Assemblymember Das Williams said a Department of Finance official assured him that budget language authorizing the State of California to sell the City of Santa Barbara’s downtown parking garages and parking lots and split the revenues among all the local government entities has been withdrawn. Williams said he worked with Democratic Party leadership in Sacramento to ensure that city parking facilities remain in City Hall control.
Two weeks ago, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider and Community Development Director Paul Casey issued a red alert that the parking facilities might be at risk of a state-mandated auction. The Department of Finance, having just discovered the state’s budget crisis was several billion dollars greater than initially anticipated, proposed an auction of certain properties owned by the state’s many now defunct Redevelopment Agencies. Parking lots were specifically not exempt.
Schneider and Casey argued that continued control over parking was essential to the city’s economic vitality and Williams adopted that battle cry. He did suggest, however, that City Hall should find better uses for its two downtown commuter lots than to provide cheap parking for downtown workers. “Very few people — except for environmental extremists like myself — will take the bus when it’s cheaper to park downtown,” he said.