Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Friday, June 20, 2008

Goleta Throws Down the Gauntlet on the County with RNA Alternative Tax

A major issue during the last campaign for council, NoozHawk reported that the City of Goleta's revenue neutrality agreement (RNA) with the County of Santa Barbara came under fire this week with the Chamber Trio of Onnen, Bennett and Blois seeking to put the issue on the ballot next November. One proposed measure would allow the City of Goleta to "unilaterally amend" the unaptly-named RNA. Aceves and Wallis dissented citing something called "contract law" and the fact that there are more appropriate ways to address the issue.

If that wasn't enough -- Goleta Chamber's Trio threw a tea party at the harbor and proposed an alternative sales tax for Goleta which would compete against and almost certainly derail Measure A.

Agreed. The RNA is not fair and the County of Santa Barbara took advantage of the deal by not including a sunset clause. Now with Montecito looking at incorporation -- we can expect a a firefight over this issue in Goleta. With shrinking revenue from all sides, I wouldn't expect the County to give up easily on this tax for which they have to do little but sit back and collect from the likes of Costco and Home Depot.

The final council vote to put these measures on the ballot is July 1. What is unsettling about this turn of events to me is not just the in-your-face approach which is clearly an election ploy to gain a fourth vote on council and retain Jean Blois -- it is the complete disregard for the bigger picture. It will cause a huge strain on the City budget in legal fees and puts the trio's rush vote to create in-house council in perspective. It will also likely derail the county-wide vote for Measure A with the amount of votes coming from Goleta in a presidential election holding court in the Fall. Like much of our society, the Chamber's Trio is only thinking of themselves with this entitlement tax.

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Anonymous Dan Hill said...

Sara, don't see why you say `The RNA is not fair'. It was not fair that IV was excluded from the City of Goleta, either; an enormous amount of the sales at Costco, K-mart, and the other stores at Storke and Hollister comes from the usually wealthy IV students.

For Goleta to get all that sales tax without IV sharing in the desperately needed revenue (still no sidewalks on Sabado Tarde where 4 died in Feb. 2001) is not fair.

The RNA is an attempt to make up for the exclusion of IV. Reversing the RNA would be a travesty.

Measure A sends a lot of revenue from the South County to the North County... because the North County has more cities, and cities get better sharing, and because of more road miles in the North County. It adds up to another screwing of IV and other unincorporated South County spots.

6/20/2008 8:06 AM  
Anonymous infomaniac said...

For an excellent exposition of what the Goleta Council majority and the Goleta Chamber of Commerce are doing to Goleta, see the column in the Goleta Voice or

The council majority is raining down development whose impacts will affect the entire South Coast. Goletans are waking up and we'll see how they treat Jean Blois at the polls this fall.

6/20/2008 3:53 PM  
Anonymous Mr. Moreno said...

You need to clear something up. Goleta's vote would NOT allow the city to "unilaterally amend" the RNA. The vote is based on some legal fantasy involving Prop. 218, which requires new taxes be approved by the voters. The council majority is merely hoping that a successful vote will somehow persuade/intimidate the county into renegotiating the RNA. That ain't gonna happen. You can bet your mortgage that the county will simply sue the poop out of Goleta for breach of contract.

And yes, Sara, there really is "something called" contract law. You could, as they say, look it up. The folks in Goleta may not like the RNA, but no amount of wishful thinking will get them out of their contract with the county.

6/21/2008 8:29 AM  
Anonymous bad move said...

Placing it's own tax measure on the ballot to compete with Measure A is a very bad idea politically for Bennett, Onnen and Blois. I don't think they realize yet that the world does not revolve around Goleta. They are starting to swim in politically unfamiliar, deep water that is about to drown them.

If they don't remove it ASAP, it will backfire on them in a huge way. It will unify disparate political forces and business interests from all over the County to get them thrown out of office. The City will end up in dire straights and likely end up like Vallejo which just declared bankruptcy.

