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B’ Cause


Congratulations to the Poodle and Indy staff for your strong and unwavering support of long-standing environmental and urban planning policies that are currently under attack in the municipal election.

Missteps by Public Works during the installation of a plethora of traffic-calming devices in the Eastside created an opportunity for a crop of anti-government advocates to run for office under the banner of “drive free or die.” Just because some of these installations lack landscaping and are not very attractive (although others turned out beautifully) should not mean that policies to slow down speeding traffic should be eliminated!

Ditto for Measure B: Just because three buildings on lower Chapala are out of scale (especially the vacant one by the freeway) should not cause the city to alter height limitations for all future buildings in commercial zones for generations to come! - Alex Pujo

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The Independent‘s “No on B” endorsement asserts that (1) tall buildings are not the problem because the problem is rather one of setbacks and building design, and that (2) 60-foot buildings are needed to increase the supply of affordable housing units. But the problem is precisely one of building height if you are trying to preserve pedestrian views of the mountains, the sky, and existing architectural landmarks. Unless protections against tall buildings like those on Chapala are in the City Charter, all you have are guidelines and ordinances that can be swept away in a New York minute, whereas big buildings are forever. The city is full of beautifully designed, 40-foot buildings, and these include the affordable units built by the Housing Authority. These are practically the only “affordable by design” units you can find in Santa Barbara. Until the budget of the Housing Authority reflects the city’s need for affordable housing, that need will go unanswered. Measure B does nothing to “make the development of affordable housing significantly more difficult.” It’s time to wrap that red herring in a page of The Independent. - Bill Marks

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The issue boils down to density vs. sprawl, doesn’t it? Or does it? The un-politically correct elephant that nobody wants to address still looms in the living room: population growth. I don’t want tall buildings in Santa Barbara any more than anyone else does. On the other hand, I don’t want “development” to destroy our adjoining agricultural and wild lands. What a no-win situation we have gotten ourselves into! But wait-how about finally taking on the elephant? With zero population growth, we wouldn’t have to continue making such impossible decisions. We could retain our views and our small-town feel, while at the same time preserving our undeveloped lands. Wake up, folks. We can do it! -Lorien Davy

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I support affordable housing in Santa Barbara and I’m voting yes on Measure B. The two positions are not incompatible. No matter how many high rises we build downtown we are building on the most expensive property in the city. Thousands of buildings must be built to have enough affordable units and they still will not be truly affordable to low- and middle-income wage earners.

To say Measure B is a placebo is to misunderstand the power of the message the people of Santa Barbara are sending our city hall planners. The people of Santa Barbara want to preserve its mountain views and lightly scaled buildings. At present, city hall planners are considering taller buildings in the update of the general plan.

Yes on Measure B is a mandate to city hall to rethink plans to make Santa Barbara into a metropolis. It is time for planners to consider other solutions to our housing needs-in proposals submitted by local architects for affordable design, or in subsidized rental housing.

Sorry Independent, you missed your chance to make a difference.-Linda Anderson

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On Small Town: I’m writing you regarding you recent article concerning the fate of measure B. I have to agree with the fact that Measure B is poorly proposed legislation, and that voters should shoot it down to make a point. I’m from a small coastal town in Maine, so I know the problems concerning new development and this is why I wrote to you to state I disagree with B for a different reason.

Frankly, I’m sick of the wolf cry that Santa Barbara needs to protect its small town feel, because it doesn’t have one. Walk 20 feet down State Street and you will see over half a dozen corporations with absolutely no roots in this area. If you wanted to protect your small town feel, you should have started decades ago.

Santa Barbara has a population of over 100,000 people. I would hardly call this a small town. On that note, I also do not support major development in the downtown area. Santa Barbara is a beautiful town and skyscrapers should not intrude on its downtown.

Though I think with growing population will come growing development and while it is okay to limit the stories? in the downtown I think there is plenty of room for large scale development in more more remote parts of the city.-Thor Benson

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I cannot agree with your thoughtful, but ultimately unsatisfactory, editorial opposing Measure B. The position of the Santa Barbara Independent is clear: Buildings should continue, at least for the time being, to be able to go as high as 60 feet throughout commercial districts in the City-in El Pueblo Viejo and elsewhere.

Though you speak against high-end condos for retired multimillionaires, continuing to allow 60-foot construction would ensure that there were more such construction. As long as Santa Barbara retains the four-story maximum, the higher the height limit the more expensive the units, because ceilings become higher. It just isn’t possible to build affordable four-story construction in El Pueblo Viejo. It can’t be done technically. The land, as well as construction, is too expensive.

Measure B has nothing to do with forestalling more affordable housing in Santa Barbara. In fact, its passage will direct community conversations with respect to affordable housing in more fruitful directions. Encouraging more housing, particularly in areas of the city where land is less expensive and near major traffic arteries, is a better course than more four-story, 60-foot condos for retired multimillionaires. In addition, a sliding scale for in-lieu affordable housing fees-in which there is already some interest on the City Council-should be considered.

Measure B would prevent more high-end condos in Santa Barbara, like the ones now going in on Chapala Street. Please vote yes on Measure B.-Lanny Ebenstein

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