The Honorable William L. Gordon
Presiding Judge, Superior Court
1100 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Dear Judge Gordon:
The following responds to specific Findings and Recommendations in the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury 1995-96 Interim Final Report on the Santa Barbara City Cable TV Franchise Renewal dated April 15, 1996. We appreciate the Grand Jury's level of research necessary to complete this comprehensive report.
The format restates the Grand Jury's findings and recommendations followed by our response.
FINDING 1: The County of Santa Barbara has franchises coming up for renewal within the next five years. All cities in the county except Guadalupe have a cable franchise that will have to be renewed during that time period.
RECOMMENDATION 1: The County of Santa Barbara and its cities should start now to plan for their franchise renewals by studying available technological information and selecting the best qualified staff to head such important telecommunications review.
COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR'S RESPONSE - The County of Santa Barbara via its telecommunications operations in the General Services Department and cable television related staff in the County Administrator's Office is continually updating it's knowledge of telecommunications, cable television and the laws that affect them. Although, there has not been full-time staffing of the cable television franchise administration and enforcement effort since 1993, staff has maintained a routine review and analysis of telecommunications issues. As part of the cable television franchise renewal process, we will coordinate with the cities and consult with cable franchise experts to maximize opportunities available during renewal efforts.
FINDING 2: Because of the rapidly changing telecommunications technology, the County of Santa Barbara and its cities need to work together to develop a common plan for telecommunications needs and services in the county.
RECOMMENDATION 2: The County of Santa Barbara and its cities should explore establishing a joint powers authority to develop regional telecommunications policies and long-term strategies.
COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR'S RESPONSE - In 1985 the County initiated a collaborative approach to work with all cities on cable television, and since then the County has worked cooperatively with every city, as well as other local agencies on cable television issues, as follows:
North County - Over a several year period, the North County COMCAST Cable Franchise Administrators (Santa Maria, Lompoc, Solvang, Buellton, and Santa Barbara County) have worked together in dealing with COMCAST about franchise issues which concern all entities. As noted in the Grand Jury report, the COMCAST franchise(s) expire in the Year 2000. Each city chose to change its franchise expiration date to coincide with the County's franchise expiration date because we believed that it would be a joint team effort to give opportunities for closer communication and provide more leverage in negotiating renewal agreements with the cable operator.
Although no formal agreement has been adopted by the four cities and the County, the possibility of a joint powers agreement (JPA) has been preliminarily discussed by the County and the City franchise administrators. There are many other government entities who have entered into such JPA's and we have copies of some of those agreements.
The County and the North County cities have collaborated on technical inspections and resultant upgrade of the two Comcast systems (Santa Maria/Orcutt and Lompoc/Mission Hills/Vandenberg Village/Santa Ynez Valley), public educational and governmental access (PEG) surveys, public opinion surveys and by facilitating the building of a fiber-optic trunk line between schools and city facilities.
South County - Since 1985 the County and the Cities of Carpinteria and Santa Barbara have worked cooperatively on certain discrete cable televisions projects. In 1994, discussions were held regarding the possibility of a JPA with the three entities. Although a JPA did not materialize, we have recently discussed with the City of Santa Barbara the possibility of aligning the franchises towards the development of a JPA.
County-wide - At its May 16, 1996 meeting the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments considered an item regarding developing policies on telecommunications. The matter was referred to Supervisor Tom Urbanske and Executive Director Jerry Lorden to identify specific concerns and issues to be presented at the Association's July, 1996 meeting.
FINDING 3: The member of President Clinton's National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIIAC) representing cities and counties, and the Chairman of the NATOA FCC Liaison Committee are based in Southern California. These persons have expertise and experience and have offered to share technical, governmental and industry information with local authorities, including Santa Barbara.
RECOMMENDATION 3: The Santa Barbara City Council, city management and the outside consultant should avail themselves of all available resources, especially these local telecommunications experts.
COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR'S RESPONSE: Although this recommendation is directed to the City of Santa Barbara, the County will work with the seven cities to continue to avail our respective agencies of available resources up to and including local, state and national telecommunications experts.
KENT M. TAYLOR
cc: Grand Jury
Janet Hogan, Deputy County Administrator
Patricia E. Montemayor, Cable TV Franchise Administrator
Rick Sanchez, Deputy County Counsel
Brian O'Connell, General Services Director
Each City Manager
Cable Television Franchise Administrators (7 cities)