One of my favorite quotes: “I will never understand why it is called Common Sense, when it is so uncommon.”

I recently sold my office/retail property in the 900 block of State Street after almost 40 years of ownership, and moved my investments to Texas. Being a third-generation Santa Barbaran, it pains me to be forced to make these kinds of decisions.

The one-on-one relationship between retail sales volume and available shopping time should easily be discerned by even the most unaware city official. Obviously this is not the case.

When I purchased this property, there were no parking garages, State Street was very healthy and getting healthier by the year. Note: Public Parking downtown was free for four hours, and many retailers offered coupons to customers for the $.25 per hour overtime charge.

Then along came the parking garages, which were a good thing, and the 4-hour free period, due to questionable budgeting, was “necessarily” reduced to 3 hours with the overtime charge being increased accordingly. Not too many years later, to balance the budget, free time was again reduced to 2 1/2 hours. Then to 2 hours and currently 75 minutes. The progressive loss in income from retail sales continued to negatively impact the City Parking Garage budget, so efforts were made to increase the income from parking fees to make up the difference.

It should be obvious to anyone with just the tiniest amount of common sense that retail sales have diminished in precise parallels with the reductions in free parking time.

Admittedly, Amazon’s brilliant execution of online retail sales has had a significant impact; but the fact is inescapable that these two factors have destroyed the health of our once vital downtown.

Had the city budget administrators been aware that cutting shopping time to balance the budget was such a certain path to self destruction, downtown could have readily handled Amazon’s impact.

Hopefully, you are aware of the recent change increasing free parking time in San Luis Obispo. At least there is someone with a modicum of common sense making important government decisions in that city.

It is just incredibly sad that Santa Barbara City administrators are so oblivious to the obvious.

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