Measure T allows Carpinteria’s registered voters to decide whether to build a hotel on the city’s downtown and beach parking lot. The proposed Surfliner Inn will forever change the character of our downtown. The hotel is a far different addition to the downtown than the renovation of existing private properties on Linden Avenue. Do we want a high priced, oversized hotel to dominate the south end of our main street? For those of us who believe that building a hotel on public land will not improve but instead detract from Carpinteria’s small town charm, Measure T is the way to make our voices heard. Voting “YES” on Measure T is definitely a “NO” to the construction of the Surfliner Inn.
The City Council’s refusal to hold an advisory vote specifically on the Surfliner Inn, as proposed by Vice Mayor Clark, is the primary reason for Measure T. Since it was clear that despite persistent and widespread public protest over the past six years, a majority of the City Council want the hotel, the only recourse left to concerned citizens was an initiative, signed by more than 1,000 Carpinterians, that put Measure T on the ballot. Measure T is presented in terms of preserving open space because “Open Space/Recreational” is the legal designation that prevents city property from being developed for commercial purposes.
Measure T2022 changes the zoning only on this one parcel, while confirming the present zoning of the lot next to the Spot burger stand as Open Space/ Recreational. The specifications of the Open Space/Recreational designation were modified to accommodate the existing parking on Lot 3. They will not impact additional parking on other city-owned properties nor will they stop extension of the pedestrian trail from the campgrounds. Measure T will not allow residential development on property that has not been previously designated for that purpose. Neither Parking Lot 3 nor the space next to the Spot, nor the Community Garden have been designated for residential development.
The City of Carpinteria is not in financial need. Measure X, the local sales tax that was adopted in 2018, has generated more than $3.5 million a year and is likely to increase in coming years. The electorate chose this route, rather than a hotel or other development on public land, to meet the city’s financial need by ensuring a steady flow of revenue.
Does Measure T challenge the position of four sitting councilmembers on this issue? Yes because these councilmembers have not been receptive to the concerns of a significant number of their constituents. I sorely regret that these particular council persons turned a deaf ear to the public, thus making Measure T necessary. I hope that my fellow Carpinterians will remember this in coming elections. However, Measure T does not limit the council’s authority, or change the city plan in any matters other than the zoning of these two parcels, and if potential complications arise, it is well within the power of the city to resolve them. Bottom line, Measure T lets the voters decide this one specific issue of whether there will be hotel on the site of the city’s downtown and beach parking lot.
Michael Sipiora is a member of the YES on Measure T2022 committee.