Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Downtown Update: Chapala One -- What Happened?

An avid reader pointed out that Barney Brantingham's column this week in The Santa Barbara Independent went over some of the details in the doomed, $40 million Chapala One condo project that has failed to sell even one unit. The project is unsolvent and going into bankruptcy.

I bristle when I hear Don Hughes representative tell Barney, however, that: “The residential market got clobbered,” Raftery said. “San Diego is a complete disaster as to condo sales,” along with places like Phoenix and Las Vegas."

I say this is an unfair comparison and fails to take into account the type of growth we are talking about. Each of these cities overbuilt without the proper resources behind the growth. He's also comparing $1.5 to $3 million condos on State Street to homes that look more like the opening credits of the Showtime series "Weeds". Orange County type lot line to lot line homes or condos this is not. The key here is the price.

Critics like former Mayor Sheila Lodge and Mayor Marty Blum are correct -- these kind of high prices do not solve the workforce housing problem in Santa Barbara. The rest of the neighborhood on lower Chapala doesn't help either. It's fine for me but isn't going to convince the Land Rover set that they need to move down to lower State Street. More appropriate would have been sub-$1 million condos -- so that living downtown might at least begin to appeal to people tired of driving from the hinterlands to work in Santa Barbara.

Like Chapala One, will Paseo Chapala, Villa Andaluz and the new development on West de la Guerra dissapoint?

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Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

My Dear Sara: These certainly are hard times for our family...'Los Descendientes' are on the downward slope. Such a tragedy.

I just want to mention with respect to this topic, that some of the most amazing days on BlogaBarbara for me, were those days when the extreme enthusiasts for 'flipping' houses, signing up for mortgages, and encouraging 'social' investments by the city, were carrying on here--waxing eloquent on their superior tactics on how to get rich quick.

Well, the house of cards is crumbling now and even though I didn't play their game, I'm still getting the hammer blows that should have been focused on these greed maniacs...

In the ol' days of Mass up at the Mission, the friars used to have a word to say now and then about avarice and glutonny.

'Ye shall reap what you sow'they said too...

Good thing Michelle Obama is planting a garden. What about one on the Plaza? I want to see our egotistic, know it all young male council member, out there pulling weeds in the garden...

Thank God Sheila Lodge is back around to remind us of 'Santa Barbara's No Growth' nobility.

How are YOU doing with your new mortgage dear?

Could we put up some stocks and dunking tanks now out in front of the Presidio for these 'get rich quick bloggers'of yours?

3/21/2009 6:56 AM  
Anonymous Hikmer said...

I applied for the "affordable housing" lottery on these units. What a farce. Living in this box would have been a many homeless people do you think will start living in that garage? The units were so small that it really was a joke. Santa Barbara will ultimaley have no middle class, and they only have themselves to blame. There are NO JOBS which pay enough to live here...and the companies that did pay well, have all but died. Even the companies that do pay enough are letting people work remotely so we can get out of this depressed state.

3/21/2009 7:00 AM  
Blogger Don McDermott said...

SDLG no offense but to paraphrase a campaign operative stinging assessment "it's the economy stupid."

Aside from conflicting community values or objectives we do have property rights to put a project through the city's process. The results, Chapala One and other developments in the corridor are unique when compared to other communities. Realizing imperfections, I have no problem with them.

The negative response is similar to a xenophobic reaction. I understand it. I know some find glee in political advantages they may seek from it. But I think the negative response is an irrational and sometimes selfish assessment of these uncustomary but very unique developments.

There is accuracy by detractors that these developements don't solve the housing problems or imbalance. How did Mayors Lodge, Blum and the other detractor's suburban homes solve problems when built? Did their homes contribute to the environmental degradation of Santa Barbara. How do Riviera and Mesa property owners contribute to the imbalances and impacts when they 'develop' or add on a room or two and rent to foreign exchange students or extended family? For many this is "the pot calling the kettle black."

So what are the solutions from the detractors. No growth, down-zoning, sprawl? Should the community relegate Chapala properties and other blighted areas to that of a permanent funk zone? What are the economics of the business plan?

3/21/2009 7:14 AM  
Blogger izarradar said...

"More appropriate would have been sub-$1 million condos..."

That's a nice idea, but do you have any idea about the high price-tag on development and building costs in this city? If Santa Barbara really wants to encourage people to live downtown, and not use their cars, where are the incentives for the developers? Have you ever tried to put up a building in this town? The bureaucratic maze is not only dizzying, but financially draining. That's the way things are done---Does it work? Take a look around and you be the judge. Chapala One isn't the only new-style Santa Barbara building with empty condos. What about the monstrosity on Anacapa that switched from trying to sell its multi-million dollar condos to offering them up as vacation timeshares? No one willingly sets out to design a failing (or failed) building, so ask yourself this: Why did these multi-million dollar mixed-use designs get the nod to be built? Why expensive condos, and not apartments? Apartments can't be built and make any kind of profit, that's why. So if the city wants to actively "solve the workforce housing problem in Santa Barbara," it has to do more than just talk about it.

3/21/2009 7:31 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Why doesn't Cottage Hospital buy this property for its workforce housing? It's ready now. Think of all the money and resources that could be saved not dealing with demolishing ST. Francis and rebuilding it.

3/21/2009 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

Considering that the folks who built the condo project were wrong about their projected path to profit, I offer my own prediction, for whatever it is worth. The price of the condos will continue to decline until they reach the value of tract homes in Goleta and the West Side. Then, empty nester retired couples who want to downsize, and take their one time property tax transfer with them, will trade the space of the suburbs for the convenience of downtown. This will open up the single family homes for middle-aged affluent couples with kids to move from wherever they are to sunny Santa Barbara. All the workforce housing social engineering will be crushed under a rather orthodox supply and demand curve. I could be wrong. Let's see what happens.

3/21/2009 8:42 AM  
Blogger sawbelly said...

