Did You Know?
“We shape our buildings; thereafter, our buildings shape us.”
— Winston Churchill
Did You Know that if you don’t save history, then your town loses what makes it special?
For all appearances’ sake, a reasonably successful town can exist. But when the underlying fiber of the community is being dismantled through amateur leadership or neglected by a disengaged, distracted populace, the town won’t stand up over the long term.
Santa Barbara remains a rare jewel. But how long before its brilliant facets are worn down or buried?
Does anyone remember Childville, aka Hobo Junction? The benefactor was Mrs. John Howard Child of the formerly Child’s Estate Zoo. The zoo was built on the property gifted to the city of Santa Barbara with one stipulation, that the hobos who lived there while she was alive were allowed to finish their life on the property.
The residents were orderly, had their own mayor, their own rules and kept the place clean.
There were many edicts, a few were “no winos” (addicts) and “no floaters” (transients).
When Mrs. Child sold part of her 17-acre estate, she personally oversaw the relocation of the hobos and their belongings. The hobos were allowed to live on her property, not in her mansion. When she passed, Santa Barbara Foundation transferred her estate to the city of Santa Barbara and the remaining three occupants were relocated.
Santa Barbara has always had its homeless and has been generous to this group. Santa Barbara residents, business leaders and philanthropists have continuously joined together to fill the needs and help their fellow man when down on their luck.
A hand up, not a handout, is what preserves dignity and stokes the self-worth and integrity of the human being.
The Loquita Restaurant building at 202 State St. is one of Santa Barbara’s original shelters. When it grew too small, the community came together, and the Rescue Mission was built. Casa Esperanza at 816 Cacique needed repair. Lady Ridley-Tree funded the stainless-steel kitchen remodel.
Remember Mom’s Italian Village 400 E. Cota St.? Now it is Transition House.
Noah’s Anchorage exists for troubled youth at 301 W. Figueroa St., and 423 Chapala has housed the Salvation Army since 1970.
The Sanctuary house on West Anapamu Street at De La Vina and the Riviera Hotel at 125 W. Carrillo St. both are for those with addictions and mental issues. And for decades, a women’s shelter for victims of domestic violence has been available in Santa Barbara. The Hostel at 200 E. Ortega St. was a low-cost place to rest your head.
Fess Parker’s hotel at 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd. was delayed until he built a youth hostel on Montecito St. He passed away before the Youth Hostel was built, and the new owner was allowed to construct the “Wayfarer Hotel,” now called “The Waterman.” That youth hostel never came to fruition. Maybe if we still had a few hostels as communal living, there would be fewer people on the street, or caught in between.
We name just a few of the shelters. There are others throughout the city. What is available to the homeless in the county? We ask because the city of Santa Barbara is part of Santa Barbara County. The County Board of Supervisors also represent Santa Barbara residents, and we in fact vote them into office. (Or do we? Search: Francisco Torres voting fraud lawsuit). The County just passed its budget of $1.36 billion.
Speaking of the county’s budget, during COVID-19, the jail released inmates early to decrease the population. Some were temporarily housed in a hotel on upper State Street, and many ended up on our streets.
Now Supervisors Das Williams and Gregg Hart suggest because of the COVID-induced diminished jail expenditures, the remains of the original budget should be diverted to social programs. Isn’t this taking funds from police work which is to protect and serve the citizens?
More than 40 encampment fires have occurred since January. Who responds to those emergencies but Public Safety Personnel?
We ask why city representatives were met with deafening silence when they contacted other government officials for help in this homeless crisis. We are all living in the same world, right? Yet the government officials, county supervisors and senators contacted were non-responsive to the requests for help.
Recall during the Santa Barbara City Council meeting on May 25, staff presented an estimated cost of $900,000 to relocate 35 to 50 homeless people from the fire-prone areas under the Emergency Declaration.
Two weeks later on June 8, the players returned to council to pass the Resolution for Emergency Declaration with suggested sites for the relocation. Yet with no noticing to the tax-paying citizens, city staff, Citi-Net, and SBAct (the help-the-homeless gurus) had been negotiating with hotels to acquire a master lease, just for the fire season of four months.
A good question was asked by Councilmember Mike Jordan, “… If only 35 people show up, is the city on the hook for 50 units?”
