Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Does TKA Solicit Letters for the Editorial Page?

A faithful reader forwarded me this email from one of the leaders of Coalition for Sensible Planning (CSP). I've stripped identifying information to protect the innocent but have heard about this email from several people. It must be making the rounds.

Did News-Press Editor Travis Armstrong actually solicit letters with a particular point of view for his newspaper? Hard to tell as there is no direct proof other than the reference herein.

Subject: We MUST send letters about Janet's betrayal - and to support Travis!

You have been reading the excellent, fabulous editorials that Travis Armstrong wrote this week, supporting us and castigating Janet Wolf who turned her back on us at the Supervisor's Hearing on Tuesday, March 18.

Now, Travis is asking for our support. He was expecting us to write letters, and now feels that we have not been supporting him! We absolutely cannot fail to support him when he asks for it, after all he has done for us!

So please right now, sit down and write him what you think of all this. Since Travis is leaving on vacation tomorrow, please write him today.

Assuming TKA used the complex and less traceable public relations technique called "the five minute phone call" to solicit letters from CSP, one has to wonder why his work has been more about who he and his bosses are fighting than true substance on an issue. I guess the other option is that someone else is making these calls to solicit letters on his behalf. I'm not sure of his current status with CSP but it is my understanding that uber-attorney Barry Cappello has been retained by the organization in the past.

After yesterday's continued tirade against Supervisor Wolf and her aide -- it seems pretty clear that his pieces are more about who they happen to have their targets on of late. Why, for instance, has Council Members Horton and Falcone escaped his ire and listing on the cabal roll? Aren't they on council and thus part of the problem too? Shoot, Brian Barnwell isn't even a council member anymore....

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Blogger soodonim said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/22/2008 7:29 AM  
Anonymous Soodonim (edited) said...

Wow. not that any of us should be surprised. I received a copy of this email also, from a former CSP person who was understandably appalled by the pandering, unprofessional plea from Travis for "support after all he has done for us". The email I got also had "talking points" to include in the letters to Travis.

I guess Travis just doesn't understand that perhaps the absence of letters attacking one of his targets means that he and his small and ever-shrinking fan club are truly a marginalized, insignificant part of the community.

The personal attacks Travis levied this week in scattershot fashion will only serve to cause more and more to realize that he is a YABBA DABBA.

Note: Sorry Soodonim!

3/22/2008 8:01 AM  
Anonymous Is there no shame? said...

Spared the recent round of personal attacks by McCaw, Wiesenberger and Armstrong, but not spared before, and a probable target again, is Paula Lopez.

Paula is a hard working woman who grew up in Santa Barbara -- her father was a gardener, I believe --who has supported local charities for years. But she was attacked recklessly and personally, like the others during the past week.

Armstrong, by turning policy disagreements into personal attacks, denying contrary opinions in the letters, and by encouraging supporting letters, continues to cross the lines of decency and ethics.

The buck stops at the top, remember, and few newspaper publishers in the country would allow this behavior. Wendy McCaw and Arthur Wiesenberger support it.

3/22/2008 8:31 AM  
Anonymous Calme, toi said...

This does not sound like something Travis would do or need to do.

3/22/2008 8:52 AM  
Anonymous Sycamore Cynic said...

It would fit perfectly with the SBNP's approach for it to solicit letters. We can be confident that it doesn't publish letters challenging its most "sacred" positions, would never publish a letter supporting its newsroom workers or their union, and probably not its own idiosyncratic environmental position. I would not be surprised to learn in the case of one reporter who was pretextually fired in part because she was accused of not being able to find public opposition to tree-cutting, that the NP tried to create "facts on the ground" after her article was published, since it published a series of anti-tree cutting letters that it then used at the NLRB hearing. No way was that an accident or just left to chance.

3/22/2008 9:10 AM  
Blogger soodonim said...

Sorry Sara. I didn't think my comment would be yabba-dabbaed-i thought you only did that with profanity.

anyway---yea the comment in the CSP email that "Travis is asking for our support" and "he feels we have not been supporting him" really is a textbook tail wagging the dog example that should go down in journalism textbooks in the "bad examples of journalistic ethics" chapter.

poor widdle twavis. imagine that. no one supporting him.

3/22/2008 9:55 AM  
Anonymous Friend of Bill said...

Seems like Travis needs to go to a meeting and Take His Inventory.

3/22/2008 11:03 AM  
Anonymous Garry Owen said...

Don't think even Travis' supporters should be surprised. It's not like he has no history of manufacturing "facts" to justify his potshots. He has a self-documented history of throwing the smelly stuff at people and then publicly exclaiming "Hey! That stuff stinks! They must be hiding something behind it!" Then to his supporters: "Psst: can you get me something to wipe my hands clean before somebody connects that mess me?"

No, no surpises here. Just more of the same, smelly mess. The proud ship that used to be the News-Press is floundering on a sea of stink. Flush the toilet, sending Captain Wendy and First Mate Travis down the sewer pipes. The ship can be salvaged, cleaned and a new crew can sail her back to respectability.

Nothing like a fresh breeze of honesty to fill the city's sails with pride.

3/22/2008 11:14 AM  
Blogger Voice of Rezon(e) said...

"This does not sound like something Travis would do or need to do."

You're kidding, right?

He is a pretend journalist, and this is exactly his MO.

I read all kinds of Op-Ed pieces from all over the US, and some international papers as well and nobody uses the caustic, repugnant, vendetta-esque tactics he uses.

His personal attacks on anyone he perceives that disagrees with him are indicative of an un-evolved human, and certainly not one that should be given a bully pulpit.

3/22/2008 11:56 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Thanks for understanding soodonim -- sometimes it's about not feeling comfortable about what is sid.

3/22/2008 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/22/2008 1:16 PM  
Anonymous Rosebud said...

