What about De la Guerra Plaza?
Over the weekend, there was a somewhat heated discussion started by Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega -- which at one point caused me to not publish a comment for name calling. Let's keep a more civil conversation going with a couple points: is it right for the News-Press to use their editorials as a bully pulpit? or is there an inherent conflict that has more to do than with history? Does money to remodel the Plaza keep funds away from fighting crime and how might the two priorities be related? Here's how Uncle Don started it all:
Good morning. I was at the Plaza de la Guerra discussion before the Planning Commission. I was the second public speaker out of the chute. You can watch it on City TV by going to the Planning Commission part of the City website.
Basically, (and I hope we can discuss the value of the restoration plan for the Plaza), after many years of discussion, 84 years to be exact, we have finally come to the moment when perhaps we might complete what was left unfinished Plaza project in 1924.
The Plaza has become a creeping parking lot and as one planning commissioner put it, "a Plaza has become an alley". The Plaza is in bad shape. SUVs and traffic have made the Spanish Plaza disappear under double rows of parking and thereby taken away one of the sacred spots of Santa Barbara.
For the last few weeks the Newsupress has been running a series of letters on closing State Street and editorials entitled by such yellow journalism (It's a good thing Travis and Wendy don't want to start a war with Cuba!) headlines as "Rallying to save De la Guerra" or "Tearing out the Heart of Santa Barbara," "Ruining Santa Barbara History.." and other such apparent falsehoods. Today Travis has gone the next step and declared "off with your head" to a Planning Commissioner who is sympathetic to the restoration and invented a scandal to go along with it. He's like Robespierre, shouting "off with their heads" and sending them to the Guillotine.
At the meeting following me at the lecturn, was big bad Barry, the hammer, lawyer extraordinaire, who, all the while dressed in natty pinstripes (no taste these lawyers), came up to the public podium and threatened the Planning Commissioners and anyone who dared think of this Plaza restoration as a good idea. With a dash of hutzbah, he also demanded extra time at the podium. He clearly thought of himself as more important than any of us mere civilians. What a guy! I felt like I was in Rennaissance Italy with the representive of the Malatesta family.
So what's the problem? It's clear the Newsuppress wants its parking places on the Plaza in front of their building but they don't own them, they're part of the Plaza.
It escapes me what the business problem is for them, since the Newssuppress has a large parking lot next to the Plaza, and people would only have to walk an extra ten feet to do their business with the Newspress.
Meanwhile, paranoid and out of his mind Travis, has written in ink in his paper, that this restoration project is all a plot to punish the Newsupress by a cabal of city insiders.
It's crazy folks.
Now I worked on this restoration of the Plaza for a long time and know a lot about it. (If you want, we can discuss the plan). I practically lived on the Plaza for thirteen years. And I want to tell you when Charles Storke had the Newspress, he was for the Plaza restoration. When the New York Times owned the Newspress, they were for the restoration, and even helped out in many ways.
Now times are different, Wendy is here. She sends the nasty lawyer to speak her thoughts at a community discussion. And her editorial writer, sets up a false campaign to link closing State Street with the Plaza restoration, writes poisonous and false information editorials, and calls for the head of a planning commissioner who dares to think otherwise than what Travis and Wendy want.
Needlesstosay: Don Jose de la Guerra y Noreiga is very upset.