Did You Know? Bonnie Donovan
The rains have finally arrived! What a good send-off from 2021 — hopefully it will wash away some of the bad news of the passing year and bring in lots of joy and renewal to the new year.
Even though some may understandably quip that “we are sinking into the holiday and feeling a bit hollowed out” (Josef Woodard), next week we do start a new chapter in city government. Let’s fill out the “hollowed” feeling with acts of civic and community spirit – pride in our own gracious town. Acting in concert for the greater good.
Like every year, as we win some and lose some, most of us experience some unintended consequences that may or may not work out as expected.
Many key figures and department heads found ways to retire early. As many insiders wanted to clean house, it appears they got what they wished for, except for one player who lingers.
However, the city lost many seasoned police officers during the last year due to the current cultural climate. As in “defund the police” and liquidate their budget by transferring the monies to use social workers instead of police officers. Because cops scare people, haven’t you heard?
Yet still, the cops are called to respond to the incidents and provide law and order.
In the aftermath, the Santa Barbara Police Department is down approximately 20 out of 140 sworn positions and “nobody wants to be a cop anymore.” Would you? Think about it. Emergency services of police, fire and medics are the only thing you pay for that is available to you 24/7.
Speaking of getting what you pay for, on an interesting financial note, our city, arm in arm with the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara, provided the wherewithal for homeless to live in million-dollar condos six blocks from the beach and less than two blocks from the downtown corridor, aka the State Street Promenade. Can you believe it?
Our city fathers used silver lining shovels to celebrate and break ground on 28 apartments at Plaza de Vera Cruz. The new low-income housing was purchased for $17 million and $10 million of tax credits.
That translates to us as $28 million for 28 apartments for the homeless, coming from anywhere.
Where is the money coming from?
All apartments come with access to services, for employment, food, mental health and life planning. We see this is a win for some, but for the taxpayer, is it?
On a positive note, these million-dollar condos are across the street from the new site for the police department. A convenient unintended consequence.
For those who do relocate to Santa Barbara, please don’t bring your “Boston ways” or the things you miss from your previous hometown. If you were drawn here and were moved enough by Santa Barbara, to resettle, please accept the ways of your new city.
Students come from all over the world and throughout our country, yet they are encouraged by local politicians to vote in our elections — and most often without any knowledge or background of what the issues are. How could they? The students arrive in August, and elections may occur in November of the same year.
It’s not a fair representation and does a disservice to the full-time residents. No doubt this sentiment is being echoed across the nation.
A positive unintended consequence we experienced due to the lock-down of COVID-19 is that architectural plans are now online for the public to study before they attend the respective meetings for the Historic Landmark Commission, Single Family Design Board, Architectural Board of Review and Santa Barbara Planning Commission. Thanks to the situation that forced the modernization and coupled with the tenacity of AMG who kept bringing it to the forefront.
The added convenience and ability to know what the presenters are talking about has made a positive difference, one that is especially needed with the drawback of the postage stamp Zoom meetings.
In Santa Barbara County, as in many cities, the rapidity in the development of vaccines by the pharmaceutical companies, the amazingly fast emergency approval, the enormous build-up in production and distribution and the efficient process was proof positive that when we must, we can make the system work and work well.
We are grateful to the Santa Barbara medical teams and the hundreds of volunteers who in Santa Barbara style came together and assisted thousands with the vaccine, and homemade masks accompanied with sensitivity, charm, good humor and dedication.
In fact, the present administration of our country just acknowledged that the previous president did bring the vaccine to the forefront during Operation Warp Speed.
Remember, all have been released under Emergency Use Authorization just as the Pfizer pill, Paxlovid, and Merck’s Molnupiravir, both which were approved last week, again under EUA.
We thank the first responders, the nurses, the doctors, the medics and all the nonprofits making a difference. Some include the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, Meals on Wheels, Boys and Girls Club, etc., and all the Good Samaritans going out of their way to help another person or family. As we enter the third year of COVID-19, why aren’t N95 masks offered to the public, as they were during the Thomas Fire?
On a high note, churches and schools were reopened, and indoor dining is back in operation, although we wonder for how long. Still, we wait for our county’s Public Health Department to give the same authorization they gave movie theaters to reopen. We look forward to our city being able to open the chambers of City Hall and the David Gebhard Public Meeting Room at the Community Development Department at 630 Garden St. We feel there is better communication and get more response when we all show up in person.
We celebrate our new mayor, who takes office in January and ran as an independent, and hope we all come to the middle to work together.
“We are all part of something special this year,” Mayor-elect Randy Rowse said. “My daily meetings with department heads, organizations, private businesses, and my future council colleagues encourage me to believe we’re all ready to move forward. I’m excited the way a skydiver feels as he approaches the open fuselage door …. prepared, confident and ever prayerful that the chute will actually open. Regardless of the percentage of voters who supported my election, I’ll be working for 90,000 bosses come January, not just those who voted for me.
“This past year has had its share of challenges, and there are plenty more ahead. There are some new and very talented people in the city organization, and the people of this community have always risen to the task when asked to do so. I suppose if steelhead can swim upstream, then so can we.”
This new year marks the beginning of new leadership in city government. May it move forward with a renewed sense of decorum and concern for all members of the Santa Barbara we call our home.
“If you wish to go to extremes, let it be in sweetness, patience, humility and charity.”
—St Philip Neri