Looks like “Citizen McCaw” is taking its toll on the three isolated in the white tower at the Plaza.

Von Weisenberger and Armstrong seem to know all about the movie, including Camie Barnwell being on stage.

Travis responds by lashing out irrationally and indiscriminately -- probably reflecting Wendy McCaw’s helpless fury.

Despite their constant bullying, shouldn’t we turn the other cheek from him, her and the “Nipper”?

Easter is tomorrow -- Peace on Earth?

3/22/2008 1:54 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

What is wrong with you people? Janet Wolf lied to the voters. She is now laying the groundwork to rezone agricultural/open-space and help turn it into high-density, low-income, subsidized housing. Her efforts will NEVER fix the so-called jobs-housing imbalance, but she will surely degrade the quality of life in yet another part of the Goleta Valley.

Who cares what Travis, Earle or anyone else does or says, or how they say it? The fact is that Janet Wolf is teaming up with Mickey Flacks and Dave Davis to turn Goleta Valley ag land into a dumping ground for subsidized housing.

You're really missing the point here.

3/22/2008 3:52 PM  
Anonymous Bill O'Faire said...

Bill Carson, you are so incredibly right on with just about every post you write. Thank you so much for not giving up on this blog. You both see and say how it is. And it is. You do have a doppel-ganger even if some days here it does not seem like it.

3/22/2008 6:32 PM  
Anonymous ON POINT said...

No, Bill Carson, YOU are missing the point.

Deflect all you want, but the point here is that yet another of many examples has arisen about the utter lack of credibility Travis Armstrong has.

If you want to debate the theory of subsidized affordable housing and the community need for it, you and the I-got-mine-so-EFF-you NIMBYs can take it up at another blog posting.

3/22/2008 6:59 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

you do realize she voted against the subsidized housing project???

3/22/2008 8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, when someone like Michael Towbes refers to Janet's actions as creating a "defacto moratorium on developing affordable housing for three or more years" it is a good indicator that the fears of the Noleta folk are greatly without merit.

But please, continue to be angry because she put restrictions on rezones...

3/22/2008 8:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/22/2008 8:41 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

It looks like I let an "anonymous" slip through and have had to not accept a few good comments. Please use a pseudonym -- here's how to do it.

3/22/2008 9:12 PM  
Anonymous augusto den said...

I'm all for more housing in the eastern Goleta Valley.

I remember at one of the County meetings a few years ago at the GVCC one of the families that owns farm tracts near Turnpike and Hollister was there... they are tired of farming.

Their farms are surrounded by housing.

Let them build housing, I thought.

All the doom and gloom about density ruining that area is poppycock. Phooey.

The south coast just got a whole slug of new housing from SBCAG.
Let it go in the eastern goleta valley... the truth is the agitators there have caused earlier allocations to be dumped in IV and Santa Maria. Time for eastern goleta to get their share.

3/23/2008 12:58 AM  
Anonymous Calle Reality Check said...

Sitting in the normal traffic jam on Fairview and Calle Real on a Friday I thought how lucky those were that commuted to smaller outlying communities rather than live in over-saturated Goleta.

Goleta cannot take any more housing, traffic development or people. There is no room for smart growth in Goleta because the growth it has already had has been stupid.

Build your new housing in way outlying areas to keep new communities small and sane. There is no value added left packing more people and more traffic in Goleta.

The choice now is wasting time getting stuck in traffic in Goleta trying to do anything or driving that same amount of time to an outlying smaller community that still functions.

3/23/2008 8:08 AM  
Anonymous Gary Earle said...

Since I saw my name mentioned in a previous post, I wanted to weigh in. First, I am no longer the president of CSP and no longer affiliated with the group in any official capacity.

However, I am familiar with this situation and I can say without question that Travis has never solicited letters from CSP to support his editorials. As another poster correctly pointed out, "this does not sound like something Travis would do or need to do." I can also say that the email in question is the result of misdirected exuberance by the person who wrote it and it is not substantiated by the facts.

3/23/2008 9:22 AM  
Anonymous Fact-Based Exuberance said...

What part of:

"Now, Travis is asking for our support. He was expecting us to write letters, and now feels that we have not been supporting him! We absolutely cannot fail to support him when he asks for it, after all he has done for us!"

is misdirected here and not substantiated by the facts?

That email going around is clear evidence for what many have suspected all along, that TKA has fewer and fewer and fewer friends and just loves the one he is with cuz no one else will touch him.

It is all more evidence that issues and facts do not matter to the content of the editorials, but only perceived political alliances do in that tangled web that will start to unravel.

For this co-dependent addiction here, which is the pimp and who is the panderer: TKA or CSP?

3/23/2008 3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Gary, Gary. We know the CSP group looks to you as their guru---as does your friend Travis.

Sad that you are sacrificing the current CSP leadership=pretty much calling them liars---for their obviously geneuine solicitation on behalf of Travis. I have the email in front of me. I am going to ask the writer directly if she lied in saying Travis felt he wasn't being supported and wanted letters. Will also be fun to see if the letters he ends up printing have the same talking points he asked for. Lots of fun.

Too bad so many lives are being left in his and your wake of personal destruction.

Shame on you.

3/23/2008 4:33 PM  
Anonymous Journalism 101 said...

Oh Gary. Do you think there is any doubt that Travis pandered to your successor when he saw that no one was biting on his attempt to twist the true purpose and outcome of a particular public hearing? The ultimate dog-wagging-tail, TKA.

3/23/2008 5:13 PM  
Anonymous Namaste said...

So much in life is projection of our own biases and so often without even realizing it.

Where is the internal truth teller than should be operating within responsible adults? This is so missing in contemporary America.

