Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

At least this time, the News-Mess tells you where the poll came from

In the latest (i.e., daily) editorial taking a position against whatever the Santa Barbara City Council is doing or what he imagines or hopes the Council is doing, on Wednesday (October 24) News-Press-Mess-Less-Suppress-Depress editorialist Travis Armstrong melds both a lack of ethics and statistics and shows again why he has earned a more familiar name to Blogabarbara readers: Travis Factswrong.

The editorial refers to a poll that is supposedly conclusive evidence that the City Council is out of touch, destroying our way of life, yada yada yada. But this time a magical poll cited in the editorial actually has a source identified: Allied Neighborhoods Association.

Through some oh-so-clever research on the Internets, you Gentle Readers (and even the hostile ones) can find the original report about this “poll” at the web pages of this neighborhood association. Their web site includes a report all full of narrative and bar graphs and even includes a link to a spreadsheet file (Survey Database) of the original data from the whopping 122 responses, 86% from people age 50 or older, and 93% of whom are homeowners and 7% renters.

In the editorial, here is what Travis-baby wrote: “But the latest evidence that the council and city administration have priorities different from Santa Barbarans comes in a questionnaire circulated by Allied Neighborhoods Association. The survey found that residents ranked housing… He then goes on about how the City Council is evil blah blah blah.

Never to let facts or the validity of statistical inference and stratified sampling significance get in his way, the editorial conveniently ignores this major caveat in the whole poll and its analysis: it don’t mean nothing except what those specific 122 respondents wrote onto the questionnaires. Questionnaires are not always polls or certainly not real surveys.

The report by Allied Neighborhoods Association on page 2 honestly and correctly includes this big qualifier about what their poll means:

“Of course the significance of the results of a public survey is dependent upon the quality of the sample. We do not suggest that our sample represents a true cross-section of the community – we simply did not have the resources to attain anything approaching that level of distribution. We distributed these questionnaires, both in paper form and electronically (allowing respondents to e-mail responses), to our neighborhood associations, with the request that it be passed on to as many residents –members or otherwise– as possible. We make no claim that our sample of responses depicts an accurate profile of the City’s resident population. As you will note in the following analysis, the respondents were predominantly older homeowners.”

The short answer to all this: This questionnaire returned by 122 residents is not a poll or survey as the headline of the editorial calls it (“City Survey Shows…”). In the context of the editorial, this alleged survey is, ahem, biased, in what it represents and concludes because it is not a simple random, representative sample of the Santa Barbara population, as its own authors and analysts readily admit.

But in Wendy World and Travis Town, bias and significance are what they say and write they are. Except when the Neighborhood Association posts the report and the data at its web site.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

why do these posts come through with garbled lettering?

10/24/2007 10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least Allied correctly stated its methodology - kudos to them for polling their members - but to think their results reflect the mindset of all city voters is absurd.

Travis is getting desperate. Interesting that the SBNP touts the Allied poll, with its biased demographics, when just a couple of years ago it blasted another poll conducted by UCSB as biased. What hypocracy.

10/24/2007 10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fascinating. Of particular interest to me is that the "poll" showing such dissatisfaction was produced by Allied Neighborhoods.

Allied was generally in the forefront of promoting the new city NPO's including defined size limits for single family residences. Now, the SBNP uses that organization's data to support Michelle Giddens, who led the a coalition of real estate and building trade interests against the NPO revisions.

I can't speak for Allied but my suspicion would be that misrepresenting their survey to impute support for a candidate whose only political background is to support unlimited McMansion-ism is the last thing they would have ever imagined. That sort of rational process could only have come from the minds of Mr. Armstrong and Ms. McCaw.

10/24/2007 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This city council is destroying our small town way of life. They feel out of town commuters and vagrants are more important than residents and voters. You need to listen to what Dale Francisco is saying during this campaign. He has the issues right on.

