GRAND JURY RESPONSE [let]

June 13, 1996

Honorable Judge William L. Gordon

Presiding Judge, Santa Barbara County Superior Court

1100 Anacapa Street

Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Honorable Judge Gordon:

This letter is in response to the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury 1995-96 Interim Final Report on the Santa Barbara City Cable TV Franchise Renewal dated April 15, 1996.

The Grand Jury has requested comments on specific Findings and Recommendations in that report. This letter is intended to satisfy that requirement.

Grand Jury 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.

City of Santa Maria Response:

The City of Santa Maria is continually updating our knowledge of telecommunications, cable television and the laws that affect them. City management staff discuss these issues at regular monthly meetings. The City's franchise agreement with COMCAST Cablevision is reviewed annually by the City Council.

Grand Jury Finding No. 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 telecommunication policies and long-term strategies.

City of Santa Maria Response:

The City of Santa Maria has worked cooperatively with other cities, as well as with local agencies, on telecommunications issues.

The North County COMCAST Cable Franchise Administrators (Santa Maria, Lompoc, Solvang, Buellton, Santa Barbara County) have worked together for several years in dealing with COMCAST about franchise issues which concern all of us. The Grand Jury Report notes that these cable franchises expire in the year 2000. The expiration dates were deliberately chosen by the governing bodies to give the County and the concerned cities more leverage in negotiations with COMCAST. The possibility of a joint powers agreement for this purpose has been discussed by the Cable Franchise Administrators. We are aware of other California government Joint Powers Agreements (see attached article) for telecommunications purposes.

The City is also active in the Santa Maria Telenet--a local telecommunications network to serve business, education, agriculture, government, non-profit organizations, community service groups, and individuals in the Santa Maria Valley.

Most recently (February, 1996) the City worked with COMCAST and the Santa Maria-Bonita Elementary School District to facilitate the building of a fiber-optic trunk line between schools and City facilities.

Grand Jury Finding No. 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: Santa Barbara City Council, city management and the outside consultant should avail themselves of all available resources, especially these local telecommunications experts.

City of Santa Maria Response:

This finding and recommendation concern the City of Santa Barbara. For the future, the City of Santa Maria will avail ourselves of all available resources.

Grand Jury Finding No. 4:

The City of Santa Barbara's time table for renewal is very brief, especially considering the changes made by the recent Telecommunications Act.

Recommendation 4: The City of Santa Barbara should consider giving a limited extension of its present franchise agreement to Cox; it should continue to negotiate the franchise renewal during that extension so as to take full advantage of the opportunities available to cities.

City of Santa Maria Response:

This finding and recommendation concerns only the City of Santa Barbara. The City of Santa Maria has no comment.

Grand Jury Finding 5:

It is important for the public to participate in the ascertainment process and make their wishes about cable television known during this time of franchise renewal.

Recommendation 5: The media and special interest groups should use their public platforms to help citizens be fully informed about options and to encourage citizen participation.

City of Santa Maria Response:

The City supports and endorses this finding and recommendation. Citizen participation should be a vital and important component of the franchise renewal process.

Grand Jury Finding 6:

The City of Santa Barbara should plan for future technological changes that will be brought about through the competition created by the Telecommunications Act and new FCC rulings.

Recommendation 6a: The City of Santa Barbara should send Requests for Information to telecommunications providers who might be interested in developing telecommunications, infrastructure and services for the City of Santa Barbara.

Recommendation 6b: The City of Santa Barbara should consider developing new telecommunications policies and a long-term strategy for telecommunications based on the Tele- communications Act and on FCC rulings that will be forthcoming.

City of Santa Maria Response:

This finding and recommendations are directed to the City of Santa Barbara. The City of Santa Maria has no comment.

Grand Jury Finding No. 7:

More companies may be providing communications within the City of Santa Barbara and will need access to install infrastructure and use the public rights of way.

Recommendation 7: The city should set equal standards for all providers, manage the finite resources of the public infrastructure, and apply consistent policies to all users of the public rights of way.

City of Santa Maria Response:

This finding and recommendation concerns the City of Santa Barbara but could also apply to our city. The City supports and endorses the principles of equal standards and consistent policies.

Grand Jury Finding 8:

Some areas in the city, including parts of the downtown area, do not have cable television service.

Recommendation 8a: During the ascertainment portion of the renewal process, the city and Cox should get input from affected businesses to discern which sources are desired and would be valuable to the business community.

City of Santa Maria Response:

This finding and recommendation concerns only the City of Santa Barbara. The City of Santa Maria has no comment.

The City of Santa Maria welcomes this opportunity to respond to the Grand Jury and hopes that the information provided demonstrates the importance which the City places on cable television service within our community.

ROGER G. BUNCH

Mayor

attach.

c: Santa Barbara County Grand Jury

Santa Maria City Clerk