Rollo May was right when he foresaw the Age of Aquarius was really going to be the Age of Addiction. (See "Love and Will" - an excellent re-read)

3/23/2008 5:25 PM  
Anonymous Can't Make this Stuff Up said...

Who the heck knows what Armstrong is writing about, anyway, since there are typically no companion news stories with the straight facts? His "breaking opinions" on the newspaper’s website are of no help. It’s inside baseball, apparently.

Armstrong soliciting favorable letters, and only printing his side, are symptoms of a malignant illness: the empress has no clothes. Maybe one of her yes men can find the guts to tell her, since she’s isolated from the street.

McCaw seems distracted by suing people while the good ship News-Press lurches into a perfect storm: a secular downturn caused by the internet, a cyclical recession, and her lack of business experience. A federal judge finding her eight good reporters isn't her biggest problem.

The Baron doesn't appear to be of much help. Seems like he mainly stays safely on shore, jabbering on the radio about travel and food, pushing landfill-impacting plastic bottles of water.

3/23/2008 9:33 PM  
Anonymous big fat fan of travis said...

Journalism101 wrote: one was biting on his attempt to twist the true purpose and outcome of a particular public hearing?

Well, that is the usual problem here. Too many critics on this blog are quick to throw TKA's words to the fire.

But, once again, TKA is right on the money with his commentary on the outcome of the hearing. I was there and saw a lot of dropped jaws at Janet Wolf's decision. The CSP and Goleta Valley have a lot to be happy about, but as far as the strange behavior of Wolf, TKA is the only cat in town who seems to be telling it the way it happened.

Centeno was a democracy's dream come true, and Wolf was up to something fishy.

3/23/2008 10:01 PM  
Anonymous Augusto Den said...

calle reality check... the Fairview/Calle Real situation is a consequence of an eminent domain battle in the 1950's.

Ever notice the great loop that Fairview takes as it goes over the 101? The property owners on the `straightahead' route of Fairview blocked taking of their property by eminent domain in the 1950's, on the south side of the 101.

And so all the traffic heading north on Fairview toward Calle Real must make a *left turn* to simply go straight. The lost time has caused an economic loss far greater than the cost of that property on the south side of 101.

This is simply poor design and has little to do with the housing density.

Goleta can take way, way more housing. The traffic problems are caused by sedentary folks who can't imagine taking a bike trip or bus trip. Suggest it and they mention all the disabled folks who need their cars and women afraid of riding the bus. But >80% of folks would do just fine on the bus or on their bikes; the exaggeration that everybody must drive alone in their cars is just sad.

More housing in Goleta; particularly in East Goleta where there is not city. They successfully dumped on north county and IV in the last round and now they should take 5,000 units in the new round.

3/23/2008 11:47 PM  
Anonymous Must be watching a different Board said...

BFF---- anyone who believes that Centeno is "a democracy's dream come true".......well, obviously does not pay a lot of attention to Centeno's votes. Such as on Tuesday---did you notice that he tried to shorten the length of time that rezones would be put on hold during the Goleta Plan? and that he is repeatedly voting in favor of projects--in every part of the county--that ignore and defy planning and design guidelines.....but hey, who cares about details, right?

3/24/2008 12:00 AM  
Anonymous Calle Reality Check said...

Agusto, you have people who want to use their car and a lousy traffic interchange that is not going to change at Fairview and Calle Real.

This is reality. There are too many people using cars and facing a bad interchange. This is reality.

You can't plan otherwise. You have to deal with reality instead of what YOU want it to be.

That is not planning; that is fantasy land wishful thinking.

Planning is dealing with reality. And the reality is there are too many people and they use cars and have to navigate a lousy interchange.

When are you going to come back to planet earth. A better plan is to give everyone little Smartcars which makes more sense than you putting them all on bicycles.

Do you realize by ignoring people as they are (non bike riders and non public transportation users) you are not planning?

Instead you are wasting everyone's time. Because your only goal is to find ways to stuff down more housing, and that is not planning.

That is corrupting the process because you have already pre-determined goals.

Meditate on this a bit.

3/24/2008 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Mr. Moreno said...

Agusto Den must not live in Goleta if he thinks it "can take way, way more housing."

It's bad enough that Bishop Ranch will go to the city soon with a proposal to build as many as 1,300 homes on its 240 acres. The current city council has shown there's no project it won't approve, so get ready for gridlock on Glen Annie and that end of the 101.

As for Fairview, it's only been in recent years that its intersection with Calle Real has become among the worst on the South Coast. That bend in Fairview is funky, but the intersection is screwed up because there are too many cars going through there.

As for bikes being the solution to traffic, well ... duh. That's also the solution to every city's traffic troubles.

Trouble with Goleta, though, is not enough bike paths. Yep, we have some good ones, but you ever tried riding through Old Town? I feel like I'm risking death every time I do it. The biggest need is for safe routes across 101; the overpasses are horrible for cyclists. I've had way too many close calls with drivers racing to be the next car on the onramp.

3/24/2008 8:27 AM  
Anonymous big fat fan of travis said...

Must be watching wrote:

---did you notice that he tried to shorten the length of time that rezones would be put on hold during the Goleta Plan? and that he is repeatedly voting in favor of projects--in every part of the county--that ignore and defy planning and design guidelines.....

Yes, I did notice that Centeno asked if the plan update could happen in less three years. And I thought it was a smart comment. Fact is that the three years is an estimate, and Centeno's question was geared at addressing the costs , as well as the bellyaching of development interests who were using the "three years is too long" gripe as a reason to keep the "for public benefit" clause in place. Centeno was offering a balanced compromise: Keep the loopholes out and aim to tighten up the process.
Makes sense to me!

The intention of a community plan is to give the community the power to determine it's own growth and development. It's up to the developers to give the community what the community values and needs, NOT the other way around!

