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The city will look at an a permanent Off-Leash Dog Park and Pickleball facility, as discussed at the work plan meeting on Monday. Tentative designs for a facility were drafted in 2019.

The Carpinteria City Council unanimously approved the draft of the 2023 work plan after a four-hour meeting Monday night, where members of the public urged the city to prioritize an off-leash dog park, a senior center and library renovations.  

The yearly meeting allows city staff to hear from city councilmembers and members of the public on what the city should prioritize in the coming year. City Manager Dave Durflinger reminded the public that the city’s day-to-day work – “filling potholes, fulfilling the bread-and-butter services” – is often not included in the work plan, which focuses on the larger programs and 2023 goals. 

The council also voted to reshuffle some of the listed priorities, which included bumping the senior center from a "medium" priority to a "high" one. Some highlights from the city’s 2023 work plan programs are summarized below.   

Active Adult / Senior Center

In 2023, the city will work with local community groups and service providers to look at possible locations and needs for an adult/senior center. 

Staff will look at possible interim and long-term centers, other partnerships, start-up costs and potential barriers. Any reports will then come back to the Carpinteria City Council. Work on this item is funded through the General Fund and Measure X.

Some public commenters took issue with the senior center originally listed as a “medium” priority; Assistant City Manager Michael Ramirez explained that the center was originally designated as a “medium” priority because of the ongoing work already in place, through the Ad-Hoc Senior Services Committee.

“(It’s) not because it’s not a priority, but because it’s one of our established priorities,” Ramirez said Monday. 

“We are in the process of developing a plan that includes some form of staffing (…) Our community members are looking internally to some of the assets we have in the city, to start somewhere on an interim basis sooner rather than later,” he added.

Commenter Rosalyn Kohute – who showed up previous work plan meetings and urged the city to act on a senior center – suggested city staff follow a three-pronged approach: allocate a budget; establish an immediate, temporary hub; and look at a more permanent location.

“There are people who would very much have liked to have participated who no longer can,” she said Monday.

Off-Leash Dog Park / Pickleball facility

The city will look into a permanent Off-Leash Dog Park and Pickleball facility. Parks, Recreation and Facilities Director Matt Roberts presented previously created designs for such a facility in the Lagunitas area.

The council previously established an off-leash dog park pilot program at the north end of El Carro Park, which faced equal criticism and support from community members at last week’s city council meeting. 

The city plans to develop dog park permits by September 2023, according to the work plan. Such a facility would cost the city $1 million, with funding from grants and the Park Improvement Fund.

Racial Equity & Social Justice

City staff have completed trainings by the National League of Cities Race, Equity and Leadership team (NLC REAL) and the council approved a consultant services agreement with Equity Praxis Group in Oct. 24, 2022.  

Other work includes facilitating Racial Equity & Social Justice training for core city staff, per the program description. This is an ongoing city program. Core trainings will be completed, and an action plan will be made by 2023, according to the draft of the work plan. Funding comes through Measure X.  

Advanced Planning Department

The city will look to create an Advanced Planning Division within the Community Development Department, under the department’s director Steve Goggia.

Goggia explained the division would include one principal planner and a second new planner from the I-II series.

“There’s probably nine or ten items that we are currently working on,” Goggia said, explained that much of the work – including the general plan update, the zone code update, work on housing issues and more – are slowed by a lack of planning staff.

Currently, the city hires consultants for bigger projects but, as put by Durflinger, “then it becomes a task of managing all these grants and half a dozen different consultants.” Bringing it in-house, within an Advanced Planning Division, would help.

“We just end up getting clogged in moving these things forward,” Durflinger added. “The general plan update itself is stuck in neutral.” 

The council also discussed much-needed updates to the city’s general/coastal plan and zoning codes. The last time the general plan/local coastal plan was comprehensively updated was between 1996 and 2003. One program on the work plan addresses this, outlining work in the coming months to update the plan.

Homeless Services

Several of the city’s staff, along with other agencies, will work to develop a Homeless Services Program. The program will “track, evaluate, improve and optimize the services and compliance mechanisms” within the city of Carpinteria for homeless residents. 

