The City of Santa Barbara has began the process to update its General Plan
with an extensive public outreach to gauge the pulse of the community. This
process (“Plan Santa Barbara”) is expected to generate major policy changes.
Four public workshops were held at the beginning of the summer with a second round planned for the fall.
In order for a community to make shared decisions, it must be in possession
of shared FACTS and not proceed from misunderstandings and prejudice. That
is the message that COAST forwarded to City representatives at the May 17
presentation. How do you elevate the discussion from the usual rhetoric
(i.e., “Preserve the quality of life”, “Live within our resources”) to more
Policy questions should be focused and informed instead of asking about
people’s “feelings”. COAST requests that the City provide updated
statistical information about population and development patterns as
background for these discussions. The community needs factual information
to evaluate how our population and region are evolving.
~To see COAST’s comments to City Staff click link below~
COAST LETTER TO CITY STAFF REGARDING THE PROPOSED “PLAN SANTA BARBARA”
The twin issues of “elevating the quality of the conversation” and “dealing
with facts instead of emotions” were discussed at the May 17 meeting. We
understand and concur with your desire to “hear what different people have
to say” and that “this is not the time for education”. Nevertheless, we
remain concerned that fear and bias can quickly overcome the City’s best
intentions, as they arguably did in the recent 2nd District Community Plan
At a recent community forum, renown journalist Lou Cannon quoted that
“Opinions are cheap, but FACTS ARE PRECIOUS”. That’s the point: the City
needs to PRESENT THE FACTS in order for the planned workshops to be
meaningful. We recommend the preparation of a short Power Point presentation
based on graphics showing, among other things, how the following has
affected Santa Barbara in the past 30 years:
1) Crime. The stabbing of a young boy on State Street may give the
impression that gang activity is rampant but… What do crime statistics
say? Per crime type? Per population type? Per neighborhood?
2) Safety. The killing of young Jake Boysel while biking to school
may give the impression that bicycles are dangerous but… What are the
accident statistics? Killed? Injured? Kidnapped on their way to school? And
how do they compare with statistics for child obesity and diabetes?
3) Congestion: What are the traffic counts on Upper State, Milpas,
De La Vina, West Mission, Anacapa, Lower Chapala, Cabrillo Boulevard,
Highway 101 at La Cumbre, Mission and Cabrillo, and how have they changed?
Vehicle miles traveled per year? Number of trips per household, in the past
4) Parking: We hear that “There is never a parking space!” but…
How much parking is there downtown? Uptown? Waterfront? Increase/decrease
over the years? Public versus private?
5) Measure E: Your presentation stated that Measure E, about to
expire in 2010, curbed commercial development in Santa Barbara but… How
many years did the proposed development exceed the annual cap? In other
words: Has Measure E reduced any SUBSTANTIAL amount of commercial growth
since its adoption in 1989?
6) Bicycles: Scott Wenz claims that less people ride bicycles every
year. Is he right? What are the bicycle counts for the last 30 years?
7) Transit: How many Santa Barbarans (city only) ride MTD now? In
the last 30 years? How many of them are students? Hispanics?
8) Pedestrians: How many people actually walk to work? What is the
percentage if you only consider the city grid? How has it changed over the
years? Is it true that people in mixed-use projects use their cars less, and
walk more? What is the data on that?
9) Population: We read editorials about “rampant growth” and “dense
development” but… What are the population counts (census + correction
factors + surveys) for the last 30 years? By race? By age? How does Santa
Barbara compare with the rest of the South Coast? With the rest of
10) Gentrification: How has the socio-economic make-up of our City
changed in the past 30-years? In the past 12 years?
11) Commuting: How many commute from Oxnard-Ventura? From North
County? How has it changed in the past 12 years?
12) Housing: How have the numbers changed? How many legal residences
are there? What is the possible total? How many illegal units exist? How
many LEGAL “Granny units” are there in Santa Barbara?
13) Affordable housing: We read a lot of editorials about the County
and the City subsidizing affordable units but… How many units are there?
How many units were actually built, versus rent subsidies?
14) Dense development: We read about “an avalanche” of tall
buildings under construction and in the pipeline but… How many “big”
buildings were actually built in Santa Barbara since Father Lassuen built
the Mission? How many are currently proposed? What are the percentages of
one, two, three and four story buildings in El Pueblo Viejo? How many
parcels are there in EPV? If you include all non-residential properties in
the City, what are those percentages?
This partial list is a necessary framework to address the challenges and
opportunities that we face as a community. Most of this information is
readily available. Presenting these facts in simple form will greatly
improve the quality of the oncoming workshops.
Plan Santa Barbara Workshops
Please attend one or more and express your support for alternative transportation and sustainable land use policies.
*Round 2 Workshops: Dates available shortly*