Lompoc City Council voted 4-1 on March 1 to pursue the development of a regional broadband strategic plan with seven partner cities, including Santa Maria, Solvang and Buellton, with the goal of making internet improvements to residents and businesses.
This breakthrough represents the first planning stages for the introduction of broadband technology – an underground network of fiber optic cables – in the cities of Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Goleta, Carpinteria, Guadalupe, Solvang and Buellton, in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Association. governments and Santa Barbara County.
Councilman Dirk Starbuck dissented in the vote that gave Mayor Jenelle Osborne the go-ahead to sign a memorandum of understanding with agency partners.
The plan is expected to be completed by the end of the year or as early as November, according to city broadband administrator Rich Gracyk, and will cost the city $27,608. The purchase will be funded through the city’s Capital Improvement Plan, which holds a portion of the $6.3 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds awarded by the United States Department of Treasury for help mitigate the impacts of the city’s economic downturn due to COVID-19.
Future development costs will be presented to council for further discussion, according to city staff.
Starbuck raised concerns that the city’s past efforts have not resulted in internet improvements. He suggested that a private company specializing in broadband services would be a better option for success.
Osborne, who sat on the former economic development committee when the technology plans weren’t launched, said the reason for Lompoc’s inability to tackle the problem after a “start and stop” has always been the lack of funding, shortage of staff and schedule.
She noted that through her active involvement with SBCAG, particularly as Vice Chair and member of the ad hoc committee leading countywide efforts to bring broadband access to all, it appears that Lompoc be in a better position to succeed this time around.
“There are opportunities here that we have struggled to connect and do. Finally, it’s a good step to be in partnership, to look at it on a regional level,” she said. “We can take advantage of this and take a look at the local needs that we have once the regional map and the strategic plan are in place. .”
Osborne also explained how relying on Comcast as the city’s sole internet provider could prove problematic in the long run.
“Because if Comcast goes down right now, we have basically no internet,” she said, adding that partnering with cities and agencies could help spread the costs of the project.
Councilor Gilda Cordova expressed strong support for the proposal. She also noted that state-of-the-art internet access would help solidify Lompoc’s economic viability in the future, particularly as a community neighboring Vandenberg Space Force Base, which has been seeking to accelerate space exploration for the past the central coast.
“We have the need,” Cordova said. “I’m not in favor of staying in the Dark Ages because we’re afraid to tackle something or because it hasn’t worked in the past.”
In other cases counsel:
— Presented to the American Association of University Women Lompoc-Vandenberg a proclamation in honor of National Women’s History Month, which is celebrated annually in March.
— Adoption by 5 votes to 0 of a new municipal council electoral map based on the results of the 2020 census. At the final public hearing on February 16, council members voted to approve map option 2 as proposed by Daniel Philips of National Demographic Corp. The new map includes minor changes to the current map to correct “small discrepancies”. A change adds an empty lot north of the ocean along North D Street to the same neighborhood as all other lots along that east side of the street, thus uniting the Civic Center into one neighborhood (District 3).
– Voted 5-0 to pass an ordinance that implements Senate Bill 1383, a mandate that requires jurisdictions across the state to come up with a plan to divert food waste and organics from garbage cans. by 2024 to reduce landfills by up to 75%. Solid Waste Superintendent Keith Quinlan said the cost passed on to residents has yet to be determined as it will include providing a green waste container to each household for food waste collection as well as services. provided by city staff to monitor and enforce compliance. of the state mandate.
Lompoc’s polling stations will get a slight tune-up but see no major changes if council votes next month to approve a proposed ordinance…
Dean Albro, who previously served as director of management services for the town of Lompoc for the past three years, was appointed to his new position by the town council in a 4-1 vote at its meeting. regular on December 7.
Lisa André covers lifestyle and local news for Santa Ynez Valley News and Lompoc Record, editions of the Santa Maria Times.