As for how Centeno votes on a regualr basis, I am not aware. But I have seen him act with compassion and intelligence many times, including last Tuesday. I am a working resident that does not have the time nor desire to watchdog every elected official in the county. Just keeping up with and following Rose's slippery tactics over previous years took enough time away from my own work. Sadly, Wolf looks to be stepping in Rose's muddy footprints.

I will say it again....
Every time I have been in attendance of something Travis is commenting on, he gets it right.

3/24/2008 10:09 AM  
Anonymous I dream of Democracy said...

Hard to understand how an ABSTAIN vote is "a democracy's dream come true" because in a democracy the elected officials do their job and actually vote on an issue instead of evade a tough decision.

Ground Control to Major CSP: you lost in a 4-0 vote!!!

Also hard to understand how a defacto three-year moratorium on zoning changes is a victory for the developers, as the CSPers are spinning it.

Of course, if the County housing agency and MTD actually do work out a deal for that site, the next chapter is how the Coalition for Selfish People and their print-edition blogger friend put on a freak show and hissy fit at County planning commission about how all the crack-heads and illegal aliens will fill up Patterson Avenue with low-riders after they move into any new affordable housing project that may be built on Calle Real.

Of course, the worse CSP and friend behave, the even less influence they will have.

3/24/2008 10:19 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Ann Crosby, President of CSP, wrote to me this afternoon and said she was having trouble posting to the blog....she asked that I post the following comment:

I am the CSP leader who sent that email and wrote the talking points.

I never talked with Travis about this issue and Travis never asked me for anything like this whatsoever. Rather, I took this action totally on my own.

I deeply apologize to everyone whom my actions may have hurt or dismayed.

I am resigning from being President of CSP, effective immediately.

3/24/2008 5:31 PM  
Anonymous What does Ann Crosby mean? said...

If Ann Crosby hurt or dismayed anyone, does that mean she just made up a cute story so everyone would believe that Travis Armstrong was seeking letters and promoting talking points?

Looks like comments here at Blogabarbara and the 4-0 trouncing at the Board of Supervisors have shown that CSP has lost its influence, so Ann Crosby is fleeing the sinking ship.

Let the next NIMBY stand up.
Travis Armstrong resides in the Second District and he and his twelve friends certainly think they are "sensible" people, so he can be the new face of CSP. He already writes their blog.

3/24/2008 5:48 PM  
Anonymous Noleta Drama said...

Sorry to hear Ann Crosby had to fall on her sword for TKA---knowing both of them, only one is capable of the deceit necessary to manufacture news-----and it is not Ann.

Good thing more people than Ann knew what Travis was up to in his tail-wagging-dog adventure. The next one won't seem quite as fun for him.

3/24/2008 7:30 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

I'm actually sorry to hear it too. I'm not sure what happened is a reason to resign...but I respect her decision.

3/24/2008 8:10 PM  
Anonymous Bias tapeworm said...

If Ann made up a story that only led to Travis getting villified, then she is at least guilty of poor judgement.

Almost as poor as those who were so willing to believe her fairy tale, salivating at even an ersatz excuse to trash Travis. Those were far more culpable than Ann.

Common sense immedidately said this was a made up story, yet how few caught on. That again is "bias" in action. Shall I wait for apologies to be forthcoming. Or, are they too busy walking precincts for Obama to care?

3/24/2008 8:16 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

Janet is the one who should resign.

3/24/2008 10:48 PM  
Anonymous Planner Sam said...

I have no idea if Ms. Crosby fabricated her comments or not. However, anyone who claims that the South Coast can't accommodate more units is woefully misinformed.

There is plenty of land, infrastructure, and resources available to accommodate additional housing. I know for certain. I'm an urban planner who used to work exclusively in SB County and have read literally dozens of master plans and EIRs for the area.

Let's be very clear, most folks opposing additional housing (especially affordable housing) on the South Coast are primarily concerned about the potential impact to their quality of life. They fear that it will bring about undesired byproducts such as added traffic and crime.

Do the fears of existing residents outweigh the needs of future residents? That's for our elected officials to decide. However, in all my years of experience, I've never known a new housing development to have near the negative effect on adjacent residents that they feared it would have. Additionally, there are so many development standards and review controls in place on the South Coast these days that it would be impossible to develop a project that had truly devastating consequences on the community.

3/24/2008 11:06 PM  
Anonymous Massive growth is no plan said...

Planner Sam, I hope you are not paid for your comments because you are not a planner. You are an equally abusive protester just like you claim those opposed to growth are.

You can't raise the hoary threats of loss of quality of life and racial strife when you try and blame people who don't want additional housing. That is not planning talk, that is propoganda.

You have to accept that those who live here do not want this town to grow. This town has fulfilled its obligation for social correct housing in numbers met by no other community.

If in fact you were truly a professional planner you would not be making these abusive responses. If you are going to identify your expertize, please be honest because no planner uses those abusive comments to support his/her decisions.

Planners plan within local limits. They do not plan for what their personal social agenda it. Planners plan for the sensibilities of the local community. They do not castigate the local community as you just did.

The guilt card you attempt to play here does not work because it shows you simply are unaware of the massive housing support this area has already put in place.

And it did bring more crime, more traffic and more social distress to this community. It solved nothing. And that is what you have to plan around.

Planning to increase housing is not a plan. Are you listening? Can you listen.

3/25/2008 7:42 AM  
Anonymous augusto den said...

Calle Reality, go for it! Fight for your right to drive cars alone, pollute the environment, cause global warming, and enrich the Saudi Oil Shieks who have bought our government (Cheney, Bush, and Rumsfeld) as well as Osama bin Laden.

And let's also hear it for the right of drivers to be so careless to hit Jake Boysel and Kendra Payne.

