Did You Know? Bonnie Donovan
Rising sea level is again the enemy for the Santa Barbara City Council to focus on, one that can’t be captured or conquered.
It is a global problem that without China and India being held to the same standards, will not be abated. Sea level and the blue line. The citizens of Santa Barbara laughed the blue line off the table in derision once before.
Does that not devalue your property?
The desalination and the sewage plants have always been in the coastal zone! The city knew that when it built them. For more information, read ESA’s 36-page executive summary of the report at the city’s sea-level rise adaptation website.
According to former city council member Dale Francisco’s article, “If you do a web search, you’ll find NOAA has provided data on the sea level in Santa Barbara since 1973. They say that the sea level has risen steadily during those almost 50 years at a rate of 1.19 millimeters per year, for a total of about 2¼ inches since 1973.”
Spending time on sea-level rise is like a cat chasing his tail, and a diversion from real issues, avoiding the problems they could do something about — the concrete issue of homelessness, the crime it foments, and the diminishing quality of life in Santa Barbara — look around.
Talk about the lack of “equity” in our own town that is championed by our own city council. Think of all of the Santa Barbara privately owned businesses that are struggling financially during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Many have closed and some are barely hanging in there.
Yet Transportation Planning and Parking Manager Rob Dayton’s gratitude for the city’s partnership with the BCycle electric bike program has been demonstrated by the way he’s rolled out the red carpet for BCycle. They have carte blanche to install their nine-foot solar kiosk anywhere. The kiosks are needed as part of their business model and used only by those without a cell phone (8% of the population has no cell phone). However, the city council was hand-wringing over the fact that the under privileged should have access to a spin on an electric bike.
It’s common knowledge that the Franklin Center and Santa Barbara High School hand out free cell phones. So why the nine-foot kiosk for an access card that can be on your phone? It looks like a beacon for business, as in their billboard.
But the rub is the giveaway of the city’s property to a private enterprise. BCycle pays no rent, at all, anywhere they install their bike docking stations or kiosks, on the sidewalks or the streets.
Verizon pays $2,648 per month for a cell tower within the waterfront, and the participants at the Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show on Cabrillo Boulevard pay an annual license/rental fee of $550. The arts and crafts booths that participate during Old Spanish Days must pay the city $295, of which $60 is for liability insurance to protect the city.
Restaurants must pay the city to rent the space for dining in front of their restaurant and they are charged per table and per chair. Why is this commercial enterprise getting a freebie when no other business in Santa Barbara garners the same favor? It is an unfair advantage for a company that is already undercutting the local competition.
During the appeal to deny the electric bikes in the waterfront area, Mr. Dayton enthusiastically said, “… the BCycles are only $14 an hour when the local bike stores charge $20 an hour. This is like free advertising!”
We can’t wait to see how the point-to-point electric bikes “… will reduce traffic congestion by 40% …” per the owner of BCycles, an offshoot of Trek Bikes. What happened to supporting local businesses?
Again, in the end, no thought or concern was given to the Santa Barbara bike rental businesses who are struggling to stay afloat. The city only gave lip service to not harming their interests and ignored the input from Harbor Commission to oppose the bikes in the Waterfront. The Harbor Commission was unanimous in opposing the bike share docks/kiosk presence in the waterfront and harbor area. The Harbor Commission sent a letter to the city five days before the appeal.
The commission’s concerns are for public safety. These bikes go up to 17 miles per hour, which translates to 25 feet per second, and there’s no income for the use of their property. Think about that.
The city has grown accustomed to giveaways to gain support from investors. The latest example is BCycles.
Since Wheel of Fun pays rent to the city for their waterfront location, how about the city give them equal largesse, letting them go rent free for three years, and see what it does for their business model? And on that note, why not Moby Dick’s, The Harbor Restaurant, the new restaurant at the pavilion? Those are city properties!
After all, due to the pandemic, our city council extended the moratorium on evictions, but the tenant’s landlord still must pay the insurance, property taxes, and possibly utilities. This does not add up. At least we do not see anything equitable or sustainable in these equations.
The people who serve on the many commissions do so for the betterment of the city. They are paid a stipend of $50 a meeting, many go on for hours. Rick Closson, during HC’s public comment said, “Commissioners are a bargain for the city.” But this frugality is no license to demean commissioners further and devalue their time with proforma agenda items for which the commission’s interest is appropriately high, but its reported authority is incidental. As guardians of our city’s historic beauty, commissioners deserve better.”
Case in point, the Harbor Commission was completely left out of the loop with disregard for its input. The Planning Commission decreed the bike docking stations and kiosks must not be on the beach side of Cabrillo Boulevard, to preserve the view.
Discounting the Planning Commission’s direction, city council, during the appeal hearing, said the locations could be “anywhere” BCycle needed to make the project work. We need council members that represent the citizens and not special interests.
We have the opportunity for change in November 2021, when four seats on the council are up for election.
“A lack of transparency results in distrust, and a deep sense of insecurity.” — Dalai Lama