How long does it take seven people to write a single sentence with 39 words? If it’s the Santa Barbara City Council writing the ballot language about the proposed Veronica Meadows housing development that city voters will decide this June, the answer is nearly two hours. The council is split 4-3 in favor of the controversial housing development, and both sides took pains to strike out any biased language that might unduly sway voters in favor of the other.

Because the entrance bridge developer Mark Lee proposes to build across Arroyo Burro Creek occupies 2,400 square feet of land given to the city Parks Department in 1958, voters have to approve the use of public space for private development purposes. Council supporters of the project took pains to remove language describing the property as “city parkland,” insisting it be described as “undeveloped City parkland,” instead.

Opponents of the development insisted that language highlighting the fact that the new bridge and road will be built and paid for by the developer and then turned over to City Hall. Once ownership has transferred, they noted, the new road would have to be maintained at city expense.


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