Don McDermott thank you! Like it was OK to pave over the watershed in San Roque, build on steep slopes on the Riveria and Mission Canyon, build homes on hilltops on the Mesa, and on and on... And the owners (and their kids) of this development got rich over the years because of it (and are still getting rich by selling dilipidated houses for overinflated prices). But now, it's not OK for someone to want to make a life in Santa Barbara? Like now that some have their piece of the pie (or what's left of their parents' piece of the pie) it's time to stop anyone else from making a life in SB? I would hope that people who live in those homes, or whose parents got rich off of them, are not the ones throwing stones. But I think some of them are. There ought to be some reason in the growth argument, and some recognition by the no-growth-at-any-costers, that their homes were once a pristine watershed (for example) too. They and their parents aren't any different from other people trying to make a go of it. We should expect a balanced, fair discussion and future.

3/21/2009 8:57 AM  
Anonymous Hikmer said...

Oh and the comment "Sub 1 Million dollar" units is also a farce...somehow anything below 1 Million becomes affordable to workers. This area will go through a major depression since it still thinks that housing should be someone artificially inflated. Those days are over...just look at all the empty commercial real estate on State Street. How about being more realistic and build units people can actually afford...under 200K. But of course no one would dream of building something people could actually afford in this snobby, vain, conceited town. The beaches here suck and the water is dirty...beware to anyone wanting to relocate to this "Riviera"...we can't even stop the fires...let alone house our working community.

3/21/2009 9:11 AM  
Blogger sbbulldog said...

In a capitalist economic system, there is a natural cycle of boom and bust because the goal is personal gain. We don't really have a pattern for societal gain and I don't want to pretend that I have a plan for that.

If an entity can be created, where the principals can leverage their gamble with other people's money, and limit their personal exposure, then every time the real estate market heats up, communities will be left holding the bag.

It sure looked like boomers and even younger folks had an insatiable appetite for downtown living. Between the time it takes to formulate a plan and get a developer's ducks in a row, their is always a risk that the music will stop.

There most certainly is profit in building apartments, it's just not nearly as huge as the potential profit in luxury condos. If we as a group acknowledge the benefit of having affordable housing, we can tally the profit and value of workforce housing more accurately.

It may be that government needs to encourage creative apartment development in order to provide homes for the folks that we all need to teach our kids, patrol our streets, and yes, cook our food and wash our dishes.

Family structure has changed radically in the last 50 years. Appropriate design, permitting, taxing, and deed restrictions can be employed for the benefit of our community.

Just my 3 cents.

3/21/2009 9:41 AM  
Anonymous Joe the CEO said...

I think it's interesting that they can't get their asking price so they go into bankruptcy? I'll be curious to see if the bankruptcy court allows that to happen or not. I don't understand why they can't sell them at an auction. That will determine the TRUE market value of the units as opposed to what they're asking.

3/21/2009 9:41 AM  
Blogger sbbulldog said...

Two more cents. Yes, those condos will likely go to auction and the lenders will re-coup some of the debt.

The despoiling of America, whether culturally or environmentally was the natural result of European settlement and it's history. Just because horrible mistakes have been made, doesn't release us from using current knowledge to make better plans.

Discussion is great, but, if like one poster, you are done with SB and hate it, and you have given up on participating in trying to fix it, then yes, you should probably move on to a more like-minded, or at least cleaner, place.

I'm a newcomer, just 22 years in SB. I've had the good fortune to travel a bit and I have not found a better place. Compared to 99% of other US communities, this suits me just fine. I don't want to shut the door, but I don't want strip malls, either.

Does that make me elitist?

3/21/2009 10:17 AM  
Anonymous storke more said...

All sorts of posters to this blog implied that unending home price escalation was due to the nice environment here, or the cleverness and thrift of homeowners, or the forward looking planning here.

Reality: the real estate industry made unethical loans and the banking system packaged those loans into highly leveraged bonds and the system is now in mid-collapse.

This was no natural cycle of boom followed by bust. This was a cycle created by financial criminals in the real estate and finance industry, each and every one of whom should enjoy a cellmate named `Spike' in the penitentiary after their conviction and sentencing to life.

3/21/2009 10:18 AM  
Anonymous Remember to Use Name/URL said...

Jennifer's idea of having the Cottage Hospital purchase Chapala One for its workforce housing is an excellent one. It wouldn't provide the 115 units proposed for St. Francis, but it would be a start. It would mean that the affordable housing could be provided iinstead of five years from now. Note: plans for the Cottage Hospital condos are to be reviewed by the ABR this Monday, March 23 at 4:00 in the Gebhard Room at City Planning, Cota and Anacapa

3/21/2009 11:44 AM  
Anonymous matchless51 said...

As a SB native who left for college and found out later that "you can't go home again".. (too expensive) I've read these interesting comments, and one in particular, regarding no middle class in SB, brought back memories of the good old days at SBHS when we were The Golden Tornado. We had a saying back then: There are 2 groups of people in Santa Barbara: The Rich, and Everyone Else. I'll always love Santa Barbara, even though it is no longer the hometown I grew up in. Santa Barbara is Santa Barbara, and always will be. Go Dons.

3/21/2009 11:52 AM  
Blogger sbbulldog said...

Not to be argumentative, but it's not that simple (what Storke More wrote). I am in the real estate business and we are not all criminals. nor did we all hype ever increasing values.

There is a reason that SB is more expensive than Riverside and planning, i.e., limiting development, does play a part through supply and demand. Further, SB is more desirable in climate, crime, and other, quality of life criteria.

Real estate, like all markets, is cyclical, even if it's been a long time since a real "bust". Further, just the impact of inflation favors property owners who have mortgages. The debt is de-valued as the dollar is worth less, but the asset is valued in current dollars and therefore the debt as a percent of value decreases. You don't even need to factor in "appreciation" you just have to hang around long enough.

I guess I missed the posts about the cleverness and thrift of our homeowner's. People will eat at the trough of easy money and we will sell them the products that are provided to us to sell.

Some real estate practitioners, me included, do act as consultants and will tell clients no, don't do that. In the end, it's a loser trying to protect others from themselves, but many people do hear the message and act accordingly.

I agree that letting Wall Street mad scientists create dangerous financial instruments is a serious blunder. It's kind of a waste of time blaming the lack of regulation, even the dismantling of regulatory agencies, that has occurred during the last regime.

Bottom line: we need to re-calibrate what it means to be successful, what it takes to be happy, and what it means to "own" something.

WC Fields said, you can't cheat an honest man. Unfortunately, some want to believe what is too good to be true, and some are really just not smart enough to resist the peer pressure of endless, marginally honest, marketing.

