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  • Writer's pictureNewsmakers with JR

City Hall Buzz: Eric Eyes Revised Hotel Ban & 2nd Try on State St Closures; Pokes Kristen on Budget

In a prospective glimpse of Santa Barbara's next mayor's race, Eric Friedman on Friday jabbed at City Council confrere Kristen Sneddon's widely-publicized complaints about the opacity of Santa Barbara's $667 million budget, saying city finances are "more transparent" than ever.

In this week's edition of Newsmakers TV, the District 5 councilman also said that he may revive a version of a proposed moratorium on hotel construction, amid increasing political conflicts between housing and hotel development, which he previously tried and failed to pass. He also indicated that he expects to resurrect his controversial, once-defeated bid to reduce the number of blocks closed to traffic by State Street's alleged Promenade.

First elected in 2017, and re-elected to a five-year term in 2021, Friedman performed sturdy terpsichorean exertions in dancing around questions from political writer Josh Molina and the genial host about widespread speculation that he plans to run for mayor four years hence, insisting he is solely focused on his current policy and political duties.

Although Mayor Randy Rowse is only in the second year of his term in the most prominent office at City Hall, and the only one elected citywide, odds makers, insiders and troublemakers already are laying prop bets about potential future challengers, with council member Sneddon topping the Most Likely Contenders list.

Sneddon recently attracted considerable attention for her pointed questioning of city staff over what she perceived as a lack of transparency during budget deliberations; friends of City Administrator Rebecca Bjork subsequently pointed to Sneddon's public calling out of staff as one factor in Bjork's recent decision abruptly to announce her resignation.

In our conversation, Friedman opined that the episode was not a significant consideration in the administrator's retirement, while also criticizing the tone and tenor of Sneddon's budget inquiries. Chair of the council's Finance Committee, Friedman not only praised Finance Director Keith DeMartini,but also noted that several online budget transparency tools have been added to the city website in recent years, providing more accurate, real-time visibility into public finances.

"It's so transparent that it can become confusing," he said, in discussing Sneddon's comments.


You can watch our conversation with Eric Friedman via YouTube below, or by clicking through this link. The podcast version is here. TVSB, Cox Cable Channel 17, broadcasts the program at 8 p.m. every weeknight, and at 9 a.m. on weekends. KCSB, 91.9 FM, airs it at 5:30 p.m. on Mondays.


New Yorker cartoon by Brendan Loper.

A reminder that “Citizen McCaw,” the prescient and acclaimed 2008 documentary chronicling the heartbreaking and heedless destruction of Santa Barbara’s historic daily newspaper, will return for a free, one-time public screening at the Marjorie Luke Theatre, Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.

The film focuses on the dramatic events of 2006-07 that stunned the community and set in motion the slow decline and inexorable death of the once-vibrant Santa Barbara News-Press, now in bankruptcy proceedings.

While presaging an era of vast economic disruption for the newspaper industry, the documentary most importantly tells the sad, shameful and uniquely local story of how an enterprise was destroyed, after serving Santa Barbara, for a century-and-a-half, as a town square of shared and trusted public interest news and information.

RSVP, via the blue button below, to reserve space to see this essential account of a far-reaching episode of local history,

P.S. We’re also assembling an all-star panel for a conversation about the future of local news, to follow the main feature. Please send your thoughts and questions on the subject which you’d like to hear addressed, to

RSVP below to free showing of "Citizen McCaw" and discussion on September 27, at 7 p.m. at the Marjorie Luke Theater. Click here to learn more.

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