What We Stand For
Solidarity and Sustainability
As Democrats, we believe in a society and community based on solidarity and sustainability. We work for a society in which all people have equal opportunity to achieve their dreams regardless of identity or background. We are dedicated to social, economic and environmental justice, and strive to create a better and fairer world free from prejudice, hatred, exploitation, abuse and reckless greed.
We fight for a democratic economy that works for ordinary working families and puts people and the planet before profit. We strive for a community that lives in harmony with the global and local environment. We work to build an organization and community dedicated to racial, gender and sexual equality.
To accomplish this, we must ensure that those who would govern in our name are actively dedicated to our vision. We work to empower, educate and organize citizens and residents of our County. First and foremost, this means mobilizing voters to get to the polls and elect Democrats at all levels of government. However, we know that simply electing Democrats is only part of our role as a Party. We must work to hold elected officials accountable to our shared values and principles, through public advocacy, coalition work, and our endorsement process, which asks candidates seeking our support to pledge to put our shared values into practice.
As an organization, we are committed to transparency and openness. We know that our Party must be a welcoming, independent, democratic tool for real people to create real change in their communities and their environment. We strive to be a vehicle for community empowerment, one that truly reflects the real needs of everyone, including and especially those who are most ignored, overlooked and underserved.
We work at all levels, organizing for progressive change in our world, our country and our local community. However, as a County Party organization, we have a special responsibility to focus on the local political arena. We reject the idea that local politics is merely a technocratic exercise. We believe strongly that local decisions are informed by values, that local budgets are moral documents and that local institutions are the most significant point of interaction between the people and their government. County and municipal decisions have a tremendous impact on employment, land use, environmental protection, social welfare and equality. Our goal is to foster sustainability and social justice at all levels.
We cannot rest until all people have equal opportunity to achieve their dreams regardless of their identity or background; until everyone has a guarantee of dignity, happiness and human rights regardless of their circumstances, including but not limited to access to food, education, healthcare, shelter and labor protections; and until our human community is living sustainably.
This platform embodies the values and principles of the Democratic Party of Santa Barbara County. It was adopted by the Party’s Central Committee on May 3rd, 2018, after discussion by the general membership of the Party.
A SOCIALLY JUST LOCAL ECONOMY
As Democrats, we believe that economic policy should be driven by the principle of solidarity, and that local ordinances should reflect commitments to economic, social and environmental justice.
We have a shared responsibility and interest in protecting and increasing the economic well-being and vitality of all segments of our society. While Santa Barbara is famous for its high-profile wealth, we know that ours is an economically diverse community, dependent on the hard work of thousands of low-wage workers who are grossly underrepresented in policy and government. Local economic policy should reflect this reality, and focus on supporting the economy from the ground up.
This means adopting policies that promote decent wages, rights on the job, investment in public services, a strong social safety net and high employment rates. For too long we have suffered under the orthodoxy of low wages, artificially low taxes and a fiscal and tax policy which shelters the ultrawealthy and overburdens the middle class. We believe fundamentally that prosperity begets prosperity, but only when it is broadly shared. We also know that this idea is good not only for working people, but good for business as well. We believe in a diverse local economy that encourages economic growth in all sectors-including agriculture and industry, aerospace and information technology, entertainment and education, in addition to the traditionally strong service and hospitality industries. A diverse economy is more secure and sustainable over the long run, and attracts and retains a more vibrant and varied population.
Together with sound economic policy, unions are the most effective tools for ensuring a fair share for working people, and for democratizing the workplace. We support the right of any worker to organize and join unions, and view the labor movement and its allies as crucial partners in building the just local economy we envision. Contrary to decades of anti-union rhetoric, the labor movement is not a “special interest,” and we reject cynical attempts to pit one group of workers against another.
This shared vision of a fair, equitable and sustainable economy includes the following:
- Tax and zoning policy that spurs the creation of high-wage, environmentally responsible jobs.
- Strong ordinances to curb the epidemic of wage theft that hurts working families and sustainable business practices.
- The availability of public broadband at the local level, to ensure economic competitiveness and spur tech-sector job growth.
- Robust living wage laws at both the city and county levels.
- Efficient, affordable public transportation, and well-maintained infrastructure.
- Education and social policy that opens doors of opportunity to marginalized youth to gain skills and access to jobs.
- Elected officials who work in good faith with public employee unions to secure fair contracts.
- The broad use of Project Labor Agreements on County projects.
- Support policies and practices that favor businesses that have implemented fair and effective wage programs.
- Financial policies that promote community banks and credit unions over more exploitative national firms.
- Ongoing dialogue and cooperation with partners like the Central Coast Central Labor Council, CAUSE and SBCAN to advocate for working people.
