Santa Maria Sun / Community
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Community Notebook 3/26/15-4/2/15
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1
• The Santa Maria Planning Commission has its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, City Hall, 110 E. Cook St., Santa Maria.
• The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission has its regular meeting at 9 a.m. in the Planning Commission Hearing Room, 123 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara. The agenda is available at www.sbcountyplanning.org.
THURSDAY, APRIL 2
• The Santa Maria Planning Commission has a study session at 10 a.m. in the Community Development Department, 110 S. Pine St., Santa Maria.
• The Santa Barbara County Local Agency Formation Commission has its regular meeting at 2 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors Hearing Room, 105 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara. Agendas are available at www.sblafco.org/agendas_minutes.sbc.
• The Buellton Planning Commission has its regular meeting at 6 p.m. in City Council Chambers, 140 W. Highway 246, Buellton. Agendas are available at cityofbuellton.com.
Political Watch 3/26/15
• California’s top lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown announced new legislation on March 19 to help communities cope with the ongoing drought. The $1 billion package includes funding for drought relief and infrastructure projects. “This unprecedented drought continues with no signs yet of letting up,” Brown said in a press release. “The programs funded by the actions announced today will provide direct relief to workers and communities most impacted by these historic dry conditions.” The legislative package pulls $128 million in expenditures from the governor’s proposed budget to provide direct assistance to communities and workers impacted by the drought and to implement the Water Action Plan. It also includes $272 million in Proposition 1 Water Bond funding for safe drinking water and water recycling, and it pulls $660 million from Proposition 1E for flood protection in urban and rural areas. “This emergency drought relief is a really important Band-Aid, said Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen in the release. “We must move beyond temporary fixes.” The March Sierra Nevada snowpack measurement came in at 0.9 inches of water content in the snow: that’s 5 percent of the historical average in March at the measurement site, the release said, adding that only in 1991 was the water content of the snow lower. The State Water Resources Control Board voted on March 17 to expand and extend an emergency regulation prohibiting certain water use, such as washing sidewalks, and create a minimum standard for outdoor irrigation restrictions by urban water suppliers.
• State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) announced on March 19 that improved passenger rail service is expected to begin running in Spring 2016 during morning and evening commute hours in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The senator has made improving passenger rail in the state and her district a priority since 2012. “Getting a rail line in place for commuters along the Highway 101 corridor … has been a long-standing priority of mine, because it makes so much sense,” Jackson said in a press release. “It will alleviate gridlock, get people out of their cars, reduce greenhouse gases, and get people where they want to go faster.” The details are still being finalized, but for now the train will be serving cities along the South Coast. Jackson would like to see at least two trains running at communte hours and the train extend from Ventura County to San Luis Obispo County. The press release said getting a second train would invovle significant negotiations with Union Pacific over the construction of sections of track that enable trains to pass each other. “Getting viable commuter rail in our area has enomous, positive implications for our quality of life and the economic future of our region,” she said in the release. In the 2013-2014 budget, Jackson was able to get a one-time allocation of $25 million in cap-and-trade funding for state transit and intercity rail projects, as well as an allocation of 10 percent of total cap-and-trade revenues for every year thereafter.