Understand taxpayers, it appears the city plans to take on the master lease of an entire hotel to house the homeless, not from here necessarily, but who have chosen to live here although they have no obvious nor adequate means to establish themselves here.
City staff were asked for parking lots for campsites, instead they came back with hotels. Remember the pallet homes?
The costs to purchase 35 pallet homes at $4,975 each, equals $174,125. Plus, you own them to recycle and move to other locations if needed.
At the end of the hotel lease, you own nothing. Bad investment. The Pallet Homes could be installed at the Airport property, up off the asphalt.
SB Act, Citi Net, and City Council say the Airport location does not have transportation or needs that serve the homeless, yet explain why Citi Net and SB Act have placed clients at a hotel on Hollister next to the Airport. Councilman Harmon stated, “It feels a bit to me like we are sort of just moving the problem to someone else’ back yard.”
Is she not aware that April’s check, the last one she authorized of $500,000 to SB Act and Citi Net was for “up to 25 homeless” in hotel rooms as “bridge housing”? Some of which are in Goleta, near the airport, by a bus stop? This accommodates their “wrap-around” services.
By the way, the Transient Occupancy Tax from Goleta hotels go to Goleta, as do the sales taxes. Breakfast and a pool are included — no joke.
Now this projected cost of a hotel (instead of a campsite) has doubled the price to $1.8 million for four months. $450,000 a month for 35 people amounts to $12,857 per month per person. Wow.
Calculate: If this Goleta hotel room is $129 a day, then that rate times 30 days equals $3,870 a month, times 35 homeless equals $135,450 total per month. $1.8 million divided by four months equals $450,000. Subtract $135,450 (for hotel rooms) from $450,000 equals $314,550 to pay for “wrap-around services” each month!
Call your City Council representative to find out what wrap-around services include. Therefore, $314,550 times four months equals $1,258,200 — that’s right — $1,285,200 for wrap-around-services. Can you wrap yourself around that? It’s wrapped around your wallet! What an example of the handout vs. hand-up methods.
How much of this money is being bankrolled by the cottage industry of these “Homeless Inc.” groups? We would like to know their salaries and actual expenses. What are the success numbers that are so good, that Councilmember Sneddon gushed about? We have not heard of them nor seen them, nor experienced them in our walkabout world.
Nor do we hear about any re-unification program. And with a monthly rent check due to SBAct/Citi Net, it feels like we are being hung out to dry.
Another idea brought to the table last Tuesday, this one by Councilman Oscar Gutierrez was to declare eminent domain as a possible solution to find land for encampments. Thankfully, this was nixed by Mayor Cathy Murillo.
Other concerns for “Emergency Declaration” relocations were that the City Hall’s parking lot is “…too much of a fishbowl.” Yet what is the freeway onramp? The airport or a parking lot is wrong — too hot, no shade and as Councilmember Sneddon said, “… was inhumane treatment for the tent-dwellers …”
Some of these homeless can travel hundreds of miles to Santa Barbara, yet when it comes to choosing locations to allow them to sleep, they have “free” rein and dictate their locale. Would not we all love to live on Park Lane in Montecito— for free, with services provided to us?
New arrivals are considered “residents” of Santa Barbara within 24 hours and eligible for our generous hand-outs. Go to Alameda Park downtown and see how quickly the word must have spread that the city will stand for anything.
The “tent city” grows rapidly and will probably cover the entire park in the next three weeks from sidewalk to sidewalk. They may complain about the numerous streetlights being added for city transportation planner Rob Dayton’s bike lane. Wouldn’t you?
You can participate or just watch by Zoom with Rob Dayton on June 16 as he trades away another vehicle lane for a bike lane and takes out eight more parking spaces on Chapala from Sola to Mission. Where does he expect the traffic, he diverted from State Street to go except onto Anacapa and Chapala?
Hooray! Caring Santa Barbarans and the Historic Landmarks Commission were victorious in their efforts to save the Mission Creek Bridge “as is” with its historic and bucolic feel. All 20 feet of it! By the way, the projected cost of $11 million is $500,000 a foot. We thank HLC for doing its job to preserve history.
“Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government solution.”
— Milton Friedman