The waterfront’s Maritime Museum may not have gotten a new lease on life, but it appears to have secured a new lease with Santa Barbara City Hall that will enable the struggling museum to buy its space outright for just $1 million over the next five years. Museum officials have long sought more favorable terms, arguing that they would go out of business if forced to pay the $14,000 a month they now owe. Large donors, they contended, are willing to write big checks for capital campaigns, but not to pay the rent. If that campaign fails, however, the museum is still on the hook for the full rent. Critics of the plan have charged City Hall is giving away roughly $12,000 a month in potential rental revenues by approving the new deal-to secure a struggling operation. That money, they say, would be better spent on other city programs. The museum has enjoyed strong support from the school district, which frequently dispatches busloads of students there on field trips.


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