A Dispatch from the Colonies

Sunday, December 8, 2013
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It’s déjà vu all over again.

Two weeks ago an oil company sought planning permission to drill new wells just south of Orcutt. The Planning Commission had given the green light for a project that would bring jobs to our area and pour badly needed tax revenue into the county’s general fund. The Board of Supervisors rejected the findings of its Planning Commission and voted 3-2 to impose crippling air quality restrictions.

At its last meeting the same 3-2 board majority voted to advance a Community Plan for the Gaviota Coast toward adoption.

So what, then, is the common thread that makes these two decisions alike? Why is it déjà vu all over again?

With both the Santa Maria Energy Project and the Gaviota Plan, the folks who live and work in the area and who would be most directly affected by the projects came in to testify and make their wishes known. And in both cases, they were ignored.

The board majority not only ignored the people most affected, they also ignored the advice of their own advisory commissions. In the Santa Maria Energy Project, the Planning Commission selected a mitigation standard for greenhouse gas emissions that exceeded the requirements of state law. The board rejected that advice and voted for an even tougher requirement. With the Gaviota Plan, the board majority bulldozed over its own citizen’s drafting committee and the Agricultural Advisory Committee.

Why is this board majority doing this? Is it the north-south divide that has been well understood for the last 40 years? Or is something else going on? My view is that it’s more than the difference in political coloration between north and south.

We have three supervisors who are significantly more radical than their own constituencies. They share an elitist set of attitudes that makes them comfortable enacting command and control regulatory requirements. Social engineering is a way of life with them. They have no qualms about coming out to the Colonies to tell the folks who own and work the land what they will be allowed to do with it.

They seek to stifle economic development against the will of the governed and against the best interests of the county itself. These three align with the enviro-socialists, self-identified “stakeholders,” and would like to impose extreme and unreasonable restrictions on property. Deep down, they do not believe in the basic tenet of private property in the first place, and they use whatever means they can to diminish the value of private property and the generation of wealth. My colleagues in the majority are only too willing to help move forward this radical agenda.

What is common to both Santa Maria Energy and Gaviota is that we have more devaluation of private property and more control and limitation on wealth creation. This is economically suicidal behavior.

Interestingly, the public testimony in both cases was roughly 2 to 1 in opposition to what the South Coast majority ended up voting for. This kind of “tin ear” to the needs and rights of those affected by their decisions demonstrates how out of touch our South Coast supervisors have become. We up here in the colonies would like to see folks on the South Coast elect representatives that reflect the needs of the whole county.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

This is public sour grapes name-calling, pure and simple, by a supervisor who was unable to convert fellow board members to his point of view. I don't begrudge him using all available avenues of persuasion but I find this tantrum unbecoming of a public official.

rick (anonymous profile)
December 8, 2013 at 3:24 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Supervisor Adam misjudges his Santa Barbara County constituency as a whole . He seems to live in a bubble when it comes to county wide consensus. These diatribes may win him support in his Tea Party oilman cowboy big ag clique , but will handicap him greatly in the business of running greater Santa Barbara County.

geeber (anonymous profile)
December 8, 2013 at 5:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

North County should look into merging with SLO County. Leave the South County to spin in its own juices. It would be interesting to see what 5 supervisors could do to just South County and how they would divide it up.

Silly to put Carp and Montecito together. And to put IV and SYV together. Makes no governing sense whatsoever. Alllows special interests call all the shots, because there is no coherent representation of localized interests when spreading county supervisor districts over such a vastly different chunk of real estate and slicing and dicing it the way it is currently set up.

Urban and edgy down south and solid and ag up north, but the cards are always going to be stacked against you.