Maybe we can find some joy in the beauty of life and the goodness of people who help each other.

There is a silver lining, always.

3/21/2009 11:52 AM  
Anonymous AN50 said...

Don you got it right and no I can’t believe I agree with you but you nailed it. I agree the new mixed use buildings are different than counter parts in other cities, though I do believe they could have been done a lot better if they were far smaller in foot print and taller to make up for it. There is simply no reason to demand that buildings downtown resemble developments in the outer urban areas (low rise, low density and sprawling). I realize taking such a position puts me against the over whelming opposition to taller buildings, but from a historical, architectural and urban planning perspective I know I am right. I agree that there is an inordinate amount of hypocrisy on the part of anti development types who are all here because of development. The “I got mine now close the door” mentality does foster a rather nasty selfish, self absorbed mentality here. Whether you like it or not closing the gate makes you a very bad person. And yes I understand all about living within ones resources and trying to preserve the beauty of a place. But resources are not as scarce as some say and beauty is skin deep. Doesn’t it matter to anyone living here that red tile roofs do not cover a narcissistic, self centered self absorbed population?
I believe the solution Don is a trip back into history. The selfish suburban mind set here needs to connect with Santa Barbara’s past and her glory, when ironically most of the city’s tallest and most prominent structures were built. Maybe we can learn a few things from those who blazed the trail before us rather than immersing ourselves in the delusion that somehow we are way smarter than our great grand parents. We can learn that there has to be a reason beyond “its beautiful” to live here, that with out a solid industrial base, you have very wealthy and very poor and not much in between, just as an example.

3/21/2009 1:28 PM  
Anonymous Stop Inclusionary Housing Mandate NOW! said...

The city needs to get the heck out of the housing business.

It needs to stop this failed "inclusionary" housing nonsense right now. The last thing this city needs to do is expand tihs disaster as it is doing right now. It is a failure. Do not keep perpetuating this failure.

The city has has mucked up the works with their fraudulent "affordable" housing schemes. This scam ruins everything for every body.

Including those who got duped into buying these units which will prove to be a very bad investment choice and who may be the only ones left holding the bag for the entire rest of the development.

The city agenda should never have been called "affordable housing" because all housing is affordable for someone if they buy it. Or not affordable if they do not.

It is not the city to say what is affordable and what is not affordable. The market tells us that. The city is doing something far more insidious when they call this "affordable" housing.

In this case at Chapala One, the city mucked up a hybrid monster with crummy fake affordable units which overlook the Salvation Army homeless shelter, which no developer could have sold even at fake bargain rates. And this demanded the developer design over the top compensatory units which now won't sell either.

Had the city not salivated all over themselves at the thought of getting what they foolishly saw as a few more "affordable units", this never would have been built as the stupid defunct monster it is. This failed hybrid monster will now haunt out town and soon become a boarded up derelict setting. City of Santa Barbara - take full responsibility for this mess.

I repeat. The city has no business being in the housing business. Call it what it is.

This is a blatant social engineering mandate foisted upon us by this feel-good city council majority, primarily designed to benefit public employees as just one more public benefit at the expense of the many.

It is time for a brand new public debate on these hybrid monster projects and to stop cramming them down with the airy-fairy claim they are providing "affordable housing" or even worse, "saving the middle class". And just as disingenuous as "first responder" housing.

Throw out every single city council member who foisted this disaster up on us.

And stop this social engineering political scheme that has not gone through a proper public debate or environmental review as to its insidious ability to sap the life and vitality our of our community.

The canary in the mineshaft just died and took down Chapala One as just one of its many victims. No, the fault is not in the economy. The fault is the city meddling mortally with the market and destroying it for everyone.

3/21/2009 2:57 PM  
Anonymous Santa Barbara area full of middle class said...

There is plenty of affordable housing in Santa Barbara. There is plenty of cheap housing within avearge commuting distance from worksites.

You have to change your definition of "Santa Barbara" because just 40 minutes away, the average one way commute time in urban areas, 3brdm houses with yards can easily be purchased by the middle class.

The City of Santa Barbara is special and it is affordable for every single person who buys here.

There is no danger of losing the middle class nor is this necessarily a bad thing in the city itself because it is already saturated witha major amount of deed-restricted housing or city housing projects. Add to that the thousands of illegal second units and you have every possible housing strata already covered in the city itself.

If all the middle class does is whine about not getting handouts at someone else's expense, I say get rid of them.

Those that scream the loudest are simply not willing to live in Santa Maria, Lompoc or Ventura/Oxnard. Because the middle class is alive and well and enjoying their housing investments in all those places and enjoying their Santa Barbara south coast lifestyle.

Take a commuter bus and get over yourselves. We are not ruining more of our city just for you.

3/21/2009 3:29 PM  
Anonymous Turn St Francis into a state hospital said...

St Francis would make a perfect homeless shelter for the genuinely frail population that needs an institutionalized setting.

Put this conversion into the 10 year plan to end homelessness. it is time to re-open state hospitals caring for the frail homeless who cannot safely provide for themselves.

Cherie, lead the fight. Get Helene on board. Make this happen. Clean up State Street.

3/21/2009 3:33 PM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

I always find it interesting when folks start off the growth argument with the proposition that growth is a given (or at least the only moral outcome) and the whole debate has to be about how to facilitate growth. It is a great rhetorical trick to get those with whom you are arguing to accept a falacious premise, which is the foundation of your argument. So, let's back up. Nowhere is it written that every town must continue to increase its population ad infinitum. One does not have to be a "very bad person" to suggest that consciously limiting the population growth of a community might produce the best living environment for all current and future residents. Of course such a proposition is arguable, but it is not immorale.

3/21/2009 4:31 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

I'll all be better when Iya is elected, because she's so much different than what we've had in the past. Not!

3/21/2009 5:15 PM  
Anonymous treedom said...

In response to the poster calling themselves "Santa Barbara area full of middle class" --

I was born here. I grew up here. I have spent my entire life contributing to this town. I can't walk down the street without running into people I know. My profession makes the city a better place, and I make reasonable money.

I have long accepted that I will never be able to afford to buy here, but now I don't think I can afford to rent here anymore either.