Of course I live in the Rincon Ranch, which I inherited from my father. We have the highest housing densities in the whole county, and I am utterly sure Eastern Goleta can take a whole lot more density.

Let's plan by making a nice big tax on car use.

3/25/2008 8:50 AM  
Anonymous voice of reason said...

Ann is probably feeling the heat from working her tail off. There are alot of CSP members, they meet regularly and keep so busy (unpaid!) keeping up with all the political games.

JANET, are you listening?

The nice thing about the CSP group is that the people are open and focused on a common goal: local control over the planning of our own region. So don't be surprised when another member of the groups steps up to act as president for awhile. Just remember, these people don't get paid, and they do make a lot of sacrifices.

JANET, are you listening?

And to planner Sam, HA. Give me a break! Havent' seen neighbors unhappy with big development? Go visit some folks in LA or ORANGE COUNTY.

And Sam, is quite callous to label the affection for clean air, clean streets, greenspace and pristine views as fear-based.

Gimme a f***in break and please excuse my language.

3/25/2008 11:18 AM  
Anonymous xyz said...

It seems to me, not a planner by trade but an ordinary SB City resident, that planners should plan by 1) the presently existing General Plan of the community and 2) the municipal zoning ordinance that incorporates the principles of that General Plan.

The elected officials can and do change the zoning ordinance to reflect present and presumed future needs. That's exactly what the City Council Ord. Comm. struggles with every other week --- and, hopefully, listens to those opposed and supporting those changes. (Das Williams is presently the chair of that committee which is composed of Grant House and Dale Francisco.)

It is not for a planner to determine and pontificate that "There is plenty of land, infrastructure, and resources available to accommodate additional housing." Not unless, he is willing to provide facts indicating how much water there is available, for instance, in drought years as well as good, how much traffic can be carried on the presently existing transportation network, how much clean air is enough, etcetera.

SB's General Plan demands (not urges or requests) that we live within our resources. That is not really a matter of opinion for a planner, no matter how much experience he has had reading master plans and EIRs for County development.

One of the quite a few reasons there are now two ballot measures hoped for the city of SB is because the City Staff has taken ownership of the laughably-named YouPlanSB" process and instead of following the rules believes that it is the rule-maker.

It is similarly laughable that height limits are now urged by several Council people and the editor/publisher of the Daily Sound to be part of the General Plan process.

It would be excellent if it were but up until recently there has been no serious talk of it and to have just some protection city residents have had to go to the expense of a ballot initiative.

The city planning staff, all good individuals, undoubtedly, seems to have forgotten who it is working for: not the applicant, not itself, not the elected officials but the city as a whole as reflected in its codes and principles. They work for us, our staff, following our rules and requirements.

There is always going to be a conflict, the Micky Flacks, pave-it-over and welcome all! Flacks, (usually from people who don't live in cramped apartments themselves) and those CPA, often similarly ancient types, who say enough is enough, preserve and conserve (also usually from people who don't live in cramped apartments). City staff would be well-advised to keep to the rules and not take sides.

3/25/2008 12:39 PM  
Anonymous Planner Sam said...

I'm not sure what about my response was abusive. I'll reiterate the main points of my comments:

1) The South Coast absolutely has the land, infrastructure, and resources available to accommodate additional development.
2) Most folks who oppose new development oppose it because they fear the potential impact on their quality of life.
3) Zoning to allow for more growth is a policy decision for our elected officials to make.
4) In my many years of experience, I've never seen a new housing development actually result in the catastrophic consequences that the most vocal opponents had predicted would occur.

Planners do more than plan within local limits, they work with and for decision makers to establish those limits. Tremendous differences of opinion often arise when determining what these limits should be. I am unaware of any place in Central and Southern California where the differences of opinion are as diametrically opposed as the South Coast (perhaps Santa Monica or Laguna Beach).

As to the claim that the County has provided massive housing support, I am unaware of any studies comparing per capita annual housing subsidy amounts on a jurisdiction by jurisdiction basis. Until then, let's not brag about the County's tremendous success in supporting affordable housing development.

3/25/2008 2:29 PM  
Anonymous Calle Reality Check said...

Planner Sam, you make it sound like residents should not care if new development damages their quality of life. This in fact is a very valid point of view. It is valid to want to improve one's quality of life. And it is valid to protest damaging one's quality of life.

Yes, quality of life detriments do happen when an area reaches density saturation. Look no further than all the density building in Goleta and the Fairview Calle Real intersection. This mess did not exist before all the recent growth.

One used to get anywhere in Santa Barbara with an easy 5-10 minute drive. Now it takes up to 30 minutes to get across town. And that is during non-commute times where all the day-trippers clog up the roads so it is not just commuters that have reduced the quality of life.

Yes, the abandonment of downtown Santa Barbara for massive corporate chain businesses catering to the tourists and not the locals has been a catastrophic loss of quality of life in our town.

The massive growth of mega houses has led to increased service worker jobs which are often illegal and low-paying and again have degraded many neighbhoroods in this town to accomodate the inflated needs of mega-houses.

If you don't think the quality of life in Santa Barbara has been degraded, you are not old enough to remember what it was like before they shoehorned all these extra dense building projects in.

If you are old enough, you can remember losing this town by inches until you realize you lost it in fact by miles over time.

It is not for you "as a planner" to claim no project results in the catastrophy projected by the protesters for each individual project.

Incentives to growth need to be removed immediately. Growth will happen - 1-2% over time.

But to actually create incentives to maximize growth for a social agenda that remains unsolved even with growth incentives is irresponsible. Calling these incentives smart growth is dumb. And we know this now.

It is time right now to take account of the cummulative damage this social agenda planning has already done to this poor town.

3/25/2008 6:14 PM  
Anonymous augusto den said...

Calle reality check...

