DID YOU KNOW? Bonnie Donovan
Did you know in Santa Barbara that the most expensive component in the cost of housing is the land?
The only way there can be really affordable housing in Santa Barbara is to take an inventory of all government-owned land in Santa Barbara County, whether it is owned by the federal, state, county or city government. Then select which of those parcels could be suitable for high-density development to provide affordable housing. Then petition the appropriate land-owning authority to grant a claim to use the property for municipal housing development to meet the housing mandates ordered by the state.
Did you know there are 10 new hotels coming to Santa Barbara, some of which are already approved? The total number of rooms in these 10 hotels would be 500. Wouldn’t it be wise to do a moratorium on hotels so that we didn’t create more low-income jobs for people who can’t afford the housing available right now?
With the need for low-income workers and the demand on the water supply for the tourists who stay in these hotels wouldn’t it benefit us to do so? These 500 rooms could be 500 studio/one-bedroom for residents instead of more tourists.
If we really do have a housing crisis, why hasn’t the Santa Barbara City Council brought up an idea of a moratorium? Also, the size/bulk and scale could be smaller without the need for a lobby, bar, café, lounge, public restrooms, etc.
Wouldn’t this also bring down the cost to build?
By the way, we have seen no objective data to prove the dimensions of a housing crisis beyond the fact that a huge influx of students every year takes over rental occupancies and the current restrictive rental laws make them more attractive as tenants than working-class people.
Let us start with a cap on their enrollments.
Santa Barbara City College has become a member of the educational industrial complex. They seem more concerned with enlarging the number of students from outside of the state to increase their revenues, to guarantee their pay and benefits rather than educating our home-grown students, who are badly in need of re-education to rectify the failings of high schools in the Santa Barbara Unified School District.
This focus on students from out of state, adds to the housing shortage. SBCC must focus on Santa Barbara students, or we should stop paying taxes to fund their bonds.
During Tuesday’s city council meeting, “housing” was the big topic, and we the taxpayers were saved from another study at $200,000. But the council instead created an Ad Hoc committee to come up with an ordinance on rent control/stability and a rental registry. This was a victory of common sense over prejudice against landlords for the time being.
The members are the ones who want the additional restrictions on landlords. Nobody is on the committee to represent the other side, and nobody has actual knowledge and data to contribute to recommendations and decisions.
Thank goodness for the economist, Dr. Peter Rupert, who said he has 80 years of actual data proving rent control does not work and is actually counterproductive in reducing the number of available rental units. This is actually Economics 101.
Councilmember Kristen Sneddon questioned Dr. Rupert’s knowledge. She most likely would have done the same if the $200,000 study came back with the same answer. Dr. Rupert suggested vouchers to the renters to pay their rent (section 8). Now the council is talking vouchers.
Soon they will run out of your money to spend.
Getting back to the possibilities of using government land. The city could lay claim to other vacant or underused government-owned properties within Santa Barbara County. The city could enter into joint ventures with developers to build affordable rental housing, where the city provides the land on a lease and the developers construct and own the housing for rent, under rental and lease conditions negotiated between the city and the developers.
Oh, but wait. This idea might be screwed with the demand that anyone doing work on a city job must be with a union.
So we the taxpayers are off the hook for that $200,000. But now we move to Friday’s special meeting where again the Santa Barbara City Council discussed spending over $600,000 annually on a Police Oversight Commission.
The Citizens Formation Commission proposal included a survey, which was offered in English and Spanish. Out of 90,000 residents in Santa Barbara, 1,040 people took the survey. Out of the 1,040 participants, 30.4% were from outside our city limits, proving outside influences are part of the CFC’s recommendations. Only 0.87% were Spanish speakers who participated. Clearly, any reported results from this survey are seriously flawed and should not have been entered into evidence.
There is no doubt that we must take a tough stand and recommend outright rejection of the costs and inbuilt bureaucracy of the proposal by the CFC on the grounds that no convincing case has been made to justify its approval. As outlined in our previous column, there are four actual and potential oversight mechanisms already in place. Their proposal does not even recognize their existence.
The basis for approval of developing oversight proposal at its inception was completely flawed and was the result of the previous mayor surrendering to pressure from Black Lives Matter/Healing Justice activists conflating the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, to Santa Barbara. They were specifically asked to produce a proposal that fit the circumstances of the city of Santa Barbara. But they could not make the case based on the lack of any supportable data that indicated a need for an additional Santa Barbara Police Department oversight board. So they were forced to use the parameters of the general case made for cities like Minneapolis, Chicago and other major city conurbations.
As constructed under Healing Justice influences, the proposal will create an adversarial relationship between the Santa Barbara Police Department and the Santa Barbara City Council. What the city needs is a partnership between the police and the municipality leadership.
SBPD has very strong community support. The police use very little force, and the low number of last year’s complaints — only eight — shows we don’t have an issue.
In the staff’s report on the agenda, they note that they are having to transfer $1.3 million from the general fund to balance the budget. Remember all the city employees in chambers last Tuesday begging for a raise.
These are good reasons not to adopt the CFC’s recommendations. If the city does have an extra $600,000-plus each year, this could fund raises for the non-management employees.
This whole project was started under a different administration and was stimulated by the national emotions of the time after George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis. Santa Barbara is not Minneapolis. The Santa Barbara Police Department is not the Minneapolis Police Department. Our policemen and policewomen are models of behavior and professionalism to be followed by other cities like Santa Barbara.
“Nobody makes a greater mistake than he, or she, who does nothing because they could do only little.”
— Edmund Burke