Santa Barbara County is a wonderful place to live. Our exceptional quality of life is not an accident or merely the byproduct of our spectacular geography, coastline and climate. Orange County, with similar blessings, has developed quite differently.
Decades of diligent and thoughtful representation on the County’s Board of Supervisors, to carefully balance interests, has been key to preserving our County’s distinctive character.
I am running for Third District Supervisor because I I‘m committed to building on the significant work that has made our County a place where so many want to live, work and visit.
Protecting and enhancing our County’s special character requires a deft approach. We must not surrender to any single interest group, but must strive to balance sometimes-competing interests. We have done well in preserving the rural character of the Gaviota Coast, our inland valleys, and our small towns. But pressures are constant to exploit their charm for profit, and if we are not thoughtful, we could lose that charm. Residents, visitors and the County would be losers in that scenario.
Our residential neighborhoods and agricultural lands face increasing calls to be commercialized for the entertainment of visitors. We must protect our neighborhoods for our residents, and promote visitor services that do not compromise or threaten our enormously successful agricultural production and traditions.
We are blessed with relatively clean water, but it will take continued diligence to maintain and improve safe, economical and reliable sources of water on which families and agriculture rely. The drought is an important reminder that we have work to do to manage our water resources more intelligently in both the short and long term.
Our unemployment rate is among the lowest in the State. But as other counties have done successfully, we need to take action and capitalize on our opportunity to create better paying, “clean jobs” and promote small, local businesses. I want to build on our Valley’s renowned agriculture and wine industry, Goleta’s high tech boom and our County’s world-class educational and health-care institutions. In this way our children can find well-paying jobs without moving away, and we can preserve the County’s tax base and fiscal health.
One particular key to maintaining the County’s fiscal viability must be addressed: the attempts of the Chumash Tribal Government to annex over 1,400 acres of agricultural land, known as Camp 4, into their existing reservation and remove it and all development from the tax rolls. This would not only transform the rural character of the Santa Ynez Valley, it would have severe economic impacts to the County in perpetuity. The resulting tax revenue losses to the County are projected at $300 million dollars over just the first 50 years, then lasting forever.
The only way to balance the County’s budget would be to cut key services on which all taxpayers have a right to rely. Just some of these include public safety, road maintenance, mental health, and services for our most vulnerable–kids, seniors, and the disabled. Our schools will be hit particularly hard. The County cannot afford these perpetual costs and we cannot sentence future generations to such an ongoing burden.
I am committed to working with the Tribal Government to find mutually beneficial solutions to these issues, but annexing Camp 4 is not the way. I remain opposed to any more annexations.
Experience matters. I look forward to using my experience as a Valley leader, teacher, attorney, budget analyst, and County Planning Commissioner to continue our County’s upward trajectory as the next 3rd District Supervisor.
By Joan Hartmann – Candidate for Third District County Supervisor.