``Look no further than all the density building in Goleta and the Fairview Calle Real intersection. This mess did not exist before all the recent growth.''

HA HA HA! I remember back in 1980 waiting forever at Fairview and Calle Real.

All the locals from my area know to take Los Carneros then cross over to Calle Real to avoid that mess. And we have done so for years and years!

The problem is that eminent domain was thwarted in the 1950's, so to just go straight north on Fairview from Hollister or from a southbound 101 exit to Fairview you have to *make a left turn to go straight*.

Want to fix that place? Dead easy, just use eminent domain now to straighten Fairview out.

A few years ago the state dropped $20 million bucks of congestion relieve money on the County (now the City of Goleta) to improve traffic in the vicinity of Fairview.

You know where it is going? to develop Ekwill and Fowler down south of Hollister. Not a penny for the Fairview/Calle Real intersection.

And down in Ekwill and Fowler there are plans for mega-research park developments with humongous parking lots... lots and lots of traffic, Calle Reality.

Don't know where you were when all that was getting written into the County and City of Goleta plans. Believe it or not, me and a bunch of othere spent unbelievable numbers of hours to stop the enormous industrialization of southern Goleta Old Town and the squandering of state congestion-relief money down there.

Nobody from CSP or the City of Goleta gave a damn. They still don't... the famed environmental majority that formed the City of Goleta didn't give a whit about all the blue herons, trout, raptors, and wildlife down there.

They just wanted the property tax increment.

So, sorry, your complaints now about Calle Real and Fairview just cause me to laugh!

3/25/2008 7:00 PM  
Anonymous Planner Sam said...

To those who want specific data on water availability, road network capacity, existing air quality benchmarks, etc, read the SB, Goleta, and SB County General Plans, the various South Coast water district master plans, SBCAG's various regional transportation plans and reports, SCAQMD's annual air quality reports, the South Coast's various sanitation district's master plans, and all the other long range planning documents and reports available for everybody's reference. None of these documents contain "fatal flaw" data that would preclude the South Coast from allowing additional development to occur. Therefore, the decision to allow additional development to occur is a policy decision for our elected officials to make.

To those lamenting the changes that have occurred on the South Coast over the years; I would fight to the death to preserve your right to have this opinion, but it is entirely subjective. I happen to believe, entirely subjectively, that the South Coast is a better place to live now than it has ever been. Downtown SB is thriving, there is plethora of activities to participate in, and there are more walking/hiking trails than ever. Life is great.

I guess I just don't agree with the opinion that more people equates to a decreased quality of life.

And it is just as much for me, "as a planner" to provide an opinion on the long term impacts of new development on surrounding neighborhoods, than it is for anyone else who has prepared planning documents regulating development up and down the State (including the South Coast) for years.

3/25/2008 10:58 PM  
Anonymous Calle Reality Check said...

Graffiti, gangs, vagrants, traffic are making Santa Barbara more and more undesirable. A tipping point has occured and it is slowing declining in quality of life.

It got too big, too unreponsive and this is too bad. Yes, things got better for a while, then this area became a victim of its own success. That is the awareness everyone needs. So no more of the same things that helped improve this area.

The pendulum needs to start swinging the other way. Building out Goleta is no answer for anyone but developers. There is no plan at all to specifically solve the problems we are facing. Nor can there be. It is all about entropy.

We are slowing degrading the brief moment when there was a liveable quality of life. That is now eroding with each new expansion and each new attraction for more gangs, graffiti, traffic and vagrants.

I liked the slower pace of life when we did not have all these so-called improvements. The only one benefit I will concede is getting rid of the stoplights on 101. But little else improved the quality of life here when all is said and done.

The Calle Real Fairview intersection was always quirky, but never as bad as it has now become once all that bonus density growth got installed. Never, and you know it.

3/26/2008 7:41 AM  
Anonymous xyz said...

Yes, indeed, the decision to allow further and increased development is a policy decision, as "planner sam" writes.

That's why it is so important who is elected to the Council --- and who they appoint to the various boards, especially the Planning Commission.

The N-P may definitely not speak for all, but on the issues of development and growth it does speak for many. Those of us who agree with the editorials but also support the quit/fired journalists bemoan the tone, but maybe that is the only way to get attention.

It seems to many looking at the 5-6oo blocks of Chapala Street, hearing of the buildings in the pipeline, including the "Arlington Village" proposed by the Arlington Theatre, that the process is out of control in so far as taking into account what the residents of this city want it to look like, what it should be.

Of course, "PS" has a right to his opinion! Downtown may be thriving, as he writes --- but except for the store and government employees it no longer is a place for locals.

Building for more and more people will cause Santa Barbara to lose its distinctiveness and a major reason why many of us live here. Change happens, sure, and should happen but it is understandable - isn't it?! - why some of us fight that high rise, pack-'em-in-density change because we love the Santa Barbara that is.

Build it and they will come, just like widening the highway which will be part of that building to accommodate that growth.

Build it and they will come and we will go.

Matters of policy, matters of choice: for whom is Santa Barbara? Those living here now? Or those throughout the country wanting to share its quality of life?

The two are NOT the same; it is a case where you can't have your cake and share it with everyone else who wants a bite. Unless, of course, you are content with crumbs.

One thing is certain, elections are for those who are here now and all those running should keep that in mind.

3/26/2008 7:49 AM  
Anonymous Enough is enough, no? said...

Travis' path of destruction continues---now even his erstwhile allies eg ann crosby are in his wake. how long do we as a community allow this to continue? we cannot even have civil thoughtful debates in print anymore without peoples words being scripted and cherrypicked by him or ignored altogether. We cannot even dignify his 'work' by calling it gossip column fodder because even professional gossip columnists use some discretion, humanity and corroboration before pouncing on their prey.