10/24/2007 2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep the opinion stuff, however ill-informed, on the op/ed page. And keep the newsroom free of owner interference.

10/24/2007 3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wendy is spending so much time in court these days she's slipping.

This from today's column by her yachtmaster:

"Good Fishing: Captain David Bacon reports that we are entering the prime part of the year for targeting bottomfish. Fishing locations that are usually inaccessible because of high winds and weather can often be reached in the sometimes more tranquil fall. Catches are being made of calico bass and halibut. The day charter boats are bringing in many rockfish, cabezon, sheephead and ocean whitefish."

Anti-halibut, obviously.

Off with his head!

10/24/2007 3:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybeWendy, Nippest and Travis didn't understand their internal sampling about "bias."

Maybe she drove her newspaper off the cliff for nothing.

10/24/2007 3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 1:55: True, the N-P supports Giddens --- but it is not true that she "led a coalition..." of anyone.

She was at those meetings, some of them, sometimes, when her Marine Terrace area was at issue. She said she spoke for a neighborhood organization called "CityWide Homeowners" but few others were willing to stand up and so identify themselves so it's unclear exactly what the organization is.

10/24/2007 6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of these barnyard epithet editorials discredited, 500 more to go...

10/24/2007 6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reality Check re: Michelle Giddens:

She not only spoke on behalf of the "no size limit" mcmansion-ites, she was the one responsible for placing small american flags on the lawns of homes throughout her mesa neighborhood, without any notice to our permission from the residents, in order to promote her "cause" of unlimited FARs....

10/24/2007 7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 6:25: you are right... by coalition I really meant a dozen people with ambitions to make money from big house remodels.I could name them all but anyone who ever attended a public hearing on the issues knows the whole crew by heart.

10/24/2007 8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/25/2007 2:24 PM  
Anonymous editress said...

this childish name-calling in the post by Citizen Stringer undermines the message. Let's be adult here and stick to the issue, without er, so much bias.

10/25/2007 5:14 PM  
Blogger jqb said...

"This city council is destroying our small town way of life."

Yada yada yada.

10/25/2007 5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take a look at Giddens' campaign video (a la Larry Nimmer)... she stands in front of the Rose Cafe on the Mesa and gestures down toward the new construction at Meig's Corner as a symbol of progress. The new pizza place at the corner is going to be a parking and traffic nightmare. It is also located a stone's throw away (literally) from FIVE other pizza sources. She also speaks positively about the plans for a new carwash located three minutes away from two other carwashes - the self-serve on Montecito St. and the full serve at the corner of Castillo and Montecito.

The SBNP recommended slate is absolutely in favor of unrestrained growth. Armstrong and company only want to displace their perceived "enemies" by urging people to vote for a bunch with absolutely no experience or common sense. There may be dissatisfaction with the current council, but it is always a mistake to think that things couldn't get worse.

If nothing else, the fiasco of the SBNP mess demonstrates a collosal lack of judgment by management. Now these same failed managers are recommending a trio of candidates who bring absolutely nothing to the table in terms of experience or proven competency.

10/25/2007 7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anony 2:24 - that linked urban visionary southern California Frank Hotchkiss is not "our" frank Frank who is a realtor and writer. Too bad.

10/25/2007 8:28 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

Remember Gray Davis? The highly partisan, arrogant and ineffective governor of California with nonexistent leadership skills? California voters sent him away.

Santa Barbara voters have an opportunity to trade at least one partisan and arrogant city council member for, say, someone like Dale Francisco. What a refreshing thought...

Are the voters up to it?

10/25/2007 9:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dale Francsico is a total class act. We desparately need his depth and integrity. Hope you get a chance to hear from him in person.

One head will roll among the three incumbents. Barnwell has hit every possible negative point in his entire campaign. Not a single thing to recommend giving him another term, let alone another whole unearned year.

