Citizens Planning Association is a nonprofit grassroots organization that has focused on countywide land use issues for more than 55 years. We advocate for the best standards of design and natural resource protection in order to maintain sustainable communities and protect the heritage of Santa Barbara County. Thank you for this opportunity to make suggestions for criteria in the selection of our next County Planning Director.
The Director should be someone who has experience working with diverse community groups and in a jurisdiction with active community involvement. We need someone who will be open to transparency and community input, since Santa Barbara has an actively involved community with divergent ideas and beliefs. Also, the candidate needs to be aware of the differences between the North County and South County and will need to work to bring these diverse constituencies together for the betterment of the whole county.
The best candidate should be able to identify two or three of the most important issues P&D may deal with the next three to five years.
The best candidate should have a solid understanding and experience with CEQA. In Santa Barbara County, residents respect and appreciate CEQA and other environmental and land use laws.
The best candidate should also be very familiar with Coastal Commission/Coastal Zone issues/projects and its politics. We need someone who has worked previously in high fire areas and in an area with housing challenges, especially in terms of affordability. We need a leader who will deal effectively with oil and gas issues, climate change, and sea level rise concerns.
Santa Barbara needs a team player who is good at working with and motivating others and who will be good at fostering positive morale and professional growth for staff within the department.
Finally, our new Planning Director should have good workload management skills, be able to do effective budget management, should have strong collegiality skills with other department and agency heads, and should have good recruiting/training skills.
In closing, both the current Acting and the past Planning Director possess qualities that made for a productive, well-run department. They presented themselves in a very professional manner and exhibited a passion for land use policy and our County.
Mary Ellen Brooks and Betsy Cramer
Citizens Planning Association
916 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101