This includes documenting concerns, looking at existing programs, engaging with outside agencies, exploring housing solutions, developing additional homeless prevention initiatives, and more. 

This will cost “hundreds of thousands for staffing and support,” per the work plan. Funding will come from the General Fund, Measure X and grants.

The city has already approved a Safe Parking Program last year, with a 4-1 council vote. A weekly lunch program is held by service agencies within the city, where food and other services are provided.

Capital Improvements

The council looked at several capital projects within the city that are planned for the coming years, including the Carpinteria Avenue Bridge Replacement Project, the City Hall Campus Improvements Project, the City Hall Solar Energy Generation and Storage Project and the Rincon Multi-Use Trail Project.

The design for a bridge replacement is complete; federal-aid funding for the actual construction will be available in the Fiscal Year 2024-2025. Bids for the project will go out in Winter 2024.

At city hall, the council previously approved a consultant agreement for the sanitary sewer emergency repair, and adopted the Strategic Energy Plan for the solar energy generation. Bids will go out for the campus improvements in Fall 2024, and for the solar energy project in Winter 2024.

A design for the Rincon Multi-Use Trail Project will be available in Summer 2024, with bids opening Fall 2024.

The council also looked at the operation and completion of the Carpinteria Skate Park; playground structure replacements; improvements for the Carpinteria community Library; the development of Concha Park; Rincon Bluffs Preserve Improvements; a Linden Avenue Lifeguard Tower Replacement and Linden Plaza update; and a possible lesson pool at the Carpinteria Community Pool.

Roberts explained that the city has been seeking to develop the Concha Park – an area directly outside affordable Carpinteria housing units – for some time, and presented two possible options to the council: a smaller renovation or a complete overhaul of the area.

The first would cost the city $100,000, with paintings and some movable structures put into place; the second would completely redo the area with a play area, raised garden beds, and more.

“We applied for a grant to get this, but we were unsuccessful,” Roberts said, explaining that the medium income of the total county was too high to qualify for the grant. Work will continue on the project.

Aquatics Superintendent Amber Workman went over the possibility for a lesson pool at the Carpinteria Community Pool, stating a second, smaller pool could be set to higher temperatures – “great for swim lessons. 

“There are a lot of people in this community, in this coastal area, who do not know how to swim,” Workman said.

“It’s difficult to juggle the high school kid’s needs, along with swim aerobics, and more (…) We’re trying to create affordable swim lessons that we can operate year-round.”

Staff Recruitment & Retention

The city is losing three of its longtime employees this year, Ramirez said, including Durflinger, who is retiring.

The Staff Recruitment and Retention program looks at city training and development needs, creating an annual employee training calendar and a city and department-level onboarding process, and coordinating trainings. A training calendar is scheduled to be completed by July 2023. Training is ongoing. 

“In terms of retention, we’ve done pretty good,” Ramirez said. “With these three people moving on, we’re going onto that next place of, ‘How are we going to retain people (…) in light of people not being able to afford to live here?’”

Financial Management Services Dashboards and Financial Transparency

Under Administrative Services Director Licette Maldondo, the city will create a financial dashboard and other financial transparency tools. Under the program, staff will look at relevant financial information, create custom dashboards and go over how to use them.  

Under the current schedule, a Financial Transparency Page will be up on the city’s website by February 2023; a dashboard up by May 2023; and a brief budget by June 2023.

Business License, Short-Term Rental Enforcement Program

The city is looking at an enforcement program – composed of the Administration Services, Community Development and Legal Services departments – to work on enforcing the city’s business license and short-term rental policies.

Such a program could be in place by May 2023. Currently HdL Companies, Inc. enforces the city’s business license and short-term rental programs with help from city staff.

Editor’s Note: The full 2023 final work plan, with a modified list of priorities, can be found at bit.ly/40k5ZDa.

Managing Editor

CVN Managing Editor Evelyn Spence is going on her sixth year reporting on hot-button issues in Santa Barbara County. She is passionate about covering local, city and school board issues. Send tips to editor@coastalview.com.

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