Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Carpinteria Lowers Fees to Spark Economy

This from Carpinteria Council Member Armendariz. Interesting concept. Let's hope they can also be careful with responsible planning as well! -- Sara

Carpinteria, CA - By a unanimous vote of the Carpinteria City Council, the "Highway, Interchange and Bridge" Development Impact Fee (DIF) in the City of Carpinteria will be reduced by 50% for the next 18-months. This action by the city council was proposed by council member Joe Armendariz with the support of fellow council member Gregg Carty, who also serves as Mayor.

"I am pleased and very proud of my colleagues for supporting what I would suggest is one of the boldest and frankly one of the most audacious, pro busiess, pro economic growth decisions by a city council anywhere in California", said council member Joe Armendariz.

Presented to the council in the form of a resolution, the 50% reduction goes into effect immediately and will apply to any commercial development permit pulled in the next 18 months.

The decision was applauded by the local business community including a representative of the chamber of commerce. Also speaking in support of the resolution was a representative from Inve.stec, who told the council that because of this decision, their approved project called Lagunitas, has now been restored to viability and the company expects to move forward on the project in the next few months. Lagunitas is a mixed use development in the eastern part of the city and will add over 60,000 square feet of new R&D space to the city's existing commercial space inventory.

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Anonymous watcher said...


Armendariz for President!

3/11/2009 9:58 PM  
Anonymous carpwoman said...

I'm impressed that Mr. Armendariz understands the seriousness of what is going on...we need more public servants like him.

3/11/2009 9:59 PM  
Anonymous exhausted in sb said...

Joe is a smart dude, he has been talking about these issues for years and I have read lots of articles where his critics offer nothing but attacks and insults. I need solutions.

3/11/2009 10:05 PM  
Anonymous fed up said...

joe aremndarz is on sbcag, lacfo, carp city council, he runs the taxpayers association, the industrial and business association and is an elected official. He is as qualified to help us as anyone else in this city/.

3/11/2009 10:09 PM  
Anonymous Uncle Milty said...

Are they having fun playing with neocon trickle-down economics?

And how is adding more unfilled commercial space good for the city?

One person's business stimulus is another's government subsidy to a private corporation.

3/11/2009 11:32 PM  
Blogger Don McDermott said...

Thanks for the chuckle this a.m. SDLG. All of us under the jurisdiction of the plaza de la Guerra know that this reduced traffic mitigation fee is not exactly a new concept. Through your post SDLG I could almost hear Newt Gingrich at this Carpinteria council discussion, quite "frankly" supporting this bold (for Carpinteria I guess) but not so original legislation.

I would give originality credit for the attempt at a distinction coined "pro economic growth" in place of simply "pro growth." If Armendariz's effusive fee reduction quote contained contemporary jargon it would have been parroted as "economic "stimulus." I guess we should be thankful for Armendariz bringing Carpinteria into the 1990s. I wonder what took him so long.

3/12/2009 6:13 AM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

This is fundamentally a bad idea, unless the idea is to starve the City of Carpinteria of the financial resources needed to conduct the public's business and land use planning. Reduction in fees will not produce an increase in revenue. Companies do not make business decisions based on the relatively tiny cost of permit fees. Consequently, businesses and projects that site in Carpinteria would have done so anyway and the result of lower fees will be only less revenue for the City. The city council took this action with full knowledge. They will reap what they sow.

3/12/2009 9:14 AM  
Anonymous sick of petty partisans said...

it occurs to me that people like don are never happy and will never say anything positive about the people he decides he is going to dislike. it's irrational and one of the main reasons this state and country is in the boat its in. my question to don is has there ever been a person of the other party you've agreed with? if so, who? re what? and why?

3/12/2009 9:45 AM  
Anonymous Joe Armendariz said...

Dear Eckerman,

With all due respect, you are dead wrong. The specific "mitigation" fee we reduced amounted to over $650,000 for one project alone and as a result the company pulled the plug on the project. The city would have received 100% of zero. Wanna debate the financial value of zero?

In another case, a major project was mothballed but as a result of the council's decision the project was resurrected and now the city will receive over a $1 million in new fees for this project alone.

Moreover, these fees aren't discretionary for the city...they go into a fund and can be used for highway, interchange and bridge construction only. The city can access alternative sources of transportation dollars for these type of local projects. (state gas tax, Measure A, Prop 1b, etc.)

joe armendariz
5212 carpinteria ave, carpinteria
personal cell: 990.2494 (805) //

3/12/2009 6:54 PM  
Blogger Don McDermott said...

Eckermann; You are correct as there are political ideologues with the objective to "starve" or reduce government to the size where you can "drown it in a bathtub." Public input is often regarded as "anti america" activities by certain stealthy politicians. 50% reduction is 50% less to operate on and hopefully the public won't be under-served at the Carpinteria P and D counter due to this legislation.

