Did You Know?
Does anyone else smell Rome burning? Numerous transient fires were reported in Santa Barbara during the last two and a half weeks.
On May 17, west of the Carrillo Street underpass — there was another homeless encampment fire. (Making drugs, cooking food?) It is not to burn their garbage — that is cleared by Big Green, Caltrans and the City Fire Department.
We doubt that neither the City Council nor the County Board of Supervisors could tell you where the fires are, but there have been different calls for transient fires on the Garden Street off ramps at Highway 101, on the train corridor at Walnut Avenue, on TV Hill — a Loma Alta encampment, the tree canopy at MacKenzie Park, the southbound 101 onramp at Carrillo Street, a brush fire next to Dos Pueblos High School, Summerland vegetation fire along the 101, and a “warming” fire at Fairview Avenue and the 101 near the Twin Lakes Golf Course in Goleta — all this since May 1. Most likely, more are to come.
If our local officials had called the homeless encampment situation a “Public Health Crisis” during the pandemic, perhaps our officials could have requested that the governor send in the National Guard to build Tent Cities. We could have been ahead of the curve.
Homeless cannot be removed from their camps unless there is a “bed” available. Now that Gov. Gavin Newsom has called for the end of COVID restrictions June 15, those beds provided by the National Guard would have been ready for each homeless person to be removed from encampments and installed in a safe “living space.”
Last week, Cal Poly gave away all its cots that were requisitioned for COVID overflow. The new beds would have worked for the homeless to have sleeping quarters in a clean environment.
By the way, the National Guard was here during COVID unloading trucks at the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.
“A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”
— George S. Patton
We don’t get it — a reader of the Did You Know? column, who’s housing paperwork is being slow-walked (billable hours by city-contracted homeless organizations) — was told “hurry and get into the system, because families with children, even if they apply after you, will get priority for housing. A maximum of 20,000 children are to be housed at Camp Roberts for up to four years.”
Four years? If children crossing our border can be housed in Camp Roberts, why weren’t our homeless in California offered shelter there?
A homeless man outside of a restaurant tried to sell us a bluetooth speaker. We declined but offered to buy him a meal. Upon further conversation, he said he was from Arizona, just released from prison and was given a one-way ticket to Santa Barbara.
When we said we could buy him a ticket back home to Arizona, he declined our offer. “If I go home, they will throw me in jail.”
So how do we win this war? This is like a modern-day underground railroad. It makes no sense, for it goes nowhere for no one. Unless you are in the homeless business.
How do you keep your customers coming? Can you believe a week ago, SB Act asked for an additional $250,000? Can you imagine if you had numerous change order requests on the original contract of a construction job? It would be like the Winchester House — never completed.
This is a never-ending train at the hands of administrators whose gravy depends on more people going nowhere. They are welcomed here and then funneled slowly.
Months ago, it was reported that the homeless lady removed by the city from the Fig Tree was throwing garbage on the 101.
SBAct and City Net were advised and yet it still occurs. They said the reason is because she does not want help. Who will help the motorist when her garbage causes their traffic accident?
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
After nearly 10 years in the formulating, and much pleading, demanding, and cajoling of the public, the Historic Resource Guidelines were finally presented to the City Council and soon to be adopted. The guidelines are a resource for homeowners and builders to use as they check the requirements expected to streamline their way to project approval. These are for properties within any historic district overlay zones.
Last Wednesday, the first town hall meeting of the year was conducted via webinar, the subject — California Housing Legislation in the 2021 session. The focus of which was housing and land-use Senate Bills that will affect all of California. Assemblyman Steve Bennett and City Councilmember Kristen Sneddon voiced the most understanding and awareness of the ramifications for our special geographical situation.
Ms. Sneddon remarked that a certain amount of Santa Barbara is at 14% grade. Inherent problems due to evacuation and fire danger are part of our landscape. The guest speakers, Dane Hutchings and Dan Carrig, both from a Sacramento advocacy group (RPPG) and Los Angeles Councilmember Laura McCorkindale, all in opposition of SB 9 and 10, said this is of grave concern for our way of life.
Sen. Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, seemed disinterested as if her mind was already made up. She said both SB 9 and 10 “… likely have the votes.” Sacramento and Washington D.C. are her stomping grounds now.
It is common knowledge that high density creates ghettos. Is this Sacramento’s idea of equity? Ghettos for everyone everywhere.
Most of the discussion was Senate Bills 9 and 10 which destroy single family zoning, deny local control, allow only 4-foot setbacks, no fees to support infrastructure and are a free-for-all for developers. No affordable housing is part of this plan.
Assemblyman Bennet said the housing needed is for our existing population, not Australians who want a third home. The housing units will be affordable eventually when the living style becomes less and less desirable and people move away.
Speaking of form — when will we return to in-person meetings?
When will the City Council get back into its chamber so citizens can be heard and seen?
It is obvious when one is texting (eyes down) and pausing their screen (absent) during the virtual meetings. It shows a lack of respect and is disconcerting. At times it is questionable if the panel is even at the meeting, when the participant does not answer the roll call or the online chat.
The citizens donate their own time, while we pay a handsome salary to these panels of City Council members and other funded organizations.
Excellent taxpayer news — remember the $4.7 million purchase (after improvements) with taxpayer dollars for a homeless transition house at 134 Chapala St.? A week ago during a Regional Action Plan meeting, it was announced that the property went to a private buyer, not the county.
Hence, it stays on our collective tax rolls, and transients will not be in proximity with our tourists and others enjoying our beachfront on the public dime, with a 40-inch screen TV and every channel available.
Wonder why there is no incentive to “pick yourself up and start all over again?”
We are responsible for thwarting our neighbors. They need a helping hand — not a handout.
Next weekend, let us remember our soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice and are the reason we celebrate Memorial Day. The holiday was first recognized in 1868 as Decoration Day in observance of communities who had decorated the soldier’s graves for the three years since the Civil War ended.
“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many, to so few.”