As Mayor, we faced historic challenges head-on and have built a more robust, resilient, and equitable community out of it. During my first term, I achieved results on the big issues facing Santa Barbara.
– Mayor Cathy Murillo
In order for Santa Barbara to continue to be a vibrant, diverse, and special place to live, work, and raise a family – we need to make it possible for working people, not just the wealthy, to live here. We have long struggled with some of the most expensive housing in the region. In the past decade, that problem has only gotten worse.
Bringing more affordable housing to Santa Barbara has been my top priority. As Mayor, I have taken a comprehensive approach to address our housing crisis by building new housing and protecting renters while also preserving the character and quality of life in our neighborhoods. During my term as Mayor, the City has:
- Built, approved, and planned more new affordable housing for low and middle-income families than any other Mayor in decades.
- Passed a Just Cause Eviction ordinance to protect renters from unfair evictions.
- Made it easier to build “Granny Flats,” also known as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), which increase housing supply while protecting against traffic and parking congestion.
- Prioritized approving environmentally friendly projects near public transit and in the downtown area to revitalize the area and active unused properties.
Housing is also a regional issue. Santa Barbara can’t solve the affordability crisis alone. That is why as Mayor, I served as Chair of the Regional Affordable Housing Coalition, where I work with leaders across the Central Coast region to build more affordable housing for workers who are vital to our economy – public safety professionals, healthcare workers, service workers.
The high cost of housing, lack of mental health services, addiction, the pandemic, and years of little to no investment in solutions from the state have all contributed to the current state of homelessness. There are no easy solutions or silver bullets. Getting homelessness under control and ultimately solving it takes a comprehensive approach that will address the root causes to prevent more people from falling into homelessness while addressing what is in front of us today.
As Mayor, I have focused on increased outreach work, providing permanent and temporary housing, and supporting programs while clearing encampments and keeping our streets clean. Under my leadership, we have:
- Implemented a strategic plan that stepped up outreach services that place unhoused folks in housing and connect them with services efficiently.
- Partnered with local non-profits to expand housing capacity for hundreds of individuals each year.
- Created working groups with residents and businesses on the Waterfront, Eastside, and Downtown to address neighborhood issues ASAP.
- Dramatically increased the pace at which homeless individuals’ are helped off the street. This year alone, the City has housed over 100 homeless individuals.
- Cleared six major camps along the 101, removing tons of trash and fire hazards.
There is more to be done, but we are making progress. We can solve homelessness by respecting our unhoused neighbors’ humanity and keeping our streets and neighborhoods clean.
Our local small businesses are the backbone of our economy. When the pandemic and state-mandated shutdowns hit, the survival of many local businesses was threatened. As Mayor, I have worked hard to cut red tape and regulations, find creative solutions to keep businesses open, and do whatever possible to protect our small businesses and the thousands they employ every day by:
- Spearheading the creation of the State Street Promenade – closing a section of State Street to vehicle traffic to provide outdoor dining and shopping space for businesses.
- Creating the COVID-19 Business Advisory Board suspended regulations and fees and passed protections to keep business afloat.
- Distributing rental assistance and small business assistance funds to get our economy through the pandemic.
Throughout my term as Mayor, I have made protecting and investing in our libraries, parks, and youth programs a top priority. Thousands of seniors, youth, and families rely on these public spaces and are part of what makes Santa Barbara a great city.
- Protected funding for libraries and expanded hours. Under my watch, libraries opened on Mondays for the first time since the 2008 recession.
- Secured funding for a new Children’s Library at the Central Branch and renovations to the Eastside Library.
- Helped bring a new Teen Space to the Central Library.
- Invested city funds to expand entertainment, fitness, and family programming at the village center.