Did You Know?
The quality of any community, besides its local character and beauty, is measured by how it cares for the poor and homeless.
Certainly, Santa Barbara has grappled with various solutions to increased homelessness, and this column has addressed the ineffectiveness of the well-intentioned but ineffective solutions implemented by the Santa Barbara City Council over the past few years. Namely the ultra-expensive social experiment at the Rose Garden Inn, with no exit plan, and a continued huge price tag.
While the new mayor, Randy Rowse, works with the Santa Barbara City Council to come up with more viable solutions that truly help the poor and homeless not only be sheltered, but to find solutions to their plight, we take this time to nod toward the institutions presently in place that address these issues without the exorbitant price tag and support people to get back on their feet.
These institutions include the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, Transition House, the PATH Santa Barbara shelter, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, the Salvation Army, Villa Majella, Unity Shoppe, Catholic Charity and Noah’s Anchorage, where runaways and termed-out foster children can get respite. And the Daughters of Charity at St. Vincent’s and the Franciscan Friars at the Santa Barbara Mission operate the Father Virgil Cordano Center, where the services include the opportunity to do one load of laundry, get a foot wash and relax out of the elements.
Rather than reinvent the wheel, why not consult with some of these effective programs here within our own community? Over time they have helped countless families and individuals to combat drug and alcoholism, learn life skills and childcare techniques. They feed people — and not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Why can’t the city look to see how we can model some of their effectiveness, help them expand their programs and find different sites around town — not within the precious and sensitive downtown corridor?
Under the cover of COVID, all kinds of things happened in the Santa Barbara city government.
The 110-116 E. Cota St. shelter is proposed just seven blocks from the beach. Prime real estate is given to this project, which is needed, but not here. Why not at the site along Turnpike Road or in some area not in the downtown corridor.
Is the city government relentlessly pursuing the demise of Santa Barbara as we know it?
The Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara just requested and received an additional $1.5 million from the city for this “affordable housing” development of 28 studios. With the city’s previous $2 million loan and — $9.2 million in low-income housing tax credits and $5.2 million of conventional funds – these studios look to cost about $700,000 each. For affordable housing?
When will it be understood that enough affordable housing can never be built? Subsidized housing for all who want to live here and at an affordable price? It is the impossible dream. And no one will own up to it.
And if you walked up and down any street (not State Street because they’d all, be tourists) and asked a Santa Barbara resident if they knew or understood anything about the city taking over electric services from SCE, guaranteed, most people would be oblivious. Under the cover, while no one’s looking, let’s make this change — quick!
Who would ever trust a local government to take over and run an energy company, a phone company, cable company or any utility company?
City councils are made up of those from all walks of life. Their expertise is not the running of large corporations, and thankfully, their position is temporary. However, there’s no follow up, no consistency and most importantly, no accountability.
These utility companies need to be run by professional businesses who are better equipped and have the experience, not the local yokel city council. Again, look at the way the city has handled the homelessness and transient problem.
It is obvious we have amateurs at the helm, and we need to listen to those who have decades of experience and serve for altruistic reasons and the good of their fellowman. These entities know how to answer to a reasonable bottom line. They don’t spend $10,000 a month per person.
Speaking of amateurs, we have all seen the gasoline prices increase incrementally during the last year. In California the past week, just in time for an ode to Thanksgiving and family gatherings, the price increased 14 cents overnight. Thank you very much!
Now let’s turn our attention to the national and international outrage at this dormitory called Munger Hall at UCSB. Does the current mayor of Goleta really think that Munger Hall is a viable solution to the housing shortage at UCSB? Has anyone ever heard of a cap on enrollment?
The UC system was originated for students of California. Very simple. Nothing but greed leads to these huge numbers of students attending here, or any UC in the system. When we give priority to qualified California citizens, then open enrollment to non-California residents, the numbers should stabilize. No California student should ever be denied enrollment because foreign and out-of-state students are paying many times the tuition fees.
But back to Mayor Paula Perotte of Goleta. She expressed concern that the attention of Munger Hall in the national news casts an uncertain light on whether “the needed student housing will be built in a reasonable time frame.”
Clearly, she has bought into the $200 million “incentive” already donated to UCSB, with the stipulation that donor Charlie Munger’s designs be followed exactly. That’s a condition for his $200 million donation for a $1.5 billion project.
Since Mr. Munger is 97, he must be driven by strange motivations. If it’s for his progeny, we wonder if he’d like to see any of his grandchildren housed in these windowless rat trap rooms. Unbelievable that anyone would come to one of the most beautiful places in the world to live in the manner of a mole. No human being should be asked to live without access to natural light and fresh air. It’s outrageous.
Even prisoners have a window.
What we need to do is first, stop Munger Hall and any other such heartless construction from ever being considered again. It makes a mockery of the school’s motto “Let there be light!”
Then we need to scrutinize the inner workings of the UC system. This organization has usurped its role, as we’ve said before, as have many others over the past two decades: The goal of the UC Regents to educate California’s youth has been replaced with profiteering. It cannot be reduced to simpler terms.
This sham of a housing solution is dehumanizing and feeds into the greed of the UC system — packing in the students
These schools have become a business catering to very wealthy, often foreign families, no longer caring about the state of California and providing a quality education to its residents.
As many of us know most Californians are denied entrance into the UC system as first- and second-year students. Those spots are reserved for the “out-of-state tuition” students. They = $$$$.
Munger Hall is so reprehensible that it has caught the attention of newspapers, and magazines from coast to coast and even international media outlets. TIcTock too. Despite all this public outcry, the official university line remains “delighted by the proposed structure funded by billionaire Charles Munger, which would (UCSB claims) increase the university’s student housing by 50% …” Seriously? Obviously, the university has steeled itself in resolve to go forward with this building.
This is not a time to acquiesce, it is a time to push harder against it. So much at stake.
Perhaps Charlie Munger, the chancellor and all of us could take a lesson from the Mission Statement that is touted on UCSB’s Design Construction Services landing page:
“Design & Construction Services supports the UC Santa Barbara campus by representing the University in all aspects of capital development and improvement with the goal of creating quality, efficient, safe, and sustainable facilities respectful of the region’s unique and sensitive environment.”
Unbelievable! It has recently come to our attention that Santa Barbara County has purchased an apartment building on El Colegio to house 50 more homeless in the student enclave of Isla Vista while there remains a housing shortage for students! Where is the logic in this? A 5-year-old with a crayon could figure this out.
Why not purchase an apartment building in Old Town Goleta for the homeless? Why should college students have to navigate around the complex issues that homelessness brings?
Editor’s note: The city of Goleta recently decided to sue UCSB for what the city says is its failure to provide enough housing for its students, which the city says leaves an impact on Goleta’s ability to provide enough housing for its residents and workforce.