National Beat Reporter
Joan Hartmann has served as the County of Santa Barbara third district supervisor for a term and is running for re-election of a second term in the upcoming election in March 2020. Hartmann is responsible for the areas of the City of Guadalupe, Tanglewood, Vandenberg Village, Mission Hills, parts of Lompoc, the Santa Ynez Valley, the Gaviota Coast, Western Goleta, Isla Vista, and the community of U.C. Santa Barbara (UCSB).
Over the course of her four years as supervisor, Hartmann has tackled a variety of projects ranging from renewable energy to the passage of the Gaviota Coast Plan. She also has a number of upcoming projects that she will be promoting for the remainder of her term, and she hopes to continue if re-elected in March.
Hartmann makes a commitment to playing an active role in listening to the communities she serves in order to make sure that community members are benefited to the best of her ability.
“People can lose faith in government so it’s really important that everybody invests from the bottom up to see things through to the finish line,” Hartmann said in an interview with The Bottom Line (TBL).
A mission at the forefront of Hartmann’s career is her priority to transition to a low-carbon, green economy.
“I believe that, especially at the local government level, we need to be preparing for the future,” she said. “For me, global warming is a clear and present danger. We can’t just say no.”
Hartmann has dedicated her time to designing solar campuses for the regions under her domain. She has implemented solar roofs and electric charging stations within her counties. She is also currently working on transitioning to Community Choice Energy.
Community Choice Energy enrolls all ratepayers in the county for clean electricity. Essentially, this will make electric companies, such as Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), generate fossil-free energy to their customers if desired.
“When I get my Edison bill, I can be enrolled to say ‘you must use fossil-free clean energy to generate my electricity,’” said District Representative Gina Fischer, who handles Isla Vista and Goleta constituent issues and manages Hartmann’s scheduling.
This ensures that profits will reduce customer rates and be reinvested into new charging infrastructure and microgrids instead of going to shareholders and high executive salaries. Islands of electricity will be able to continue to function during power outages due to battery storage and solar production.
Hartmann has her first meeting on Dec. 4 with Monterey Bay Clean Power Authority, a clean-source energy agency implemented in Monterey in 2017. The meeting is to expand the agency to include the third district. While this is an arduous and extensive process, Hartmann is committed to creating a renewable economy in Santa Barbara.
“When you choose a place to live you want a place that’s sustainable. So I believe that creating this renewable economy here in Santa Barbara County will be a draw for the kinds of industries that we want that will create jobs for people to stay,” she said.
Hartmann is also in support of the Ocean Road housing development plan that was recently presented in a University of California Board of Regents meeting. Hartmann believes that this development will help to reduce the rent pressure in Isla Vista by lowering the demand for housing. With a growing UCSB population, the university has contractual obligations to provide housing to students as well as faculty and staff hired to service those students.
“It’s one of those sensitive issues that we’re eager to get the university to step up and build the housing for its constituents,” Hartmann said. According to Fischer, as of today, the university is behind in building 3,500 student units and 1,500 faculty and staff housing.
“We desperately need them [the university] to make good — they need to build. So it’s going to come down to making sure they do it,” Fischer said. “It’s really important that UCSB follows through on their housing commitments.”
Another Isla Vista project that Hartmann was excited to see come to life was the opening of the Isla Vista Community Center. The center had its grand opening this past October, but will be up and running in early December.
The community center is partnered with Isla Vista Community Services District and Isla Vista Youth Projects to provide Isla Vista community members access to an array of amenities that can range from recreational activities to a demonstration kitchen.
“It is important for [Santa Barbara] City College, for people who aren’t in college, for families, for UCSB, to have a sense of the beloved community and do things together,” Hartmann said. “When people interact face-to-face they feel more responsible for each other. It creates a sense of belonging and obligation to community.”
Outside of Isla Vista, one project Hartmann commits herself to is the Master Parks Plan.
“Another strong commitment I have is to healthy eating and active living, Live Well Santa Barbara. A lot of our public and mental health issues stem from lifestyle,” Hartmann said.
This plan works on surveying areas and adding a greenprint to the conservation blueprint that will allow an overlay of information about the different populations and their health outcomes. Its goal is to build communities that enable and encourage walking, hiking, running, and biking by creating more accessible open spaces.
These county-wide plans, that includes the cities, will provide a basis for telling the story of why funding from California Proposition 68 is needed. Proposition 68 would authorize funding for state and local parks, as well as environmental protection projects. The plan will string together stories and data to be compiled in the grant application.
“If you have more parks, recreation, and open spaces where families can gather, you’re going to get better health outcomes and better quality of life,” Fischer said.
A big highlight of Hartmann’s career thus far is the passing of Gaviota Coast Plan back in 2018. Gaviota Beach had a level of national significance and potential to become a national seashore, but failed to earn recognition from the federal government 20 years ago. The Coast Plan was a plan, ten years in the making, that involved over 60 meetings between planning committees, the Coastal Commission, and advisory boards.
“The community is not just the people that reside there because it is an iconic area in our county. Many people had interests,” said Hartmann.
From 2000 up until the passage of the Gaviota Coast Plan last year, developers could come and go overtime and propose large scale and intensive developments and subdivisions of various parcels of land.
Gaviota Coast is one of the largest remaining stretches of undeveloped land in Southern California. This plan was launched by Hartmann’s predecessor, former Santa Barbara County Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr, to have stakeholders determine the future of what could or could not be built on the Coast, preserving its character and environmental condition.
“Our predecessors started this project and we saw it to completion,” said Fischer.
Hartmann is also focused on a number of smaller projects aimed to improve the Isla Vista area. These projects include a compost collection site, community garden, harm reduction strategies for drug testing kits, such as NARCAN, stricter bluff policies for Del Playa Drive, and increased lighting in Isla Vista.
Hartmann and her office offers a variety of student internships to help further academic careers and obtain jobs post-graduation.
“A lot of people are retiring in county government so we are trying to capture the talent from UCSB and surrounding areas,” she said. With 24 different departments in the county, students interested in specialties ranging from human relations, technology, and engineering can all find internship opportunities.
“It’s a big motivation for me to pass the torch and get people excited about public service,” Hartmann said.
Hartmann hopes to continue helping the communities in her district by winning her second term. Citizens can vote for district supervisors in the California Primary elections on March 3, 2020.