My money is on him being gone and Franscisco in. Not good enough to stop the "affordable housing" train wreck this deranged council has inflicted upon us - total pawns of the developers and they still don't know how they got compromised.

Good riddance.

10/25/2007 11:15 PM  
Anonymous Lanny Ebenstein said...

I can't agree with some of the comments here. They are factually inaccurate.

The idea that Michelle Giddens, or others who opposed the NPO, favor unlimited sizes of homes is not so. As a result of the NPO, the effective maximum home size, exclusive of garage, on a 6,000 s.f. lot--about 30% of SB lots--is now 1,860 square feet. That's not a mansion, but it would drive many families from Santa Barbara.

With respect to the News-Press being in favor of all-out development, this is also not so. The News-Press has editorialized against the development that is now occurring in the city that is championed and often led by the current City Council.

10/26/2007 11:08 PM  
Anonymous lower east side resident said...

Mr. Ebenstein:
Have you seen the house on Michelle's block, La Plata, just a house or two from Shoreline? Impossible to miss! That's the size house she supports and whose owners (of several properties in the area) spoke in tandem with her at many of the NPO hearings! That, by all accounts, is a McMansion.

That particular house, the NPO poster child, btw, its looming size and floor to lot area ratio (FAR) of about 65%, was the reason there was sufficient alarm by the neighbors and city so that there were the NPO hearings.

Many of us throughout the city saw the uncontrolled growth happening in that part of the Mesa as destructive of the "small town" fabric of the neighborliness, the friendliness of Santa Barbara. We feared for our own neighborhoods — and the city as a whole.

Tearing down small houses, house sizes that have served families well for generations to build such mini mansions, monuments to greed, is what drives people from Santa Barbara. Often these newly rebuilt houses, value doubled, are flipped, removing from the city yet another moderate-sized and priced home, although certainly nothing on the Mesa is moderately-priced anymore.

If a family or a person wants a larger house, they should buy a larger lot, in Mission Canyon, your area, for instance, or elsewhere where lot sizes are bigger. Allowable house size under the NPO is directly related to lot size.

...As for the NP: its three endorsees are as follows: one is supported by the SB Association of Realtors; another is a realtor himself; and the third, spent much time before the Council/NPO hearings arguing in favor of large houses and she is supported by the SB Board of Realtors political Action Committee.

Res ipsa loquitur --- the thing speaks for itself: these are pro development interests.

10/27/2007 8:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just saw journalist Cathy Murrillo's interview with the mayor about Measure A on her juvenile-ly titled show, "Chewing on the Candidates." More than nodding, she actually led the discussion about how much more voter turnout would happen, what could be down with the thousands of dollars saved--and then mentioned three of the people who are supporting (Joe and Emily Allen and Ken Petit)--without revealing that she and her husband David Pritchett are also co-signers of the ballot argument. Is that considered er, the dreaded bias? Is that responsible journalism? Is that full disclosure or pushing an agenda? Or does it only count when it's Wendy and Travis as the perpetrators? Let's get real here.

10/27/2007 10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re Lanny Ebenstein: Respectfully, I believe Mr. Ebenstein is the one making inaccurate posts.

Michelle Giddens was president of CityWide Homeowners during the NPO review process. She invariably spoke against any definable limit to home sizes. Timothy Harding's recent piece in the SBNP specifically reinforced CityWide's opposition to any FAR or definable limit to home size.

Mr. Ebenstein may regard the new FARs as too restrictive, but that has no relevence to the reality that Ms. Giddens has steadfastly opposed ANY tangible limit to home size. I would be amazed if Mr. Ebenstein can produce even one instance when Ms. Giddens acknowledged in public forum that a home design was too large or incompatible with its surrounding neighborhood.

10/27/2007 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10/24/2007 7:48 PM
Anonymous said...
Reality Check re: Michelle Giddens:

...was the one responsible for placing small american flags on the lawns of homes throughout her mesa neighborhood...


