Did You Know? By Bonnie Donovan
We sent our “Did You Know” column to the News-Press the day before the fire was started at the foot of TV Hill. (Three additional encampment fires happened just before the Loma fire.)
The 23-year-old alleged arsonist, who was caught red-handed, has been charged with felony and misdemeanor charges.
Santa Barbarans living in the area report that the calling system, which is supposed to be in place for such emergencies, failed to provide adequate, if any, warning. This was explained: The present system is not set up to warn citizens in such rapid events. It is a work in progress.
We respectfully note the passing of Hal Conklin, a man who served on the Santa Barbara City Council from 1977 to 1993, and who served as the city’s mayor for just over a year.
A man who played a strategic role in the restoration of a formerly sorely neglected Santa Barbara gem, The Granada. He worked to establish the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and implemented the city’s 1st Thursday celebration.
His role in redefining Stearns Wharf is probably his greatest contribution.
How many people in Santa Barbara remember the state of the wharf before it’s reopening in 1981? And, as reported in 1983 by the Coastal Commission, it was revealed that the wharf was bringing in more revenue than San Francisco’s Pier 39.
What Santa Barbara needs is a mayor and a city council that will save our community from the wave of amateurism that has blighted this town since the mid-1990s.
The results are evident just driving around town, seeing the monster projects going up in every part of town, including the sacred “Downtown Corridor.” What is in store for the future, when these buildings are full, our beautiful vistas are blocked and our streets are blighted with congestion?
We take for granted a concert in the gorgeous and perfectly restored Granada. We appreciate the beauty. Do we give a thought to how hard it was to make it happen? The level of committed and wise leadership?
We stroll along Stearns Wharf. We proudly take our visiting friends and relatives up and down this rare and world-class venue. We can hardly recall, if at all know, that the wharf floundered in a ruined state for a decade or more.
Can you imagine this current mayor and City Council bringing about any such changes, implementing such important projects?
“Lord, give me coffee to change the things I can … and music to accept the things I can’t.”
— Charles M. Schultz
No, instead we see State Street looking more like a second-world bazaar, with threats to make these changes permanent. You will get plenty of agreement from any 30-something soaking up the sunshine on a make-shift platform protruding into State Street with a drink in hand. “We love this,” they say in unison. Most of them are out-of-towners, for sure, but plenty are from here.
So shall our decisions for the state of State Street depend upon the opinions of people here described? Do we just take a street poll of downtown diners and revelers? That is like asking students, “How about if we skip reading ‘Hamlet’ this year and just watch the movie?” That would be the way of the amateur politician. No doubt about it.
And let us not forget what we could lose. Maybe not having the Fiesta Parade travel up State Street this year is a more prudent decision, even though the state and most of the country predicts that we will be operating at a fairly safe and normal standard by June 15.
The parade takes place in August. And remember what the Fiesta Parade represents to Santa Barbara: the local and visiting equestrian units, the business that helps our rare and precious Earl Warren Showgrounds to thrive, the carefully preserved carriages and stagecoaches that get rolled out and used, thanks to the Santa Barbara Carriage Museum. The myriad bands and drill teams, and community floats that make this parade so rich, so rare and grand.
And not to forget the other parades throughout the year which bring our community uniquely and powerfully together — the Fourth of July, Christmas, and hello, the Summer Solstice! The Los Niños parade, which travels down State Street, where many many generations of Santa Barbara’s children have donned a Zorro mask, or worn a pretty Fiesta skirt proudly within their own family or children’s community group.
We all remember their faces at the end of the parade when they receive their little cup of vanilla ice cream, provided by some dedicated organization.
What would happen to those traditions if State Street were closed permanently? Divert the Fiesta Parade to travel up Chapala? Have the Los Niños Parade glide down Anacapa?
And seriously, it’s not just the parades which will suffer. State Street — in fact, all the streets of Santa Barbara — were designed by a civic genius, Mr. Salisbury Haley — or as some people call him, Capt. Salisbury Haley.
Do we want this present group in Santa Barbara City Hall determining the future of such a unique and intelligent city plan? Do we?