If you have not cancelled your NewsSupress yet please do so now

3/26/2008 7:50 AM  
Anonymous If you're not with me, you're against me said...

Not to change this fascinating subject ... but, is Brooks in the Cabal, or out?

We know Joe is out of the Cabal and Janet is in ... but the other Supes?

How about Joni?

Is Travis still going easy on Salud?

3/26/2008 7:49 PM  
Anonymous Too Tall Hal said...

The best way to help stop all the massive growth in the city is to sign the height petition now being circulated. This will also send a message to the current city council and commissioners which way the electoral winds are blowing.

3/26/2008 9:25 PM  
Anonymous Mr. Moreno said...

I think you'd be hard-pressed, Planner Sam, to find many longtime locals who'd agree with your assessment that "the South Coast is a better place to live now than it has ever been."

Downtown SB is a congested mass of soul-sucking homogeneity where local businesses and culture have been replaced by chain stores dedicated to the cult of consumerism and making 12-year-old girls look like drunken sluts.

And exactly what "plethora of activities" have been added that weren't here 20 years ago, other than retail stores and yup-scale hotels that cater to the LA crowd that "does" SB on the weekends? Let's see, there's the Contemporary Arts Forum in Paseo Mistake-o and ... what? Exactly where can I take my kids downtown and do things that don't involve spending money on high-end crap made for tourists and Paris Hilton wannabes? Name three "activities" established in the past 10 years suitable for my family.

As for "more walking/hiking trails than ever," that's crap too. Name five. Heck, name two. I've been hiking and biking around the South Coast for four decades, and you can't honestly tell me there are more trails available today than there were even 10 years ago. I will grant that there's been an improvement in the bike paths, but to say the hiking is better is ludicrous.

Bottom line: SB is "better" only if you want to live in Huntington Beach, La Jolla, Costa Mesa or any other soulless chunk of LA/OC hell. If they're your idea of what the South Coast should look like, I hope to god you find another profession.

3/27/2008 6:29 AM  
Anonymous 2WDriver said...

I used to ride my bike downtown, out to the bird refuge, past the cemetary, down Coast Village and up Milpas for a great run. No more. Too much traffic and too darn scary these days. I won't even ride in the bike lanes anymore.

I am scared to even walk around town for the same reasons, plus the the bikes and skateboards that run crashing down the sidewalks at high speed with no concern for pedestrians.

Too much traffic and too distracted drivers in too much of a rush who do not look both ways on one way streets puts crossing streets imminent peril.

Tripping on uneven and broken sidewalks also makes it too dangerous for casual exercise.

Yes, downtown has changed and this whole area has become unmanageable. Too many people, too few resources.

And the answer is NOT to grow more to get more revenue to provide more resources because that has never happened.

Just a few special interest groups in the town get the lion's share of public resources.

Stop facilitating the homeless to remain homeless here. Enough already, and start taking care of us who can't bike or walk safely in our city any longer.

3/27/2008 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Sara De L'Agenda said...

Travis' path of destruction continues---now even his erstwhile allies eg ann crosby are in his wake. how long do we as a community allow this to continue? we cannot even have civil thoughtful debates in print anymore without peoples words being scripted and cherrypicked by him or ignored altogether. We cannot even dignify his 'work' by calling it gossip column fodder because even professional gossip columnists use some discretion, humanity and corroboration before pouncing on their prey.

If you have not cancelled your NewsSupress yet please do so now

If you want to convince anybody of anything, try moderation.

3/29/2008 10:47 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Ironic as I moderated quite publicly twice yesterday for what you say I have an agenda for...

SDL'A -- I'm not sure what your point is in that "the other side" gets printed here all the time -- often quite forcefully. As far as I am concerned, our readers can decide for themselves...

3/30/2008 6:16 AM  
Anonymous Icebreaker said...

SDL'A, your observation was a breath of fresh air in this very stale climate. Thank you.

3/30/2008 8:10 AM  
Anonymous Croaking canary said...

It is not even necessary to change the city council; only the message the city council sends to the city planning staff. They operate as an independent kingdom answerable only to themselves in ways that take your breath away.

They recently told a developer asking for a major rezoning of a SFR to a multiple slopeside condo project that it would be approved if they dedicated 50% to affordable housing. Where the F did that policy conclusion come from and how dare city staff demand this from the developer in exchange for this wholesale zoning over-turning?

How many other stories exist just like that, with paper trails to prove them? Does city council even how this extra-legal horse trading is going on under their noses.

Dale, please take a look at this. You are our only hope to reign in these ongoing staff planning abuses. What honorariums, treats, flattery or seductions from developers are going on with the city staff that they so easily sell out city policy over and over and over again?

This needs a grand jury investigation to document how many other times city staff bargained away our city to support some developers corrupt use of city zoned land.

3/30/2008 11:22 AM  
Anonymous Sara De L'Agenda said...

I'm using the word "moderation" as in "toning it down."

In other words, Enough is Enough's post was over the top ridiculous.

Sara, as you said, the readers can decide for themselves. And I've decided that you have an agenda.

4/02/2008 9:22 PM  
Anonymous Planner Sam said...

City and County planning staffs are often given credit for having far more power than they actually possess. CC's post above is a perfect example. No city planner would EVER guarantee a re-zone based on the provision of additional affordable units, for the following reasons:

1) Planning staff DOES NOT make the decision on re-zones. Heck, the Planning Commission doesn't even make the decision. Staff provides a recommendation to the PC, who makes a recommendation to the City Council, who ultimately makes the decision.
2) State Density Bonus Law (State Government Code Sections 65915-65918) describes the density increases a proposed development would potentially receive in excrutiating detail. Density bonuses of between 20 and 35 percent can be granted, depending on the amount and type of affordable housing provided as well as a number of other variables. Pretty much every planner in California is aware of this because SB1818 completely modified the structure in 2004, which has resulted in a massive increase in planners experiencing migraines.
3) Density Bonus Law basically removes the ability for local jurisdictions to exercise discretion over projects prepared to offer affordable units at appropriate amounts.

