Community Partners Help Keep Santa Barbara Santa Barbara ™ Partners

Questions for Candidates

By Cheri Rae

The Editor offered readers the opportunity to contribute to the questions that will be asked of the candidates vying for three seats on City Council. Since they will be asked at the forum co-sponsored by the Santa Barbara Conservancy and Santa Barbara View, the overriding theme will be Keeping Santa Barbara Santa Barbara—a mission shared by both the Conservancy and the media outlet.

I’d like to suggest a dozen questions to add to the mix:

1)      Name one Santa Barbara citizen who inspires you. How will you emulate that person as a City Council Member?

2)      Chapala One is bankrupt, unoccupied and on the auction block. How do you explain what happened there?

3)      What does “Keeping Santa Barbara Santa Barbara” mean to you?

4)      What is your position on the issue of district elections in Santa Barbara? In lieu of district elections, how are all citizens fairly represented?

5)      What is the greatest success of the RDA in Santa Barbara? What is its greatest failure and waste of taxpayer funds?

6)      Which other candidates will you be voting for in this election?

7)      How would you address the issue of Vacation Rentals by Owner in areas of town were it is not allowed—but the City collects bed taxes anyway?

8)      What do you think about creating an Office of Historic Preservation, separate from the Planning and Development Department and fully staffed to research and address issues of preservation? How important would that be to you?

9)      How would you describe the corporate culture in the Administration of the City of Santa Barbara? What would you do to address documented citizen concerns about a preference for development interests; misrepresentations by staff members and retaliation against neighborhood advocates?

10)   Considering that the “greenest building is the one that’s already built,” why does Santa Barbara allow so many buildings to be demolished rather than institute policies of adaptive reuse? How would you address this issue?

11)  How does high-density housing with limited open space improve the ability of families to live in Santa Barbara?

12)  How would you describe the difference in the quality of life in Santa Barbara today compared to 10 years ago? To what—other than the economy—do you attribute the change?

De la Guerra Plaza Renovation Timeline

In 2004, the Santa Barbara City Council directed themselves – aka the Redevelopment Agency – to pursue conceptual design of infrastructure improvements for Plaza de la Guerra. The firm of Campbell & Campbell was contracted to develop a design and in November 2006, staff returned to Council with concept illustrations.

In late 2007, a broader concept design involving significant parking reduction, changes to De la Guerra Street and to the parking orientation between State and Santa Barbara Streets was presented to the following groups:

  • Downtown Organization
  • Downtown Parking Committee
  • Historic Landmarks Commission
  • Parks and Recreation Commission
  • Transportation and Circulation Committee
  • General Public (Library Main Branch)
  • Planning Commission

Overall reaction reflected very strong concern about the loss of parking, street circulation changes and potential project cost. The possibility of an increase in the number of Plaza events and effect on surrounding businesses was raised as a programming issue.

In response, staff was asked to develop a concept more limited in scope that would be responsive to the original direction and would address concerns raised during the 2007 public process. Subsequently, the 2009 concept design was developed which reduced the project scope while still addressing many of the concerns raised during the public process.

The 2009 concept plan design responded to the Council’s desire to improve the Plaza while maintaining its character.  It also addressed Council’s charge for safe  interaction between pedestrians and automobiles.  Additionally, the plan addressed concerns expressed by the local business community through the Downtown Organization.

The 2009 Concept Plan was declared a project for environmental review on November 24, 2009.  At the same meeting, the Council authorized a professional design services agreement with the firm Campbell and Campbell for preliminary design services for the Plaza de la Guerra Infrastructure Improvement Project.

The project was then formally submitted for the City’s Pre-Application Review Team (PRT) process on August 16, 2010.  In response to the issues identified in the PRT review, the 2009 Concept Plan was revised and submitted for the Development Application Review Team (DART) process in February 2011.  Copies of the DART application memorandum with all attachments as well as a full-sized set of plans are available for public viewing in the City Clerk’s Office and City Council reading file.

The current 2011 Concept Plan is very similar to the project reviewed by Council in November 2009.  A few of the more notable design elements in the 2011 Concept Plan include:

  • Lowering the lawn area to be flush with the road surface.  Removable bollards would separate the lawn from the road surface.
  • Widening the sidewalk along the westerly (restaurants) side of the Plaza. The sidewalk would retain a curb to separate it from the roadway.
  • Reducing the Plaza lawn and landscaping area from approximately 17,307 square feet to approximately 10,731 square feet to accommodate the wider sidewalk and replacing some lawn area with permeable pavers.
  • The net loss of five (5) parking spaces in the project area.  One new parking space will be added along De la Guerra Street for a net loss of 4 spaces.
  • Relocation of the tented electrical panel off of the lawn area.
  • Replacement of the existing trees due to age and condition.
  • Relocation of the existing flagpoles, stone monument and removal of the agapanthus.

Sharon Byrne Picks Up Endorsements

The candidacy of Sharon Byrne for Santa Barbara City Council is picking up steam, much to the chagrin of Frank Hotchkiss. Tomorrow, at the East Beach Parking Lot, 10 a.m., The Santa Barbara City Fire Fighters’ Association and The Santa Barbara Police Officers’ Association will announce their endorsements. “Yours truly is one of the endorsements,” said Sharon. “Public Safety is a big endorsement, and is one of the only non-partisan endorsements a candidate can get. This non-partisan is certainly thrilled!”

