Did You Know? By Bonnie Donovan
ninformed voting has consequences! We are now living with the results in the state of California, the County and especially in the City of Santa Barbara.
Ben Carson recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “A once-unthinkable agenda, a relentless push for more high-density housing in single-family residential neighborhoods, has become the mainstream goal of the left.”
Right now California Assembly member Monique Limon, representative from Santa Barbara, is supporting SB1120, which changes zoning for single-family homes to allow lot splits into two sellable parcels, with at least two duplexes on each lot. Without any public feedback.
Two duplexes can be built on a lot size no smaller than 1,200 square feet! If you think this high-density housing is only for downtowns, wake up. They are coming to a neighborhood near you.
Call or email Ms. Limon at email@example.com and tell her to vote No on SB1120, unless squeezing out the middle class seems equitable to you. The date of the vote in Congress is TBA. Make your voice heard now.
All but one of our City Council members voted to accept the “Development Agreement term sheet” with the 711 N. Milpas Street partners, Alan Bleecker and Ed St. George.
The back-patter’s doublespeak was as full of baloney as your sandwich in third grade. For the promise of 16 “moderate-income” units, the project added 10,000 square feet, increased the height to 48 feet and in some places went to 52 feet. The developers hope the 16 units can house teachers and first responders “by partnering to create employer-assisted housing.” Translation: with 66 market rate units with Riviera views, there are the 16 units council member Alejandra Gutierrez gushed over which will be subsidized by the taxpayers to be affordable to the middle class? Where is the community benefit?
She further justifies her position by claiming, “This is an area that was abandoned most of the time and where a lot of fights break out.” Abandoned only because Bleeker bought the parcels and forced the businesses out. 800 E Ortega St. a place of “fights”? Refutable for sure.
The parting shot by the developers’ representative, council member Sneddon’s, was “… concerns are the standard concerns of many that have opposed housing projects for years in Santa Barbara …,” which makes us “those people.” Those with standards for our beloved Santa Barbara. Although lowered, we fight to uphold “standards.”
For this “progress and taking housing seriously,” the impressionable Santa Barbara Junior High students, while on their playing field, will be shadowed by a 48 to 54 foot-wall reminiscent of a Los Angeles shopping mall. No more mountain views for them.
How cheaply we are sold and how naively our City Council votes. We remember when former Mayor Marty Blum exclaimed about the Chapala development behind the Paseo Nuevo, “Who knew they would be so big?” These plans were approved on her watch!
Tony Hiss from Smithsonian magazine writes that overdevelopment damages our own lives by cutting us off from some of the sights and sounds, the shapes or textures that help mold our understanding of self and place. Up until now, this concept has been well understood by the city planners, leaders and keepers of Santa Barbara’s historic and natural beauty over the last century.
Look at what is already lost in Santa Barbara in exchange for a compact urban scale called “needed housing.” Almost every parcel has gone from one story or two stories to three or four — and now with “community benefit,” the sky is the limit as the projects expand to 48 feet with 54-feet “components”.
835 E. Canon Perdido was a one-story cleaners. Now it’s three stories of 41 luxury apartments; Villa Las Rosa, three stories of 40 Housing Authority apartments; 800 Santa Barbara St. lost a one-story adobe and mountain views for three floors of apartments; 200 E. De La Guerra, three-story housing; the old Craviotto one-story building, now three stories of luxury apartments.
The list goes on as the concrete canyons grow.
And then the Estancia, the Marc, the projects on Hope Avenue, the Arlington Apartments — our heads are spinning!
And what we are about to gain – more density while losing more sky. The 710 State St. project will take out Restoration Hardware and the Press Room on Ortega. The developer said the multi-use 36 high-end apartment project would “solidify downtown.” Interesting choice of words.
410-415 State St is proposed as an 84-unit, 52-feet tall building. Good-bye, sky, you went to the highest bidder.
Said council member Meagan Harmon, ”… so many of us, from residents to planners, to city officials and others have been beating the drum of downtown housing for so long. Bringing needed, much desired housing units to our core downtown …” Really? What do you know about SB, Meagan? You relocated from Lompoc just a couple years ago.
The results of the AIASB Survey said the majority agreed to three stories, no more; however, the city is giving away the farm. Again the complacency of the decision makers and not listening to the people is costing us our “American Riviera.”
Is our city lost to the new look as a result of the political favors that are noted in the Novak Report, released August 2020? The city paid consultants FROM OHIO to troubleshoot the Community Development Department. Talk about local input.
The report also recommended the City combine or eliminate the building review boards (single family, ABR, HLC and Planning Commission). This to obliterate the “fuss” and streamline the building permit process. Talk about political favors.
Four City Council seats are up for election, November of 2021: the mayor and three council seats. We must hold on for another year with this maudlin group of followers.
Fellow Santa Barbarans, due to the COVID-induced mandatory remote learning, this is the first time in history the resident’s vote will outweigh the vote of the out-of-town student bodies. Students are normally enticed to vote by a free coffee or a concert, but this November, the majority of them will still be in their hometowns Zooming their education.
We dodged a bullet in the last county supervisors meeting where supervisors voted over the issue of Peace Officers and “other” public officials who could write a citation for the offense of not wearing a mask. Even the librarian and dog catcher could write you a ticket.
PLEASE DO NOT MAIL YOUR BALLOTS UNTIL YOU HAVE RESEARCHED EACH PERSON FOR EACH VOTE and considered the ramifications for the future.
We have lost a lot of Santa Barbara, yet your vote can stem the tide of further development and loss of this beautiful and unique city.
Bonnie Donovan writes the “Did You Know?” column in conjunction with a bipartisan group of local citizens. It appears Sundays in the Voices section.