• Santa Maria Pride Trickles Down from the Top

    “No one loves Santa Maria more than me!” is often a sentiment heard at chamber events or community gatherings. The Leadership Santa Maria Valley class had the unique opportunity to really see that Santa Maria Pride during their government topic day on March 1st.
    The day began with Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino. “It was the first opportunity I’ve had to hear her speak, as a woman in leadership I was inspired by her attitude and perseverance! She would always ask herself, what’s the worst that can happen? And then just go for it. I can relate to that!” commented Kira Farrell, Marketing and Outreach Coordinator for CASA of Santa Barbara County. The class also toured City Hall and learned about its rich history in the community.
    From learning about Santa Maria’s past, the class transitioned to looking at what’s in store for the future of Santa Maria heard from the Planning Commission about the new downtown streetscape plan. The class then participated in the focus group research the commission conducted before drawing up the plans. How much landscaping should you add? Do you want it on the side walk or in the center divider? Should you have parallel parking or angled parking? There are so many factors that go into city planning, and Neda Zayer, the City of Santa Maria’s Principle Downtown Project Manager took all those factors into consideration. Community members can view the results of the surveys and renderings at www.cityofsantamaria.org/downtown
    When talking about passion and pride for Santa Maria, one of the last places you might think of is the Santa Maria Landfill, but you couldn’t be more wrong! While the Leadership class was on the tour, the landfill team was joyful to share their daily practices, how our Santa Maria landfill is strategically set up, and the state-of-the-art tools and machinery they operate. But the highlight was seeing the hawk ward off all the other birds, circling the site and flying right past members of the class.
    The class also got to hear about government operates at the county level during a discussion with Santa Barbara County 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino and 4th District supervisor Chief of Staff Bob Nelson.  While 4th and 5th district agendas are not always in agreement, we saw in action how the supervisors and staffs can be cordial and find common ground to work together. They discussed many of the large issues facing Santa Barbara County, including the management of the oil industry, the cannabis industry, and the deferred maintenance issues.  We also discussed the uniqueness of County Board of Supervisors in relation to other political positions within state and federal government.
    The Government Topic Day ended with Robert Farrell, retired Assistant Chief of California’s Fish and Wildlife Department. He gave some insights to the job of a Game Warden, and told a few stories about his time with the department setting up elaborate checkpoints.
    Hearing from so many Santa Maria community leaders, the Leadership Santa Maria Valley Class of 2019 walked away with a better understanding of our city’s rich history, and exciting future. From the city departments all the way up to county government, the class saw a consistent sense of pride and passion for the jobs our local leaders have to help to make a positive impact on our city.