Nothing is so full of promise or as short-lived as a new stick of gum or a new year’s resolution. I confess that I have a 100 percent record regarding New Year resolutions: Of the many I have made, each has been faithfully annulled well before January elapsed.
So this year I have determined that the best possible course of action is to make several significant and determined resolutions for the New Year, but confine my selection only to resolutions to be carried out by others. This way, I can experience resolve without responsibility, much like media pundits, kibitzers, and my geometry teacher, Mr. Austreng, who lectured brilliantly about isosceles triangles but never actually built one.
Here are my lucky seven resolutions for the Goleta’s City Council in 2010:
1. Let’s leave Goleta’s General Plan alone. As candidates in 2006, several of our current council members pronounced our plan good, requiring only a minor “tune-up.” Now, after about four years, 223 council and Planning Commission meetings, 2,872 hours of public testimony, and 4,672 staff and consulting hours, at a cost roughly equal to the national debt of Uzbekistan, key changes were made that were more like an engine overhaul than a minor tune-up.
Goletans have had enough of this “home improvement”! Let’s LEAVE THE PLAN ALONE (unless you want to restore some of Goleta’s environmental protections that were junked during the so-called tune-up).
And since this resolution for Goleta’s council is one of abstention, below are other resolutions to which they could apply their ample energies and wisdom.
2. Before our town fully takes on the appearance of a community-wide retail mall, let’s resolve for the council to adopt a reasonable sign ordinance. The proliferation of huge, profoundly ugly, garish commercial signs, blocking each other and screaming for attention, is like an exploding scoreboard at a Portuguese soccer match: They provide mostly color and hype, while conveying almost no useful information. Such signs erode the visual charms of our good land without elevating commerce.
Good sign ordinances need not inhibit free speech. We just need to remember that the louder these signs scream, the more they drown each other out. And let’s put an end to moving displays, be they powered by compressed air, wind, or humans. A moving sign does not move me.
3. For our next resolution, let’s say a word about our public library. That word would be “YES!” Let’s support it and keep it open with whatever funding is necessary.
With home computers, games, soccer fields, the ocean, bike paths, organized sports, etc., there is plenty for people to do, especially if they have resources. But the public library is the great equalizer for people who seek knowledge and entertainment on a budget. As tycoon Malcolm Forbes said: “The richest person in the world — in fact all the riches in the world — couldn’t provide you with anything like the endless, incredible loot available at your local library.”
4. It’s time for our city planners to work with the Camino Real Marketplace to make it pedestrian-friendly. Have you ever bobsledded down the Matterhorn in your underwear or raced the bulls at Pamplona on a pogo stick (you on the pogo stick, not the bulls)? Well, neither would be as challenging or perilous as trying to walk across Storke Avenue into the Camino Real Marketplace because once you get across you suddenly realize, “Gee, there is NO SIDEWALK to get from the street into the parking lot.” Pedestrians must compete in the street entry with automotive traffic blazing in or out of the shopping center!
Similarly life-threatening and foolish would be trying to cross the street on the west side of the Marketplace to shop at Albertson’s Shopping Center because there are no crosswalks at either entry. Huh? You mean I’m supposed to get in my two-ton car in order to move 70 feet to the other parking lot safely?
The Marketplace and Goleta should be able to work together for pedestrian safety. Remember, a dead pedestrian is a poor shopper.
5. Now, with gas prices setting oil drillers’ hearts atwitter, is a great time to promote bicycling in Goleta. A good start would be creating a Hollister bike lane that does not stop suddenly and dump you into the traffic lanes as you enter Old Town Goleta. Despite protests by people who worship at the Church of the Eternal Combustion Engine, every person who rides a bike is essentially donating to motorists a parking space and room on the road.
Cycling reduces the competition for gasoline and reduces the need for road repairs. And cyclists contribute to our health by not adding toxins to the air or car accident victims to emergency rooms. Please resolve to meaningfully promote biking in Goleta.
6. And isn’t it time to find funding to complete an overcrossing of Highway 101 near the Camino Real Shopping Center? The funding for this that came from the approval of the Camino Real shopping center vanished like students on semester break, but the need has only increased. For convenience and safety’s sake, let’s fund and build it.
7. And finally, now would be a good time to fund recycling receptacles for public places such as shopping centers. You can’t walk more that a few feet in downtown Santa Barbara without running into a recycling container. In Santa Barbara they are as ubiquitous as that city’s tiled roofs, palm trees, and yogurt shops. Why not in Goleta?
Do Goleta’s public spaces really have to look like the aftermath of a tornado that hit a junk food buffet? Let’s provide our major shopping areas with a few well-placed recycling containers for cans and plastic bottles.
Gee, making resolutions for others is so much fun that it’s hard to quit. I can think of so many more — maybe resolving that graffiti miscreants use disappearing ink? But I’ll stop here in order to wish our hopeful readers a happy new year, as our planet spins speedily toward the opportunity 2011 will bring for another round of resolutions.