The Future of Calle Milpas

Overall, I thought the article on Calle Milpas was good — a reflection of local pride in a thriving community.

There’s an authenticity to this part of Santa Barbara. That’s the REAL “real.” What’s unique to our calle is that our residences are adjacent to the businesses, unlike State Street. The businesses are woven into the neighborhood fabric. The food and vibes are good. People now want to move over here. Tourists want to eat here, and that takes away our parking spaces. There’s not a single Starbucks and let’s hope we can keep it that way. Our own Franklin School is in the top 30 percent of all California elementary schools. That doesn’t happen without effective leadership and parent/teacher/community buy in.

Staggering rent increases and housing displacement issues remain.

There is one piece in the article that I have a problem with, boxed under the heading “Capitol Hardware.” It implies that owner Alan Bleecker is working toward ending homelessness with his development at 711 North Milpas. There will be 16 “affordable” units (teachers and first responders having first priority), leaving 66 units affordable for only larger pocketbooks. There is no solution to the homelessness issue in this development.

Bleecker and his project partner, Ed St. George, will significantly and permanently change the character of Calle Milpas and this neighborhood with their out-of-scale, 82 unit, four-story, block-long complex of housing and businesses. This project has also set a precedent for future developments of this size, bulk, scale, and lack of affordability for lower-income residents. Ed St. George is a big developer with his hands in many projects up and down the California coast.

Profit at the expense of the real. Big changes are underway and more will follow.

Stay informed and share your voice: https://www.santabarbaraca.gov/.

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