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Reopening Santa Barbara’s Economy: Pondering and Preparing


New green plant shoot growing from money

Are you among the locals who are growing restless about reopening Santa Barbara’s economy? Five weeks of the statewide stay-at-home order is more than enough for some Santa Barbara homeowners. As the weather moves from spring showers to summer sun, more and more people can’t wait to get outside once again.

Although we don’t have the final financial report, for Santa Barbara, the total loss is expected to be about $37-$40 million. This week, Nancy Anderson, assistant CEO of the county, presented to the Board of Supervisors strategies for slowly reopening the county’s economy. Alongside Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso, Anderson shared the info about modifying the state’s stay-at-home order, . 

“Over the next four to six weeks, we will be building a strategic phased opening plan that complies with national and state guidance,” Anderson said, referring to a group of county staff members, along with a representative from county schools, and a panel of medical directors. 

Disagreement at the County Level

The county is working with Hourglass Project, a nonprofit economic development think tank, on the creation of a phased plan. The plan will be in sync with state and federal orders, awaiting Governor Newsom to lift the stay-at-home order. Not all the supervisors agree with the plan, including Peter Adam, 4th District supervisor.

“We have a responsibility to future generations to reopen this thing,” Adam said. “Yes, some are going to get sick, and that’s unfortunate. But people are going to get sick in any case, and we can’t stop that.”

Vintage stylized picture of palms silhouettes at sunset, Santa Barbara California, USA.

Many residents agree with Adam.

“We cannot wait for a stakeholder advisory group and delay our transition into the next phase of the pandemic by four to six weeks,” said Cori Hayman at public comment. “The data doesn’t support this…. We do not have the luxury to wait another four to six weeks to slowly open the economy. As the UCSB economic forecast made clear last week, our county is in economic collapse, and other people are not getting the health care they need for non-COVID-19 conditions.

Governor Gavin Newsom’s 6 Targets

Even in light of the difference of opinions, an agreement was made regarding the most critical issue for reopening Santa Barbara’s economy: funding. According to Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg, the stay at home order will remain in place until 6 targets are met.

Step one is the highest hurdle to make because it requires a substantial increase in testing capacity. Health experts have said the US needs to be testing 500,000 people per day at a minimum in order to safely re-open parts of the economy. The US is currently testing less than 150,000 people per day. And the good news is that lawmakers have agreed to spend $25B on a comprehensive national testing program in the latest $480B federal aid package.

In addition to testing improvements, the Governor’s remaining five goals are:

  • Ensure protection for those most vulnerable to the virus.
  • Require that all hospitals be prepared to handle a potential surge.
  • Make social distancing practices a standard integrated into schools and workplaces.
  • Have the ability to meet therapeutic demands.
  • Have assurance that any protection measures can be reinstated if necessary. 

“[Newsom] explicitly stated that he doesn’t view the state’s stay at home order as a light switch that if we switch off will make everything go back to normal,” said 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart about the Governor’s order. 

“A better analogy is a dimmer switch that will be carefully adjusted as we account for new data and new conditions,” Hart said. “He was very straightforward that we aren’t out of the woods yet, but he clearly said our current situation cannot be a permanent state.”

A Source for Staying Up-to-date

According to the Santa Barbara Independent, this week, the supervisors voted unanimously (including reluctant Adam) to send a letter to Governor Newsom. In the letter, local Supervisors present a list of additional resources the county needs in order to open Santa  Barbara’s economy.

If you want to stay up-to-date on the latest COVID-19 news when it comes to our local community, look no further than the staff at the Santa Barbara Independent. It’s a leading source for information in the greater Santa Barbara area, and its staff is working around the clock to cover every aspect of the COVID-19 crisis. And they are providing stories for free so residents will have access to critical information. You can get the top stories in your inbox by signing up for the paper’s daily newsletter, “Indy Today.” You can also support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.

I feel so blessed and safe to live in a community like ours where businesses like the Santa Barbara Independent lookout for residents. And one where different opinions are taken into consideration. I trust our local officials to find the right balance and reopen our fine city.

For those homeowners that already live here and are considering selling to move to a different Santa Barbara area neighborhood, give me a call or drop me an email and let’s talk. You can contact me at or by calling +1 (805) 886-9378.


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