Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Community Post: The U Plan SB Saga

David Pritchett sent the following in:
Writing of the blogs and maybe community-access TV taking over the debate, like NewsRoom, here is another. Now that the 4 public "workshop" meetings are done as Round One of the public outreach for Plan Santa Barbara 2030 General Plan Update, what do readers think and where should this process go from here?? For cynical, veteran City Watchers, the whole suite of meetings did leave a bit of an impression that all those good ideas recorded on the big sheets of paper indeed would disappear and a dissatisfying, unambitious plan would result in a year, with overly dismissive reasons why the Big Ideas were not included. Time will tell; here is the first installment in the U Plan SB saga.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"U PLAN SB" is short for " Unnamed pro-unfettered-growth staff members' plan sb-- the proof will be in the was pretty clear from the meetings I watched on cable, and in person, that the 'average joe' vehemently opposes increased heights, bulk and density......we'll see what happens

7/14/2007 5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The link for the "first installment" doesn't work. Is that a metaphor?

I thought it was a good beginning. Too bad there weren't more people at the meetings other than the one at the Faulkner where I heard there were a lot.

Much depended on the staff member facilitating the small groups - Weiss was good; Ledbetter, I heard, was less good ---- and the citizens there: some were clearly there with agendas and weren't interested in listening to others. That said, it seemed there was strong support for "small town" height limits and lower density.

Good for Mayor Blum for attending all four (I heard) - boo to most of the council members for attending - at the most - 1 meeting.

7/14/2007 8:58 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Is fixed now -- an errant letter "l" somehow. Thanks for letting me know.

7/14/2007 9:02 PM  
Blogger David Pritchett said...

This news note at outlined the attendances and City Councilmember presences for these public meetings.

Copy and paste the URL:

The first public meeting was held on 13June2007 at Faulkner Gallery of the main library downtown, with a crowd of about 130 participants and City officials that Wednesday evening.

The second meeting happened the following Saturday morning (16Jun.2007) at La Casa de la Raza, with about 50 people present.

The third meeting was held Thursday night last week (28Jun.2007) at Westside Community Center, in a warm room with a crowd of about 85 who made the staff scramble slightly find more chairs than the initial attendance estimate.

The fourth meeting held at Hope School also had about 85 present, this time including Councilmembers House and Williams.

Watch the video in the first link to see how Ledbetter did in the small-group discussions.

Nothing was wrong with public participants who had an agenda, as the primary purpose of the meetings was to describe and present --for The Record-- what people wanted and why. Working out a deal by listening to others is for future meetings.

I think people should give this process a chance, but also be smart to understand what really is happening or not happening.

As all the public suggestions and observations were highly varied and often contradicted, what kind of actual plan can be derived from all this still seems like it will just be a political judgment in the end, with additional pressure NOT to adopt a plan that is very ambitious just to be "safe". I certainly hope I am wrong in the end.

7/14/2007 10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Council member Schneider was at the second meeting at the Casa de la Raza.

As for the numbers attending, only about 36 public signed in for that second meeting -- with about 10 or so additional and observing staff members. Some went to all or at least more than one of the meetings.

This was just the first of a year and a half-long process and I think it will certainly be a political judgment in the end --- and that probably will be a smooth-edged compromise.

Too bad, if so, because there's a great opportunity to be innovative — and in the process to get a sizable number of people activated and actually involved. If they don't reach out and actively listen, most people will subside back into disinterest.

7/15/2007 3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said... is the name of the website.

7/15/2007 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a farce. We get it. They are going to do what they want - can you say roundabout - so why bother.

7/15/2007 7:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too many people in this community have long ago given up thinking the city council will even listen to them, which is why so many don't attend these city meetings.

They know they will get bowled over by the city staff who will listen to, do and say what they want.

This was proven painfully obvious the first Plan 2030 meeting. And this is sad if the city council actually believes they are getting public input. They are not - they have to listen to the deafening silence they are hearing too.

What they also need to hear is how many simply refuse to participate any longer, and rather than just listen to the few and very predictible voices that show up for everything, they need to think long and hard about WHY so many stay away.