Your nasty tone is so un-Santa Barbara that I have to think you aren't a native yourself, but perhaps another Orange County carpetbagger with an outsized sense of entitlement. Folks like that have been driving down the quality of people here 20 years running -- contributing nothing but housing price inflation -- never volunteering in the community, not knowing their neighbors, and utterly lacking compassion for others.

If you think that housing outside the city is still affordable once you factor in commute costs, then SBCC has a remedial arithmetic class with your name on it. Nor are long commutes environmentally sound, or healthy for family life.

But if you're such a fan of them, I encourage you to please go with it yourself -- sell your pad and buy a house an hour and a half away. Encourage all your similarly self-satisfied buddies to do the same. If enough of y'all leave, maybe there will be housing left for those of us that contribute something more than arrogance to the community.

3/21/2009 9:48 PM  
Blogger GoletaGuy said...

Property Rights! What are they? Who issues the certificates? What entitlements are enumerated?

If property rights do exist, they only apply the the continued use of the property as it was when it was acquired. Any change must have the concurrence of the neighbors and others that may be negatively (or positively) impacted by the change of use. The city officials and the developer are not the only ones impacted by the change, though they pretend otherwise.

3/21/2009 11:24 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

"Nowhere is it written that every town must continue to increase its population ad infinitum."

True dat, just ask Chicago and Detroit. In fact, I hear there is very affordable housing there now...I suggest we use what little money we have left and organize a bus caravan for all the whiners who can't seem to understand that we don't owe you a fine living in S.B. I think you can buy an entire city block in Detroit for $100K.

What would be so wrong with asking SBCC and UCSB to cut 4000 students each from their rolls? How about cracking down on all the illegal additions and the ten to an apartment crowd? Sorry Dario, your slum properties gotta go.

The city and the do-nothing law enforcement type got all worked up for the right to make an unwarrented search of your house to see if your 8 year old is splitting a six pack with the toddler down the street.

God forbid Cam Sanchaz and his team of underpaid Superheros bust his Barrio buddies for over crowding...but I get it, sounds a bit too dangerous...I hear they have knives in the hood.

Just my two cents (formely known as the One Dollar Bill)

3/22/2009 1:59 AM  
Anonymous Prudent Person Advice said...

treedom, you can buy in Santa Maria and yes, you can commute by bus to Santa Barbara and save money, or car pool. You want it all, but you don't want to pay for it. That is what I am hearing.

How can we solve your problem? If you grew up in Montecito, you would not be able to afford that either. Why because you grew up in Santa Barbara do you think the rest of us should pay to let you stay here.

Sure its sad for you that you don't want to work to buy a condo in Santa Barbara so you can stay here, but there are lots of people in other affluent areas around the country that face the same conditions.

Their hometowns were also prime, you got the privilege of growing up here which kids in South Central LA never got, but this does not confer an entitlement just because of the luck of your birthplace.

treedom, you got part of the pie, unearned, you were lucky to be born and raised here. Others got another part of the pie and are able to afford to stay here.

Some got no part of the pie and were not born here or will ever have a chance to live here, and others got a whole pie all for themselves born, raised and staying.

Life is not fair. But it is also not fair that you demand we support you. Make your plans accordingly. Leave Santa Barbara for those who can afford it. And plan your own life to meet your own means.

Everyone will be happier. But I am not giving my my share of the pie I earned to live here so you can stay here where you cannot afford to.

Point of what I am saying is your sense of entitlement is falling on very dead ears. You want everything, a short commute, cheap prices and a nice place to live .....but at someone else's expense.

Maybe it was not such a privilege for you to be raised in Santa Barbara after all with an attitude like you have.

First step is you will have to mourn your loss -- you cannot afford to live in Santa Barbara. Make peace with that.

Obviously you have run the figures and you cannot stay here. You are resisting the obvious and it is making life miserable for you since you don't have realistic plans to accept this loss.

Mourn this loss. Then move on and make your new life work for you. It is sad. I can appreciate your sense of loss. This is a special place. But bottomline, you cannot afford to stay here.

And I can't afford to live in Montecito. That's life.

3/22/2009 10:40 AM  
Anonymous Making it work said...

Cam Sanchez's "underpaid superheros"?

Think again. Report in the SB NewsPress one police officer took away $170,000 last year with regular and overtime pay.

Patrol officers work a few long days and then take more days off per week. This works out to be a very good lifestyle for many, who enjoy all this extra time off between work days to live and enjoy their homes and families in the affordable suburbs of the SB city proper.

3/22/2009 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Bottom line said...

Someone posted they " make reasonable money and work in a job that makes Santa Barbara a better place", yet cannot even afford to rent here any longer and claims he/she will never be able to own a house.

A couple of questions:

1. What is the definition of "reasonable money" if it does not pay for rent? That does not sound like reasonable money to me.

2. What sorts of jobs "make Santa Barbara a better place to live"? This is a most intriguing job description. Please elaborate.

A lot of us work in jobs that make Santa Barbara a better place to live and make enough money to live here and to even buy homes.

Maybe a job change is necessary to one that actually supports a minimum life style here.

A street artist may feel he/she is making Santa Barbara a better place to live, but this will never support a lifestyle here.

A county government worker may feel their job makes Santa Barbara a better place to live and with salary and benefits, can afford to live here.

This complaint of getting a "reasonable salary", yet not being able to afford rent needs to be fleshed out. My guess it is not a reasonable job. Or unreasonable expectations. Which is it?

3/22/2009 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Extraordinaire! The optimistic real-estate guy chimed in here with the cheery comments of good things to come in the market--just a down cycle he there no shame?...

One trillion more (How many trillions is that now?)tomorrow when we figure out how to legislate riches out of toxic assets...

I can hardly believe all the folly.

3/22/2009 4:07 PM  
Anonymous Chuckie Cheesey said...

Apparently Obama thinks the economic downturn is worth a few hearty laughs and even more chuckles as he made his way through a Sunday press interview on CBS.

He calls it his "gallows humor" and says it helps him get through the day. The interviewer asked Obama outright if he were "punch drunk" laughing at all of this. No mention of his response.

So Don Jose, are you adding your President as one of the Economic Chuckles Club members along with Optimistic Real-Estate Guy?