- Policies that encourage local small business creation not through tax incentives but rather investments in our communities and our workforce, as well as the reduction of risk for entrepreneurs who lack access to safety nets enjoyed by traditional corporate workers.
- The elimination of exploitation of immigrant workers, and an end to the use of local agencies in Federal immigration law enforcement.
- Fiscal responsibility via progressive revenue enhancement and increased efficiency, not regressive taxation or recessionary job cuts.
CIVIL RIGHTS AND EQUALITY
As Democrats, we believe in the protection of civil rights and equality for all in our community, and highlighting the needs of those who have long been ignored, underserved and discriminated against.
In particular, we see far too many segments of our population who continue to suffer second class status and suffer a violation of basic rights. We must do better in providing equal justice before the law, equal access to vital services, equal opportunity in education, housing, and employment, and equal treatment by our government of all people, including women and LGBTQ+ individuals, undocumented workers and those caught in our criminal justice system. People have the right to full access to reproductive health information, and women have the legal right to seek to terminate a pregnancy if they so choose. We stand firmly behind Roe v. Wade as one of the cornerstones to women’s. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual people have the right to live their lives in peace and with dignity, and to be treated fairly and equally before the law, in a community where discrimination based on sexual orientation, identity, and expression is not tolerated.
The method in which laws are unfairly enforced contributes to institutional racism and the warehousing of men, and in increasing numbers, women of color. The system is broken on so many levels that we must seek out alternatives that truly promote justice and fairness for all involved. As an extremely vulnerable population, undocumented workers must be treated humanely, as the law dictates, and their families protected from harassment.
To achieve these goals, we support the following policies and initiatives:
- We wholeheartedly support a woman’s right to maintain control over her own body, sexuality and reproduction, including but not limited to abortion and contraceptive rights.
- We believe that all people deserve equal pay for equal work, and recognize that women have been disadvantaged for far too long on this front.
- Local government agencies should support organizations that provide comprehensive family planning services, and avoid funding for agencies that attempt to shame women for their choices
- Public educational institutions should provide the names of such agencies such as Planned Parenthood that provide comprehensive access to reproductive services including abortion when teaching sex education or whenever family planning organizations are listed as resources for youth.
- Educational and preventative programs to protect people from sexual and domestic violence.
- Educational support services to women with dependent children in order to increase parenting and job skills.
- Expanded workplace rights, benefits and support associated with pregnancy, childcare, and emergency family leave.
- Zero-tolerance policies for sexual assault, abuse and harassment, and firm accountability for those who violate those policies.
- Local school boards should work to ensure that schools should be accessible and safe environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and gender-non-conforming youth.
- County and local law enforcement must make action against violent hate crimes, be they motivated by homophobia or racism, a priority for prevention and enforcement efforts.
- Gender-non-conforming people and sexual and gender minorities must have full rights to the use of public facilities in keeping with their identity.
- LGBTQ+ people must be guaranteed non-discrimination in and full access to housing, employment, health services, and military service.
- We strongly oppose the use of conversion therapy or the promotion of any ideology that seeks to marginalize, “cure” or invalidate the identity of LGBTQ+ or gender-non-conforming individuals.
RIGHTS OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
- People with disabilities should have access to all the rights, protections and services guaranteed to other members of the community.
- We must support the participation and employment of people with disabilities.
- Ensure that all public events and Democratic meetings comply with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.
- Eliminate housing discrimination that penalizes people with disabilities.
- Promote mental health services and improve in-home support services, including higher pay for home care workers.
We recognize that for far too long, criminal enforcement has been used a tool of maintaining racial and class discrimination. As Democrats, we believe that Black and Brown Lives Matter, and we seek to eliminate these injustices while maintain safe and prosperous communities for residents of all races and backgrounds through the following reforms:
- An end to “broken windows policing” that only serves to harass marginalized and oppressed communities in economic distress.
- A ban on predictive policing systems and implicit racial profiling.
- Demilitarization of the police so that officers can feel more connected to their community, and so that community members can establish better trust and relationships with officers.
- Community oversight of institutional mechanisms to deal with complaints about abuse of force by police officers, and community representation on existing oversight boards.
- Fair police union contracts that protect the economic rights of officers while allowing police chiefs the ability to appropriately discipline officers who abuse their authority.
- Training reform and stronger accountability measures to prevent and disincentive the resort to violence by officers, and to protect community members with mental disabilities in confrontations with police.
- A proactive “harm reduction” approach to substance abuse that treats the underlying malady and reduces both addiction and recidivism.
- An end to privatization of jails and outsourcing of jail functions to private contractors that exploit the incarcerated and incentivize the increasing institutionalization and imprisonment of people as a business model, as well as reform of economically exploitative practices that overcharge incarcerated individuals and their families for basic needs.