The city planning staff creeps me out. Who elected them and who gives them their marching orders and how did the get SO out of touch with the residents here - and not just be pawns of the developers and commuters and the homeless vagabonds with their exaggerated sense of entitlement.

That is what is so darn frustrating - those only with financial interests to protect and the independent means (or public dole) to keep showing up at these meetings and follow all the arcane planning jargon the staff is paid to understand, get heard.

The city council is clueless how overwhelming these issues are to the average resident. The city staff just runs circles around those who are simple and willing, but not well-versed in all the junk the city staff presumes the public already knows -- clue -- very, very very few besides the predictible gad-flys even know what a general plan is all about, let alone all the planning vocabulary crap that gets thrown at the public who are asked to makes meaningful responses in public hearings.

You simply do not understand how very out of touch you are on these issues, city council. And you are not trying to understand, or even show up to see the material deficiencies in this present planning process.

Why on earth were not every single city council person in attendance at every single meeting, listening to what was said, what was not said and the growing communication defect developing between what the city staff records and what residents are actually saying.

Nothing was more important than each city council members presence at all meetings.

No out of town conference attendance was more important than listening to your very constituents who did takes the time to show up and be heard - even if they are often the same voices you always hear.

You needed to be there to hear the entire interaction and how badly your city staff was serving this process.

If all the errent city council members (not Marty though, who gets an A for her full time attendance) do is wait for the "staff report" .... then Heaven help us all!!!!

Please city council -- stop phoning in your duties to your constituents - us. Be there along with us and let the city dialogue begin. And number one we want you to hear is we don't believe one word that filters down to you from your city staff.

7/15/2007 8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the City truly wanted citizen input they would set up a GPAC---complete with Brown Act meetings, specific land use designations and proposals, public comment, etc etc just like most cities and counties do. Yes, it's a laborious process but you know what? democracy is messy and that's the price we pay.
But not here in Santa Barbara where the staff rules and has the final word and the reelections of the Councilmembers depend on their bending over to staff...

7/15/2007 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bring back the old Santa Barbara where the good people of this town after multiple public hearings a few decades ago wanted only to underground the utilities, and that remains the main piece of unfinished business from the past General Plan.

Sounds good to me - actually doing something for those who live here, rather than for those who do not.

Feh on the "public process" today.

7/15/2007 10:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do city council members bend over for city staff so much after getting elected, regardless of of campaign promises made to residents and voters?

Because they are scared sh*tless they will not get city staff public employee union endorsements and campaign money.

And thus the betrayal of the voters and the neighborhoods begins and continues. And city staff runs amok, reckless and deaf to real community concerns. Their only core mission is to get more public tax money and job security and low demand, unaccountable to the public jobs.

Voters: remember this the next time your mail box gets stuffed with highcolor campaign brochures - these have been paid for by your tax dollars via the city public employee unions.

Next time you feel good because the "police and firemen" endorse a particular candidate, know well those are your tax dollars supporting police and fire salaries drained off to the police and fire publie employee unions that are paying for that slick campaign material.

Make a promise today that any candidate endorsed by any public employee union will not get your vote. You are putting the noose over your own head if you vote for public employee union endorsements.

7/16/2007 8:21 AM  
Anonymous Das williams said...

In addition to the large workshops, we have had about 20 or so meetings with groups of 20-40 people. The input from those meetings can also be read online.

In the 10 or so cities I have worked with, City staff wield even more power than Santa Barbara. It is a characteristic of the City Manager form of government. The alternative is a Strong Mayor system like Los Angeles.

However, I detect by both staff and councilmembers a genuine desire to get as wide of input as possible. I'm sure people will try to spin it a little to their view, and that's why i've encouraged people at these meetings to be as specific with their recommendations as possible.

I'm sorry I didn't make the first workshop, I was lobbying for commuter rail and taking the train to do it, instead of driving.

7/16/2007 8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not save money and skip the process altogether.

Just give us a heads up on what is going to be foisted on us.

7/16/2007 8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

UP r's SB how fitting. They are sticking it to us!

