Santa Barbara Has Issues

Sunday, October 13, 2013
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I, too, have just “returned home” to Santa Barbara, but it is not the same Santa Barbara. Change — the ol’ constant. Sadly, the wrong changes. With Santa Barbara’s inexcusable overgrowth and crowding, community consciousness has not grown with it; it has become decidedly more disparate and divisive.

Widening Highway 101 is a horrid waste, self-serving for a few, disastrous for the community. There are myriad ways to alleviate congestion. As suggested by another reader: stagger the hours of work or make alternative transportation the financial, environmental choice, not more cement, destruction, and construction that will create more congestion for years, noise, and inevitably more congestion when done. Such ill-designed, ill-timed ideas never keep pace with population and need.

Also on bicycle numbers going up, an Indy article said there are still 70 percent of cars with only one person. That won’t change with widening of 101. We can change how we move — alternatives and better means — not a wider road.

We are in a drought! Why are people watering at all? The Chumash said there was not enough water for the population coming in the 1800s. So who are we now? With all our beautiful imported trees and this overpopulation, when do we take care of our resources? Is it not clear to Santa Barbarans that the choices being made are destructive to this area, self-centered, and short-sighted? S.B. would be better if we worked together for changes with consciousness.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

While I'm all for less dependence on cars, light rail, etc. I have mixed feelings about this letter. "Self serving for a few"? According to SBCAG, there are 20,000+ daily commuters coming from outside SB/Goleta each day. At my workplace, over 40% of our staff is in that group. And we already have staggered work weeks.

Regarding overcrowding, etc. the city put in place a goal of 85,000 in 1974. Today we have 89,000 and the city's population has held steady for the past 10 years.

And yet, comparing 20,000 to 89,000 is sobering. Could this "overcrowding" have been created by the very same people who wanted to "save" SB? How close to a zero-sum game is this?

One reason for the commuting is lack of affordable housing for middle-income / middle-age earners (a big chunk of the workforce). This is reflected in the latest data from the Census Bureau, UCSB Economic Forecast, SB Housing Coalition. etc. Most of the housing stock in SB is owned by those 55+ (and the ownership rate for that group has been increasing). In contrast, we've lost 10,000 County residents in the 25-40 age group over the last decade, and the ownership rate for 25-40 in SB has been in decline.

Ironically, I suspect positive feedback is in play. Folks 55+ or older moving into SB (like the author), and middle income workforce families being squeezed out and compelled to commute. Then many of those 55+ folks (for lack of a better label) advocate for preservationist (low growth) policies for our beautiful, special place here on the South Coast. The cycle continues ...

I'm not trying to make any value judgments, but when you see the data, it's easier to make a case that our commuting/traffic/overcrowding problems didn't create themselves.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
October 13, 2013 at 12:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Mission and State's excellent overview with data citations:

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
October 13, 2013 at 12:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

101 DOES need to be widened. It's not just a local issue. People travel through without stopping all the time. What good will it do to have them going through town at 5 MPH putting more fumes into our relatively clean air. The NIMBY's had their way with the crosstown freeway for years. When it was finally put in, it took twice as long and cost ten times as much. Not widening it is incredibly short-sighted.

And SB will NEVER be affordable. It just won't. Too many people want to live here. Some people just figure that if we add more low-cost housing units, supply will increase and prices will go down. That might work for a little while, but it's not a long-term solution. The only long term solution to make SB affordable is to make SB such an undesirable place to live that people not only don't want to come, they want to move out. The weather won't cooperative, so other ways need to be found to make SB more undesirable.

Botany (anonymous profile)
October 13, 2013 at 1:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

good data, EB, thanks. I have observed individuals just like you've described, say a UCSB Asst. Prof. who comes here in '85 or '90 and wants expanded housing (middle-class affordable) available...then by age 55 has lost idealism and now "advocate for preservationist (low growth) policies for our beautiful" SB...holding out others, raising his/her home value. Fortress Santa Barbara.
I do agree with the letter writer, and in earlier posts about the 101 and the Montecito center-lane on/off ramps, have always pressed for LEAVE IT THE SAME. And why not use more centralized planning (there's a term!) to mandate those staggered work hours for those who have to long-commute to Ventura/Santa Maria, etc.?? Heck, if the County's biggest employer, UCSB, mandated this to its many workers, it would have an impact right now.
Yes, it's about a different CONSCIOUSNESS, easy to write down as a word but very difficult to change. Botany does reflect a majority who just want a wider freeway (cf. Ruhge), and believe more lanes will reduce congestion (it won't).

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 13, 2013 at 4:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Can anyone blame them? Someone scrimps and saves, then they get the chance to buy in a downturn, now they only want to keep the Santa Barbara they paid so dearly to own a piece of. If someone wants to live in LA or SF, it's there waiting for them. Why would someone want to pay so dearly for the town they idealize living in, then want to change it to another LA? They never lost their ideals, they achieved their goal. Why would they want to move the goalposts after they already scored? Anyone that thinks otherwise needs to learn about human nature.

Botany (anonymous profile)
October 13, 2013 at 5:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

sheesh, whatta bunch of grumps...

zebu111 (anonymous profile)
October 14, 2013 at 4:02 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Chumash indians did not have well drilling equipment, nor did they dam rivers to create reservoirs...

GluteousMaximus (anonymous profile)
October 14, 2013 at 5:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

letter summation: I got mine so I don't care about you.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
October 14, 2013 at 9:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"We are in a drought! Why are people watering at all? The Chumash said there was not enough water for the population coming in the 1800s."

What? Are you saying the Chumash have taken their own advice? I am confused. Not enough water in the 1800's- how on Earth did they build a Casino- where on Earth is the water supposed to come from for a city to be built at Camp 4? Why did they continue to populate knowing there wouldn't be enough water? Silly Chumash?

The 101 serves the entire State of California and a way to get from one place to another- how stupid to think that only 805 residents use the 101 to get from Carp to Goleta. HOW STUPID.

While I do not want a 8-10 lane freeway going thru Santa Barbara County, the facts are, people will continue to drive, trucks will continue to ferry goods, (Yes Virginia, your Trader Joe goods come to SB via a Tractor Trailer!) to and thru Santa Barbara via the 101.

losolivoslocal (anonymous profile)
October 16, 2013 at 7:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ten pound of humanity in a five-pound sack?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
October 18, 2013 at 3:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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