Any planner guaranteeing a developer project approval or a density bonus if they provide 50% of the units as affordale should be fired, unless their jurisdiction has policies that build on the already strong State Density Bonus policies and guarantee project approval for projects that include a 50% affordability component. AND, it would be the PC and the City Council who would make that decision.

It's almost a national pasttime in this County to accuse planning staff of acting innappropriately. Some folks rail at staff for not accommodating affordable housing projects in a more helpful fashion, while others accuse staff of colluding with affordable housing advocates to squeeze too many units into existing communities. The truth is, the policy frameworks of our local generral plans and zoning ordinances are so tight, that there is little to no opportunity for planners to significantly insert their agenda on anything.

4/02/2008 11:06 PM  
Anonymous next NIMBY said...

reply to 3/24/08

For your information there are an unlimited number of NIMBY'sy

In fact there are 8 NIMBY's on the South coast for every 2 smart growth high density housing advocates like you whom think they know what's best for everyone else.

Like it or not in the end the NIMBY's will prevail

Don't you worry your pretty little head about the influence of CSP. Their influence is alive and well.

4/04/2008 8:58 PM  
Anonymous less is more said...

response to "Planner Sam" 10:58 p.m. 3/25

Dear Sam, ( does the S stand for smart growtrh?)

We can do without planners like you who think they know what's best for us.

We know what is best for us without you help thank you very much!

In case you didn't know it high density smart growth advocates like yourself are in the minority.

The vast majority of the residents on the South Coast have as their number one priority the preserving of our wonderful 1 and 2 story small town character and our quality of life.

Also the vast majority of residents of this special just hate those new monstrosities going up on Chapala and don't want any more of this smart growth high density forced on us by the likes of you.

Gee, I wonder how santa Barbara became such a wonderful place without the benefit of "smart growth"? Could it just be that 'smart growth" is not needed to make a town special?

If you want to live in a big city I respectfully suggest you move, but leave our cherished town alone.

If you doubt what I say just wait and see the results of the new building height initiative which will easily pass by an overwhelming majority and lower the maximum height of any new building downtown to 40 feet instead of 60 feet.

I can tell you that for every 10 people who eagerly sign this height petition there are is only 1 who says that they want to see more tall buildings.

4/04/2008 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Smart Growth is not a blank check for more housing said...

Santa Barbara already did "smart growth". It has an overwhelming amount of public and subsidized housing for just about every possible underserved constituency.

"Smart growth" is not a blank check. It does not mean you don't stop until 100% of your housing is public housing.

Santa Barbara already has 15% of its total city housing stock in some form of publically assisted housing. That is one huge voting block. How much more do you want?

So Santa Barbara already has done more public housing than any other city I know. It is time to stop this social experiment and take stock of what it has really done to this town.

And project what it means to grow to 25%-100% of total housing stock being publically assisted housing.

We have done "affordable housing" in this town. Enough is enough.

4/05/2008 10:42 PM  
Anonymous Planner Sam said...

Wow, what about my last post had anything to do with smart growth? It was a response to Croaking Canary's accusations that City of SB planning staff are offering re-zone approvals to developers in exchange for heightened affordable housing dedications. As I noted, 1) Planning staff does not approve housing development proposals, the City Council does; and, 2) density bonuses are strictly controlled by State law, so staff can't require50% dedications, and any planner with about 6 weeks of experience could tell you that.

With regard to "smart growth" and "affordable housing", Wikipedia defines smart growth as:

Smart growth is an urban planning and transportation theory that concentrates growth in the center of a city to avoid urban sprawl; and advocates compact, transit-oriented, walkable, bicycle-friendly land use, including neighborhood schools, streets that work for everyone, mixed-use development with a range of housing choices...

Smart growth is not the same as affordable housing. In fact, most efforts to implement smart growth concepts result in housing developments with higher than average market values. Examples include: Downtown Pasadena, West Hollywood, Celebration, FL, and Seaside, FL.

By the way, my only comments regarding new growth have been that 1) technically, the South Coast has the land and infrastructure resources available to accommodate more growth so the decision of how much to grow is a policy decision; and, 2) I happen to like downtown SB and believe the South Coast is a more exciting and vibrant place to live than ever.

I understand that there's a lot of folks who don't want any more housing on the South Coast - affordable or otherwise. I also understand that there are folks who believe that "smart growth" equates to just another way to cram additional density into a community. Finally, I understand that some folks believe that local planning staffers are minions of the devil, or maybe developers.

As I've said before, I'd fight to the death to support your right to have these beliefs, even if they are sometimes completely baseless (50% affordable housing dedication requirement?).

4/06/2008 5:52 PM  
Anonymous Smart Growth is Stupid said...

Downtown Pasadena is a horror. Please don't let us become Pasadena.

It has a souless, lifeless, hideous mall and tall building that totally block views of its once gorgeous city hall. And all the surrouding streets are dead with no pedestrian traffic or small commercial activity.

No parks, no vistas and almost total demolition of its historic building stock. Why on earth did you chose Pasadena as an example?

Yes, your planning department did say a project would be more acceptable with 50% affordable housing.

4/06/2008 11:09 PM  
Anonymous Smart Growth is Dumb for SB said...

Smart growth principles might work if you plan a community from scratch.

But your stated principles are not something you can cram down on an existing community. That is dictatorship.

When a community already exists and has its own unique character, smart growth is listening to the exisiting residents of that same city and not some planning theorists who can point to no successful model that proves out their theories on existing communities.

4/06/2008 11:15 PM  

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