Commercial fishing infrastructure needs gains traction with Santa Barbara City Council

The Santa Barbara City Council supported working with Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara to locate a 15,000- to 20,000-square-foot facility to meet the industry’s infrastructure needs.

SANTA BARBARA—The Santa Barbara City Council at their Aug. 4 meeting assigned two councilmembers to be part of the Harbor Commission’s Commercial Fishing Subcommittee.  

Councilmembers Mike Jordan and Eric Friedman volunteered to serve on the subcommittee to assist the local commercial fishing industry in meeting their needs for increased shoreside space for gear, boat and cold product storage and the long term goal of establishing a Maritime Collective site. 

“The goal today should not to be a bunch of supportive bobblehead dolls but to offer something tangible to this particular endeavor,” Jordan said at the meeting.

The council also unanimously voted to pursue three suggestions put forth by the Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara (CSFB): for the City Council to work with CFSB to locate a 15,000- to 20,000-square-foot facility for fishing industry infrastructure, to integrate fisheries and all local food in post Covid-19 economic recovery and provide Council oversight on those activities. 

The actions came after a presentation from Santa Barbara Waterfront Director Mike Wiltshire on the needs of the commercial fishing industry. The Waterfront Department and Harbor Commission and its commercial fishing subcommittee have been working with CFSB over the past 18 months to address those needs. 

One of the major dilemmas is the lack of available property in the OM-1 (Ocean Oriented Light Manufacturing), OC (Ocean Oriented Commercial), and HC (Harbor Commercial). All viable areas are currently encumbered by long-term ground leases within granted lands operated by the Waterfront Department and nearby city-owned properties are fully subscribed for city needs which include wastewater treatment, desalination operations, fire training, and annex yard storage.

“Availability and affordable space for storage and processing is at an all time low,” said CFSB Executive Director Kim Selkoe, who also gave a presentation at the Aug. 4 City Council meeting.

About half of the OM-1 zoned land is city-owned. According to city code, OM-1 zoned land is designated for boat sales, storage, construction and/or repair; marine storage; public parking lots; sail manufacturing and repair; seafood processing and wholesaling; household hazardous waste collection facility and other ocean-related uses deemed appropriate by the Planning Commission.

“It [the OM-1 zone] is supposed to prioritize fishing and seafood processing uses,” Selkoe said. “It is fully occupied with almost no fishery-related uses right now aside from our 9,000 square foot boat yard.”

Mayor Cathy Murillo supported assisting with helping to locate property to meet their needs but raised concern about the city providing some of their owned property to a private entity.

“City land is subscribed down there and I would just be very cautious about allowing other private uses on it,” Murillo said.

CFSB’s long term goal is to create a Maritime Collective, a half-acre multipurpose facility providing commercial fishermen with boat, gear and processing space as well as office, meeting and shop space for emerging blue economy entrepreneurs.

“The Maritime Collective is basically a concrete plan to protect our fishing industry and diversify our coastal economy and importantly, it also satisfies the city’s obligations of the coastal act and local coastal plan to provide that adequate shoreside infrastructure,” Selkoe said at the Aug. 4 meeting.



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