Chick-fil-A’s Architectural Approval Shouldn’t Hinge on Owner’s Politics

Wednesday, August 8, 2012
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As mayor of Santa Barbara and as a founding member of the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry Coalition, I disagree with the Chick-fil-A president’s stance against marriage equality, as I have always been a proponent for the full equality of the residents I represent. I will not be dining at a Chick-fil-A in Santa Barbara or anywhere else.

I understand the frustration members of the Architectural Board of Review (ABR) might have felt this week when they had to review a project application from Chick-fil-A.

As the only county in central and southern California to defeat Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages in the state, Santa Barbara as a community has consistently supported the freedom to marry. The city’s approval process about Chick-fil-A’s building application, however, is not about gay marriage, it’s about the design of a building, and the approval of the project should be based on those merits alone.

It would be appropriate for ABR members to oppose this project if they thought the building and patio seating did not fit within the city’s design guidelines. That is their role, regardless of who the applicant is. There are legitimate reasons to abstain from voting if a member feels like there is a conflict of interest to the point where they could not make an objective decision; however to not support a project solely based on personal beliefs would be inappropriate as an ABR member.

I am pleased and encouraged that more and more states are legalizing gay marriage and hope one day California will do the same. If you care about gay marriage rights, then I encourage you to spend your energy in ways that will create better awareness and stronger advocacy on this important civil rights issue. Donate to or volunteer at a gay-rights organization. Make your voice heard at the polls.

Certainly, if a local gay-rights organization, a church or synagogue, a reproductive health care facility, or any organization, needed to apply to the city for design review, I would hope that the project would approved or denied not based not on personal, religious or political beliefs but on the merits of the application.

Helene Schneider is the mayor of the City of Santa Barbara.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Bravo Mayor Schneider, my thoughts exactly!

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
August 8, 2012 at 10:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Looks like the ABR made a big legal mistake. In the administrative arena, if you can't make a unbaised decision due to personal beliefs or personal knowlege of a case, the appropriate thing to do is to recuse yourself-not to abstain. This then allows the rest of the board to make a decision without you. The recused boardmember(s) should ideally leave the room while the deliberations and vote occur so that there is not even the appearance of trying to influence the other boardmembers.

Given the history of corruption of this board, the wholesale replacement of the members of this board is warranted. Any new boardmembers should have to go through a ethics course and an administrative law course. The ABR should also not be allowed to make any decisions without a City Attorney present.

sbkid (anonymous profile)
August 8, 2012 at 11:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

lol - I think this is the only statement that Ms. Schneider has made that I ever agreed with.

I would much like to see the city council backing this up by removing the current ABR members who seem to have misunderstood what their proper role is.

Robert Ramey

ramey (anonymous profile)
August 8, 2012 at 11:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I echo Ken's Bravo on the Mayors statement and also have to add Ramey's comment makes a lot of sense as well.

pointssouth (anonymous profile)
August 8, 2012 at 12:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If companies are people and people vote with dollars then the destination of the restaurant’s donations are open for public debate. It very well should be an issue as to where peoples’ hard-earned money goes after the chicken goes down their gullet. This issue has made our little feathered friend the modern martyr as Chick-fil-A laughs all the way to the bank. Watch the poultry be nailed to the cross and pierced by the spear of destiny at the hands of those devious cows on my artist’s blog at

dregstudios (anonymous profile)
August 8, 2012 at 12:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

the ABR are self aggrandizing parasites who pad their own egos at the expenses of our community. Remove them immediately. they have overstepped their role, their position and put the entire city govt at risk.

iamsomeguyinsb (anonymous profile)
August 8, 2012 at 12:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Meanwhile, the County Board of Supes will be deciding on parking fees at our beaches.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
August 8, 2012 at 12:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Helene, instead of pandering to the gays, please focus on more important issues that Santa Barbara faces, like the vagrants that continue to harass the people who actually pay taxes and live here.

mojorisin (anonymous profile)
August 8, 2012 at 12:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Why is it that someone who owns a business is not allowed to have an opinion contrary to the ABR's or anyone else's for that matter and voice that opinion? And where is this proof of discrimination? If you are architects, then do your job and choose not to dine there if you feel contrary to Chic Fil's belief system. Perhaps we should survey all restaurants/retail outlets before they come to SB to find out their owners personal belief system before we allow them to come to our little town. Boy for a place that considers themselves a world destination, this place pulls some backwards ass $%#t sometimes.

bimboteskie (anonymous profile)
August 8, 2012 at 1:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I disagree with the Mayor on a lot of issues, but in so many senses she is a very principled and good person. I may be of a different political persuasion, but I'm glad she is the Mayor and I am happy to have voted for her.

Thanks Helene.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
August 8, 2012 at 3:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

That correct Mayor Schneider! Any city's ABR needs to focus on the merit's of a design into a city's master plan.

I remember the same debate as a kid about the first MacDonalds in town. The Chicago corporate headquarters had a real hard time accepting something other than the1960's golden arches design. The city won out and MacDonalds actually did better nationally.

passagerider (anonymous profile)
August 8, 2012 at 4:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Some of your views can be way out there Madam Mayor, but on this one, I applaud you. Well said. The ABR needs to focus on the merits of the project, not political leanings.

