Tuesday, November 30, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 39

Santa Maria Sun / Commentary

The following article was posted on November 23rd, 2021, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 22, Issue 39 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 22, Issue 39

As the city's representative in county government, I'm never not thinking about Guadalupe


Guadalupe—the little town with the big heart—enjoys the world-renowned Guadalupe Dunes, distinctive downtown architecture and murals, excellent cuisine, and, above all, wonderful people. The rich agricultural lands have drawn wave after wave of different ethnic groups to work the fields—and each has left their distinctive mark on the city.

Even though Guadalupe is on the outskirts of the 3rd District I represent, contrary to what the Canary asserted recently (“Representation,” Nov. 11), it has been top-of-mind since I took office almost five years ago. At that time, Guadalupe was in precarious financial straits. No one wanted to see the city go under. In my tenure as supervisor, I have endeavored to support Guadalupe at every opportunity. Through collaboration with City Council, city staff, nonprofit partners, my office, and committed local residents, Guadalupe is now in a much stronger position. Here’s some of the work I’ve participated in to support Guadalupe. 

In my first days in office, I was contacted by Guadalupe’s city manager about emergency repairs to the city’s well. I worked with her, county Public Works, the State Water Board and the USDA to secure grants to fund these critical repairs. 

My office meets weekly with Los Amigos de Guadalupe, a local nonprofit focused on delivering state and federal grants to Guadalupe. This collaboration has secured a $4.4 million grant for LeRoy Park, and, working with Congressman Carbajal’s office, another $1.7 million for the LeRoy Community Project that Congress is soon expected to be authorized. I lobbied the state to recognize Guadalupe as an “Opportunity Zone,” making the city eligible for additional grants and investment and helped secure a Sustainable Communities Transportation Grant for the city while also supporting Dunes Center grant applications and programs. 

Shortly after taking office, I hired someone with deep roots in Guadalupe, Alma Hernandez, to be a part of my team. She had spent 20 years delivering critical services to Guadalupe as executive director of the Little House by the Park, Family Services Agency. She spends several days a week in Guadalupe helping with constituent services, the Senior Center, the Dunes Center, and working with Los Amigos de Guadalupe. Together Alma and I have taken part in numerous Guadalupe visioning and planning efforts, including for the general plan, mobility and revitalization, and resilience. No previous supervisor has ever invested this level of staff support in Guadalupe. 

For years, even preceding me, the 3rd District Office worked to support creation of a downtown business association. The dynamic Guadalupe Business Association has now emerged. Together, the Business Association and I worked with county Environmental Health to create more business-friendly guidelines for permitting new restaurants—a benefit to aspiring new eateries throughout the county. And, like the Business Association, I am committed to promoting the city of Guadalupe as a premier destination. 

At Guadalupe Dunes County Park, working with parks staff, we have improved the entrance road, upgraded the restrooms, the parking lot, the entrance kiosk, and introduced beach wheelchairs to improve accessibility. One of our outstanding goals is to develop a campground near Guadalupe so cyclists, birders, and other visitors have a place to stay. 

I have enthusiastically supported the efforts of the county’s Office of Arts and Culture to bring new murals and sculptures to the city. I was able to match a UCSB oral history program with the Rancho de Guadalupe Historical Society and have increased county funding for Guadalupe’s library every year since taking office.

As a board member on the county’s regional transportation agency, I have joined Mayor Julian in advocating for improved conditions on Highway 166 and for a safe pedestrian crossing for Pasadera Homes. As a board member of the county’s Air Pollution Control District, I added new air quality monitoring sensors in Guadalupe and participated in the distribution of almost 700 air filters so Guadalupe families can create clean air rooms to escape wildfire smoke. 

I have also eagerly supported the construction of the Guadalupe Court housing development, now home to 38 farmworker families, along with the expansion of Ranch Acres Project by the county Housing Authority from 52 to 80 units. And we are all working together to increase child care and preschool opportunities in Guadalupe.

Pre-COVID, I visited Guadalupe school classrooms and assemblies. One year, we invited the fourth grade classes from Mary Buren Elementary to learn about local government by visiting my office in the county administrative building and have lunch in the Sunken Garden. It was Mr. Cuello’s fourth graders who told me they wanted a walking and biking path on the levee along the Santa Maria River so they would have a great place near their school to get outdoors. Four years ago, this class gave public comment at board meeting in Santa Maria to support the path. With a feasibility study now nearing completion, this trail proposal will come to the Board of Supervisors in early 2022 for a decision. 

As the Canary noted, the Independent Redistricting Commission is now responsible for drawing the borders of the 3rd District. However the commission draws those lines, I will continue to be a vigorous advocate for every community that I’m privileged to represent. And even if Guadalupe does not fall within those lines, I will always be an advocate for this wonderful city that has won an enduring place in my heart. I am never not thinking about Guadalupe.

Joan Hartmann is the 3rd District Santa Barbara County supervisor. Send a response via the editor at clanham@santamariasun.com.

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