- The establishment and funding of programs such as restorative justice programs which help the accused face up to the consequences of their actions without being caught up in the legal system, especially in juvenile cases.
- Educational services to be provided to victims of crime so they understand the part they would play in the restorative justice plan.
- An end to the sentencing of children as adults in our county in all cases.
- An end to the use of mandatory minimums in sentencing, and the abolition of overly punitive sentences for minor drug convictions.
- Much stronger controls on firearms, and the strict enforcement of handgun and automatic weapons control laws.
- The expansion of drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, counseling, and job placement programs that are freely available to assist released individuals in their transition back to public life.
- We oppose the use of gang injunctions, which only serve to divide communities while wasting public funds.
- Increased funding for the Public Defender’s Office.
As Democrats, we believe that America is a nation of immigrants, and that anti-immigrant policies are an affront not only to human decency, but to basic American principles. We advocate:
- A pathway to citizenship for all undocumented residents, including and especially children of undocumented immigrants brought here through no agency of their own.
- An end to the use of Santa Barbara County and local law enforcement as agents of the Federal government in immigration cases.
- No government support for vigilante groups, which encourages them to participate in the enforcement of immigration laws.
- Firm enforcement of the legal procedures regarding warrants and due process, which will prevent the wholesale round up of workers in our county and guard against discrimination against both citizens and legal residents.
- All local human rights organizations should provide information on immigrant rights and recommended procedures as specified by the National Immigration Law Center.
- Local agencies and/or governments must develop emergency procedures for those left behind when raids do occur. Children’s welfare should be a top priority.
- An end to discrimination against religious minorities in all its forms.
NATIVE AMERICAN TREATIES AND TRIBES
- We support the constitutional and sovereign rights of Native Americans peoples and nations as well as the tribal sovereignty and established rights and jurisdictions of California Native/Indian nations. Although we acknowledge that not all tribes enjoy the benefits of federal or state recognition, we declare our full support of non-recognized Native Americans living on non-tribal land.
- We acknowledge past injustices and misguided policies and actions based on the imposition of harmful values and beliefs. We recognize these policies and actions resulted in the breaking of treaties, destruction of the Native American people’s way of life and belief systems, illegal seizure of their ancestral lands, and the creation of intergenerational trauma that exists to this day.
- We support the elimination of school and sports mascots that reflect derogatory stereotypes and perpetuate racism…
- We support efforts such as Ethnic Studies Now that aim to increase understanding of Indigenous culture through education.
- We will support tribes in managing tribal sacred places, and empower tribes to maintain and pass on traditional religious beliefs, languages, and social practices without fear of discrimination or suppression.
- We are committed to principles of environmental justice on and off of tribal lands. We recognize the right of all tribes, federally/state recognized and un-recognized, to protect the air, the delicate coastal land and waters of their ancestral lands. We further support the tribal nations’ efforts to develop wind, solar, and other clean energy jobs, and we respect the holistic worldview of Indigenous Peoples that can mitigate the effects of climate change.
- We believe that our local governments, especially the County of Santa Barbara, have an obligation to continue government-to-government dialogue and need to maintain a positive and respectful relationship with local tribal leadership.
- We support the strengthening of Native American voting rights, including improved access to polling locations.
As Democrats, we believe in the responsibility of government to, in the words of Robert F. Kennedy, “to tame the savageness of man and to make gentle the life of this world.” Our commitment to the cause of public activism brings with it a special responsibility to ensure that government remains the possession of the sovereign people. To that end, we believe that government must be open, accountable, responsive, and transparent at all levels. In order to be open, government must be especially attentive to the voices of the least powerful and most disenfranchised communities, actively seeking out their opinion and empowering them to take action on their own.
In order to be accountable, all communities in Santa Barbara County should have local as well as countywide elected offices responsible for basic government. Without the power of the franchise to reward or punish public officials for their performance, certain unincorporated communities in Santa Barbara County have no direct means of making their will known on important issues of community development, public amenities, and access to vitally important services and utilities.
In order to be transparent, we must embrace not merely the form but also the spirit of clean elections. To that end, we must ensure that local and countywide elections have public funding for all elected offices.
To achieve these ends, we call for the following reforms:
We support increased efforts toward enfranchisement of residents in unincorporated areas, including Isla Vista, through incorporation or via planning districts and neighborhood councils. We support the empowerment and adequate funding of the Isla Vista Community Services District.
- City councils in incorporated areas should be expanded, in order to achieve a better ratio of voters per representative, so that people can know and be familiar with their local representatives. City council elections should be designed to empower neighborhoods and increase levels of diversity, including the implementation of district and even-year elections to increase voter turnout and minority representation.
