City Official Who Was Called ‘Not Friendly to Business’ to Quit

Santa Barbara city Community Development Director George Buell announced June 18 he will leave his post next month after a critical 2020 grand jury report on his department and almost a year after a private consultant said he was “not friendly to business.”

After the city-hired consultant made that pointed claim, an undeterred Buell responded by saying his department was revamping its “work force flow” and trying to get back sooner to business permit applicants.
He claimed he was seeking “efficiency and excellence.”

Buell apparently has done little to improve the situation, except to help bring on board a financial czar from Santa Monica who joined the city staff in the midst of the pandemic economic crisis.

After joining the city department in 2014, Buell has been under fire for slowing many building or renovation projects around the city. That caused many costly delays and prompted some businesses to look elsewhere to set up shop, despite the many empty spaces along State Street.

A growing number of business leaders have called for Buell’s ouster and that of his boss, City Administrator Paul Casey, for doing little to help the economic crisis.

Top city staff has been losing support from the somewhat divided city council who must rely on Casey to hire and fire department heads. While some members are relatively new to the council and have only worked with staff a short time, the mayor has served two terms as a council member and nearly four years as mayor. She usually has mostly favored city staff’s actions.

Posted June 18, 2020.

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