Seeing the boarded-up Chapala One is very sad. It was a magnificent enterprise. Too bad it got so far ahead of itself and strangled on the whole city mandated affordable housing hubris.

Can the Salvation Army buy it for a homeless shelter so we can show the ACLU we take care of all who come here for our succor.

If the city now spends 23 million dollars a year on the homeless, surely this can make a good down payment for this $40 million dollar homeless housing project.

3/22/2009 6:16 PM  
Anonymous storke more said...

Capitalists in the US first lose $12 trillion dollars (at least) that is covered by taxing the rank and file.

Then the same capitalists charge $5 million bonuses (at AIG) for less then a year of work cleaning up the mess they made.

Jeez, compared to that fiasco of the free market, I'll take inclusionary housing anytime.

We'd still be better off with all those capitalists and all their local real-estate agent helpers in the penitentiary.

When their ripoff total climbs to $100 trillion will we finally realize that socialism is a bargain?

3/22/2009 10:29 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

I liked the part during 60 Minutes interview when Obama says:

"Who would have imagined that Iraq is the least of my problems."

...the least of his problems! If that's not 'mission accomplished' what is?

3/23/2009 6:35 AM  
Anonymous He looked stoned to me said...

That comment from Obama on last night's 60 Minutes gave me the chills too....creepy from a guy who made "getting out of Iraq" the centerpiece of his campaign...yikes!
ps: and I voted for him!

3/23/2009 8:47 AM  
Anonymous Prudent Person Rules said...

The "capitalists" did not lose that money. Imprudent investors who gambled with the risks lost money. No one forced anyone who lost money to lose it.

Those exploiting the capitalistic system offered risks, just like the Chumash Casino offers risks. No one is forced to depart with their discretionary cash except the holders of that cash.

The primary rules of investment have not changed: diversity; due diligence; and risk tolerance. Apply those rules to everyone now screaming they were done in by the "capitalist" system and you find 100% willing victims.

They wanted only the benefits and ignored all the long-standing investment rules. Who can feel sorry when they pay a price for their own stupidity.

No sane person risks all their "life savings" in questionable investment schemes. One risks their at-risk money knowing before getting in high-returns always carry high risks.

Only an entitlement culture gets scammed; not the prudent. You can take that to the bank. (And it will still be there.)

3/23/2009 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Socialism is bringing down America said...

You overlook it was socialism that caused the meltdown, not capitalism. Capitalism would let bad companies, bad investments, bad choices and bad people fail.

Socialism is the cause of what is happening now. Socialism demanded banks provide loans to poor credit risks. Socialism is driving the trillions of dollars in unrelated pork bailouts. Socialism is what killed major US industries and got them fat, lazy and uncompetitive.

You cannot trade off inclusionary housing with the the socialistic meltdown foisted off on America today. They are one and the same thing.

They operate in the same mentality. They pretend you can distort the market and relieve people from their own choices and consequences. They both favor a few special interest groups over the benefit of the whole.

3/23/2009 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Cautious Observer said...

izarradar above has this 100% correct. Not much more I can add other than to say that what the City of Santa Barbara is truly willing to do in order to encourage "work force" housing begins and ends with lip service.

3/23/2009 11:43 AM  
Blogger Don McDermott said...

I believe Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega may have joined the follies by shortening and paraphrasing President Obama's 60 Minutes quote all to make an inaccurate conclusion.

3/23/2009 6:20 PM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

Dear Prudent,

The only reason your money is safe at the bank is FDIC. Which, as it turns out, is a socialist construct. Before there was an FDIC, my grand-parents, on both sides, lost everything they had saved because of the imprudent investements of the risk taking capitalist bankers to whom my thrify and prudent grand-parents had trusted their respective life savings. Without government oversight, the capitalists risk takers have the capacity to take us all done, both the prudent and the imprudent.

3/23/2009 8:31 PM  
Anonymous No more city housing projects - none! said...

If the city does more to distort the housing market than it already has, 1% already are homeless beds and 14% are already low-income residents homes, adding even more city-mandated market distortion housing for "work force" (aka public employees) housing, will doom this city.

You simply can not have a company town. You cannot have so much city mandated housing and stay healthy.

We have too much deed restricted housing already in this town. 15% is too much. We are sickening from within. Workforce housing can be found aplenty only a short drive away, well within normal US commute times.

Stop this nonsense. Thank goodness there is only "lip service", but there should not even be lip service except to say no. And hand people the real estate ads for Lompoc, Santa Maria, Oxnard and Ventura.

Santa Barbara is built out. Stop dreaming the city will build you homes and let you pay less than market. Why didn't you sign up at Chapala One if you wanted city-mandated housing? This is what you get and you did not want it.

Tell us more about what you want us to give you -- describe your "work force housing" and how does it differ from what you can already buy in easy commute times away from here?

3/23/2009 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Prudent Person Rules said...

Eckeman, god love the soundness of the FDIC and all the rules that come along with it. You can call it socialism if you want. It is insurance, which still remains private enterprise.

Whatever. Some government regulation is good. No one is arguing that. But lets make it stand the test of time. And had prudent investors stuck to FDIC investments, no one would have lost their life savings in a Ponzi scheme.

This whole housing meltdown was because of too much government regulation demanding banks make bad loans to stay in business. That is what Carter passed and that is what brought everything down.

It was an exploitation of the worst possible kind for all concerned. And the government was asleep at the switch. That was bad legislation and that I do believe does qualify as "socialism".

Government police duties are a necessary part of healthy governance. And I don't call that socialism either. Nor do I call a police state healthy governance either, but if I had to choose, I do like personal safety over civil liberties which let lawlessness rule.

3/23/2009 10:49 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Gee...nobody wants to seize this difficult moment and plant a garden on the Plaza...what's up with the hesitation? Das pulling weeds would be so cool!

Das as a gardener would be so much more 'elective effective' than imagining him as a champion of education...or city planning.

Does the City have a "reset' button?

3/24/2009 6:46 AM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Don Jose often thinks about the usefulness of the past.

I call your attention today to Plutarch.

Plutarch was clear enough:

"The real destroyer of the liberties of any people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations, and largesses."

3/24/2009 7:30 AM  
Anonymous storke more said...

