The Santa Barbara City Council voted unanimously to oppose the expansion and continuation of offshore drilling facilities along the Santa Barbara coastline Tuesday, and to endorse the creation of a solar power energy project for city-owned buildings.
Council member Das Williams said the council voted to publicly support the termination of 36 offshore oil company leases and passed a $200,000 plan to develop a demonstrational solar energy project at Fire Station Number 2 in Santa Barbara. At the council meeting, held 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon at City Hall, the council also approved a plan that would require city officials to consider installing solar panels on all city buildings that require roof replacement or repair. A proposal to expand Santa Barbara Airport gates 8 and 9, which currently house SkyWest’s baggage holding area, was also given the green light at the meeting.
City Council member Iya Falcone introduced the measure calling for the opposition of further leasing of offshore oil platforms. Council member Helene Schneider said she and all the other council members strongly supported Falcone’s resolution and said city employees will now begin to develop the council’s plan for ending such drilling.
“We voted to direct staff to begin developing our platform to oppose any extension of oil development off our coast and oppose the extension of new leases,” Schneider said. “All of us were pretty adamant that the City of Santa Barbara should take a strong position to oppose any further drilling off our coast.”
Williams said the council will also draft a letter to the state government, voicing its strong opposition to offshore oil development, which he said will call for the termination of 36 oil platform leases.
“We just can’t meet the demand for oil here in the United States and drilling off the coast of California will not address that demand,” Williams said. “If you’re addicted to a drug, it doesn’t help to switch dealers.”
Williams said the majority of the City Council was also in favor of passing the solar power plan, but said some council members were worried about the costs of installing solar panels on city buildings. The solar plan calls for the construction of a solar electronic demonstration project estimated to provide Fire Station Number Two, located at 819 Cacique St. in Santa Barbara, with the 20 kilowatts of energy it needs to maintain its regular operations.
Mayor Pro Tempore Roger Horton said he felt the environmentally friendly project was worth its estimated $200,000 cost to the city.
“It’s a big deal,” Horton said. “It’s a major step for the city in solar energy policies. I couldn’t be more supportive of alternative energy.”
Williams said the fire station is just a piece of the city’s new solar power policy, and he said the city also plans to demonstrate the value of solar energy panels by installing them on the roof of the Santa Barbara Public Library, once city officials determine the roof needs to be replaced. He said the same policy will be applied to any city building which requires significant roof repair.
“We decided to look at [solar power] anytime a roof needs to be replaced – that’s a significant change,” Williams said.
Williams said he thinks the council’s denouncement of drilling and its endorsement of solar energy are both steps towards realizing its longterm goals of having a more environmentally conscious energy policy. The council made similar policy recommendations at its meeting last week, when it endorsed Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum’s decision to sign a national mayors’ treaty, therein pledging to cut back on Santa Barbara’s greenhouse gas emissions.
“Today we made a real significant step toward being energy independent and being fossil fuel-free by 2033, which is a goal of the community and the city,” Williams said. “Nothing is more important for the environment than investing in alternative energy. I’m very pleased.”
The City Council also approved a plan to expand SkyWest’s baggage holding area at the Santa Barbara Airport and contracted Cornejo Construction to execute the project, which is estimated to cost $100,000.
Santa Barbara Airport Director Karen Ramsdell said the expansion will add about 900 square feet to SkyWest’s holding area and will help the airport process more passengers, more quickly. He said the construction will have little effect on airport customers.
Construction on the airport is set to begin June 1 and end September 1, and will be paid for by the airport’s tenant rent and use fees, Ramsdell said. She said part of the goal of the expansion is to lessen some of the pressure caused by the time constraints that extra security measures place on passengers.