“Startup Hot Bed”: That is what Santa Barbara would like to be. Well, I’m thinking of a Startup in need of funding with 1,455 local employees. But Wall Street or Main Street is hesitant to fund our “Hot Beds.”
Don’t get too excited! Most of our contractors are private individuals with $1,000 or less in monthly income doing the work of daily sustenance through informal sustenance strategies. That’s not even enough money to relocate or even eat lunch on State Street. Seventy-six percent of us are from Santa Barbara or the State of California. However, why should we have to relocate? We do get asked this. Santa Barbara attracts lots of multinationals and chain stores. After five years or more on the city and county housing lists, sometimes we move backward instead of forward on the list. Length of time on the list has no bearing on housing selection. That is not fair. We can’t afford the rents on State Street or any street in Santa Barbara. Sounds like a familiar problem for one of the “State of the City” sponsors: The Chamber of the Santa Barbara region.
Our employees spend a lot of time at the Human Resources office. Human Resources is always an understaffed department. Last year 74 percent of us finally got health care. This year we are kind of holding our breath and crossing our fingers. What our employees really need is housing. So what is the city spending money on? How about golf course improvements and other building projects from special funding sources? No ultra-low-income housing is on that list though. But when we ask for housing from the city, we get answers like, “We can’t build our way out of this mess”. Hotels are building their way out of this mess. Market forces and Capitalism just don’t give us our share of the American pie. The community is making us suffer from “The Violence of Forgetting.”
Just think of the “Startup Hot Beds” possibilities if our business leaders got involved. One of the Santa Barbara banks could offer our employees absolutely “no fees” checking accounts to help us save for the rainy days Santa Barbara so desperately needs. We really have a problem being over regulated on the local level, and it is about to get worse. You won’t believe the red tape and bureaucracy our 1,455 employees go through just to get the “Startup Hot Beds” help we need.
The builders in our community and our employees can identify with the regulators sneaking up on them when they fall asleep. But for our employees it is a Penal Code Section 647(E) “unlawful lodging” fine. If we don’t show up in restorative regulatory court, we have a criminal record. Then we spend more time in jail than our famous neighbor spent in jail for hiding $100 million in a Swiss bank account. We don’t want charity. There is absolutely nothing the homeless population can do with $39 million worth of expired Beanie Babies. The empty spec houses that famous local billionaire is sitting on, that is a different story.