Mark Heinz is my friend. [“End of an Era? Longtime FunkZone Yard Faces Mass Evictions,” 5/13/10] Not only is Mark a productive self-employed businessman in the air conditioning/refrigeration trade, he’s served his country as a Vietnam War veteran. Like many of my neighbors at 120 Gray Ave., Mark has supported his family here since the late 50’s. Mark’s son came up through the trades in his father’s business, and is now out on his own supporting his young family doing what his father still does. Mark’s a class act, a blue-collar, quiet man who has been working hard to pay off the mortgage and retire some day. His plans were blindsided by a 30-day eviction notice after renting shop space at 120 Gray Ave for over 25 years.

In llight of our dying economy and high unemployment rate, it makes no sense to put working people out of business. This has been a productive workplace for close to 40 years. It’s a place where people have built their boats and where fancy kitchens in Montecito and Hope Ranch have been built, and where restaurant interiors were milled and fabricated. It’s a place to bring your welding project to get fixed, or your ornate entry gate to be built to spec, then delivered and installed by the same man who built it. It’s a place where a retired machinist can make you parts you never thought possible. 120 Gray Ave. is a perfect place for us, as tradespeople, to do the work we do at an affordable rent.

What does 30 days notice do to someone in this situation? For Mark it means moving all of his fabrication tools into storage, throwing away all of his existing inventory, and hiring a helper to do so.

For me it means scrambling to make sense of it all. For Santa Barbara it means dismantling a valuable workspace for trades people who provide the infrastructure for the residents and businesses. Short-term notice to vacate puts good people out of business.

One only needs to look down the street to see the result of the shortsighted decisions of city officials. Eight years after 84 people were displaced by the Yanonali condominium project on Garden and Yanonali, the multi-million dollar condo site sits idle, unfinished, rotting in the sun and the rain, with the Tyvek paper flapping in the wind. Dead project, no owners in sight. Or move over a block and see Levytown in all its glory. Is this the goal? Push out local tradespeople to have an unfinished project or high-end businesses for the almighty tourist dollar?

Over all of the decades that 120 Gray Ave. has been a workyard and shop space for tradesmen, it’s been apparent that the people who work out of that property live here in the Santa Barbara area. All of that income stays here in our city and county. That income gets spent at the local tool stores and lumber yards. It feeds the system and makes it grow. What is happening to me and my friend Mark Heinz, and 12 others, is a sad chapter in what Santa Barbara has become.— Skip Saenger, Santa Barbara (cabinetmaker/woodworker)


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