Clean and safe downtowns require coordinated effort
Thank you for the excellent piece in the July 21 issue of the Business Times. Santa Barbara and Ventura have much in common, and I enjoy reading your thoughts on our intertwined economies.
When I was mayor of Ventura, one of my main goals was to establish the Downtown Ventura Partners, a property-based improvement district (PBID) so our downtown would have additional (non-government) funding for “clean and safe” improvements. As a founding board member, I am very proud of their accomplishments. Our downtown is thriving. In your article, you mentioned using parking meters to fund our Ambassadors.
Actually, the PBID funds the Ambassador program. The meter revenues fund several police cadets, who do parking meter enforcement. And our downtown police patrol, which is a team of police officers who concentrate on the downtown, is funded by the police department. Our police and Ambassadors are contacting vagrants daily to offer help and services.
I am also pleased with our city’s Clean and Safe Initiative. This effort brings together all city departments to prioritize ongoing enforcement and special projects to minimize the impacts of vagrancy (such as our “anti-panhandling” campaign, in which we encouraged residents to donate to organizations serving the homeless). One of our programs is our Debris Hotline. We have a phone number for residents to call when they see debris such as discarded furniture, blankets and clothing, piles of litter, etc., on city property. A city crew will come clean up the debris. Caltrans and Union Pacific have been very cooperative in participating and they clean up debris on freeway and railroad property.
We also beefed up our shopping cart retrieval program so that carts are not abandoned in parks, sidewalks, river bottoms, etc.
It takes a well-coordinated effort between the city, business owners and residents to maintain our safety and cleanliness, which helps attract and retain businesses.
I look forward to reading your paper every week.
City Council member