- A clean elections fund should be established for countywide and local elections, so that the impact of small donations can be multiplied with public matching funds, freeing up candidates to spend more time campaigning and less time raising money.
- In order to increase voter turnout and participation in the political process, Santa Barbara County should increase access to early voting.
The modern environmental movement began on the beaches of Santa Barbara in 1969: as the birthplace of the movement, and we have a special responsibility as a county, to be leader and a role model for cities and counties across the country on environmental justice.
The threat of devastation by global climate change has only reinforced the need not only for local environmental protections but comprehensive efforts to eliminate legacy fossil fuel use and transition as quickly as possible to sustainable, renewable energy. Santa Barbara County has already been impacted by the consequences of carbon-based warming through drought, wildfires, and debris flows caused by changing climate conditions.
Both local environmental impacts like fracking contamination and oil spills, and climate-changing carbon pollution endanger our families’ health, the beauty of our natural landscapes, the viability of local flora and fauna, and the sustainability of the local economy, including tourism and agriculture. Because the worst consequences of environmental destruction fall predominantly on the economically disadvantaged, a focus on environmental justice is also crucial for establishing social and economic justice in our communities.
Sustainability must be our guiding principle, and it must be reflected in our regulatory and economic policies. We must revamp tax policies that provide direct and indirect subsidies to the most polluting and extractive industries, invest in renewable energy sources and solutions. We strongly reconfirm our commitment to prevent any new drilling off our coasts or on the land.
Santa Barbara County Democrats reject the idea that economic growth and environmental protection are opposing interests, and believe instead that we must adopt a sound and progressive energy policy that will create jobs now and into the future through research and industrial development of non-fossil fuels, including the adoption of sustained yield approaches to the development of agricultural resources.
To that end, we call for the following policies and principles:
- We support initiatives for environmental enhancements that promote clean energy based on a foundation of non-carbon, renewable, sustainable sources, with a goal of energy independence.
- This may be achieved by providing tax incentives and subsidies for alternative energies, and the establishment of local community choice energy.
- We encourage the reduction of energy consumption and the use of energy efficient products and practices.
- We call on agencies at all levels of government to divest from fossil fuel companies in order to help send a message and spur the transition to renewable energy sources.
- We demand an end to drilling for fossil fuels both on the coast and on the mainland. All coastal drilling should be banned, and platforms should be decommissioned as soon as possible. On the mainland, drilling via steam injection and acidization endangers the local environment and water supply, potentially harming lower-income residents and all those who consume agricultural produce near aquifers subject to drilling.
- We support the aggressive regulation of carbon-based pollution that contributes to devastating climate change that exacerbates droughts and wildfires.
- We support the heavy investment in renewable resources that will provide a sustainable energy source and high-wage employment across Santa Barbara County and beyond.
- We recognize that Santa Barbara County is an arid Mediterranean climate in which cycles of drought are a common and predictable occurrence. Therefore, we support policies that recognize the value of our water resources through sustainable management and conservation, including incentives for the removal of lawns and high-water use plants.
- We recognize that the water providers of the county have different portfolios of water supply that is allocated in a manner to meet the particular needs of each such provider. The cost of water projects is huge and the time to implement programs is often very long. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act provides a basis for the regulation of currently unregulated water resources. Replenishment of groundwater resource should be designated a beneficial use of water along with the protection of down-river users.
- Sustainably managing water means accounting for its true environmental cost: the energy and resources used to move and treat it, the renewability of each of our water sources, and not just the economic cost per unit. Toward that end, we support conservation as critically important in sustainably managing water resources. In developing new water supplies, every effort to maximize conservation, and reduce the environmental cost of water should be evaluated. Recycled water, and the development of alternative water supply sources such as stormwater capture should be included in the analysis. When developing new supply sources, the emphasis should be on the least energy intensive, and most sustainable and renewable sources.
- Climate change also threatens water quality, with more frequent cyclic drought and fire presenting challenges to water quality at Lake Cachuma, the primary water supply source for the South Coast. Reduced lake levels, increasing water temperatures, and the introduction of vegetation, ash and fire debris into the lake all create water quality challenges that require increased amounts of energy, chemicals, and resources to treat. Additionally, agricultural runoff, stormwater runoff, and industrial uses such as fracking threaten water quality in the regions groundwater basins. Efforts to protect water quality are a critical part of water policy.
Desalination – While desalination may be required as a last resort to adapt to climate-change induced drought, we recognize the danger to local marine life and ecosystems it presents, as well as the large energy costs desalination incurs. We believe that the primary focus should be on conservation rather than taking destructive and costly measures to create limited new water supplies through desalination.
