Ten Santa Barbara City Council candidates convened for a question-answer forum Monday at the Santa Barbara Public Library to discuss their views on new development, the “funk zone” and affordable housing.
The event was co-sponsored by the Citizens Planning Foundation and the League of Women Voters, nonpartisan organizations geared toward citizen concerns. The 10 candidates discussed their positions on community development and maintenance. Candidates Brian Barnwell, Scott Burns, Babatunde Folayemi, Robert Cawley, Michael Magne, Charles Quintero, Bruce Rittenhouse, Helene Schneider, Bob Hansen and Das Williams each received two minutes to begin the forum with a brief opening statement.
Rittenhouse said his objectivity set him apart from the other candidates.
” I am free from special interest,” Rittenhouse said. “I have spent the past 20 years as an advocate and activist in the community.”
Folayemi said his focus is on under-represented people in Santa Barbara.
“My focus has always been on the people … primarily the youth,” Folayemi said. “Humanity is something that has quickly been disappearing. I seek to represent those who are voiceless.”
Each candidate was given three questions prior to the forum to answer in front of the audience. The first question dealt with the impacts of approving new developments and the candidates’ top priorities for the city.
Barnwell said he was “not in favor of densities,” regarding the development of more houses in Santa Barbara.
“I think any densities should happen in urban corridors,” Barnwell said.
Williams said each area should be addressed individually.
“What’s good for some neighborhoods isn’t good for all,” Williams said.
The second question asked candidates to offer suggestions on the area known as the “funk zone.” The funk zone is the area between Highway 101 and the railroad tracks, which is home to Santa Barbara’s artistic community.
“The funk zone holds a lot of artists. It needs to be put on a list to be tended to,” Folayemi said. “It has its own unique flavor.”
The final question asked the candidates to address their position on the planned revision of the existing Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance. This measure is designed to protect affordable housing and the character of existing neighborhoods.
Hansen said he is against the ordinance.
“Neighborhood preservation kind of scares me,” Hansen said. “It sounds like what they are going to do with I.V.”
Rittenhouse said the fate of the ordinance lies with the people of Santa Barbara.
“We didn’t need to spend $87,000 on bringing in outside consultants,” Rittenhouse said. “The experts, like you, live in the neighborhoods.”
The forum came to its conclusion after each candidate was allowed a closing statement. Williams said his youth has been spent living in and serving Santa Barbara.
“I’m 29 years old,” Williams said. “I’ve given these years to the community.”
The forum was videotaped and will be broadcast on Channel 17 closer to the Nov. 4 election date.