December 3, 2022
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North Santa Barbara County great location for spinout tech


Traffic backs up daily on Highway 101 through Montecito.

Traffic backs up daily on Highway 101 through Montecito.


The Third District Supervisor race in Santa Barbara County caught our eye recently when the topic of finding new homes for UC Santa Barbara spinout technology companies came up.

Bruce Porter, a West Point alum and stockbroker, has suggested a more comprehensive effort to link UCSB technology startups to communities in north Santa Barbara County that have land and labor to lend at much lower cost than elsewhere on the South Coast or in Silicon Valley.

“Land is available, there’s great housing and a lot of technically skilled workers who are driving to the South Coast for work,” he said in a recent telephone chat. “We’ve got to have leadership and bring people together.”

Porter added that a more predictable process for permitting and planning in Santa Barbara County would help.

Porter will face attorney and environmental studies expert Joan Hartmann in a race to fill an open seat left when incumbent Doreen Farr announced her retirement last year. She’s been Farr’s appointee to the county planning commission since 2012.

A victory by Porter would put a majority of the county supervisor seats into the hands of more business-friendly representatives, though Porter said he thinks it is important for any development to be “environmentally thoughtful.”

Porter has been talking about an extended effort to bring technology jobs to places like Vandenberg Village and Lompoc, where there is ample fiber-optic capacity and proximity to advanced launch sites built by Space X and United Launch Alliance.

The area would appear to be “ripe for the pickings,” he said.

The sprawling third district includes Isla Vista, Goleta and most of the Santa Ynez Valley, then wraps around Lompoc and the coast. That makes it ripe for attracting tech-oriented startups to Goleta or less expensive communities nearby.

“The more engineers you put in a general area, the richer everybody gets,” said Porter. “Shame on us if we chase off all those jobs.”

The Business Times does not endorse political candidates. But we agree that north Santa Barbara County is a perfect location for tech startups.

Highways improvements needed now

Improvements are coming to Highways 101 and 126.

The California Transportation Commission has taken yet another step toward widening Highway 101 through the increasingly troublesome Carpinteria-Montecito corridor.

A $60 million plan will provide funding for phase three of the project, which will widen the Linden and Casitas Pass interchanges and continue the march toward Montecito.

SBCAG said it will continue to fight for the remaining funds and approvals to complete the widening through the east side of Santa Barbara.

Meanwhile, Caltrans is holding meetings to map a plan to put a divider on Highway 126 between Santa Paula and Fillmore to reduce accidents.

With commerce being impacted by daily traffic jams, these improvements can’t begin soon enough.