My parents lost 2/3 of their life savings in the bank closure/fiasco of the early 1930's. They were convinced FDR let his buddies, like Joseph Kennedy Sr., get their full savings out.

Only a small portion of the current fiasco was caused by careless lending... and for sure, let's put all local realtors and bankers who stoked the fires in the pen.

Much, much worse was the reselling, bundling, and particularly, the leveraging of the mortgages into collaterized debt obligations, which were then insured (based on bad analyses by Moody's, Standard & Poor's, and Fitch) by AIG and other agencies as credit default swaps.

The big financial houses like Lehman, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, etc, made those phony bonds and leveraged them up by factors of 30 (just like buying on margin in 1929). So when it all failed, AIG and other places (through credit default swaps) got left holding the bag.

That process was ***PURE CAPITALISM*** and was far, far more toxic than any lending law changes.

The *BIG CRIMINALS* were the capitalists on top in the investment banks and insurance companies, who were unregulated. As I've said, they all deserve mass trials and locking up in the pen for life with cellmates who are sex offenders.

3/24/2009 8:54 AM  
Blogger Don McDermott said...

Don Jose;

You may get your wish. I heard on the Marty Blum radio show this past weekend the mayor suggesting exactly that....a trendy garden in the plaza! No mention of who would do the weeding though.

3/24/2009 9:09 AM  
Blogger cynthia said...

When it takes years to get permits, many consultants and other hoops to get approvals, the costs are going be expensive and passed onto the consumer.

3/24/2009 3:09 PM  
Anonymous Kissin Cousin said...

Why Don Jose, you old coot, you are on to something.

No wonder Obama is getting rid of charitable donations. I thought he was channeling Karl Marx and now you tell us he is channeling Plutarch.

Plutarch lives!

3/24/2009 4:16 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Dear Kissin' Cousin et al...

Plutarch is channeling Plutarch and he's talking about Obama...

On the other hand, Karl Marx is laughing in his grave and feeling very justified about those carbuncles on his posterior obtained by hard study. We can call our current dilemma 'Karl Marx's revenge.'

You are right Cynthia, Santa Barbara's permit process would pose quite a hurdle for the approval of a victory garden on the Plaza. I'm glad Marty Blum is thinking about though. Did she mention Das and the weeds?

We just got to find something useful for Das to's been so long since he's just been sitting there, thinking about his resume.

3/25/2009 6:51 AM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Excuse me, I forgot something important you mentioned...this charitable donation tax of Obama's is really a bad idea for Santa Barbara whose citizens are so generous to so many good causes. How many non-profits in Santa Barbara now? They are all going to suffer.

And speaking of charitable donations, who's behind the stupid legal suit trying to keep government funds from helping out my Francisan Missions? What's up with that, my friends? What a scandal!

3/25/2009 6:57 AM  
Anonymous Night Owls said...

At least we know who will be watering the Dela Guerra Victory gardens.

3/25/2009 8:50 AM  
Anonymous Follow to money to Obama and friends said...

Interesting history on your maligned derivatives which you label as the decline and fall of Western Civilzation. They were first offered by Obama's campaign CFO - Penny Pritzger from her now defunct Chicago bank.

And had there not been subprime loans crammed down by the over-zealous Dems and their ACORN in your face buddies who thugged banks with "community action" to issue more and more of them under the Carter Administration legislation, there would have been no reason to create the derivatives in the first place.

Spreading the risks of these known potentially toxic assets was a way of countering the damage everyone would see coming from these NINJA suprime loans demanded by the ACORN crowd et al .
Don't overlook the Black Congressional Caucus's role declaring nothing was wrong with Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac (Or as the eloquent Mr Sortero says Freddy Mae) and there was no reason to control or investigate the 'sterling" leadership of these institutions.

Go head and rail against one part of this venal chain of events but if you want to look at the causes rather than just pandering to cheap populist venting, you have to go back to Obama's pal, Penny Pritzger and wonder if there was not a master plan going on here with the full benediction of their other partner in crime. George Soros.

Obama was palling around with terrorists - financial terrorists. And they delivered for him big time. Good to see Obama got knee-capped on the Employee Free Choice Act finally. There is hope. And thank goodness in 3 years and counting there will be change. Change we can finally believe in.

3/25/2009 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Soros's Sock Puppet said...

Yup, follow the money in Obamaland who made the really big bucks betting against America.

Why, none other than our old Obama friend and mentor: George Soros. Where is the populist rage?

3/25/2009 10:13 AM  
Anonymous less is more said...

Chapala One looks like the Q-E-2

We don't want any more of these monstrosities anywhere in our city.

Just say no to high density smart growth.
Vote Yes on the citizens height ballot measure next November and reduce the allowed building height to 40 feet.

3/27/2009 10:10 PM  
Anonymous storke more said...

ACORN didn't force a single bank lender to write up false papers to enable home loans... fake incomes, capital, etc. Pure greed from the real estate industry.

Pritzker's bank went belly-up years before the current crisis. Much more involved was the delightful Alvin Dworman, owner of our own Bacara.

It was Phil Graham's deregulation and 8 years of the duncel-chimpanzee George W. Bush that put the country in this awful mess. Not to mention Lehman, Merrill-Lynch, Goldman-Sachs, AIG, Citibank, and on and on. The Penetentiary for them all.

3/28/2009 10:07 PM  
Anonymous AN50 said...

To Lester the Skyline Molester, the façade of the Chapala One building along Chapala Street is 40 feet you twit. Your idiotic limit will just guaranty more and larger versions of this so called “monstrosity”. You will guaranty that there will be block long 40 foot buildings every where. For those of you who don’t get it, look at what the existing 60 foot limit did to the design of Cottage Hospitals new building covering two full blocks. The land gobbling mixed use structures that have gone up in the last few years are an example of what limits DO, not what they PREVENT. Get a clue people. Building height limits will NOT STOP GROWTH, they will just spread it out in a bland uniform mediocre sea of same height buildings. For those who still don’t get it look at any city around the turn of the century where building heights were limited by technology rather than nit wits. Growing cities had buildings top out at five stories and the entire urban core was built out to that height with the occasional church spire breaking the monotonous skyline. The advent of structural steel and elevators broke the tech limit and cities have been growing up ever since. That included Santa Barbara until the suburban Nazis came to take charge and transform our city to a stick and stucco mediocre Disneyland tourist trap.