It may also be worth noting that Ms. Giddens had pasted a large printed statement (with at least one spelling error) directly on each of those American flags, an act in direct violation of The Flag Code -- Title 4, United States Code, Chapter 1:

(g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

(i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever.

Such blithe disrespect for the law may fit with Ms. Giddens' disregard for her neighbors (and details such as spelling conventions), but it does not demonstrate her suitability for public office.

10/27/2007 11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Save your breath over Giddens and bullit vote for Francisco. Don't let a divide and conquer squander a split of votes between all the opposing candidates and let a weak incumbent hold on to HIS job.

How is that for democracy in action? Use your vote wisely and well - and sometimes it is well to only use it once.

10/27/2007 6:01 PM  
Anonymous realist said...

Dale Francisco is the only candidate who has called for a moratorium on the huge mixed use buildings that throw in an "affordable" unit or two in addition to all their luxury component. That's enough for him to get my vote. Especially when Barnwell wanders around wondering how all this happened--and he was part of the approval process for the past 12 years. One vote only--Francisco.

10/28/2007 8:36 AM  
Anonymous One vote for Francisco said...

Francisco has my vote. He's articulate, pragmatic and will add a welcome, informed, LOCAL perspective to Council discussions.

I supported all three of the incumbents four years ago.

I will not support any of them, or their self-serving "Measure A" in this election.

I agree, Barnwell's "too little too late" feigned outrage at the cement tunnel he helped to lay the groundwork for on Chapala speaks volumes to the dangerous ineffectiveness of the incumbency.

10/28/2007 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fact; We are slowly but surely losing our cherished small town character.

Fact; This densification, such as the the monstrosities on Chapala, and elsewhere, is happening during the "watch" of our curent council.

Conclusion: Therefore it is the fault of the present council that we are losing the small town character that 90% of the people love and prefer over ddensification.

The current council is heading in the wrong direction of densification. We need to replace the current council in order to preserve and save out beautiful and special town.

10/28/2007 11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or maybe bullet for Hotchkiss, "Common Sense for a Change."

10/28/2007 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Lanny Ebenstein said...

I'm delighted that lower east side resident and others are willing to discuss the NPO. Perhaps it will be possible to reach agreement.

Lower east side resident says a La Plata McMansion of 65% is too big. To state as clearly for the record as possible, and as I have consistently said, I favor a 45% FAR for a 6,000 s.f. lot, which is the overall percentage granted in the NPO. Where I differ is as follows.

.45 of 6,000 = 2,700.
2,700 - 500 s.f. garage = 2,200
2,200 x .85 heightened scrutiny threshold = 1,870 s.f.

To be clear--and it would be interesting to know if LESR agrees--I don't think 1,870 s.f. is a McMansion on a 6,000 s.f. lot.

My approach is:
1) retain .45 standard
2) allow flexibility on garage, so that if people provide comparable off-street parking, uncovered or carport, some of the garage space can go into the house
3) don't apply a .85 standard on top of the FAR

Again, does LESR agree with this approach? Another consideration might be to give the .15 for homes that install solar power on reverse to the grid systems.

Let's agree that .65 is too much. But let's not say that the current NPO is appropriate policy. It would force families out of Santa Barbara because they could not expand their homes reasonably.

Moreover, there are more home offices than ever and more diverse living situations, and, as architects emphasize, every lot is different.

10/28/2007 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the number of special modifications allowed by our staff hearing officer, our city staff and our council, we in fact don't have any policies, because they're so willing to make exceptions--particularly depending on who the applicant is. Sorry but the incumbents do not question nearly enough. That's why Francisco has my vote. At least he asks the questions that somebody ought to ask.

10/28/2007 6:18 PM  
Anonymous donaldo de Santa Barbara said...

1.) The la Plata McMansion is a bit oversized and many loopholes allowed its permit including the garage/carport Lanny no discretions please.