Science-based policy and Environmental Education – We insist that legislators make policy based on the best available science, including ecology and climate science. We further encourage governmental and industrial support for environmental education programs at all academic levels, including at in economically disadvantaged communities.
Protecting our Coast – We support strengthening California’s pioneering coastal protection program by revising outdated local coastal programs, implementing the State’s polluted runoff protection plan, and preserving the integrity of the Coastal Act by defending the California Coastal Commission and the process for appointment of coastal commissioners.
We call for the phasing out all offshore oil and gas drilling along the California Coast. We must establish and enforce marine protected areas to restore and protect coastal marine species. Coastal public access and recreational opportunities should be expanded by additional funding to open, operate and maintain new coastal public access, acquire coastal parklands and develop the California Coastal trail. We must protect and restore coastal wetlands, rivers, streams and other environmentally sensitive habitat areas. The County should continue to support the work of BEACON (Beach Erosion Authority for Clean Oceans and Nourishment) in focusing on coastal erosion, beach nourishment, and clean oceans. We must also support the clean-up of toxic hot spots.
Preserving our Natural Resources – The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is the major most effective legal tool for protecting California’s environment. We support full implementation and enforcement of CEQA principles, in order to protect the state’s natural and cultural resources, including historical and archaeological sites, and strongly oppose efforts to undermine it through legislation or regulation.
Biodiversity — We strongly support wildlife preservation efforts in order to maintain and re-establish sustainable biodiversity with minimal human impacts.
A Balance Between Ecology and Industry – We encourage industry to develop life enhancing, rather than life destroying, products that do not deplete our resources. In order to reduce the use of water, land and fertilizers, we support the development of alternative methods for producing paper, clothing, food and building supplies. We must also encourage the replacement of environmentally and occupationally harmful technologies with clean production systems. Situate High voltage transformers and high voltage power lines should be situated far away from schools, libraries, public playgrounds and residential neighborhoods.
Limiting Single-Use Plastics – We support the ban on single-use plastic bags, and oppose all efforts to undermine the will of the voters on this issue. We also encourage limitations on other forms of single-use plastics that too often end up in our oceans.
Open Space Preservation – Sprawl threatens not only our quality of life, but also the irreplaceable natural treasures which make our area among the most geologically and biologically diverse in the nation. Densification, infill, transfers of development rights and the inclusion of open space within population centers must be guiding principles of all levels of local planning.
Sustainable Agriculture – Agricultural production is a main economic engine of SB Santa Barbara County. Changing the use of agricultural land for other purposes should be done only with the utmost caution and after maximum public debate.
We strongly encourage limitations on the use of pesticides in accordance with the latest scientific data on their impact not only regarding human health but also broader biodiversity, including insect and apian populations.
We also encourage sustainable agricultural practices related to water and soil, including a move to less water-intensive crops. We urge county and city agencies to strongly discourage the sale and conversion of agricultural land to fossil fuel extraction industries.
As Democrats, we believe that healthcare is a right, not a privilege. When people are in need of care, it is our responsibility to ensure that they receive it regardless of their ability to pay.
As Democrats we are dedicated to the cause of universal, guaranteed healthcare for all. We expect federal legislators representing the County to advocate for Medicare for All; in the meantime, we strongly advocate that the State of California implement a single-payer healthcare system in line with those of most other industrialized countries.
We demand robust investment all forms of mental health treatment at all levels of government, including counseling and local clinics.
We call upon all health insurers both public and private to offer a full range of medical services, including but not limited to dental, mental health, reproductive, and end-of-life care. As long as for-profit insurance continues to be the dominant form of coverage, private insurers must be compelled to cover these and other services through robust regulations, and access to quality care must be equally available to people of all identities and backgrounds.
As Democrats, we pledge ourselves to fulfill our common obligation to the sick: first, to see that no harm is done, by defeating attempts to cut holes in the safety net; and second, to reform our local healthcare system so that Santa Barbara County’s record on healthcare can be a source of pride.
To this end, we call for the following:
- Health Care Reserve Budgeting – in devising future budgets, the Board of Supervisors and City Councils (as appropriate) should designate a reserve fund to prevent declines in healthcare and mental health services funding in recessions, when demand increases as people lose coverage.
- Expanded Health Care Clinics – local health care clinics provide medical care to underserved communities and community residents with limited mobility throughout the county. The health care reserve should be used to protect funds during recessions, lower the caseload for doctors, nurses, technicians, physical therapists, and other health care workers, expand the number of clinics to serve locations currently without clinics, extend hours of business, and improve pay for medical service and home care workers.
