By Staci Caplan
Santa Barbara Association of REALTORS®
We count on our Santa Barbara City Council to serve us fairly and consistently, while being transparent and open with all deliberations. They are our neighbors, after all. People we know by name and converse with face to face on a regular basis. We have, or should have, solid confidence that the decisions they make, whether we agree with them or not, are the result of an open and inclusively deliberative process. However this was not the case a few weeks ago on December 8.
The issue of tenant relocation payments had been debated at length, with multiple hearings, an ad hoc task force and finally, a deliberation that ended up with a specific result on November 10. Both sides of that issue may not have gotten exactly what they wanted, but a public decision had been made. Per law, that decision was then set for a reading on November 17, by title only, on the following week’s consent calendar. Items are often pulled for discussion or clarification on consent, but the substantial content of the agreement is not re-debated on the spot, as the interested parties don’t normally attend consent calendar items.
Much to the public’s surprise, this is exactly what happened on November 17. To change the policy substantially without notice might not be a violation of law, but it clearly violates the spirit of the Brown Act, which requires open meetings with ample opportunity for public comment.
If their actions continue, the norm will be that all public interest groups will work to have the City Council make last minute changes to items on the consent calendar, rather than properly debating the issues during normal public comment opportunities. However you might stand on landlord/tenant issues, this cannot be abided. The public process cannot be ignored on certain issues and touted on others. While you may favor the result of this last item, next time around you might feel your sense of confidence in your locally elected officials has been seriously violated. We encourage the members of the Santa Barbara City Council to return to the transparent, fair, impartial decision makers that we elected.
Staci Caplan is a California Real Estate Broker and the owner of Pacific Crest Realty. She was born and raised in Santa Barbara and her passion for this special region translates into successful real estate transactions and thrilled clients. At our local Santa Barbara Associations of REALTORS ® , Staci has served on the Board of Directors, the Government Relations Committee, the Budget and Finance Committee, the Multiple Listing Committee, and the REALTOR ® Action Fund Committee. She can be reached at (805) 886-3970 or firstname.lastname@example.org.