To Dante Morales and opponents of the EBID,

Thanks for your “offer” for us to withdraw the Eastside Business Improvement District (EBID) proposal via the Opinion section of The Santa Barbara Independent on Saturday.

We respectfully decline.

In return, we offer you what we have been offering you from the very beginning: Join us to create a strong, thriving business district on the Eastside. Help us help you prosper.

It’s unfortunate that you have chosen Jacqueline Inda as your “managing partner” in opposing the EBID. Jacqueline Inda sued the city for district elections and is now running for a seat on City Council. Perhaps these things are connected? Ms. Inda organized and led the PODER protest against El Bajio. She thought attempting to racially shame a prominent Latino business leader and community supporter was the “right thing to do.” That’s why we, you, and everyone else should question whether she truly has the community’s best interests at heart … or is motivated by some other purpose.

Your other ally in opposing the EBID is Cathy Murillo. It appears that you never asked yourself why she had shown very little interest in the Eastside before she approached you to oppose this EBID. She’s been in office for four years now. So where are those services she promised you that the city should deliver rather than the EBID? Whether you are aware of it or not, you have been very busy working on Murillo’s agenda. What has Cathy Murillo done for you or the Eastside?

Have you ever asked Murillo or Inda why they intentionally misinformed you that the EBID would tax residents and landlords, replace police with private security, raise rents, unleash the forces of gentrification, install parking meters, and other untruths? When you heard these things, wouldn’t it have been prudent to at least make a phone call or send us an email to question them? Instead, you decided to embark on an opposition campaign, deliberately spreading this misinformation out into the community. Your group has done a spectacular job creating division and conflict where none existed before.

Cathy Murillo’s campaign manager, Mary Rose, is now working for you to produce anti-EBID materials. The treasurer for your new organization is Mary Rose’s husband. It’s ironic that a group that accuses the MCA of being a “political organization” is deeply involved with longtime political operatives like Grant House, Cathy Murillo, Jacqui Inda, and the people who work for them.

You and your “organization” have not offered anything to our community other than “stop the EBID.” Some businesses report that though they like the EBID, they’re too afraid to sign the petition because they’ve been threatened that they will have “trouble” if they do. Was your goal to create an atmosphere of fear in our community? That is the only “accomplishment” your organization can point to.

Why didn’t you ever get involved in our community before now? There were ample opportunities with the Healthy Community Initiative, Milpas Outreach Project, Milpas Action Task Force, Holiday Committee, and many more. You never showed up for any of these. We have to wonder why you are investing so much time, money and energy opposing this EBID, when all of that could have been positively invested in our community, and done so much good.

Thanks for bringing up healing, as we are working on that. We openly invite you to join us in coming together to heal our community. We hope you’ll accept, as that would show a sign of good faith on your part to mend the serious damage that the more radical elements of your organization have wreaked on this neighborhood.

The question of whether to form the Eastside Business Improvement District is a very simple one to the business community here: do you want to pay for services that could make small, visible improvements in the area’s appearance, put on fun events, and promote our businesses? For less than $1 per day, for most businesses?

Every business gets to vote on this. That is how democracy works.

Please, stop spreading fear and misinformation in our community.

Let the businesses decide. Join with us, so we can all move forward together. There’s much to do, and zero reason to let City Hall politics interfere with what we both seem to want: a better community.

Alan Bleecker is president of the Milpas Community Association.


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