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Harbor Commission Votes for Public Comment on Cruise Ship Program Evaluation

Source: Guardian of the Santa Barbara Range

On Thursday, April 21, the City of Santa Barbara Harbor Commission voted unanimously to establish a formal process in which the public can participate in an evaluation of the city’s cruise program. The Harbor Commission has approved the formation of a new Cruise Ship Sub-Committee as the first step in the assessment.

With cruise ships returning to Santa Barbara after a two-year hiatus, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper resumed its cruise ship monitoring program this spring to help deter ships from discharging sewage near Santa Barbara. Channelkeeper has also worked with the Waterfront Department to encourage cruise ships to reduce ship speeds when approaching Santa Barbara to protect migrating whales from ship strikes.

Channelkeeper recently presented the Harbor Commission with additional recommendations for the city’s cruise ship program. Among these elements was the creation of a sub-committee to organize a public process to reassess the cruise ship program with respect to the economic, environmental and community objectives of the City and to develop recommendations regarding the future direction of the program. The Harbor Commission’s decision to create a Cruise Ship Sub-Committee to help evaluate the cruise ship program will provide an important opportunity for members of the community to voice their opinions and provide feedback on this important issue. Community input will help guide the future of cruise ship visits to Santa Barbara.

Cruise ship visits to Santa Barbara are a polarizing topic. While some members of the community support the financial contributions of cruise ship tourism, others oppose ship tours due to their harmful environmental impacts and history of law violations. Among the issues Channelkeeper will ask the subcommittee to consider throughout the process is the city’s ability to meet its climate-related goals, while simultaneously sponsoring a program that invites ships from a known industry to be one of the biggest sources of air pollution in Santa Barbara County to anchor offshore.

“As we took a closer look at the emissions these ships release, even when just anchored offshore, we started to really question whether or not this program aligns with the broader goals and policies of the city on climate,” said Benjamin Pitterle, Channelkeeper. Scientific and political director. “This sub-committee will give everyone the opportunity to consider all the elements that come with the cruise ship program in order to make informed and intentional decisions for the future. We welcome the Harbor Commission’s decision to seek public input and conduct a thorough evaluation of the Santa Barbara cruise ship program.

The Harbor Commission will provide public announcements in the future with details of the subcommittee and ways for the community to get involved.