A Giant Statue for De la Guerra Plaza

26-foot sculpture of Marilyn Monroe

What started out as a request for electricity in De la Guerra Plaza has turned into a $2.2 million plaza overhaul. The City Council’s latest plan includes; reducing the lawn size by 6,000 square feet, eliminating parking spaces, moving the monument, replacing healthy palm trees, adding bollards, and eliminating curbs to make the lawn flush with the road.

At a recent City Council meeting, one resident offered up the idea of a giant Saint Barbara statue in the plaza and the idea isn’t too far fetched.

Rendering of a proposed 15-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty at Santa Barbara Harbor.

In 2009, the Spirit of ’76 Organization raised $20,000 in an effort to place a 15-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty in the Santa Barbara harbor. And more recently in Chicago, a 26-foot sculpture of Marilyn Monroe was unveiled on the Magnificent Mile.

So don’t put it past redevelopment planners to use some of that $2.2 million for installation of large scale public artwork.

Sign of the Times…

For the benefit of our community, we are actively donating to homeless shelters… please do not contribute to solicitors reads a sign in Santa Barbara Plaza.

Questions for Santa Barbara City Council Candidates

As mentioned on Friday, the Santa Barbara View, in partnership with the Santa Barbara Conservancy, will hold a City Council Candidates Forum on October 5 at the Faulkner Gallery. One viewer asked if readers can offer questions for the candidates for the forum? The answer is yes. Please put the questions that you’d liked asked to the 10 candidates in the comments field. In addition to the forum, the Santa Barbara View will be sending out a questionnaire for online publication as part of our comprehensive election coverage.

In a related note, here is the candidate questionnaire put forth by the Santa Barbara Association of REALTORS.

1)    Explain your motivation for seeking this office. What skills do you bring to this position that are needed to make decisions for the community?

2)    What do you see as the three major issues in the community and what solutions would you offer?

3)    What is your vision of the City’s future?

4)    As an elected official, how would you weigh community input or desires versus your own best judgment in controversial issues?

5)    What policy changes would you propose to increase opportunities for workforce or middle-income housing?

6)    Explain your position and the value you see in the following:
i)    Zoning Information Reports (ZIR’s)

ii)    Inclusionary Zoning

iii)    Bonus Density

iv)    Granny units (second residential units in single family zones)

v)    Second story addition to a home surrounded by single-story homes

vi)    Conversion of apartment buildings to condominiums

7)    In your opinion what transportation and parking issues does Santa Barbara face?  How would you address these issues if elected?

8)    Do you feel that the City of Santa Barbara’s Planning Department is conscientious to its constituents (i.e. timely in reports, no hassle through the permit process, fair in fees, etc.)?
YES 0  NO 0  Explain:

9)    The Santa Barbara Association of REALTORS® membership consists of 1,000 members throughout the South Coast.  As an elected official, would you choose SBAOR members for commissions/task forces/working groups and explain?

Bollards in De la Guerra Plaza

A bollard is a short vertical post.  Traffic bollards are used  to stop unwanted vehicle access. As part of their $2.2 million renovation of De la Guerra Plaza, the Santa Barbara City Council want to insert bollards throughout the historic plaza. Other bad ideas include in the renovation plan include; reducing the lawn size, eliminating parking spaces, moving the monument, replacing healthy palm trees, and removing the curbs  to make the lawn flush with the road.

Rattlesnake Mating Ritual Recorded by Hikers

By Santa Barbara View’s Outdoor Editor, John McKinney @TheTrailmaster

I’ve been hiking around Santa Barbara for nearly 30 years and encountered rattlesnakes on just about every trail—except, oddly, Rattlesnake Canyon Trail.

Rattlesnakes Mating

Last weekend my friend and fellow hiker Todd Fraser captured images of a pair of rattlers mating alongside a trail in the San Jacinto Mountains of Southern California.

More than a decade ago I was hiking in Big Sur and I witnessed an amazing sight: the mating dance of two rattlesnakes. Unfortunately my usually trusty Nikon malfunctioned and I was able to capture the moment only in my mind.

I was so pleased to see Todd’s stellar photos which brought back memories of my own viewing of co-mingling rattlers in the Ventana Wilderness.

Another hiker caught the snakes doing what snakes do on video. Check out this video of rattlesnakes mating.

Let us now discuss the sex life of the rattlesnake.

Though they breed in the summer, rattlesnake females store the sperm and do not reproduce until the following spring. Most snakes lay eggs but rattlesnakes give birth to live babies.

Rattlesnake moms, though, are not exactly nurturing. Within hours of birth, the baby snakes wriggle out into the world on their own in search of food and receive no assistance from their parents.

Despite the common fear of rattlers, a relatively small number of hikers actually see them and rarely is anyone bitten. An estimated 300 yearly snake envenomations occur in greater Southern California. Only a small percentage of these bites cause serious injury.

Nevertheless, hikers, watch your step. It’s obvious rattlesnakes have a healthy rate of reproduction and we’re unlikely to find rattlesnakes on the endangered species list anytime soon!