Armendariz's response below uses hyperbole to justify his legislation. Who knows if any special interest conversations took place behind the scenes that formulated this legislation. Armendariz focus is industrial and tax related special interests so I doubt there was a broad community discussion and consensus about this reduction. Still the Carpinteria City council is reportedly 100 % behind this and it is "temporary."

Debating Armendariz's "financial value of zero" you would have to assume that zero is forever. I doubt "zero" would be forever because as you state Eckermann business decisions are not made in a vacuum. One thing is for certain is that the "financial value of zero" is not permanent but what is permanent is 50% of 100% is 50% less, forever once the transaction is executed.

3/13/2009 8:35 AM  
Blogger Don McDermott said...

Dear sick of petty partisans; And you are whom? We disagree. I think the "boat" we're in is not because of me. I can be and have been critical of "the other party" and can be critical of both dominate parties as well as myself. But I think your question is really about partisan attacks. If you want to know more about that I'd suggest you contact Armendariz regarding the "nutroots" in Iya Falcone's political party.

3/13/2009 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

Sorry Joe, I should have done my homework better on this one. I based my comments on recent economic analyses that show that the supply side theories of the 1980s did not really produce the benefits that they were touted to produce because the marginal tax benefits were not material to either the amounts invested or the potential returns on the investments. Generally, the amount of fees charged by municipalities, while not a trivial sum, is not the make it or break it determinant of the project. Apparently for the projects that you cite, the fees were a material to the economics of the projects. I cede your point and admit my error. However, I remain convinced that it is generally bad public policy for a municipality to starve itself of revenue by giving tax and fee breaks in the hopes of attracting development. There are plenty of examples of where this was done and did not produce the intended results.

3/13/2009 9:59 AM  
Anonymous Joe Armendariz said...


You say: "Eckermann; You are correct as there are political ideologues with the objective to "starve" or reduce government to the size where you can "drown it in a bathtub."

In fact, the resolution passed by my council to reduce our highway fee by 50%, over the next 18-months, hardly starves our city government of needed revenue...indeed it has already guaranteed the city will receive over a million and a half dollars in new impact fees over the next 12 months.

Also, and again, these mitigation fees aren't discretionary and can't be used for general government operating expenses, including for P&D dept.

The resolution we passed will generate significant revenues for the city.

If you would like to discuss this issue with me further you are welcome to do so.

joe armendariz
5212 carpinteria ave, carpinteria
personal cell: 990.2494 (805) //

3/13/2009 8:42 PM  
Anonymous Brian in Carp said...

Is this a bailout for Lagunitas?...the site has a big "for sale" sign on it. I doubt that the property owner, Investec, has any plans other than selling it at this point. It should never have been approved..this is ag land and building a mini-city on the property doesn't make any sense..especially now. A temporary reduction in fees?? How can you lower fees now and raise them back up in 18 months? It appears the council panicked and an investigation into their action is needed...

3/14/2009 9:52 AM  
Anonymous please allow me to introduce myself; I' a man of wealth and taste... said...

Sara this is a really interesting string of comments. Some are dismissive of this policy because they say it won't work. Others are irritated with this policy because they fear it will work and apparently they don't want it to.

Some are suggesting it is an insignificant symbolic gesture, a copy cat, 1980's trickle down economics measure if you will, others are calling for an investigation due to its pro business audacity.

All of this is over a decision by a local city council to help their city's ailing economy in a county that is approaching a 10% unemployment rate? Let me understand this, we don't want new jobs created in Santa Barbara County especially in the construction sector which has been hit the hardest? Is that these people's actual position? If so, it would be nice to know their true identity so we can all know never to make the mistake of electing these people to anything, including the sewer board.

Are there really people right here in the United States of America in 2009 that consider helping businesses grow and prosper to be a sinister scheme? Where do these people come from? Where did they go to school? If an investigation is in order here...that is what needs investigating. These people are quite honestly dangerous and they should be exposed and treated as such.

3/14/2009 11:30 AM  
Anonymous Brian in Carp said...

I think he was talking about me Sara..Wealth and Taste..there are many commercial buildings and houses sitting empty in can't just keep building and dilute the market.. which helps to LOWER MY PROPERTY's called balancing resources..nothing dangerous or sinister about that!

3/14/2009 1:04 PM  
Blogger Don McDermott said...

Joe Armendariz; First off thanks for the response and the offer to discuss. I think that at least my side of this conversation needs to be public. You are very smart, quick and fact filled. Adding to that you are also opinionated and sometimes opinion is what matters most.

I think you should explain your blog post where you show a very provocative side of your personality. You need to explain your, "anti-america", "anti business" comments attributed to Iya Falcones "nutroots" party members. Perhaps I am wrong but with comments like that I am most certain that you do not fairly represent all your constituents. Also, on that post, you end it with the following message>>> "And if the people who are determined to destroy what was once the best and classiest small city in America, they very well might!"<<< Who and what exactly are you talking about?

