By Sharon Byrne
I’ve spent a lot of time with the city lately. There were a few bright moments, like SBPD / Public Works/ Caltrans hyper-fast response on an encampment, and the bust of the RV meth and prostitution ring near the Nopalitos Way Post Office – great work from SBPD. The Architectural Board of Review went for the Yes We Can! Project, so we’re about to start turning our trash cans into art projects.
But other experiences… rankle. Sometimes, the city and its advisory boards can take on Dark Overlord tendencies. Like the way an irritated TSA agent can hold you from making your flight, sometimes government over-reach becomes over-bearing. Anyone who has ever tried to get anything through the city’s planning process can relate.
Attempting to navigate the city’s process for getting special event banners on Milpas:
“Banners are illegal. Not allowed. Besides, we don’t feel this artwork represents the newly emerging identity of the Milpas area.”
– Sign Committee to the team responsible for the newly emerging identity of the Milpas area.
At the same hearing:
“Why don’t you do flags on poles, like they do on State St?”
Because the city doesn’t invest money on Milpas like they do on State St? Someone has to pay for those flagpoles and flags.
Oh, guess that would be us.
We suspect that drivers attempting to read small flags posted under a large tree canopy on the far side of a 5-lane road while driving 30 mph in traffic will generate accidents. Lots of them.
Sign Committee retort:
Well overhead signs (banners) would cause way more accidents…
Apparently Caltrans is just a bunch of fools then because they post highway signs overhead, rather than on cute little flags with inscrutable art by the side of the freeway.
The Taste of Milpas
“Wow. You did all this with just businesses and non-profits? That’s amazing! What did your city do to help you?”
-Neighborhoods USA judges, during the Neighborhood of the Year competition in Eugene, OR. We competed against several city neighborhood departments that have implemented amazing programs in their communities.
What did our city do to help make the Taste of Milpas a success?
Cue the crickets.
Wait…. The city hung our Taste banner last year, and that was a big shot in the arm for the community. This year, we can’t get through the city’s planning process to do same. Though the city allows banners for some of its parks and rec programs.
And the beat cops came through. They made darned sure Milpas was clear of problems during the Taste, and they brought hordes of wonderful PAL and Explorers teens with them to volunteer.
What happened those community beat cops? Gone. This is how it unfolded:
- “I’ve been reassigned. Wojo is now your beat officer until the end of the year.” Officer Gutierrez
- “I am actually the director for PAL right now…” Officer Wojo
- “Officer Reyes will be filling in on the Eastside.” Sgt. Harwood. Officer Reyes is the Westside Beat Officer. So now he’s covering an area formerly covered by 3 officers? Hope he’s taking his vitamins!
- Chief Sanchez to City Council: “We’re working on making some new hires, one of whom will help fill the coordinator space. We’re getting there, and we hope to get back to the four (beat coordinators).”
Cue Judy Garland singing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. Doncha’ love how the community is the last one to find out their community police are gone? Well, technically, the City Council was the last to know.
Curious: Why is State St getting $150,000 of taxpayer money for rent-a-cops while we lose community-based policing?
Permits for the Taste of Milpas:
CA Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC):
The area needs to be enclosed and fenced with ID checks for alcohol sales. Hire security guards.
Everything ABC said, and put out trash bins. Your stage might need a building permit. (be very afraid)
“Required: a fire lane 20 ft wide to be able to close off the Ortega dead-end.
That dead-end is about 30 ft wide. Losing 20 ft would make it quite the skinny venue. No one over 1 ft wide admitted? Fire backed off this requirement as long as we could meet this one:
A gate at the back needs to be opened, and manned during the event in case people need to get out during emergency.
Conflicting direction from that given by SBPD and ABC.
Pay $155 for temporary no-parking signs you post. Rent and set up your own traffic control equipment.
SBFD: You also need to post 2A10BC (size) fire extinguishers every 75 feet on the block.
I know the city has to protect itself, and make sure we don’t do crazy stuff like put on pyrotechnic festivals in drought-parched shrubbery fields. I get it. Some city employees are quite helpful, while rolling their eyes over the increasingly onerous regulations. I wish the city put more thought into their value-add, but ultimately, the city has every businessperson’s fantasy: an absolute, ironclad monopoly.