2.) The adopted NPO of 45 % allows plenty of "densification" because it includes just about every square inch of "developement," more than doubling the liveable size of most of the small cottages that started the Mesa, Westside, Eastisde and even Riveria, San Roque and Samarkand hoods. If you can't live with that move to Orange County or Diamondbar.

3. The loss of the "small town" has nothing to do with the McMansions, the size of the Chapala Street developements, or the proposed transit center on Chapala. The loss of the "small town" is due to the locals, natives and transplants who move here and expect to permanently attach their ass to a leather seat and drive everywhere.

To paraphrase the repeated of holiday television commercial, "it's not your house,'s not your watch...., it's your freakin CAR!"

10/28/2007 10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone seems to hate the new construction on Chapala. What would you have liked built there? They were used cars lot before.

10/28/2007 10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Ebenstein has gotten off-track here.

I appreciate that he has a different set of standards in mind for single family home size, and --although I disagree with him -- those alternatives may be worth discussing.

But Mr. Ebenstein is not running for city council, Ms. Giddens is. And, to my knowledge (and believe me I have heard her speak on dozens of occasions regarding a wide variety of building size issues!) Michelle Giddens does not share Mr. Ebenstein's ideas.

If Ms. Giddens agrees that a 65% FAR is too big, let's hear her say so publicly and let's watch her pull her campaign sign from in front of the controversial La Plata house. If she agrees with Mr. Ebenstein's numbers she ought to publicly endorse those goals as reasonable, defined limits to single-family home size.

However, through every public utterance since she became a political activist, Ms. Giddens has indicated that 65% FAR homes are just fine, and that any defined FAR is an unreasonable restraint on private property rights.

Santa Barbara differs from other cities exactly because we have embraced very specific provisions for buidling development. Ms. Giddens views fundamentally oppose that tradition - and her support for large building projects would logically extend from the Mesa to downtown to the rest of the city. Don't mistake Mr. Ebenstein's ideas with Ms. Giddens' record.

10/29/2007 7:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's how perverse I am: I don't like the new construction on Chapala even one little bit and, what's more, I prefer the used car lots! Maybe I misunderstand the posting, but anon 10:34 seems to imply that the used car lots were an intolerable insult to SB sensitivities. Some few of us actually preferred the city when it had some vague semblence of middle-class America, before the urge to gentrify everything in sight became the overwhelming public policy mandate.

10/29/2007 9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason we have too many cars is because the council is allowing densificatio and monster projects. Cars congestion growth comes from population growth ( each new person that moves here brings one more additional car here), so the solution to less cars is less people. People cannot move here withoput a place to live ( or work) so the solution to controlling population is to make each and every new building as low density as possible, as big buildinbgs allow for more ( too many) people.

As for the monstrosities on chapala, they could simply be a tastefull 2 story building with human scale, instead of a 4 story monstrosity that is not compatable with our desired small town character.

I would much prefer to see the old used car lot than the ugly 4 story monstrosities that were built in their place.

bottom line: cars are not what is destroying our small town visual character, but high density 4 story development and monster buildings are.

10/29/2007 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about small and beautiful, with proper setbacks, human scale and greenspace, something befitting a small beach town instead of massive and ugly that would even look out of place in Orange County!

10/29/2007 2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 9:54 and anon 2:14, I love you both!

What a wonderful way to put it:
Human scale befitting a small middle class beach town.

Some semblence to middle class america without gentrification ( and supersizing) of everything in sight.

where do I go to sign up for this?

10/29/2007 7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When was the last time SB was middle class? Big money has come in and made being middle class a dirty word. Instead of finding a way to help workers find housing, they tell us to go elsewhere for affordable housing and then complain that we clog the roads with our commuter vehicles. To top it off, they demand quality teachers, emergency personnel and service providers to keep their town safe and beautiful. It isn't the Santa Barbara I love anymore!

10/31/2007 6:36 AM  

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