7/16/2007 1:44 PM  
Blogger David Pritchett said...

For all the complaints here, why not just watch the video that was noted in the original subject here??

This is what actually was said during one of the public workshop meetings, with future videos to come in future months about public views of this process and the issues.

Go to the original subject posting and link on "first installment" text, or copy and paste this full URL to find the video:

7/16/2007 7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Das, you miss the point. The staff censors and filters all the public input into words that their own agenda. That is what makes this public process so worthless.

And if you attended these meetings in person rather than defend them sight unseen, you would know what we are talking about. Because we were there.

I cringe at the very thought of reading the "staff report" on these meetings. This is an endemic problem and I don't care if it is worse (according to you) anyplace else. That is being non-responsive.

We are talking about the problems here. And we are talking about how this chronic staff censorship problem affects us, right here and right now.

I want to know what you will do about this, besides defend it, minimalize it, apologize for it, disdain it or ignore it.

How about demanding you never want to see this staff interferance ever again, and you personally will be monitoring the accuracy of every single staff recordation of any member of the public's input: both quality and quantity.

How on earth did your city staff get on this housing, housing, housing band wagon when the public has been clearly saying in these public meetings they want no more of it?

You need to pay a lot more attention to what in fact is going on. Stay in town next time. This is far more important than one more taxpayer funded out of down conference. We are sick of you all phoning in your city council duties.

7/16/2007 8:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What staff is doing is the bidding of the Council, and the Council needs to be held responsible.

7/16/2007 11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While Das was off riding the choo choo train, a lot of us were taking the time to get involved and have our Elected Officials listen to us.

What were we thinking?

Count me out!

7/17/2007 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The city council is selling out the residents in order to get federal and state money to support worthless and unaccountable non-profits.

The attitude of city staff overwhelms any city council member - they are skilled at leading them around by the nose.

The only people speaking up loud and clear for more and more and more housing are city staff and the building industry.

So if the city council all the sudden abandons their pro-neighborhood campaign promises (no neighborhood I know is demanding more and more housing), then the only thing that could have happened is city staff took over their brains and is now channeling the building industry's pro-development arguments.

And somehow, by following city staff, city council deludes itself that it is somehow responding and honoring promises made to the voters.

This scenario plays out in just about every issue the city council tackles - they pass it off to staff, staff has sold out to developers or endless streams of publically funded unaccountable non-profits and then in turn leads the city council into thinking they are doing something for the voters who elected them.

Someone must finally be able to see more clearly what is going on here. Where is the city council independence, leadership and remembrance of what got them elected?

Or should we the voters remember it was developer money and public employee unions that got them elected? Not by sheer numbers of voters, but only by campaign dollars.

In that case if we retain the current incumbents, then we the voters also sell out the city.

7/17/2007 8:46 AM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

People seem to confuse "public input" with "implementing everything (or even anything) that a small group of 40-80 (often disagreeing) members of 'The Public' suggest at the public meetings."

If the majority of city residents don't like the plans this council is implementing, they will be voted out in the next election cycle. Civics 101, anybody? Reference Goleta.

Please answer this, Mr or Miz Anonymous: Is there anything that any SB City Council has done in the last 20 years that you think was a REALLY GOOD IDEA? Put your money where your mouth is and try talking about something positive instead of incessantly seeing only the negative and blaming everything on (state mandated) new housing and public employees' unions. I'd love to see you get in the face of police and fire dept staff and be as rude to them in person as you are here.

Seeing 'Anonymous' over and over is just getting old -- I wish this blog were able at least to post the IP address of the commenter so that it would be transparent if the same cranky so-and-so is just posting the same sentiment over and over and over. Even so, your tone and writing style give you away...

This is why newspaper letters to the editor require people to sign their names -- so the same few wingnuts don't dominate the debate and make it look as though the louder and more often they scream that "we" or "everyone in town" feels such-and-such, that it must be true by virtue of the fact that they keep repeating themselves.

I supposed I could just ignore this, but Sara, please know that, rather than any kind of reasoned, constructive "dialogue", most of the comments sections of this blog are starting to sound like they can be described as just "Whineabarbara". It's getting tiresome.