3/29/2009 11:12 AM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

AN50, I was going to stay off this string because I have said what I have to say about this subject, ad nauseum. However, "nit wits?" "Suburban Nazis?" Please, those of us who disagree with your sense of urban aesthetics do not derserve such cruel invective. I hate most all abstract art, that does not make those who appreciate and love it nit wits or artistic Nazis because I am forced to see it everywhere. Your arguments about the dialectic between density and sprawl are not without merit, but it may be a false dialectic, a false choice, either option of which we may not have to choose. Let's discuss this issue, but let's also avoid casting aspersions and engaging in petty name calling. Oh, I forgot, this is the internet.

3/29/2009 7:28 PM  
Anonymous AN50 said...

Ah yes Eckermann, but I am a late arrival on this one so a little invective was just what was needed to pull you back in and you did take the bate.
Anyway, at least you do understand that it is an aesthetic issue and not a growth issue. It really is about what people think is beautiful or not. I have expressed my aesthetic preference (smaller and taller at the core, short as you go out from the core) and have built a case around it based on Santa Barbara’s history and the order of things urban. Having been a student of architecture, well, my whole life, I can find a building beautiful, but in the wrong place, it becomes ugly. The old saying “form follows function” applies here. There are places for taller buildings, like downtowns and there are places for lower height buildings, like my neighborhood. Applying the design rules for my neighborhood for a downtown does not make sense from a design perspective even if the resulting buildings “look good”, they are simply out of place. I do not begrudge the anti everything movement here and their efforts a stopping mindless development. But as I’ve said many times before, there is no need to use a bulldozer to take the weeds out of your garden. The height initiative has been sold on a lie that it will both stop growth and preserve “small town charm”, neither claim is true and the result is damage to the city’s real character as one of California’s great cities. That is an aesthetic perspective completely separate from all issues about growth.

3/29/2009 9:17 PM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

I agree with AN50 that this is all a matter of aesthetics. Trying to control growth by limiting building heights is just silly. Just as silly is the belief that increased density downtown will somehow magically perserve our remaining open space. However, part of the aesthetic beauty of Santa Barbara is the view of the mountains from the beach (even the view of the built environment on the Riviera is nice to look at). Too many tall buildings would mar that view. Perhaps, AN50, you are correct that we should not try to resolve these issues with a one-size-fits-all solution. If we can accomodate some additional building height downtown while preserving the views, perhaps a compromise is possible.

3/30/2009 9:32 AM  
Anonymous AN50 said...

Yes, Eckermann!! You get it! Very few do, mainly because there is such animosity towards growth, change and all thing urban here. I have talked to some pretty bright people about this and they get it, but just shake there heads as if to say it’ll never fly with “the people”. I can’t bring myself to believe that. Please don’t tell me that fear over development has driven our city to become not a living breathing work of human kind’s greatest attributes but instead has us huddled in our cloak of fear disguised as draconian limits. You mention the view of the mountains from the sea and the built environment of the Riviera. Is not the view of our city’s downtown skyline a part of that tapestry? Why does it have to be overly muted as though anything man builds we should be ashamed of? I certainly don’t want to see smooth glass and steel high rises popping up here. Talk about out of place. But why, if someone were to design a magnificent building 6 or 7 stories tall should that be excluded? Because we are afraid? Do we really believe that the taxidermy method of urban development is going to preserve a city? I have spent way to much time agonizing over the damage done by the “rule of the people”. It gives some perspective on why democracies fail, some people aren’t meant to lead and that probably means most voters. So why do we want the common voter to design how our city looks? Anyway thanks for the late engagement on this thread! I don’t always agree with most posters here (or anywhere for that matter) but it is a special treat when sometimes two opposites can find common ground and on something as personal and subjective as beauty.

3/30/2009 10:29 PM  
Anonymous Chicago Wayside said...

storke more, you missed the point. Pritztger's bank was reputed to have been the first to create the subprime loan securitization scheme. You know the Chicago Way and all that.

Yes her bank, Obama's campaign finance director, went belly up well before the current meltdown. But that is not what I said. I said she is the reputed creator of the first derivative securitization of these bad loans.

Nice to know she, along with George Soros (never saw an economic disaster that was not a buy opportunity to the tune of $1 billion profits last year) are on Obama's team.

4/01/2009 1:27 PM  
Anonymous Love this small town said...

Yes, we believe in the Taxidermy School of City Planning. Why on earth do you think there are not a lot of us out there who think preservation of what we have is the only way to go.

Nothing to do with fear. It has everything to do with joy with what we have.

4/01/2009 1:28 PM  
Anonymous AN50 said...

Yah I’m reminded of what a charming “small town” we have every time some gang banger shoots or stabs someone. Oh, you were talking about buildings, my apologies; yes it is a shame that Chapala One replaced all those charming small town parking lots, tin roofed termite eat shacks and what not. Honestly, do you really expect anyone to buy that small town charm crap? Last I checked, SB was a small town way back before the electric light was invented. Carpentaria is a charming small town. Is that what we are expected to turn SB into? Why don’t you just move to Carp and save the trouble? It is my humble opinion that “small town charm” is a euphemism in this city for crappy dilapidated, mediocre, narcissistic and selfish. The Taxidermy description was to convey the phoniness of a well preserved dead creature. Nice to know Love that’s how you feel about your town.

4/01/2009 6:54 PM  
Anonymous Absinthia said...

AN50, those crummy used car lots on lower Chapala brought in more sales tax revenues than this massive bankrupcty palace will ever produce.

Yes, if we could turn the clock back now that we have seen what the city did to us and to themselves. They should not be getting raises because they killed businesses in this area that were producing revenues.

The whole point of sustainability is to leave something better than you found it. The city has done just the opposite.

4/01/2009 11:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do all of you claim that the building or developer are bankrupt? Does anyone have proof of bankruptcy? The building is merely in the foreclosure process. This is a far cry from bankruptcy. Yes the building is not occupied but there are reasons for this that none of you seem to be aware of. It is big, its your own opinion whether or not its beautiful, and its there now so learn to live with it (but remember to learn from it).

4/02/2009 2:00 PM  
Anonymous AN50 said...

