State of the City is a Mixed Bag of News

1stateThe March 24 State of the City presentation was a mixed bag of good indicators and not so good trends in Santa Barbara.

The best news was City Administrator Paul Casey’s comments that 31 cruise ships will visit Santa Barbara Harbor this year and bring some $450,000 in revenue. Casey also told several hundred people at Fess Parker’s Hotel & Resort on Thursday that the city’s bed tax has risen about 10 percent each year since the recession ended.

Mayor Helene Schneider touted the community service officers who patrol State Street where abusive panhandlers pose a threat to businesses by driving away potential customers. CSOs are non-sworn police department employees who help police move along vagrants.

The other side of the coin is that the police department is short about 10 sworn officers and has an interim police chief while search is under way for a new one, the mayor said. She also said gang violence is down despite the sworn officer shortage.

Schneider said the city is faced with a infrastructure problem because many old utility pipes must be replaced. That’s just one example of the many public works projects the city is going to have to deal with in the next few years.

The mayor pointed to the progress of the lower State Street project called La Entrada. After almost two decades of being the most derelict section of State Street, the area should start to look much better by the end of the year and into 2017.