Santa Barbara County Democrats hold true to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s proposition that “the test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little. Unfortunately, wealth and income disparities continue to grow both locally and nationwide through both economic recessions and recoveries. These disparities disproportionately affect women and people of color, harming the cause of both economic and social justice.
As people across our community struggle economically, their first and last line of defense against destitution are our local social services. An active and caring government is necessary to provide dignity and security to those that Wall Street and predatory capitalism have abused and left behind. During recessions the engine of the economy needs more spending to drive consumer demand, to provide adequate support for all who need it, pump purchasing power back into our local economies, and to put the unemployed back to work.
As Democrats, we pledge ourselves to fight back against social service cuts that target the poor, the unemployed, the elderly, the disabled, and children in need. To go beyond this defensive aim, we call for the following:
Social Welfare & Job Bank Reserve Budgeting – in devising future budgets, the County Board of Supervisors and city councils should designate a reserve fund, similar to the health care fund proposed above, to prevent declines in social services, and to fund public works and job programs during recessions, when the need for social services and jobs expands.
Homelessness – We demand a comprehensive plan to end homelessness in Santa Barbara County through a program of direct housing provision with supportive services. We further condemn attempts to marginalize and harass people experiencing homelessness in our communities, rather than provide the care and assistance they need.
Food Access – Every county resident deserves affordable access to balanced and healthy food choices for themselves and their families. The social cost of malnutrition, especially in childhood, is far greater than the cost of direct provision of food to families in need. In a county as wealthy as Santa Barbara, no one should be experiencing basic food insecurity.
Job and Income Guarantees – Santa Barbara Democrats are strongly allied with the labor movement in its fight for living wages and worker protections. Unfortunately, a combination of automation, offshoring and online efficiencies of scale have pushed far too many into underemployment and the exploitative, underpaid “gig” economy. We encourage our elected officials to work both locally and statewide to be at the forefront of ongoing experiments across the country and throughout the world in providing guarantees of jobs and basic income to County residents.
As Democrats, we believe that free, universal, high-quality public education is a human right, as well as a necessary condition for democracy. We know that we are far from this crucial goal. Our public schools are drastically underfunded, our teachers are undervalued, higher education costs are prohibitive, and the dream of an integrated education system continues to lie just beyond reach.
Our vision of education starts with free universal pre-school for all Santa Barbara County children. It continues with elementary education that focuses on well-rounded curricula, including art, music and experiential learning in every County school district. High school education should include opportunities for both academic and vocational training and should emphasize a commitment to community service. All of this means keeping student-to-teacher ratios low and ensuring educational opportunities that decrease the achievement gap for English language learners and other students with special needs.
We also strongly support free, universal post-secondary higher education accessible to all California residents.
While we are supportive of innovative experiments in educational strategies and support local control, we believe that schools should be integrated economically and ethnically and provide a quality education for all. The issue of inter-district and intra-district transfers should be approached carefully, as we are in danger of continuing the educational segregation we have worked hard as a society to overcome. The goal of integrated education is also threatened by rigid English-only policies, and we call for the return of multilingual education in all public schools.
Schools themselves must be built around progressive values. Green design guidelines should be followed in all school construction, and we should ensure that schools are safe environments, free of physical and health threats. Socially, schools should be accessible and safe environments for all students, regardless of their identity or religion. School food should be healthy and nutritious, and, where possible, locally-grown. Corporate advertisement of all kinds must be eliminated from our schools.
Education does not end with K-12. Community Colleges play a crucial role in preparing young people for University, providing vocational training as well as serving as a major source of life-long learning and cultural development. Santa Barbara County is blessed with two fantastic Community Colleges, and we support their continued success and expansion. To accomplish these goals, we call on Santa Barbara County school districts to:
- Provide educational opportunities of the highest caliber at minimal personal expense that enables members of the Santa Barbara County community to participate in the global economy.
- Ensure that students with exceptional needs be educated in the most appropriate placement with full funding provided.
- Offer high school graduation requirements that are well–-balanced and broad-based, including programs that include both academic and vocational programs that complement each other.
- Review and revise Common Core requirements in keeping with the data on student achievement and input from teachers.
- Provide schools that are safe environments that are free of physical and health risks, and free from toxins and carcinogens.
- Establish and extend age-appropriate, non-discriminatory sex education.
- Promote community participation as in mentoring and adult literacy programs.
- Ensure that decision-making policies are open to the public.
- Work to develop policies that more equitably distribute community funds raised by schools to supplement public support.
- Subsidize the cost of AP testing at high schools for students in need.
- Expand transitional programs for community entry when special education students reach adulthood.
- Encourage the University of California to partner more closely with Cal State universities and community college to serve students in need.