BeachFan (anonymous profile)
August 8, 2012 at 5:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'd like the Mayor to be a bit stronger on this one. Fire the ABR.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
August 8, 2012 at 11:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The ABR has grossly overstepped their boundaries with this one. If a person can not keep their own personal beliefs/views off the table when tasked with making a decision based solely on the merits of the project, they should immediately removed. Each of these ABR members need to take responsibility for their actions and lack of performance and step down, if not the steps to remove each one should be put into motion ASAP. Regardless of your stance, they have misused their position and must be held accountable.

juliamn (anonymous profile)
August 9, 2012 at 7:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

the abr is acting like a bunch of very immature 9 year olds

iwasbornherethankyouverymuch (anonymous profile)
August 9, 2012 at 8 a.m. (Suggest removal)

One more example of how this City's ABR is out of control. They are big fish in a small pond with huge egos. Just take a project before them (as I have done several times) and listen to them pontificate on the style of an outdoor light fixture or whether the brick in a driveway (residence) looks right or how a trash enclosure is too visible to the street. All with no regard to the cost of the project. It goes on and on. For once I agree with the Mayor. I hope Chick Fil A sues the City. I hope these members are removed from the board if that is possible. Obviously they don't know how to behave as City representatives or what their responsibilities are as board members.

prjaco (anonymous profile)
August 9, 2012 at 11:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

One thing that is clear: all of the ABR that did this to Chick-fil-A voted for Obama in 2008 when he clearly stated that marriage should be only between a man and woman. Wow. Massive hypocrisy.

Another thing that is clear: 9 out of 10 of the people who supported the ABR and who are posting here (above) also voted for Obama in 2008.

willy88 (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2012 at 1:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A first semester law student could have told the ABR members what they were doing was inappropriate.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2012 at 9:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'd like the Mayor to be a bit stronger on this one. Fire the ABR.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
August 8, 2012 at 11:31 p.m

I agree with John Locke.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 16, 2012 at 4:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Evening Dr. DAN...

...ah, let me share with you a few Chick Fil A & your characterization of it as "his fat-farm franchises"... took about three minutes to find a plethora of FACTS to dispute your “fat farm” claim. Did you know that Chick-Fil-A is one of the few fast-food eateries in the country whose menu has but 1 item that contains in excess of 600 calories.

It's true.

And that Menu item is a milk shake. In fact MOST of their menu choices are below 500 calories individually. But I will leave it to you to find at least 1 thing with which you will make a valiant effort to discredit my entire comment.

Secondly, allow me to apologize for the callous misspelling of a word I used in a previous post for which, quite rightly, you called me to task...that being "timbre" a completely uncaring and indiscriminate manner I "typo-ed" it as "tambre".

If it makes any difference to you, Dr. Dan, I removed the batteries from my keyboard for 1/2 hour and contemplated being more careful with my typing...I also here admit the misspelling of the name of Sheldon Adelson and incorporated that offense into the same “time-out”.

You got me again Dr. Dan.

As for your "your condescending comment" comment (sic)...

...quoting my line here ""I did that to defend your right to hold and express the beliefs you apparently subscribe to"" as being “”self -serving twaddle””...

...that, Dr. Dan, I take issue with...for as anyone knows, all citizens entering any branch of the United States Military, swear by oath (and I did) as follows:

I, MGBJAY, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

For purely illustrative purposes here, the part that states "I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States" IS in fact, neither a "condescending comment” nor is it "twaddle", as referred to by you.

As a fellow citizen of this great country, Dr. Dan, you are governed by and have your First Amendment rights to “hold and express the beliefs you apparently subscribe to" protected under that Constitution by all who serve, every day of your life.

You see Dr. DAN…it wasn’t that I was defending you and your rights individually as such…but rather the Constitution under which those rights, as a citizen are afforded you, as all of us. You are a beneficiary of the Constitution I swore an oath to defend, so to speak. It was meant like that.

Might want to rein that ego in just a tad Dr. Dan!

MGBJAY (anonymous profile)
August 16, 2012 at 9:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)


DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 17, 2012 at 5:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

MGBJAY you're too off-thread: you failed to post the above 8/16 comment on the 120-comment thread under Chick-fil-A Debate Santa Barbara Style Glad you cop to your mistakes, anyway, and I hope you were defending your own individual rights, and those of your family, when in the service 'cause you certainly weren't defending mine.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 17, 2012 at 5:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

danny, danny, no longer deserve the recognition of the use of CAPS...and I have no belief any longer in the moniker DR before your name when applied to what I see you put to paper, so to speak.

I personally know Doctors...I have friends that are danny boy are no doctor.

You & your intellectually vapid commentary have wearied me.

If you actually miss the entire point about being a citizen in this country living under the protection of the Constitution...

...but before I go there...alas, I have to acknowledge yet again, yes, it even protects you.

I cannot wait to hear you howl all manner of epithets and claims of voter fraud and voter suppression and all that liberal claptrap you all do when you lose at the conclusion of the coming November landslide.

And YES, danny boy, your fearless ideologue is going to be a ONE TERMER!

And your rants are going to become simply unbearable, instead of merely irritating in their narrowness of scope and lack of content.

I believe that is referred to as "deferred gratification". And I will relish in it!

Bye Bye danny boy.

MGBJAY (anonymous profile)
August 17, 2012 at 10:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Romney's upcoming electoral humiliation has nothing to do with this article.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
August 17, 2012 at 12:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thanks for your input Ken..have a nice day....

MGBJAY (anonymous profile)
August 17, 2012 at 3:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@ mojorisin - We gays pay taxes too...double on the federal level because our marriage is not recognized. I know the Mayor has a lot on her plate but she represents me too.

were2cheap (anonymous profile)
August 23, 2012 at 8 p.m. (Suggest removal)

And the Mayor has been on the forefront of fighting for equal rights.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
August 23, 2012 at 10:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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