Samarkand Neighborhood: Enter at Your Own Risk

You Should Know Better Than to Park Here

Parking Puzzle: You may recall my March column about Richard Ross‘s argument with the city of Santa Barbara. Ross, a 30-year professor of art at UCSB and prize-winning national photographer, told me: “I parked at Samarkand [Retirement Community] on the street to visit a friend who had a knee replaced. I came out and there was a ‘street sweeping’ violation on my car. The closest sign designating this was three-tenths of a mile distant, on Las Positas Road.

“Another sign is seven-tenths of a mile away from the residence. Yet I am supposed to be informed, and according to the police and Ordinance Committee, this is legal and sensible because the residents did not want ‘sign pollution.’ “

Ross said he lost appeals to the police department and city council, even emailed everyone on the council. But he struck out. So he sued the city in small claims court over the $40 ticket, the suit adding $25 to the cost. But it was a matter of principle for Ross, a prize-winning international photographer.

In a posting after my March 20 column, Santa Barbara Independent senior editor Matt Kettmann said the same thing happened to him. The city, he said, rejected his appeal “without even addressing my points.

“I understand the notion of putting signs at the entry to neighborhoods,” Matt said. “However, how are we supposed to know when that neighborhood ends? There are no exit signs. Are we just supposed to know, as map-reading, street-savvy Santa Barbara residents, where the boundaries to the Samarkand are? I don’t see how that would hold up in a court of law. And if so, what about visitors? Are they supposed to take a Santa Barbara neighborhoods test every time they come to town?

Although I appreciate the notion of keeping street signs off your sidewalk, this situation seems to be unfair and a means of selectively ticketing a class who are unaware of where the Samarkand ends, or a class who can’t read a paragraph of signage while driving into a neighborhood. And that class is quite large, I imagine.

Perhaps for Samarkand residents, sure, this program makes sense. You should know when street sweeping is, move your car on those days, and be punished for not doing so. But for those who live off the Samarkand, I say the tickets should be voided.”

That was last month. Ross just got a ruling from Superior Court Judge Denise de Bellefeuille. “Last paragraph says it all,” Ross said. Ruled the judge: While the court was “sympathetic to Mr. Ross, the ticket he received was validly issued under the law. The City of Santa Barbara has engaged in a fair process to balance the interests of its citizens in minimizing the visual impact of too many street signs against such inconvenience as this one, receiving a ticket for not noticing a sign that was clearly visible and valid under California law.” Commented Ross: “Rats.”

(There’s also a street sweeping sign banning parking in the 100 block of Figueroa Street on Thursday mornings, right outside the Independent. We can’t say we didn’t notice that.)

Conversation Starter

Is there a minimum amount of signage needed to ticket? Is being unfamiliar with a neighborhood a good enough excuse to dismiss a ticket?

Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments below.

Citizen McCaw: Producers of the Citizen McCaw documentary are working on a plan to possibly screen it at one of the local Metropolitan Theaters. So far, 3,700 people have seen the account of the News-Press meltdown, during its premiere at the Arlington premiere and its two screenings at the Marjorie Luke. But extended showings would allow more of the public to see it. “We’re working on it,” co-producer Rod Lathim told me. There is a cost to set up a screening, he pointed out. Citizen McCaw will also be shown at the University of California graduate school of journalism at Berkeley tonight, April 18, followed by a panel discussion. Panelists will include former News-Press editor Jerry Roberts and Sam Tyler, director of the documentary. Other journ schools are also showing interest, Lathim said.

Blood, Bone Marrow: You can help save lives by taking part in Sunday’s efforts to find a bone marrow match for families in need. The Junior League is hosting Sunday’s event at Alameda Park, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m., in cooperation with the Santa Barbara Firefighters Assn. and Our Lady of Sorrows Church. It’s simple: Sign a consent form and have the inside of your mouth swabbed. There’ll be free food and live music. “Knowing that Santa Barbara families have had their lives ripped apart by diseases requiring bone marrow transplants fuels our desire to build up this registry,” said Junior League donor project co-chair Angela Bolea.

Horn Back: Yes, there ARE honest folk left in the world. On Tuesday I wrote about a Santa Barbara Symphony musician who left his trombone on the sidewalk while packing up after Sunday afternoon’s concert. He forgot it and it was gone when he went back for it. So what do you think the chances were of him getting it back? Well, he did, someone turned it in to the police.


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