7/17/2007 9:25 AM  
Anonymous Das Williams said...

Anon from 8:44 gives me a good challenge, and I will be reviewing the minutes and tapings of those sessions, and check the staff reports for accuracy. In the past, I think it is fair to say I have been the most willing to challenge staff on something I felt was inaccurate or wrong, and I will do so again. The one thing I will not do is prejudge the situation.

I say again, if you are concerned, get 100 people you know to answer the Plan SB survey online and give very specific answers like, "We don't need anymore commercial square footage in the City, in fact if you want to build anymore housing you should reduce commercial square footage so we don't have a traffic nightmare."

By this Thursday, I will have attended seven Plan Santa Barbara meetings (there's not just the workshops). I don't think that's too shabby. I wasn't attending a conference during the first workshop, but a meeting of LOSSAN, the JPA that decides on rail improvements in soCal. If we want less traffic on the 101, it is vital that Commuter Rail stay in the LOSSAN North Corridor Plan.

7/17/2007 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And what will the commuter rail do about the weekend mess?

7/17/2007 7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Das, all well and good and agree we need commuter rail but was your presence essential at that meeting - please explain why you needed to be there other than just supporting it in concept. Did they take a vote and your vote was essential to passage of this?

Or was it just a nice junket of general interest when you should have been here, along with your other conspicuously absent colleagues (besides Marty)?

What is the out of town conference budget for the city council each year and what happens besides general interest activities - do you actually make a difference by attending in specific concrete terms where taxpayers can receive direct benefit by your and your colleagues attendance?

7/17/2007 7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So one more gang murder to chalk up.....good thing the city council is spending $10,000 to paint a blue line down the street......or spending one second or one minute talking about such nonesense when this city is churning with poverty, violence, overcrowded, dirty neighborhoods that are underpoliced and underserved.

Shame, shame, shame on all of you.

7/17/2007 7:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Add to the further degradation of this city the gang melee at the ACME marijuana distribution center on the 200 block of West Victoria Street, right next to the dance school where a lot of the little kids who dance for fiesta attend.

7/18/07 - NewsPress: 6-10 individuals involved in a ganage fight with knives, baseball bats and a hand gun.

The suspects fled through an apartment complex. Rsidents reported individuals stashing bats inthe bushes.

According to witnesses, six alleged members of an Eastside gang were on West Victoria to a visit a medical marijuana shop (ACME) when they were spotted by several alleged Westsiders and a fight ensued.

This area is full of city housing projects if case anyone wonders how wonderful it is to have affordable housing in their neighborhoods.

Let alone a marijuana shop which already has been a magnet for burglaries, trash, dumping and double parking and marijuana fumes spilling out on the sidewalk from its derilict interior smoke filled rooms with glazed over staff.

This whole mess needs immediate attention and does the city council even know this is happening since they all pride themselves in not reading the NewsPress?

The great irony is this happened only a block away from the city's new Teen Center. Seems the city teens were far more interested in visiting the marijuana shop than the teen center. Did the city blow another feel good project and waste another pack of tax dollars on this project and then turn its back on the real teen scene going on under their unregulated noses - the teen marijuana distribution shop?

Who gave these teens their prescriptions for medical marijuana they knew ACME would honor?

Think long and hard before considering Dr David Bearman for 3rd District Supervisor - the Druggie Dcotor who championed this mess.

7/17/2007 9:06 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

C'mon Das. You're bobbin' and weavin' more than Muhammad Ali.

Why don't YOU give us specifics about how you intend to keep building higher and denser without eventually ruining the character of this city?

And while you're at it, tell us why anyone should believe that this effort will represent the average citizen's opinion and eventually make this city a better place to live.

News flash: You and the rest of the council are not believable, and your collective reputation is based on past and present actions.

7/17/2007 10:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell us why is it okay to put in marijuana distribution centers in the Westside where families live, but no parks?

7/17/2007 11:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe Edwards poverty tour could come and check out the westside. Give it National attention and not look the other way like the City Council.

