures like no-fault eviction relocation assistance, rental assistance to help tenants and landlords through the pandemic; and an end to burdensome zoning reports that bogged down our realtors as well as buyers and sellers. I’ve used my background in real estate and finance law to establish programs like the one that will help our local artists with repairs to their affordable housing complex, so that we can keep them in the City and not lose them to the impossible costs of homeownership.
What are your two main priorities if you win?:
 It’s hard to name just two, with so many pressing issues facing our City! My 1st top priority is housing, because so many of us struggle with this need and it is so directly tied to homelessness, whether it be working renters trying to stay in our City, or unhoused residents living at risk in encampments. I will continue to push for creative housing solutions, especially in our downtown area, and with an emphasis on affordable housing as an essential component of new projects. This is the only way to keep our workforce local, keep cars off our freeways, and ensure quality of life for all residents regardless of their socioeconomic status. Along with that comes more effective strategies for making a permanent dent in the number of unhoused residents, by getting them into transitional housing (like the current project at the Rose Garden Inn) with the wraparound services that are necessary to keep people from returning to the streets. My 2nd top priority is to ensure the economic health of our downtown and regionally, by revitalizing the State Street corridor and supporting programs that promote local business health and reduce red tape and other obstacles to their thriving. As a member of the State Street Advisory Committee, I am prioritizing work on a Downtown Master Plan that will rebuild State Street, fold in housing, and make Santa Barbara a place that is a pleasure for residents and visitors alike.
How will you interact with other governments?:
 City Councilmembers interact regularly with other government entities, as we work collaboratively with regional city councils and county boards, as well as state agencies. In my case, I have had many opportunities to work in other government settings. Two examples include an effort with James Kyriaco of the Goleta City Council to create a a regional child care plan and increase the number of affordable child care spaces, and, second, as Governor Newsom’s appointee to the California Coastal Commission. For the former, I have worked with Councilmember Kyriaco on a needs assessment that will serve as the basis for enhancing access to child care for working families in our region – this will include everything from business subsidies and family scholarships, to reducing zoning obstacles that prevent childcare centers from operating, and more. As to the latter, the Coastal Commission appointment has been a critical opportunity for Santa Barbara to have a voice in decisions that affect us and the Central Coast, whether it be short term rentals, coastal development, recreational access, or oil and gas projects. I was honored that the Governor chose me from among many highly qualified candidates for this appointment, and am working hard to ensure that Santa Barbara has a strong voice in these decisions.
What are your plans to help overcome COVID-19?:
 It is frustrating at times that our City doesn’t have its own Public Health Department; we rely on the County to carry the responsibility of responding to a global health emergency. That said, I am proud of my work to help the City weather and recover from the COVID 19 pandemic. I was an early advocate first for the unfortunate, but necessary shutdowns and social distancing when the pandemic first hit, and then for mask requirements so that we could be safe in public settings. I led the push to open the State Street Promenade, which was a lifeline both for local restaurants and retail, as well as for residents who needed to have a safe place to feel a sense of community and not stay trapped in their homes. I have continued to push back on city regulations that have made it hard for businesses to operate in this environment, recognizing that they are already struggling and don’t need meaningless rules and bureaucracy to obstruct them.
Which two issues are most important to you?:
 It is so difficult to choose only two issues when there are so many that matter to us here in Santa Barbara. I discussed affordable housing/homelessness and economic development/revitalizing downtown above. The other two issues that are incredibly pressing are preparing for climate change, and dealing with public safety. Climate change is here, and Santa Barbara is in the crosshairs. We face inevitable sea level rise, not to mention increasing heat waves and other extreme weather events. That’s why I fought for the recently passed REACH Code that will require new residential construction to be all electric, to reduce the burning of fossil fuels and the consequent release of greenhouse gases. It’s also why I supported Santa Barbara Clean Energy, which lets our City and its residents purchase our electricity from clean, green sources at affordable rates. Public safety means focusing on housing for unhoused residents, as we reduce the fire risk that homeless encampments present, to them and to the community at large—so too are preparations that will reduce our fire exposure more generally, particularly in our wildland urban interface areas that are at particular risk, and help us combat fires. And of course we need to make sure our fire fighters and police have what they need to do their jobs and keep us safe.
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