In what appears to be his first public campaign appearance since throwing his hat into the ring in the race for the Santa Barbara mayor’s job, retired Deckers Brands CEO Angel Martinez is set to meet and greet at a free community event from 6:30 to 8 p.m. July 25 at Impact Hub, 1117 State St.
The Cuban-born Martinez has continued his philanthropy since retiring. Prior to Deckers, he worked as an executive at Nike and Reebok. He has purchased a great deal of Deckers stock in recent years.
Although Martinez has never held public elected office, is running against two-term City Council members Cathy Murillo, Bendy White and Frank Hotchkiss and former mayor Hal Conklin.
In a Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce survey, Martinez said the problems on State Street prompted him to run for mayor.
“Downtown State Street is in on the verge of collapse as a viable, sustainable retail artery,” Martinez said.” Looking at the street as a 10-block long shopping mall, from Gutierrez to Sola, every block has vacant storefronts (48 in total), rundown and unkempt facades, a generally poor mix of retail products and services, aggressive panhandling and transient vagrancy.”
Martinez addressed another key city issue. “It is clear that our city faces a housing crisis,” he said. “Workforce housing is unavailable and unaffordable, even for residents earning close to $100,000 a year. In my experience at Deckers Brands, our No. 1 recruiting problem was the cost and availability of housing.”
He also said, “We never had to convince anyone about the beauty of our city, the environment, or the lifestyle. The deal breaker was always housing, especially when it meant leaving a 5,000-square-foot home on two acres in Michigan in exchange for 1,500 square feet and a tiny yard in San Roque or on the Mesa.
And on the proposed city sales tax increase, Martinez said, “Clearly, with over $300 million in unallocated infrastructure expenses projected over the next 10 years, and no identifiable revenue streams earmarked to address this need, the city is backed into a corner.”
He said his main concern with the proposed tax increase is that there is no guarantee that those funds will be used for building a new police station for example.
Martinez said he would prefer a bond, one that expressly outlines where the money is going.