The Santa Barbara Association of Realtors Board of Directors voted to oppose the City of Santa Barbara’s proposed gang injunction because of “the stigma” the injunction would place on large portions of the city designated as “safety zones.” Board president Ed Fuller said real estate agents would feel compelled to disclose if properties fall within the safety zones — which compose about 30 percent of the city’s land mass — and that could have a deleterious effect on sales. “Whether it’s a deep freeze or a light frost, I believe it will have an impact,” Fuller said. “It will not be positive in the short run.”
Fuller said the vote came after Councilmember Gregg Hart — who campaigned against the injunction — made a presentation to the board. Fuller described Hart’s pitch as “factual” and acknowledged that the realtors did not seek out a rebuttal presentation by injunction supporters. Fuller said the Realtors support anything that reduces crime but added that the police have other tools at their disposal to deal with gang violence. He took particular exception with a “special events provision” that would expand the scope of the protected zones to include much of Shoreline Park and the Mesa during such events as Fiesta and the Fourth of July. “The real estate business is not all about location, location, location,” Fuller said. “It’s about disclosure, disclosure, disclosure.”
Assistant City Attorney Tom Shapiro — who will argue the city’s position in court later this spring — dismissed the Association of Realtors’ concerns, saying they had “no credence.” Similar issues were raised when Oakland passed its gang injunction, he said, but were not borne out by the facts. He added there was no law or requirement mandating such disclosures. Councilmember Frank Hotchkiss, a real estate agent and ardent supporter of the gang injunction, has argued that such disclosures might prove advantageous in selling properties in certain neighborhoods. He expressed surprise at the Realtors’ vote, noting that all the City Council candidates the board endorsed in last November’s election supported the injunction.
Politically, the vote was a coup for Hart, now entering his second month in office, and marks a striking strategic expansion of the campaign against the injunction. To date, the loudest critics of the proposal have been Latino activists and civil libertarians. While they have also argued the injunction would hurt real estate sales and the area’s tourist industry, they have not gained much traction with either camp. Hart — one of only two votes against the injunction on the council — is the first to actively woo either business group. Legally, however, the vote will have no bearing on the outcome of the seven-day trial scheduled to begin May 5.