The location of the farmers’ market and new police station in Santa Barbara needs to be decided by the voters. Disrupting the tradition of the farmers’ market at its long-standing location is too important an issue to be decided by the City Council. Everyone has to live with this decision. Hopefully, the voters will make a wise decision.
If the council votes to put a police station in the Cota parking lot, there will be a lot of ill feelings toward the council and the police. Based on the large amount of opposition during public comment about putting the police station where the farmers’ market currently is, I believe the majority of voters would vote down that location. Also, about 8,000 signatures have been gathered in support of keeping the current location.
The market on Cota Street has become a tradition, and there’s a wonderful sense of community there, which decreases crime, I believe. Communities need some traditions, some things that don’t change — like the farmers’ market location, and De la Guerra Plaza. They’ve been tying up horses for over 100 years in the plaza, for example, and this occurred not that long ago with Karin Hauenstein, who was riding across California to stop horse slaughter.
If the Cota lot had buildings on it, another location would be found, and there is always money for police stations. The police station could be temporarily relocated to the former National Guard site by Santa Barbara High School while a new police station is constructed on the site of the current one. The District Attorney’s building next to the police station is much higher, so another story or two could be added to the police station. Parking lots surround the station, so the footprint could be expanded, with parking underground. A location close to the Courthouse and State Street is ideal for many reasons, including testifying against prisoners, and foot patrols. There are real environmental benefits to keeping the current location.
As important as a new police station may be, preventing crime is even more important, and I wish at least as much money could go for that. Imagine the wonderful youth programs that could be created with all that money. For example, horseback riding and horse care programs have been quite effective with prisoners in changing lives. If poor kids (and, hopefully, all kids) had a chance to work with horses and animals, it could change their lives, and decrease crime in our community.
A lot of beautiful trees full of flowers at certain times of the year would have to be removed at the Cota lot, and that flies right in the face of Santa Barbara being a “Bee City.”
It’s not an easy issue. The City Council could ask for divine wisdom and help in making a wise decision. For this and other issues, I would like to suggest a moment of silence at the beginning of each council meeting.
The council doesn’t need to create bad feelings by going against so much of the community. The most respectful thing would be to put the matter on the ballot for voters to decide. I think the public will be much more comfortable with their own decision.