DID YOU KNOW? Bonnie Donovan
“Occupants of public offices love power and are prone to abuse it.” — George Washington
Read Mayor Cathy Murillo’s campaign fliers and realize we will be in for more of the same.
Talk is cheap, but the costs of votes cast by the Santa Barbara City Council isn’t, between the same build, build, build and give, give, give policies. Again, we pay top dollar, but we don’t see enough good results for our expenditures.
Mayor Murillo boasts she voted for creating a civilian oversight system of the Santa Barbara Police Department and required the officers to wear body cams as part of the department’s accountability. Read her lips: She “voted.” FYI, the police department had requested body cams for years, yet city council dragged their feet. After the BLM took control of our current city council, the officers were granted body cams. More re-writing of history.
Councilmember Alejandra Gutierrez just asked for more money for the police to work with the homeless, this after the council postured to defund them. Remember, part of Mayor Murillo’s campaign platform is for her outreach to the homeless without law enforcement.
Per Ms. Murillo, she claims to have tackled the root cause of homelessness using a 360-strategy with mental health services,and housing to get people off the streets. Let’s look at what her “solutions” entail.
We see the incessant raiding of “Measure C” monies, which were voted in by the public to build the new police department headquarters, maintain infrastructure and solve Santa Barbara’s chronic homeless problem. Instead, “Measure C” has become a candy jar for the city council and its favorite homeless ventures.
On that note, Rene Eyerly, the city’s former sustainability and resilience co-director, and now interim assistant city administrator, told the council, “The program stopped cleaning up the campsites and taking in residents when staff realized permanent housing was a problem.”
Finding housing for the homeless is a problem? In a beach town like Santa Barbara? Seriously?
People living here have always had to scramble for affordable housing. It is no different in Corona Del Mar, Laguna Beach, Carmel and other communities like Santa Barbara. We do wonder who owes any of us a living anywhere. Why are these particular homeless the responsibility of the taxpayers of Santa Barbara?
With a price tag of $10,000 plus per month per person to remain in the Rose Garden Inn without consequences and accountability, how do we dig our city out of this? City Councilmember Friedman said he works two jobs because that’s what it takes to survive in Santa Barbara, and many of us have done the same thing as well.
City Net/SBAct, had the gall to say, if the contract expires, they risk losing all the progress they have made with the 40 Garden Inn residents. How does City Net/SBAct propose to fix in four months what took these people years to do — hit rock bottom? How rock bottom is it that they choose Santa Barbara and they became such a problem that the city rewards them by installing them in a hotel for 120 days? And then big surprise, the city creates a plan with no Plan B or Plan C. No consequences, no accountability — and who is left holding the bag?
The citizens are squeezed, while City Net/SBAct profits. After $1.6 million for four months for 40 people,(the contract was for 55 homeless), what is there to show for this investment made by the taxpayers of Santa Barbara?
Meanwhile, 9,100 Santa Barbarans are on the waiting list for low-income subsidized housing. Will they be bumped for these bad actors, who are where they are because they started fires in dangerous areas?
This is not wise leadership, even if the leaders meant well, and they didn’t want to turn these people out on the street. Seriously? This is the best our leaders can come up with. This is judgment without wisdom.
Speaking of no leadership, isn’t it mind boggling that the city signs a contract, the business fails to deliver and then returns for an extension of the contract and is awarded more money, instead of being fired?
Again, we wonder where the 15 to 25 homeless are, who cost $480,000 for six months back in April 2021? That contract costs $80,000 a month, which is $3,200 a month per homeless person.
July’s contract was for 55 homeless at a cost of $1.6 million for 4 months, which equals $400,000 a month or $7,273 per homeless each month! Last Tuesday’s extension agreement was 40 homeless for $1.3 million for 3 months, which equals $433,333 a month, at $10,833 per homeless each month.
We heard, “…We are going to provide more accountability when we return… We will list how many shelter beds available, how many beds in bridge housing, and if any, how much permanent housing …” Gonna, gonna, gonna, that is all we hear. And the price to temporarily house the homeless keeps increasing with no end in sight.
We ask, how can the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission feed 100 of their clients a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for $221? Maybe they can teach City Net/SBAct a few lessons in accounting? By the way, the Rescue Mission at 535 E. Yanonali St. makes good use of your donations.
And to add insult to injury, the council is suggesting a bond measure for housing the homeless! This is after they squeeze all they can out of Measure C monies.
A homeless situation will not go away by throwing money at it. All it does is attract more people for the taxpayers to fund. When will this end? With no accountability and our lack of current leadership, we have come to this. Shouldn’t the consequences rest at the feet of the present city council by not being re-elected?
As British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”
Our city council members fret about high rents, yet they create legislation that results in rent increases. Instead of a bond measure for homeless via property taxes, we suggest a surcharge ($2?) on every check for patrons of State Street restaurants. After all, they are getting free real estate (parklets), increased services of more lights, sidewalk cleaning, advertisement, police services, etc.
Kudos go to Councilmember Eric Friedman, who did what he was elected for, to represent his district. He stood his ground for the concerns they have regarding the homeless who are in their neighborhood after being installed at the Rose Garden Inn. They were told it was for only four months. Mr. Friedman was adamant they had had enough. After all, this has brought more transient activity to their surrounding neighborhoods.
This is the leadership Santa Barbara needs, those who will stand their ground and represent the needs of the city instead of following political posturing.
How apropos. Last Saturday we chuckled at the sight of three belligerent transients sprawled in the doorway of a vacant building with two “Vote for Meghan Harmon” posters fixed to the wall above them. The owner will have to pay a vacancy tax if Councilmember Harmon gets her way. How ironic. Because the lessee cannot get a tenant improvement permit from the city, the landlord gets taxed for a vacant building. Will this open the city to more lawsuits?
Mayor Murillo bragged about her endorsements — the Democratic Party, the Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter, and Planned Parenthood.
However, the best response was from mayoral candidate Deborah Schwartz, who said her most important endorsement would be from the voters.
The incumbents clamor for the public’s votes during election time but see what they really think about their constituents.
Speak during any public comment, and feel the council members’ disdain as they snap, “Your time is up.”
Your vote in this election is the best way to tell them, “Their time is up.”