At least think about redrawing your district lines. Aren't you due for that anyway? Really redrawing them; not just moving the existing lines a few inches one way or another due to populations shifts. Look into petitioning to at least redraw the supervisor district boundaries.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 8, 2013 at 5:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Not very professional whether you agree with his POV or not.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 8, 2013 at 6:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

gee, Peter, I thought you wanted to secede, then your "colony" up there will have even less revenue. "unprofessional" is kind of you, Ken.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 8, 2013 at 6:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A nudist colony.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 12:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 12:05 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Your idolatry of private property, Mr. Adam, only rivals your worship at the altar of free market fundamentalism. Writing about the 3 supes [nominally your colleagues!] and their desire to have the SME project under control -- "the enviro-socialists, self-identified “stakeholders,” and would like to impose extreme and unreasonable restrictions on property[.]" you show yourself a 19th century capitalist thinker. SME has environmental responsibilities. Best you consider resigning since you feel colonized and powerless, or, better, keep counting the potholes around town. Further, you had to know this coming in to the Board of Supervisors! Grow up.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 8:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

SME exercised their environmental responsibilities every step of the way. They knew what it took to get past count administrative requirements. And they did it. BOS acted like spoiled brats at the very last minute, answerable only to themselves. BOS played dirty pool - which is also a major pollutant.

Don't resign Mr Adams, keep talking and do think about taking your abused section of SB county and its oil resources to develop, and joining up with a far friendlier contiguous county along your borders.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 9:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Let’s look at Supervisor Adam’s examples of “radical” “elitist” decisions made on 3-2 votes of the Board of Supervisors.

First, Santa Maria Energy. The Board’s air quality restrictions were clearly not “crippling” and will not cause a loss of jobs or tax revenue. According to an article in Pacific Coast Business Times: “But the carbon cap does not seem to have deterred investors. On Dec. 4, Hyde Park Acquisition Corp. II announced it would merge with Santa Maria Energy, pumping at least $40 million into the surviving parent firm, Santa Maria Energy Corp., which is expected to trade on the NASDAQ Capital Market.” Hyde Park offered the following statement: “the oil resources owned by [Santa Maria Energy] together with its track record . . . in Northern Santa Barbara County provide Hyde Park shareholders with an investment with considerable upside potential.”

Next, the Gaviota Plan. Most of the speakers at the hearing focused on two issues: incentives and initiation by minute order (details not really worth going into). Supervisor Farr moved to proceed with the Plan with some specific changes, among which were including an evaluation of the incentives designed by the GavPAC and initiation by minute order.

Supervisor Farr did not address other concerns brought up by members of the public, leaving many disappointed (some distraught). While a good number (perhaps most) people in the audience supported Supervisor Adam’s motion to send the Plan back to the GavPAC (a very expensive option for the County to undertake having already spent $3 mil on the Plan), the sense in the audience was one of relief that incentives and minute order were included.

Hyperbole is a useful literary device, but not really helpful if you want to work for the betterment of a County. Indeed, the use of hyperbole creates arguments that are “radical” and undermines the ability of leaders in North and South County to work together toward goals that will benefit the people of Santa Barbara County as a whole.

The “north-south divide” in Santa Barbara County is not an ideological one; it is a socio-economic one. Let’s have a discussion about educational opportunity instead of a deceptive diatribe about devaluation of private property. That would be infinitely more useful to the vast majority of residents of North and South County alike.

Supervisor Adam is loud and clear in his final paragraph: He is supporting a challenger for the 3rd district. Fine. Let’s just hope future endorsements will be more rational and less theatrical.

valleyfarmer (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 9:08 a.m. (Suggest removal)

hear, hear! thank you valleyfarmer for some reason and thoughtfulness. You put Supe Adam to shame, and of course foo is irrelevant as usual.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 9:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Hey there DrDan is everyone you disagree with "irrelevant"?

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I find it very concerning when we have a person of such high authority in this county showing such low leadership skills. From the start of his term, Supervisor Adam has shown a high disrespect for his associate board members and for the decorum of his position and the board. He seems to want to intensify the differences between the north and south county and shuns or disregards the complexity of this north-south relationship and for many of the issues he is tasked with understanding. The mark of a good leader is one who lessens conflict by their mere presence, not one who is outright trying to destroy any bridges between districts. I find Supervisor Adam full of hubris, seeing only his side and his false sense of superiority. I can only hope that he will become wiser with time or that his constituents will find a better board member.

SirEdward (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 11:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The point is not to be a team member when there are already three votes permanently stacked against you, but to use the position as a bully pulpit to bring exactly the type of scrutiny this 3-vote lockup needs to face.

