Guadalupe, located on California’s Central Coast, lies on Highway 1 at the northeastern edge of Santa Barbara County, 10 miles west of Santa Maria and five miles east of the Pacific Ocean. Originally serving as pastureland for Mission La Purisima, established in 1787, the area became part of the Rancho Guadalupe land grant in 1840 and was settled by pioneers from Central America, Asia, and Europe. Incorporated in 1946, the City of Guadalupe is now home to approximately 8,000 residents who value its rich agriculture and history as well as the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, a National Natural Landmark and the largest remaining dune ecosystem south of San Francisco.
“Our 75th anniversary is captioned ‘Guadalupe: Diamond in the Rough’ because the 75-year anniversary is the diamond year,” said Councilmember Lilliana Cardenas, a resident of Guadalupe since she was ten years old. “This caption also honors our city’s vision of continued progress and resiliency. Guadalupe is a gem that has and will continue to overcome challenges.”
The community’s most recent challenge came when their 75th-anniversary celebration was canceled due to the rise of regional COVID-19 cases, driven by the Delta variant.
The Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health requested that the city and event coordinators of the “Guadalupe 75th Anniversary Celebration” consider postponing the open-streets gathering, expected to draw more than 2,000 residents and visitors. One week before the event, scheduled for August 8, organizers agreed to cancel the celebration for the safety of the community.
“Residents would have been able to enjoy our stretch of Highway 1 free of motorized traffic to engage in activities including a parade, car show, bike obstacle course, over 50 booths with information and activities from community-based agencies and businesses, a COVID vaccination clinic, and music and dance performances,” said Cardenas. “One of the highlights was a healing ceremony to commemorate the lives of the community members that we lost to COVID and to provide a space for the collective healing of Guadalupe.”
The Infinity Healing Ceremony, which took place online at the same time as it would have in person, invited community members to exchange rocks and letters for seed packets in baskets in front of city hall. In addition to the ceremony, a proclamation at Guadalupe’s August 24 city council meeting recognized the community’s eldest member, Joseph Sauceda, 101, who would have been grand marshal of the parade in honor of his 96-year residency in Guadalupe and his service in World War II. The city also produced a 75th-anniversary publication celebrating the city’s history with photographs and written pieces from local youth.
This pivot is characteristic of the community’s resilient character and culture of public safety.
“Guadalupe is an attractive, friendly city, with safe neighborhoods and good restaurants,” said Senior Risk Manager Tim Karcz, a California Joint Powers Insurance Authority (California JPIA) staff member who has supported risk management programming and training for the city council and staff. “Guadalupe ranks among the safest cities in California, with a public safety director who oversees both the police and fire departments.”
“Guadalupe is a hard-working, family-oriented community,” said City Administrator Todd Bodem, who joined Guadalupe in 2018 from Sand City, where he served as city administrator. “The residents are great, and the city staff and the city council are among the best with whom I’ve ever worked.”
Construction is in progress on a new community center in LeRoy Park, the oldest park in Santa Barbara County, which will serve as a vibrant gathering place for residents. The city received a $4.5 million Community Development Block Grant, of which $4.1 million was allocated to rehabilitate the existing building and grounds to include a barbecue area, playground, and open lawn. Beginning with a community-wide meeting, the design process was supported by more than a dozen community stakeholder meetings to ensure resident engagement.
“The Guadalupe city council has set a goal to ensure inclusiveness of all groups,” said Bodem. “By connecting the new and the old and bringing people together, we can accomplish great things.”
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.