On Tuesday, the City Council had a special meeting at 6 p.m. called by Councilmen Eric Friedman and Mike Jordan, due to the Loma Alta fire a week ago. Great information from City Attorney Ariel Calonne. “Sleeping and encampment are two different things.”
The emergency declaration must be coupled with locations to move the homeless for the declaration to work. Mr. Friedman said, “Laws aren’t protecting our community.”
Interim Police Chief Bernard Melekian said to “be aware and prepare … know your evacuation path before an emergency happens.” We have been told this each and every year.
Chief Melekian also showed a one-minute police bodycam video of the police and fire department going door to door evacuating homes. When asked, Barbara Andersen, the collaborative facilitator for SB ACT, said it would cost, “$100 million to house all our current homeless.” The estimated cost is “$900,000 to move the encampments to parking lots for the next four months.”
The state of emergency declaration passed unanimously! Suggested locations will be brought to council on June 8. Get your neighborhood together and see if you have a possible location. The Santa Barbara Mission for years has provided safe parking for females in their lot. Is your church a possibility? Maybe you can provide additional services? More than land is needed, it could be another kind of volunteerism.
Could Pacifica Graduate Institute, and any other schools in Santa Barbara, have their students do their hours for certification with counseling/volunteering with our homeless?
All high school students need 60 hours of community service to graduate. Perhaps they can volunteer by passing out food/toiletries or help in some other way?
Do you have miles you can give to help one of our non-Santa Barbara homeless get home? We, as a community, can come together and solve this situation.
Who can you reach out to? Eric Friedman, at firstname.lastname@example.org, Mike Jordan, at email@example.com, or Did You Know? at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a company, landowner or a county board of supervisors, what can you do? If you know any elected officials from Santa Barbara County, call them and ask them to step up. The county owns all of the property around the County Mental Health building on Calle Real. Can they step up? To the owners of the Sears property, would you rent the upper parking lot to the city for four or six months? MarBorg, how about a donation of the bathrooms and just charge us for the emptying of them?
Maybe you don’t own anything but want to help. You can report any furniture dumped around town to be picked up. Call MarBorg at 805-963-1852. Report encampments at https://formstack.io/8317F.
Do you have fruit trees in your yard to donate to the sites? Everyone can help in some way. Remember when everyone came together to make the masks when we didn’t have any? If we all pull together now, when these locations are ready to open, it could be set up quickly.
The Native Americans were able to procure the Army Reserve building at the corner of Las Positas and State Street, yet they need money to remodel. Maybe the county can rent it for six months to help with funding while helping the homeless! By the way, a large parking lot exists at that location.
The Safe Parking Program operates as follows:
- Safe Parking currently operates 26 lots with 156 spaces in the City of Santa Barbara, Goleta, and the County unincorporated areas in between
- The lots are owned by City, County, faith-based communities, non-profits, and for-profit businesses
- Lots operate typically 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., 365 nights per year
- Each client completes a lengthy intake process with program staff and is connected to case management services, benefits, and resources
- Clients are required to have valid drivers’ license, vehicle registration, and insurance
- The program provides a safe space for individuals and families to sleep in their vehicles at night and stabilize while they work with staff to address their needs and transition back into permanent housing
- Clients must meet with staff each month to check in and renew their Safe Parking permit
- Each lot owner is covered by New Beginnings’ general liability insurance
- Each lot is monitored nightly by a lot monitor/outreach worker to ensure client compliance with program rules
- Safe Parking is always looking for community partners who are able to provide the use of their lot for nighttime parking use or daytime use for oversized vehicles. We also seek partnerships with local landlords to be able to move our clients into stable housing
Demand we bill the communities who are sending their homeless here. It isn’t humanitarian to send people to an expensive place like Santa Barbara. We don’t have enough housing as it is, and their chances for successful re-entry is harder here than other places in California. If you encounter a homeless person, ask them where they came from and how they got here. Ask them if they want help getting home. The police department has implemented a reunification program for this purpose.
Did You Know? would like to acknowledge the police and fire department who work tirelessly on the issues related to homeless encampments 24-7. We appreciate you!
“Leaders keep their eyes on the horizon, not just on the bottom line.”
— Warren Bennis