Onetime Santa Barbara City Council candidate and current Milpas Community Association leader Sharon Byrne announced her resignation from Santa Barbara’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, citing frustration with how slowly the council functions, concerns about potential conflict of interest, and too many competing demands on her time. Byrne denied speculation that she’ll be working for Republican congressional candidate Abel Maldonado, saying, “No, no, no, no. I’m sitting on four boards, trying to start a new business, and am raising a teenage daughter.”
As head of the Milpas Community Association, Byrne is leading the charge against the Casa Esperanza homeless shelter, arguing it has violated the terms of its conditional use permit by not conducting as thorough an outreach effort to surrounding neighbors as required. She has complained the shelter and its free lunch program have drawn street people to the neighborhood who engage in a variety of intrusive nuisance behavior. Given the intensity of political passions on both sides — and complexity of facts involved — that effort will prove as time-consuming as it is polarizing. Casa executive Mike Foley insists the shelter “substantially” conforms to the letter of its permits, an adverb to which Byrne has taken exception. “You either comply or you don’t,” she objected.
City Community Development Director Paul Casey said it will take his office 30-60 days to conduct a comprehensive review. City Attorney Steve Wiley said he can’t remember a case where City Hall has either revoked a conditional-use permit or found an entity out of compliance with such a permit. Based on a preliminary appraisal of the complaint, he said, “We’re not seeing violations coming close to the basis needed to justify a revocation.” City Hall, he added, would be hard-pressed to impose new conditions on Casa unless the shelter were to apply for new permits for a new function. The issue of revocation does not go to the Planning Commission, Wiley stressed, unless Casey were first to determine it was warranted.