Keep up the good work, Adams. There is no political virtue becoming a 4 person majority when this three-person board has run the county into the ground and racked up a billion in unfunded employee pension liabilities?

I believe you were elected precisely to stir things up. Carry on. You have many in South County you can count among your fans too. If you keep making enough noise, you might actually wake up the slumber in First, Second and Third district voters as well. You are off to an excellent start.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 11:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

you miss the point of Goodwin's BULLY PULPIT, foo...T. Roosevelt used his bully pulpit [his phrase] to work WITH muckrakers and progressives for change: Adam just lashes out foo-lishly and, as Sir Edward notes, with hubris and no desire to lessen conflict. You like to stir up conflict on these threads, foo, stirrin' the pot, so naturally you go for Adam's ridiculous approach.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 1:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Foofighter: Not sure how long you have been around, Sir, but you must not remember the Mission County election where voters of BOTH south and north Santa Barbara County strongly rejected the formation of the new county on June 6, 2006? We have been there, done that!

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed a formation commission to research the viability of the proposed northern county, which reached the conclusion, stated in its final report (March 28, 2005), that “the proposed County, upon formation in 2006, would not be economically viable at current levels of service. (translation, taxpayers in south county are footing the costs of north county's level of service.) Please stop touting this self-defeating idea and try to solve some problems with solutions that will WORK.

And too boot, the analysis and resources that were required by both the state and local government on the issue cost taxpayers a bundle!

SirEdward (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 1:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

For decades the North County supervisors have treated Isla Vista like a little colony and utterly stymied its development. 6 times or so they helped squash city hood for Isla Vista.

Now of course the concept of development in IV is not quite the same as the concept of development that Peter Adam describes. Maybe the 1970's activists would have development of IV into a haven of recycling, green energy, public transit, etc. Maybe they would have developed support for the anti-Apartheid effort in South Africa.

But the North County supervisors definitely don't have the kind of `live and let live', `local control' attitude that Adam supports in the above article. They definitely support intervention in local, non-North County issues if their politics dictate, even if the locals have entirely different political views. Their historical treatment of Isla Vista proves that point.

So, sorry, Peter Adam, your words ring hollow if saying respect of local politics and desires is your point. If your point is to get angry that the narrow self interest of your local friends was not supported by our duly constituted Board of Supervisors, you make that point well.

pardallchewinggumspot (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 1:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Isla Vista voters are a classic case of taxation without rrepresentation.

Cityhood for IV.

Bravo Pardallchewinggunmspot.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 2:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

New times and new issues make a county split more meaningful today than in 2006 - back when we were still talking about "peak oil" having been passed. Peter is waking the slumbering beast in South County now too.

So it really doesn't matter what Mission Canyon does next time. The real sea change naturally were the employee unions supporting more oil drilling this time - it is in their best interests so their schism with their enviro fig-leafers shows time's indeed, they are a changin'.

I have now been saying merger with SLO county makes far more sense to North County, than getting stuck being married to South County.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 5:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Irony is IV transient student voters stick us with the taxes, and then leave without paying for anything themselves. I believe UCSB itself is property tax exempt. (?)

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 5:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Peter Adam is lifting up the carpet in county operations and discovering long-buried issues the South County supes now have to defend in their own next re-election campaigns.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 5:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Isla Vista is a net source of tax revenue for the county; the reason is that its population drives a lot of state & federal revenue sharing.

That doesn't include the fact that IV's population cannot shop for much except liquor inside IV. Most go to Costco, Albertson's, etc out in Goleta for their shopping. And shop they do… for 20 somethings, IV's residents are quite wealthy.

Isla Vista is by no means tax exempt. I think the assessed value of its property is in the billion dollar range… so 10 or 20 million/year in property tax is paid by IV.

Santa Barbara County has a surprisingly small tax base; Los Padres National Forest and cities swallow up an awful lot of its land. Deep in the County building they know IV is a crucial part of the County revenue stream, but they know it is in the County's interest to foster the claim that IV is a financial drain. That way they kept IV out of the City of Goleta, for example, and kept the revenue stream.

