Staff Report

After more than 20 years of serving Santa Barbara County in various capacities, Santa Ynez Valley resident Elizabeth Farnum has retired from her post as a local representative for the 3rd District county supervisor.

Farnum had worked as an attorney in the County Counsel’s office, volunteered as a Planning Commissioner, and most recently worked for 10 years as a 3rd District Representative for both Supervisors Doreen Farr and Joan Hartmann.

She retired on Jan. 10, and Hartmann has hired environmental consultant Meighan Dietenhofer, a Santa Ynez Valley native, to fill the position.

Farnum began her work for Santa Barbara County as a deputy county counsel specializing in land use, air quality, and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) issues. After that, she served as 3rd District planning commissioner, appointed by Supervisor Gail Marshall.

Upon her election in 2008, Farr named Elizabeth as district representative for the Santa Ynez Valley – a role she filled for all of Farr’s tenure and for the past two years with Hartmann.

 Elizabeth’s extensive experience at the county, her encyclopedic knowledge of Santa Ynez Valley issues, and her close relationships with valley residents were instrumental in providing wise counsel and practical advice on a wide variety of policy issues such as the Santa Ynez Valley Community Plan, water, parks and open space, libraries, seniors, the Gaviota Coast, and Highway 154 safety improvements, according to a county statement.

“Throughout all of the challenges and emergencies that arose over the years,” Farr said, “Elizabeth remained stalwart, calm and unflappable and became not just a trusted and loyal member of my staff but a good friend and confidant. Her retirement is certainly well deserved, but she will be sorely missed by so many residents for whom she worked incredibly hard to make Santa Barbara County a better place to live for everyone.”

 “I will dearly miss working with Elizabeth every day. I am deeply grateful for her years of service to both the 3rd District and the county. She has played a tremendous role in preserving the rural character of the valley and has helped hundreds, if not thousands, of valley residents. She has been our rudder,” Hartmann said.

In retirement, Farnum said, she looks forward to more adventure traveling, more swimming, snorkeling and hiking, and just spending more time outside, which includes gardening.

She was recognized for her years of service with an honorary resolution at the Jan. 8 Board of Supervisors meeting.

Meighan Dietenhofer

Meighan Dietenhofer, who has been hired to fill the position, has worked for more than 20 years in private environmental consulting, for UCSB at Sedgwick Reserve, and for Santa Barbara County at both the Flood Control District and the Water Agency.

She holds a bachelor of science degree in biology from the University of Puget Sound and a master’s degree in water resources management from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UCSB.

She lives in the Santa Ynez Valley, where she is a third-generation resident and where she and her husband are now raising their two children.

Dietenhofer most recently served as a commissioner representing the 3rd District on the county’s Riding and Hiking Trails Advisory Committee and on the county’s Park Commission.

 “I am ecstatic that Ms. Dietenhofer is joining our staff; she has diverse experience and deep roots in the Santa Ynez Valley and I feel very fortunate to bring her skills and knowledge to our team,” Hartmann said.

 The 3rd District is the geographically largest and most diverse district in the county, extending from UCSB and Isla Vista up the Gaviota Coast, into the Santa Ynez Valley and up to Vandenberg Village and Guadalupe.

Hartmann maintains offices in Santa Maria in the Joseph Centeno Betteravia Government Center at 511 Lakeside Parkway, in Solvang at 1745 Mission Drive, and in Santa Barbara in the county Administrative Building at 105 East Anapamu St.