Santa Barbara County Democrats believe that access to shelter and the dignity of basic housing not be left to the whims of the real estate market. Housing, transportation, and community development form a nexus at which every major issue of economic inequality, educational disparity, racial and class segregation, and environmentally-friendly development collides.
When housing values rise so high that working people and their families cannot afford to live close to where they work, the demand for transportation resources and the resulting strain on our transportation network increases; as a result, the environment is degraded by ever-expanding sprawl and increased emissions from commuters, the high cost of gasoline and the hours lost to commuting exact a further burden on working people and their families, and the search for affordable housing continues to spiral outwards, until the fabric of our communities can no longer stretch. When there is affordable housing close to where people work, communities become more economically and racially diverse, the forces that lead to sprawl are counter-acted, open spaces are preserved, emissions decrease, and people have more time to build stronger families and stronger communities.
In order to build a pathway to a more socially and environmentally sustainable community, we need more affordable housing in Santa Barbara County. Affordable housing development should respect our County’s environmental and agricultural resources. Planning should be comprehensive and geared toward providing housing linked with transportation so as to minimize both pollution and sprawl, and “green building” should be required.
We believe that government should be proactive in keeping people housed. This can be done through:
- Preventing predatory lending and foreclosure abuse.
- Encouraging zoning policies that promote densification and infill to address the County’s housing shortage.
- Strict regulation of short-term rentals so that available housing is provided to those who live and work in our communities.
- Providing protections for renters and encouraging the building of rental housing.
- Promoting tax and zoning policy that discourages speculation on housing and encourages local residency at affordable prices.
- Providing emergency shelter that rapidly re-houses all people losing their housing or who are homeless and want permanent housing.
- Providing very low-income housing with supportive services necessary to address homelessness in our community. We support continuum of care and housing-first policies.
- Ensuring that students have access to quality, affordable housing and accommodations within reasonable distance to their place of study, free from exploitation.
- Encouraging building with materials that are fireproof and earthquake-proof.
- Enabling people to live and work in the same community.
- Promoting the use of mixed-use buildings with businesses and affordable housing.
- Ensuring that in-lieu fees are used specifically to develop affordable housing instead of general fund support.
- Supporting the work of the City and County Housing Authorities in providing public and non-profit housing.
- Supporting experiments in cooperatively-financed housing, and exploring state and federal funding for such initiatives.
- Developing programs to make foreclosed homes available to low and moderate income residents.
- Ensuring that local communities create strong tenant and affordability protections against displacement, speculation, rent increases and evictions without interference from state law.
- Encouraging housing developments that include recreational areas on or very near the project.
- Opposing the use of in-lieu development fees that worsen income divides, encourage sprawl and marginalize poorer residents, functionally segregating our communities by class and ethnicity.
- The exploration, by cities and the county, of establishing rental assistance programs to help offset the high cost of housing in Santa Barbara County.
- Ensuring that affordable housing that otherwise conforms to state and local zoning and environmental regulations be considered a by-right use in any zone that permits residential use. We oppose arbitrary and burdensome conditions on the construction of affordable housing.
- Supporting and encouraging Average Unit Density programs.
Transportation infrastructure must serve pedestrians, transit riders, bicyclists, and drivers. However, sound transportation planning should reduce automobile dependence, congestion, pollution and the use of non-renewable energy. This means focusing resources on mass transit, pedestrian and bike travel.
Public transit should be affordable, accessible, and convenient. We believe:
- Local governments should be encouraged and supported in working together to find regional solutions to transportation issues.
- Bus service must be expanded in Santa Barbara County for both transit-dependent people and choice ridership. This means constructing more express services between large population centers, and adding more local services with greater frequency to give residents alternatives to car travel in their own communities.
- Bike plans should be actively encouraged and implemented with adequate funding in our municipalities, with the goal of increasing ridership and safety.
- Public transportation works best when fees are affordable for all members of the community. To that end, we support capping general ridership fees at the cost of inflation, and the establishment of a program of free bus passes to support seniors on limited incomes (with or without health concerns), disabled residents and the working poor and their families, in order to enhance their ability to travel freely and enjoy a quality lifestyle.
- Every new housing development must include an alternative transportation element in it and when possible, housing should be built along transportation corridors.
- People should be able to walk safely in neighborhoods. Planning should emphasize complete streets that include dedicated bike paths with adequate lighting.
- Employers should be encouraged to provide incentives for employees using public transit and other sustainable forms of transportation.
- Local government should support ongoing efforts to create of affordable high-speed rail linked with commuter trains, including routes from Santa Barbara to Ventura, LA to San Francisco, and from Santa Barbara to LAX Airport. Parking and buses should be available to rail passengers.
