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Privatization Blues


Thursday, January 10, 2013
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I would like to expand on the article “Parking Lots Still in Peril” by Nick Welsh. California’s Department of Finance has hired a reported extra 100 auditors to go after what funds they think might be due them through the dissolution of the some 420 RDA agencies throughout the State. So what would this $22 million dollar new team of Men in Black potentially mean to our city?

Nick correctly reports that the 75-minute “free” period would evaporate, along with the very favorable hourly and maximum daily rates. In addition, as stated, it would likely be the demise of the Saturday Farmer’s Market in the Cota lot and the New Beginnings Program’s use of city lots. It would also likely mean that all “free” on-street parking would disappear, as the lots and the streets have always matched one another for the non-paid period, along with more than $400,000 of annual funds provided by the parking system to support MTD routes, the shuttle and the bike station. On top of that, more that $300,000 is currently moved from parking operations to help clean the sidewalks on State Street. Operations are subsidized not, as stated, by “government,” but by the merchants who pay quarterly fees to help the system run in the manner it does with reasonable fees and a human presence at the kiosks to provide better customer service. That would certainly disappear if the lots were to be privatized. The downtown parking system is a quasi enterprise fund, which must sustain itself on its generated revenues. The downtown corridor is the only customer paid-parking shopping district on the South Coast. The effect on the vitality of that area is predictable.

There are indeed more “wonky” details in this little drama, but we also stand to lose the train station and the space currently slated to house a children’s museum. All of this is for one-time money that is tantamount to “pocket change” in the scope of the state budget. The real losers will be all of us in Santa Barbara as our retail district, and thus our civic economic engine, becomes compromised perhaps beyond sustainability.

Yes, Virginia, the State of California is in deep yogurt financially, with most of the active dialogue reduced to finger pointing and harrumphing. The wanton taking of assets and infrastructure developed to revitalize zones of economic activity and thereby putting municipalities at further risk of demise is short-sighted at best and malfeasance on the part of Sacramento at worst, particularly for an agency such as ours which has leveraged those funds to the highest civic priorities. We must stand our ground on this one.

Randy Rowse is a member of the Santa Barbara City Council.

Comments

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At last, an issue I can stand shoulder to shoulder with Rowse on. It is indeed a mistake of epic terms at best for the state government to be plundering the localities.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 10, 2013 at 10:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

similar things happened in Chicago, what a mess! Only makes things worse.

spacey (anonymous profile)
January 10, 2013 at 3:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Is the issue really how much the city of Santa Barbara needs the parking lots? It seems to me to be entirely an issue of ownership. and the arguments for SB retaining control sound like
rationalizations by someone who has borrowed a car, tools, money, etc. for their continued need to use the borrowed property. SB's downtown parking lots serve tourist-related businesses more than residents, and RDA funds were designated for community improvement:
Building or rehabilitating housing for working families
 Building and upgrading roads, water systems and other public works and infrastructure
 Building and rehabilitating community centers, parks, libraries, public safety buildings and other community facilities
 Helping small businesses create jobs by revitalizing older retail districts
 Revitalizing rundown or blighted neighborhoods, which can help reduce crime and increase opportunity for struggling communities
When redevelopment agencies improve deteriorated areas, property values within those areas rise, thus increasing property tax revenues.
Losing local control over SB parking lots, the train station, etc, will be a hardship. So is the increase in water and sewer rates and taxes due to the city of SB's failure to use RDA funds to upgrade our sewer system to comply with federal law.
Rowse has a personal interest in this issue as a downtown business owner whose income is related to the availability and cost of parking, and is violating the Fair Political Practices Act, as he did when a tax on businesses in the drunk zone to increase police presence was considered.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
January 14, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

There are still small local businesses on State as well as theaters, library etc. It's one thing to discontinue RDAs. Quite another to dismantle all the work they did. It's stupid and just more NeoLib/Con privatization bs.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 14, 2013 at 1:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Once again Councilmember/Bartender Randy Rowse cannot distinguish whom he represents and works for, with his direct and personal financial gain at his saloon to be had by his direct and personal actions as an elected city council member.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
January 14, 2013 at 4:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

recuse yourself from this stuff, Randy, J_A's correct.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 14, 2013 at 4:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Parking downtown stinks whether you pay for it or not. It took me 45 min to get out of a city lot on Sunday after a performance at the Granada. Shopping in Goleta is a much more relaxing and enjoyable experience. I'd much rather take my business there. I'm sure that many feel the same as I do.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 14, 2013 at 10:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Botany, don't you think there's also more stores offering what you need or want in Goleta?
Nothing blows more than when you're right at the edge of 75 minutes and the tourist in the car in front of you needs directions to some place they forgot the name to.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 15, 2013 at 12:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

My pet peeve, don't wait for people to load their cars up ect and back up everyone behind you. KEEP MOVING! You'll find a spot.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 15, 2013 at 2:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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