The California Joint Powers Insurance Authority (California JPIA) celebrates the 20th anniversary of the City of Goleta, which joined the California JPIA on the day of its incorporation: February 1, 2002.
Named for a Georgian-era shipwreck (“goleta” means schooner in Spanish), Goleta is located ten miles west of the City of Santa Barbara. Nicknamed “The Good Land,” the city is home to natural beauty, a rich agricultural tradition, and extensive recreational resources.
One such recreational resource, Sandpiper, Goleta’s championship golf course, will be the site of the Golf Tournament at the California JPIA’s 27th Annual Risk Management Educational Forum, October 5–7, 2022.
The community celebrated its milestone anniversary during Goleta’s 20th Birthday Celebration on Saturday, March 5, 2022, at the Rancho La Patera & Stow House, a museum that preserves and protects the Goleta Valley’s rich heritage. (The founder of Rancho La Patera, William Whitney Stow, served as Speaker of the California State Assembly; his son, Sherman, and grandson, Edgar, played leading roles expanding the area’s citrus industry.) The celebration featured live music, performances from the Dos Pueblos High School Theatre Company and the Junior Spirit of Fiesta, tractor and train rides, and food and beverages, complete with a sparkling cider toast. Residents had the opportunity to sign a community mural, learn from and interact with city staff, and relive the history of Goleta with a reflective video. A photo station—as well as the debut of limited-edition t-shirts, hats, mugs, tote bags, and prizes from local sponsors—helped commemorate the special event.
Goleta City Manager Michelle Greene, who plans to retire on June 30, 2022, has served the community for almost 18 years, the last eight in the top administrative role. She joined Goleta from the City of Grover Beach as a management analyst before being promoted to administrative services director and, later, deputy city manager. During her tenure as city manager, Greene has been responsible for executing the purchase of the community’s city hall facility, acquiring a parcel of land in Old Town Goleta and constructing the Jonny D. Wallis Neighborhood Park, obtaining $3.9 million from the California State Coastal Conservancy for restoration of a monarch butterfly habitat on Ellwood Mesa, establishing a LEAD (Learn Empower Advocate Discuss) Academy to engage community members in local governance, and securing approval of critical fiscal improvements, among other accomplishments.
Greene leads a dedicated team of professionals who say they are united in their mission: “to ensure that Goleta remains the perfect place to live, work, and play.” Among the staff members fulfilling this promise by efficiently and transparently conducting municipal business is Human Resources/Risk Manager Todd Mitchell. Mitchell was nominated in 2019 for the California JPIA’s Capstone Award, presented annually to an individual at a member agency who best exemplifies the practice of risk management.
“Todd exemplifies the qualities of a Capstone nominee,” said California JPIA Senior Risk Manager Tim Karcz, who reviews the city’s contracts and responds to questions regarding signage, COVID-related issues, and external vendor insurance requirements. “He not only supports his agency’s risk management and loss prevention efforts but also influences his colleagues to develop and follow quality risk management practices.”
Building Relationships and Managing Risk
Due to its location, Goleta staff members work closely with Santa Barbara Airport personnel and staff from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Sometimes Goleta’s geographical proximity to these entities can present unique challenges: “For example,” Karcz said, “the city cannot expand its current public works yard because it’s in the zone where the airplanes land.”
In addition to fostering strong relationships with the international airport and the university, Goleta also collaborates with the California Coastal Commission and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, which monitors local monarch butterfly habitats.
Thousands of monarch butterflies winter annually at Goleta’s Ellwood Mesa Monarch Butterfly Grove. In 2017, at the city’s request, the California JPIA, along with staff and a certified arborist, reviewed the condition of an extensive network of trails in the Ellwood Mesa Sperling Preserve and Butterfly Habitat. As a result of the evaluation, Goleta prepared an action plan to top off and remove dead and dying trees, implement periodic trail inspections, ensure the safety of existing structures, install signage, close areas that pose risk, and update notification channels.
Last year, Goleta was tapped as a pilot member agency for Safehub, an earthquake damage assessment service with which the Authority has partnered.
“Safehub uses sensors to measure how earthquakes impact buildings’ structural integrity,” said Karcz. “Determining the magnitude of an earthquake, then tracking how the building responded to it can empower agencies to assess whether or not to resume operations without waiting for approval from a structural engineer.”
The California JPIA congratulations the City of Goleta on its 20th anniversary and the staff’s efforts to reduce risk in the community!
Providing innovative risk management solutions for its public agency partners for more than 40 years, the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority (California JPIA) is one of the largest municipal self-insurance pools in the state, with more than 120 member cities and other governmental agencies. Members actively participate in shaping the organization to provide important coverage for their operations. The California JPIA provides innovative risk management solutions through a comprehensive portfolio of programs and services, including liability, workers’ compensation, pollution, property, and earthquake coverage, as well as extensive training and loss control services. For more information, please visit the California JPIA’s website at cjpia.org.