Patrick O’Connor

Patrick O’Connor, a nine-year resident of Carpinteria, works in the aerospace industry. He was recently chosen to serve on the Carpinteria Architectural Review Board

O’Connor, a nine-year resident of Carpinteria, works in the aerospace industry. He was recently chosen to serve on the Carpinteria Architectural Review Board at Monday night’s city council meeting; in his application, he writes that if he does win the District 5, he would find a replacement on the ARB. 


Introduce yourself and tell the community why you are running for Carpinteria City Council. Speak to any experience you bring to the table. 

My name is Patrick O’Connor. I am running for Carpinteria City Council. I work in the aerospace industry with a background in both civil and mechanical engineering. My wife, Kathleen, and I have lived in Carpinteria for nearly nine years. Three years ago, we had the privilege of becoming the owners of one of the older homes in the downtown area of District 5. My interest in serving is motivated by the history of our property, its families and those of our neighbors and community.

In my short time as a resident and homeowner in Carpinteria, and while petitioning in our district neighborhoods to be on the ballot, I’ve heard a unanimous frustration with the city’s residential, commercial and public property development processes.

Small business owners and resident property owners use the term “afraid” to describe their relationship with the city staff. Responsible citizens are literally afraid of adverse consequences while engaging in code and zoning matters. In parallel, I’ve heard council members describe the relationship by saying, “We operate separately.” The council delegates far too much authority to the staff, who subjectively interpret and enforce regulations without a sense of urgency for residents’, property owners’ or small business owners’ interests.

I will bring engineering discipline to hold the council and staff accountable for customer service with a priority on transparent and timely solutions that benefit local business owners, citizens and resident property owners. I will bring complex problem-solving experience to the council to make the city’s decision-making processes fair.

Carpinterians deserve fair decisions, without fear or favor. 


The city has seen a number of hot-button issues in its community forums recently, related to crime and community safety, employment, and residential and commercial development, such as the Surfliner Inn project. What do you see as Carpinteria’s most pressing or important issue, and why?

All of these issues can be addressed with thoughtful development of residential, commercial and public properties while preserving the fabric of Carpinteria. District 5 is comprised of a patchwork of non-conforming zoning and building codes that are inconsistently interpreted and enforced, particularly in the downtown and immediately adjacent neighborhoods. The proliferation of short-term rentals has reduced available housing and disproportionately burdened the downtown neighborhoods with overcrowding.

The Carpinteria City Council has not addressed overcrowding, but rather reinforced it by allowing staff designations of legal nonconforming zoning density and building codes that are deteriorating the fabric and quality of life in Carpinteria.

Any determination of legal precedence in zoning or planning matters should always and only be the duty of elected, resident city councilmembers and guided only by Carpinteria residents and those appointed to its commissions and boards. Carpinterians should govern Carpinteria.

The City’s Housing Element plan outlines, among many things, the state’s quantitative measure of the housing shortage in Carpinteria. The Housing Element also suggests zoning changes and incentives to increase density. Zoning changes are not necessary to address the problem.

There are under-utilized properties in District 5 that could be repurposed as solutions to the housing shortage rather than increasing zoning density. I would pursue repurposing what have become drug den hotels along Carpinteria Avenue near City Hall. There are also underutilized complexes along the south side of the freeway, west of Casitas Pass Road.

In addition, I would pursue a process where “second home” nonresident property owners would be obligated to contribute funding to replenish the available housing that they’ve effectively removed from the market. I would also pursue remedies to nonconforming zoning density, just as the IRS does by adjusting property tax to the current rates when a property changes hands.


Reflect on a recent city council decision. Would you have made a different decision? Why or why not?

The council made a mistake in not allowing an advisory vote to receive public input on the Surfliner Inn project. Poor governance leads to legislation by initiative.

Managing the General Plan’s land use and zoning ordinances by exception through a ballot initiative is a slippery slope. Relying on the dysfunctional relationship between the council and staff as the mechanism to anticipate and resolve unintended consequences is unlikely to succeed.

Your choice for the District 5 Council seat and Measure T happen together. In any range of outcomes, I believe thoughtful development of hotel beds and second floor residential space downtown should be promoted equally. Successful cities’ downtown districts invariably have a thriving residential presence that contributes to support small businesses. Mixed use development designs with street level commercial space and second story residential space like those at Linden and Ninth Street and Carpinteria Avenue west of Linden should be a priority. Another alternative is “hop-scotch” development where hotel space can be spread over multiple near adjacent properties. The council missed these opportunities with the commitment at 700 Linden Ave.

A number of other Linden Avenue properties are now in various stages of development also, presenting a once in a generation opportunity for the council to manage the future of Carpinteria’s character. These and other fallow properties in District 5 need to be repurposed with a collective vision of what Carpinterians want, weighing public opinion over paid consultants’ advice.

The Downtown Overlay promises to provide objective design criteria to eliminate subjective interpretation by unelected, nonresident staff. I will hold the council accountable to fulfill this promise and create a transparent culture to keep the public informed of, and involved in, complex development issues. 

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