Wake Up, Santa Barbara

They say character counts, but while many folks were asleep or just passed out from exhaustion from working two or three jobs just to maintain shelter in this town, investors and out-of-town developers are turning the last of the Southern California beach towns into a walled concrete jungle.

Please go by 214 Anacapa Street and César Chávez between Haley and Cota streets to see what lies in store for every square inch of the Steinbeck ‘30s and ‘40s industrial area’s eastside. Sure, there’s not much Mission-style or 19th-century Victorian, but here lies the real working neighborhood where much of the Riviera, Goleta, Noleta, Mesa, Montecito, Summerland, Carpinteria, and ocean-going enterprises were created.

Should we just be resigned to the bulldozer and replacing a comfortable and aesthetically random set of buildings for three- and four-story glass-and-concrete impersonal architecture? What would Pearl Chase say?

The Funk Zone, which was supposed to be for artists, is now the Drunk Zone. The powers that be were so concerned about adding one more bar on State Street, yet by allowing lots of wine and beer bars, the rents are too expensive for artists to rent studio space. (Didn’t see that coming.)

For those of us who grew up in Southern California, many are refugees who witnessed firsthand the destruction of our neighborhoods. Santa Barbara has represented a fulfilled promise of preservation of a peaceful and quieter time.

It only takes about four years to change a community for the worse: the traffic, the building, the rudeness.

How can we allow all this infilling without coming up with alternative transportation?

If we don’t use caution in developing the town, it’s all downhill from here. If Los Angeles development is what you want here, keep sleeping. If not, write letters, go to meetings, invoke Pearl Chase’s legacy.

Keep the Eastside funky. Make it the Funk Zone annex for industry and the artists’ community.

Pass out where you want to wake up!

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