Murder 2 and still no sign of the Mayor.

7/18/2007 1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congress considers fund to build, rehab affordable housing

By Tony Pugh | McClatchy Newspapers
Posted on Wed, July 18, 2007

WASHINGTON — After years of watching the nation's affordable housing stock deteriorate and disappear, Congress is moving to pass one of the most important pieces of housing legislation in years.

On Thursday, the House Committee on Financial Services will hold its first legislative hearing on a proposal by Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., to establish a National Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

The bill, HR 2895, creates a permanent federal funding source to help construct, renovate and preserve 1.5 million units of rental housing for low-income families over the next 10 years. The trust also would assist first-time homebuyers with down payments and closing costs.

The fund would provide up to $1 billion a year for states and local governments to award grants to developers and organizations that agree to build or rehabilitate housing that serves low-income families. For every $2 of trust fund money used, the bill requires a $1 match of state, local or private funds.


| McClatchy Washington Bureau | McClatchy Newspapers

7/18/2007 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good news. When can we start building?

7/18/2007 6:26 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Whatever the bitch is, it is all the fault of Marty Blum!!

Marty kidnapped the Lindberg baby.

Marty erased over the Nixon tapes.

Marty fed the false intelligence to the CIA about Iraq weapons of mass destruction.

Marty sharpened the knives used in the gang murders.

This blog subject is about the public meetings for "Plan Santa Barbara." What happened to that?

7/18/2007 9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No reason to get involved with the planning of anything, with people who won't listen.

7/19/2007 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It became Build Santa Barbara

7/19/2007 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fds--If the City paid more attention to the comments and concerns expressed by the public at all of the meetings, hearings, sessions, etc.--instead of pushing its own agenda--the subject wouldn't inevitably turn to increasing violence, our mean streets and the utter lack of leadership shown by those who have been entrusted to represent the will of the people but can only hear the special interests instead. That's why we get off topic so easily.

7/19/2007 10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FDS is ALWAYS an apologist for the City Council. Always. Go back through the last dozens of blog topics.

7/19/2007 8:26 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Apologist? What is there to apologize for? That assumes that something is wrong...are nyou an apologist for developers? or maybe for a candidate in November?

7/19/2007 8:34 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Does questioning this letter in the NewsMess also make me an "apologist" if I object to condoning the murder of City Council Members?

Letters: Hang inept city officials out to dry

Charles A. Cagara, Santa Barbara

July 20, 2007

In 1988, author and gadfly James Farrell published a harangue with the only-slightly-tongue-in-cheek title "The Case for Hanging Errant Public Officials."

Perhaps it's time to dust off this little gem and send copies to Santa Barbara's mayor and City Council.

The "blue line'' was the last straw. Witness also "traffic calming," the ostrich response to gang violence, downtown canyonization, Housing Authority-gate, St. Francis condo-gate and planning fiascoes, as in parking garage mis-measurement.

Also, the State Street tree "chain saw massacre," the affordable-housing debate debacle, fiscally irresponsible sweetheart retirement deals, and self-indulgent junkets at taxpayer expense.

If my blood pressure could stand it, I'd continue the litany.

And, if the county Board of Supervisors is reading this with smug satisfaction -- look only to your lack of gumption as regards a failure to confront and challenge the state housing mandate.

Alas, I fear that if we were to adopt Mr. Farrell's methods of ensuring good government, the public safety would be put at risk from the stampede of applicants rushing City Hall to be hired as hangman.

7/20/2007 12:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fds - you can't take that as a serious threat. Guess someone has to point out to you this was written to vent out in frustration against the current regime in City Hall.

Should we ferret this person out and send them to Guantanamo Bay aka Getmo?

7/20/2007 6:59 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

Das? Das? Are you out there? Still waiting for YOUR specifics.

In cased you missed the question...tell us again how you plan to protect the city and at the same time build bigger and denser. And please don't tell us that the answer is light rail unless you tell us where the million$ of dollar$ are going to come from.

7/20/2007 9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guess we scared Das off. Oh well!

7/21/2007 4:47 PM  

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