Meet Helene Schneider
I am Helene Schneider, and I have had the distinct honor to represent you as your Mayor. As my first term comes to an end, I ask for your assistance once more to win a second term at City Hall.
Families and businesses within the City of Santa Barbara have faced significant challenges these last four years because of the national recession. We are all just now seeing the economy slowly recover. With smart planning and responsible fiscal management, the City and its residents are now on a path towards a brighter future.
City government is smaller and more efficient. Since 2009, the City Council eliminated over 80 positions; but we did it without massive layoffs and while also keeping public safety services intact. We added sworn police officers, kept Fire Station 3 and the sobering station open, and preserved after-school activities and human services funding.
As Mayor, I've focused on setting a tone of civility at City Hall. Instead of gridlock, the City Council, with its range of political philosophies, has unanimously voted on important policy issues. They include adopting the General Plan Update and Historical Resources Element; expanding Restorative Policing; re-striping Cliff Drive; funding Milpas Street safety improvements; and balancing four budgets, each with a surplus to add to reserves.
I have also been a leader securing Rental Housing Mediation Task Force funding, and restoring library services. With the new restorative policing and restorative court programs, over 200 homeless individuals are now off the streets.
As an active member of the South Coast Task Force on Youth Gangs, I am proud that as part of these efforts, teens with probation terms and conditions have decreased by 30% since 2009. I will continue to ensure that the City work with our school districts, social service agencies and probation officials in creating safe and healthy recreational and job alternatives for teens, while also providing law enforcement with the tools they need to keep us safe.
The City must be a strong partner with the local business community. Last year, when the Redevelopment Agency was abolished by State law, our downtown parking lots were in jeopardy of being sold to the highest bidder, which could have ended the 75-minute free parking we currently enjoy and leave the lots open to much higher parking fees. I challenged the State Department of Finance on their original ruling in Sacramento and fought to keep the lots under the current partnership between the city and downtown businesses. We were successful as the State ultimately ruled in our favor.
The Funk Zone neighborhood is experiencing a business and artistic renaissance. During my first term, I hosted meetings with the local artists, business and property owners in the area to talk about how this neighborhood can reach its full potential without losing its original character. Santa Barbara's Cultural Economy is thriving, as it creates local jobs and boosts local revenues. I have ensured that the Mayor's office is in close connection with local artists and focused on what all our culinary, visual and performing arts venues have to offer for residents and visitors alike. I look forward to the community dialogue that's about to take place creating a new Arts Master Plan for the entire City.
An efficient building and permitting department is also a high priority. As Mayor, I've hosted a series of meetings with new business owners in the technology, restaurant and retail sectors to discuss how City government can help them be successful. It became clear to me that the City needs to improve its tenant improvement and permitting process so that projects that should be easy to do are completed in a timely and cost effective manner. The city also needs to update its zoning information report process so that when residents want to sell their home they can do so without extra delays or costs.
There's still more to do. My priorities this next term include fully restoring and strengthening our city's rainy day reserves; increasing safe recreational opportunities for teens; continuing to decrease homelessness throughout the County; identifying funding sources for needed road repair and other significant capital improvements; fully implementing the General Plan with updated land use policies; and continuing to protect and promote our incredible natural resources.
Please join community leaders, ranging from Congresswoman Lois Capps to Sheriff Bill Brown, in supporting my re-election. I hope I have earned your support for a second term as Santa Barbara Mayor. I respectfully ask for your vote.