Absinthia, the point I was making was more toward aesthetics. You could probably make more money with a brothel run out of tin shack on that property right now, than selling condos. But hey, where is the small town charm in that? I don’t really believe anyone in this town thinks the place is small and charming. Yes it has a few nice old adobes and some fairly nice newer buildings, but the biggest single improvement in over all appearance came when they banned bill boards. This whole issue of building heights has been blown way out of reason by a few die hard fanatics who also use the issue as a means of growth control. On that topic history does not support the supposition. The city had a population of 72,000 when the first height limit was imposed and grew by 20,000 since then. For those duped into believing the height limit will limit growth, it won’t. For those duped into believing it will preserve small town character, well I’ve lived in smaller towns with taller buildings where there were no gang bangers, traffic jams or crumbling infrastructure, so prove the connection before you sign up or you will quickly learn a building doesn’t make “character”, people do.

4/02/2009 6:18 PM  
Anonymous Walk on the Wild Side said...

AN50, visit the densest parts of town where there are tons of affordable multistory apartment complexes and tell me what part of this high rise smart growth model I am supposed to like best?

1. The trash and litter
2. The sofas abandoned on the streets
3 The grafitti
4. The crime, the gangs and domestic violence
5. The streets and lawns full of parked and junk cars
6. The lack of parks, recreation and openspace
7. The transiency of the neighborhood and low voting rates
8. The poor schools and kids dealing drugs
9. The grafitti on the abandoned sofas
10. The concentration of places selling liquor

Welcome to affordable, dense multi-story Santa Barbara. If we can't clean up what smart-growth we already have, we don't need any more.

No wonder no one wanted to move into Chapala One and pay to be in the middle of this smart-growth mess.

4/02/2009 8:27 PM  
Anonymous AN50 said...

Right, so what your saying is we do not now have small town charm (whether it is from new “smart growth” buildings or not)? Ok, you made my point for me better than I did. We don’t have small town charm now, but somehow, you think that lopping the top floor off of the “smart growth” is going to solve the problem? You see it keeps getting back to the reason for the height limits not matching up with the problem you are trying to solve. Lowering building heights does not stop growth, crime, trash, graffiti and sofas on the lawn (by the height limiters own rhetoric there are no lawns with taller buildings), etc…. I mean really, did you think this one through before you wrote it? What, on Gods green earth, does a taller building have to do with any of the stuff you mentioned? Seriously I believe most of the people in favor of the limits don’t have a freaking clue about urban development or architecture and just go along with it because a bunch of hysterical loons think it’s the urban messiah. Mind you, I am not at all against trying to save the city from bad development. It’s just that height limits are not the way to do it. They are rigid, inflexible and do not allow the city to be free in its expression. There is no reason to fear the city being over run by high rises. There is absolutely no precedent for height limits. The only time in the city’s history since the Granada building was built in 1924, that someone attempted to build a high rise here (1968) he was shot down and there were no height limits at the time. The current 60 foot limit was enacted 4 years later with no proposed buildings threatening the skyline. So why such an absurd over reaction? The current crop of sprawling low rise, so called “monstrosities” are a direct result of height limits. Take a look at what the current height limits did to Cottage hospital’s new construction. Instead of a single building occupying one block with a central 8 story tower surrounded by lower wings, we now have this sprawling massive low rise building covering 2 full blocks and 2 more blocks for parking. Unfreaking believable how much damage can be done by small minded people with the best of intentions. I will leave you with this; taller buildings have become the scapegoat for what people see as the decay and degradation of their city (your list). But squashing the city flat will not solve any of the problems we have now and in fact deflecting our attention from those problems to some characteristic of a building’s shape will only allow the problems to fester and grow.

4/02/2009 11:05 PM  
Anonymous Taking Sides said...

Wild Side is right. The densest areas of town with the tallest apartment buildings is the worst part of Santa Barbara. No more of them. They stink of alienation. They are not human scale. They separate people from each other. They were a mistake. No more of them. Ever.

4/03/2009 9:29 AM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

Ok Fity

At least be honest and admit you're talking your book. Much like the shills on Wall St., you accentuate the positives and deny the negatives so you can benefit personally from an employment standpoint.

It's not about small town charm, it's about density and quality of life. Just like a carpet that has wornout in the traffic path, it brings down the look and feel of the whole room.

It's about noise, pollution (trash), safety and aesthetics. It's about not having to compete for limited resources to the detriment of all.

It's about dismissing the certain uniqueness of this community that is evidenced by people willing paying huge premiums to live here rather than LA.

I do agree with you that a hieght limit is unneccesary and that a purpose built tall structure is not by default a bad thing. The problem is that we don't get inspired designs by the developers....because is doesn't maximize the profits for them.

Sara knows I work with some of the top designers and wealthiest people in the world. Not one of them would skimp on cost if it detracts from design or functionality. They're smart. They know quality trumps quantity everytime...something the beaurocrats at UCSB don't understand.

And those ne'er-do-wells that want to come in and take away the quality of life I've sacrificed for can go (you know what) themselves...

4/03/2009 11:17 AM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

Having spent months in the city of Medellin, here's an example that I wouldn't object to:

Instead of the hundreds of homes Osgood initially proposed, one or two 10-20 story towers built into the foothills, underground parking, one street entry, An underground retail center to cut down basic needs commuting and maybe a park like landscape for recreation. One can get very creative with outdoor balcony designs, rooftop facilities and just imagine the views!

Utilize our oft touted University talent to figure out the "green" aspects of the design. There are other spots in the area where this could happen. Carpenteria foothills or the area near the south county line...but not crammed into the middle of downtown Santa Barbara. This is where the NIMBYs (like me) have to suck it up a little.

Not the best photos but I'm sure you could google some of the buildings I'm remembering...

4/03/2009 12:35 PM  
Anonymous AN50 ( aka ETTAG) said...

Many of you think I'm a raving lunatic, because only I know what's best for all of you.

But I'm only a greedy developer who wants to come in and rape your city.

After all, it's ripe for the plucking.

I am telling you voters that hundreds more 60 feet monstrosities like those on Chapala are "just what the doctor ordered".

Do you believe me or your lying eyes?

Remember AN50 knows best!

4/09/2009 1:22 PM  

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