As for UCSB, it is tax exempt, just like the all the County administration buildings, Sheriffs buildings, jails, Courthouse, etc. UCSB was placed on the South Coast due to an extensive lobbying campaign by Pearl Chase & Tom Storke; the Regents and UC administration resolutely opposed placing a UC campus here, and the State college system sued to keep the campus theirs.

But the locals fought tooth & nail to get the UC campus placed here; they paid for the entire State legislature to come to Fiesta for a few days of debauchery circa 1942. And so the locals got a UC campus over the near-dead bodies of the Regents, UC Administration, and what then was the CSU administration.

Always a hoot when the locals now complain about UCSB. Be careful what you wish for.

pardallchewinggumspot (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 6:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Anybody who doesn't think students in IV pay sales tax, licenses, permits, etc. Landlords of which UCSB is only one of many also pay property taxes etc

It's amazing how some people set themselves up as a foont of wisdom and knowledge and yet are so easily sent crashing to the ground under the weight of their hubris and dishonesty.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 6:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

UCSB is a leader driving tax dollar spending? Are you serious. Think about what you just said. "Revenue sharing" is just one more way to disguise wealth re-distribution.

That is not the revenue we are talking about. Tax us locals to death and maybe we get more than our fair share of other people's tax dollars brought back to a bunch of students most of whom are non-locals who in turn give this community grief with their wild parties and lawless conduct?

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 7:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Isla Vistans pay far more in taxes and fees than they get. In addition there is codified bias against isla Vistans when applying for positions with the Goleta City Government. We're the locals, God knows where you come from Foo but I doubt it's pretty.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 9:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

More Fooishness, don't worry it's completely fact free.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 9:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Not to be giving free English tutorials to people who didn't request them, but...

"It's de ja vu all over again" is redundant and not a sentence. But hey, at least he writes his own stuff eh?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 10:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The numbers of student voters living on the tax-exempt UCSB campus who can vote for local tax initiatives they never have to pay for needs to give one pause. Who do you think will pass the SBCC $300 million bond issue coming up and then walk away from paying the bills?

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 9, 2013 at 11:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)

PooBiter and his newfound hero Adam ( please Poo , at least know his name is not Adams) wank about a project that is approved , will yield millions of dollars of profits , and even with offsets will emit hundreds of thousands of tons of greenhouse gasses over its lifetime. Logic and reasoning are lost on these Tea Party know nothing's.
Adam is being told what to say by vested steering elements with eyes on the next election cycle.

geeber (anonymous profile)
December 10, 2013 at 5:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

OK, there is nobody named "Poobiter". There is FooFighter, FightingWoo, and there was WooWoo but no "Poobiter".

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
December 10, 2013 at 5:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Sir Edward: This two minute interview with you is quite fascinating.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
December 10, 2013 at 5:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Score one for the Adam/Foofighter team. Opposition lost in name-calling rebuttals. Whoo Hoo! That one was too easy.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 10, 2013 at 8:51 a.m. (Suggest removal)

IV/UCSB is taxation by misrepresentation.

Here boys and girls, take this pre-printed slate, vote exactly how we say and you can exchange your voter stub for a pizza.


foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 10, 2013 at 8:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

dolphinpod14: Ha Ha Ha or should I say Ho Ho Ho.
FooFighter: I think I have you pegged Sir. You are completely fact-free and to be ignored. SLO county also has implemented a 10,000 ton standard for projects like the SME project. Also, I'm sure SLO' taxpayers will be happy to supplement your new county's costs to maintain your level of service. My last word. Thanks.

SirEdward (anonymous profile)
December 10, 2013 at 8:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Sir Edward scores again.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 10, 2013 at 10:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

'Fact free'... great line. Would any of you (oh so fashionable) South County bloggers care to attach any 'facts' to the 10,000 ton per year CO2 limitation? How was that sacred number determined? Your poor cousins in the colonies would like to know.

nuffalready (anonymous profile)
February 7, 2014 at 7:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

What does "10,000 tons of CO2" actually mean, in relative measurable terms to the larger picture. What will green plants do if they get this extra CO2 taken away.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
February 7, 2014 at 8:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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