If we focus solely on the bricks and mortar questions of housing and transportation, we will only move halfway towards our goal of a high-road strategy for development. We must do more than just build houses and transportation facilities; we must work to build the human resources that are the foundations of healthy communities. To that end, the Democratic Party of Santa Barbara County supports increased funding for Human Services Programs and Community Development Grants. These funds support important services that provide housing, health, transportation, education, employment, employment training and recreation to our community.
As Democrats, we believe that politics is not a spectator sport. The majority of our work is on-the-ground grassroots organizing throughout Santa Barbara County. This work is important for electing Democratic candidates, but also for fostering a vibrant, energetic civil society. Precinct-level organizing is a basic element of the democratic process: encouraging neighbors to talk with one another about issues of importance is a progressive goal in-and-of itself. We help to deepen our democracy by creating an organization that can train, motivate and materially support citizens who decide to run for public office. At the local level, such organizations provide access to the political arena for ordinary people. Without them, local politics tends to be dominated by the well-connected and the affluent.
Organization also allows activists the ability to be more than foot soldiers for candidates and elected officials. We believe that the relationship between activists and the candidates they help elect should be one of mutuality. The grassroots must have a role in the formation and implementation of policy. Political parties, rather than candidate-based election organizations foster this two-way relationship.
We strongly oppose the “top two” primary system established by Proposition 14 as discriminatory and unfair not only to Democrats who are often prevented from having a general election candidate to vote for in conservative areas, but also to Republicans for the same reason in more liberal areas, as well to minor parties who are nearly always denied a vote in general elections. Political parties are active reflections of community engagement on issues, and should not be treated as unwanted interlopers in our democracy.
Our goal is to build a sustainable, accessible organization from the neighborhood level up. In order to further these goals, our organizing strategy has four basic components:
- Establishing a full program of candidate recruitment & development.
- Maintaining ongoing effort for voter registration & education.
- Encouraging the growth of strong Democratic clubs.
- Enacting a robust field plan led by the Democratic Party.
Candidate Recruitment & Development
- The Party will encourage and recruit experienced, respected, qualified Democrats to apply for appointments to County and City Boards, Commissions and Committees.
- We will also research makeup of local governmental bodies, and strategically plan to elect Democrats to a certain number of seats.
- We will also identify and develop Democratic candidates to potentially serve on Board of Supervisors, City Councils, School Boards and Special Districts.
- The Party will make it a priority to provide training for prospective candidates far before election season, explaining the ins and outs of campaign finance, fundraising, etc.
- We will also identify opportunities for Democrats to get involved in local non-political organizations, such as PTA’s, non-profit boards, and community groups.
- The Party will also provide additional support for candidates and elected officials.
Voter Registration & Education
- It shall be the policy of the Party to engage in voter registration drives, year round.
- We will identify citizenship classes, new citizen ceremonies, new residents to the area, and other target groups to register as first-time Democrats.
- The Party will systematically target geographic areas that are heavily Republican or No Party Preference to increase Democratic registration especially among non-registered population.
- Furthermore, we will identify registration barriers in low voter registration areas and create a plan to break down barriers and implement action to increase voter registration.
- We will also Increase and maintain visibility in the community with participation in community festivals and events.
- The Party will produce and distribute informational materials on the party’s policy positions and activities and materials that explain the difference between a measure, candidate, etc.
Strong Democratic Clubs
- The Party will research what areas or communities in our county could benefit from a Democratic club, and encourage their development, making sure that clubs have a clear sense of their mission and whom they serve.
- The Party will also support existing clubs, and persuade loosely affiliated groups, with trainings and resources.
- The Party will also provide clubs with databases of their membership target groups.
- We will also support and encourage clubs to engage in policy debate and advocacy, host forums and programs in the community.
Robust Field Plan Led by the Democratic Party
- The Party will maintain and grow a database of Democratic volunteers, who we can engage at all times, not just in election seasons. Furthermore, we will update and maintain county voter file with information acquired in the course of precinct walks, phone banking, and other contacts.
- The Party will build and sustain voter outreach operations in all precincts in the county.
- The Party will also produce campaign materials, flyers and leaflets for every election, and support our coordinated campaign digitally and on social media.
- While candidates must run their individual campaigns on their own terms, the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party will act as the coordinating organization in election seasons for united Democratic field campaigns, with the goal of electing our endorsed candidates.
- The Party will execute GOTV plans with focuses on vote-by-mail voters, targeted precincts, targeted door hangers and phone calls, and Election Day door knocking operation.
- The Party is committed to continuing to ensure fair elections. To that end, we support the California Democratic Party’s voter protection programs intended to ensure that every eligible voter is given the opportunity to vote, and that all eligible votes are counted.