I have to point out that Carpinteria isn't without it's problems. I had the opportunity visit Carpinteria recently. A Carpinteria businessman was liquidating his stock because his business "just stopped" last fall. Since my last visit to the Foothill Road greenhouse area I noticed; 1) quite a bit of new and relatively large developments,
2) graffiti (gangs?), 3) lane-narrowing and traffic calming installation in front of Main Elementary School on Linden Avenue, 4) difficult intersections with many perilous pedestrian and bicycle conflicts.

I bring this up not for your response necessarily but to let you know that these same problems of graffiti, gangs, neighborhood traffic problems, development and business failures are what makes some Santa Barbara voters hyperactive and you seem to be taking advantage. I don't think you're being very even-handed with your blog-post and why that is important to me is because you, as a prominent figure, are injecting unecessary nastiness into the City of Santa Barbara elections.

What bothers me most about the name calling, hyperbole and demagoguery is that the people that have real problems are further marginalized and underrepresented. From my point of view you seem to identify with fairly privileged people that use similar provocative behavior to have their way with autocratic rather democratic results.

Regarding your recent temporary legislation/resolution; I am not a numbers cruncher but basic math tells me this resolution could result in revenues for Carpinteria short-term but a loss over the 18 month temporary legislation is potentially large and into the millions. That's Carpinteria's call not mine. Really, good luck with that.

Apparently Carpinteria voters are pleased with your performance enough to have re-lected you. You should probably also be humble enough to know that just one candidate less or more in the last race could have resulted in your failure to win a second term. That's assuming people aren't bullet voting by party. Regardless I am very happy if the Carpinteria people are happy with your performance. Please try not to inject nastiness in my City's politics.

3/14/2009 4:53 PM  
Anonymous Joe Armendariz said...

Dear Don,

Thanks for the opportunity to exchange views and discuss local issues. I agree Carp has its fair share of challenges including the ones you cite. One of my priorities is dealing with the gang issue and not only here in Carpinteria but across the region. To that end, I am the new Chairman of Zona Seca, a Santa Barbara based nonprofit that up until very recently was working with Osiris Castaneda and his Youth Cinemedia program to reach some of our most at risk youth. The agency remains committed to the job of serving this vulnerable population and its a huge challenge as I am sure you know. SB Councilwoman Iya Falcone and SB Police Chief Cam Sanchez serve on the board of ZS with me. Both are good friends of mine and both are fine and dedicated public servants.

Re: my blog, I don't disagree with you that my blog can at times be provocative. I have a reputation, in and around Carpinteria, for being direct, opinionated and often provocative when it comes to expressing my views on the issues I care about as well as on politics in general.

To be clear, I have not endorsed Iya. I love Iya with all my heart and I believe she would be a very effective Mayor. I also know Helene and I think very highly of her. If elected, Helene and I will work together on issues of mutual concern and do it respectfully and I believe effectively. Helene's heart is definitely in the right place in my opinion.

Moreover, my attempt to say some positive things about Iya on my blog was not intended to suggest or imply the opposite about Helene or any other potential candidate for Mayor. I will grant you that "nutroots" might be a little severe in describing some Santa Barbara voters (there are some of them here in Carp as well), but I think it's true that both political parties have their fair share of them and its one of the things I lament the most about the current state of our political discourse. I feel as uncomfortable around certain Republicans in this county as I do certain Democrats. Sometimes I think everyone should be required to serve in a local elective office at least once so they can learn that you can't govern from the extremes. You can certainly advocate from the extreme left or right, but you can't govern from there.

The internet is a fascinating and liberating communications tool because it allows otherwise reasonable people with typically measured opinions to express themselves more forcefully and yes, on occasion, provocatively. And I admit that isn't always a good thing. It might very well be at the heart of the gridlock we are experiencing between the parties. After all, no less an authority than Thomas Jefferson hated what he termed the "morbid rage of debate" because he believed that people were never convinced by argument, but only through reflection, reading or unprovocative conversation. If Jefferson were alive today, he probably wouldn't be a fan of the blogosphere. LOL.

Lastly, I continue to appreciate Sara's commitment to this blog as it is one of the best I have come across especially re: Santa Barbara-centric issues and opinions. And while it might seem odd that I would have an opinion about things political in Santa Barbara, because I am on a city council in another city, I would just point out that I consider SB, Carpinteria and Goleta one region whereby we all absolutely must work together cooperatively to protect and defend what I believe is an almost unparalleled qualify of life to be found anywhere in California.


joe armendariz
5212 carpinteria ave, carpinteria
personal cell: 990.2494 (805) //

3/15/2009 6:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe don't waste your time responding to these people. They didn't elect you so you owe them no explanation. If they want people like Sneider, Das and Grant House representing them so be it. For me, I would rather be represented by the first 1000 people in the SB white pages as Buckley used to say.

3/15/2009 4:12 PM  

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