Most everyone knows and agrees that the RNA needs to be re-negotiated but it has to be done smartly, next year, after the City Council and Board of Supervisors elections are over and the new elected officials are seated.

Personally I think this is a bluff, because I find it hard to believe even they could be that politically unsophisticated.

I don't think the Goleta Chamber is behind this move because Kristen Amyx is politically savvy enough to know how bad this will turn out for Goleta.

I'm pretty sure this is being concocted by Mike Madrid, the out-of-town polling consultant the City has been working with of late.

6/21/2008 10:05 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Mr. Moreno -- "unilaterally amend" was NoozHawk's adjective not mine and I should have put quotes around it -- my apologies.

I don't think the City can get out of it -- and I don't think the deal was fair. Of course the County will sue and that is my whole point...and I wish I had time to look up everything a news organization writes! You are right though -- the words were suspect. Thanks for keeping me honest :)

6/21/2008 5:47 PM  
Anonymous They must be kidding said...

Bennett and Onnen bullied Blois---who should know better---into this elected official's juvenile temper tantrum which will--and already has in some quarters---backfire enormously upon the Chamber-esque Council. whoops. they overshot their mark. They overpaid an out of touch consultant to do puff pieces on how "popular" they are and now are making decisions based on that BS. amateurs. fools.

6/21/2008 7:02 PM  
Anonymous dan hill said...

Again, Sara, you think the RNA was not fair?

Those of us who participated in the Cityhood debates knew darned well that the City of Goleta was cherrypicking the revenue-generating parcels, like Costco and Bacara, and omitting areas desperately in need of civic services.

It is the City of Goleta that was dreadfully unfair, and the only small measure that compensated was the Revenue Neutrality Agreement.

6/22/2008 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Gulag Goleta said...

Sara---don't you think it's kinda creepy that this drumbeat of "unfair RNA" began after the Chamber-elected Councilmembers took office?????? and hired GOP-"watchdog" consultant Mike Madrid to give them cover?

6/22/2008 4:50 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

gulag -- yes I do think it's a little creepy. Sounds like a consultant employment act to me.

dan -- I agree with those that say IV got the short end of the stick when it came to cityhood but that is a different issue to me. The City of Goleta wouldn't exist with IV in it is the bottom line as voters in Goleta would not have voted for it. Sometimes you have to get most of what you want and can't get all that you want...that said, the RNA not having a sunset clause (with or without IV) is what I see as unfair.

6/22/2008 7:56 PM  
Anonymous dan hill said...

As long as the various unincorporated areas get incorporated into Goleta at the time of the sunset clause, that would be OK.

But a sunset clause without taking responsibility for areas in great need of civic infrastructure, and who contribute mightily to the sales tax base of the City of Goleta, is unfair.

Sara, you are wrong about the voters of Goleta not voting for a city with IV. It was always east Goleta that historically voted against IV, and east Goleta was omitted even from this City of Goleta, because they were the ones that always voted no against earlier cityhood efforts.

That's why they're known as Noleta.

West Goleta (according to the polling data) would not have strongly voted against including IV. And the IV votes would have easily made up the difference. This was studied rather completely at the time of cityhood, but LAFCO was rather bullheaded and ignorant on the issue.

Additionally, it should never be that a little city that surrounds the huge revenue generators (Costco, K-mart, etc) and omits nearby neighborhoods should be allowed, entirely on considerations of economically justice.

Remember in addition to 10,000 students, IV has 1,200 spanish speaking families, many of whom labor on Goleta's lawns, in Goleta's restaurants, and remodeling Goleta's homes. Neglecting safe streets for their children is reprehensible. 3/4 of the good government contributions to their lives are unified with Goleta: the GUSD, GWSD, and the GWD. The other good agency is the IVRPD, which provides pretty good parks for their kids.

6/23/2008 9:08 AM  

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