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Mayor Schneider Statement regarding Chick-fil-A project in Santa Barbara

As Mayor of Santa Barbara and as a founding member of the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry Coalition, I disagree with the Chick-Fil-A President’s stance against marriage equality, as I have always been a proponent for the full equality of the residents I represent. I will not be dining at a Chick-fil-A in Santa Barbara or anywhere else.

I understand the frustration members of the Architectural Board of Review might have felt this week when they had to review a project application from Chick-fil-A.

As the only county in central and southern California to defeat Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages in the state, Santa Barbara as a community has consistently supported the freedom to marry. The City’s approval process about Chick-fil-A’s building application, however, is not about gay marriage, it’s about the design of a building, and the approval of the project should be based on those merits alone.

It would be appropriate for ABR members to oppose this project if they thought the building and patio seating did not fit within the City’s design guidelines. That is their role, regardless of who the applicant is. There are legitimate reasons to abstain from voting if a member feels like there is a conflict of interest to the point where they could not make an objective decision; however to not support a project solely based on personal beliefs would be inappropriate as an ABR member.

I am pleased and encouraged that more and more states are legalizing gay marriage and hope one day California will do the same. If you care about gay marriage rights, then I encourage you to spend your energy in ways that will create better awareness and stronger advocacy on this important civil rights issue. Donate to or volunteer at a gay-rights organization. Make your voice heard at the polls.

Certainly, if a local gay-rights organization, a church or synagogue, a reproductive health care facility, or any organization, needed to apply to the City for design review, I would hope that the project would approved or denied not based not on personal, religious or political beliefs but on the merits of the application.

Helene Schneider
Santa Barbara Mayor

16 Responses to “Mayor Schneider Statement regarding Chick-fil-A project in Santa Barbara”

  1. Tara Smith

    Very well said. Truly the strongest stance I (and those who believe in equality) can take is to steadfastly spend our money elsewhere. Thankfully, Santa Barbara is blessed with many choices when it comes to food.
    Thank you for your comment on the issue.

  2. I kissed a girl

    ABR members must step down or be asked to leave. There’s no other choice as they failed to fulfill their oath of office.

    No matter the issue – they must vote on the application – not the applicants political views. Te no, but to abstain is unacceptable.

    Our Mayor stepped up, now she needs to take action and remove this board immediately.

    • The Board Members have every right to abstain when it comes to voting to approve an applicant that means them harm.

      • Do process this

        Board members have every right to abstain. That is correct. They do not have the right to apply arbitrary standards to an application however, unless this is a clearly noticed part of the application process.

        This is where things get fuzzy. They cannot deny or obstruct a permit on whim or unrelated belief. Applicants have rights to due process protections too. Since the board as a whole collectively obstructed this applicants normal process, they are required to justify this action which it appears they failed to do within the purview of their appointed powers.

        “Not liking the guy” is not sufficient cause to deny or arbitrarily obstruct the process. The applicant has the right to cure or appeal any denial of his rights as an applicant. So the grounds stated to deny or obstruct this process are germane to this discussion.

        If the ABR member felt the applicant was directly “causing him harm” there are other alternatives, including calling the police or asking the District Attorney to prosecute this person the ABR member found to be directly “harmful”.

  3. and if you don’t like what the voices say, what then?

    We can all see the political shenanigans that surround this never-ending issue.

    WE can all see how the more important issues are left to fester while we all wonder why they don’t make engagement rings for men!

    Of course the same can be said about Chick-fil-a…. If they tried running a restaurant instead of a political action committee, they wouldn’t find themselves in this position!

  4. I kissed a girl

    Boycott Boy – they (the ABR members) can vote no on the landscape plan, because they don’t like it. The ABR was not appointed to vote on issues other than design.

    So they can vote no or yes and then boycott the store, speak out against the store and they can donate to LBGTQ groups. They have a right to an opinion, but as an ABR member they have sworn an oath to vote on design issues.

    They cannot refuse to play the role the took and oath to fulfill. They need to vote or step down or be asked to leave.

  5. el_smurfo

    First thing this mayor has said that I actually agree with. These petty tyrants seem perfectly content to harass families trying to add an apartment for granny, but when it comes to bucking the leftist chardonnay circuit, they fold like a cheap Chinese reusable grocery bag… Disgusting.

  6. It’s time for Santa Barbara to elect a new mayor !!

  7. I kissed a girl

    Robert, we have a mayor whom I disagree with on most issues other than integrity and grace, which she has an abundance. It’s time for a new ABR.

    • What a nice thing to say. Thanks. It’s refreshing.

  8. ABigRoar

    If one digs deeply enough into the life of any applicant who appears before the ABR, I suspect one will find something personally repellent in all of us.

    So where does the line get drawn between private discretion about an applicant’s personal life and a public rebuke of an applicant based upon what criteria? Never, is a good default position to have.

    What makes this current ABR issue so odious, it the ABR member based his decision upon a rumor. And then wrapped himself up in pious virtue and took everyone else down with him. He was out of bounds and he was not even acting on accurate information.

    Get the hook, that guy is done. And his synchophant cronies as well.

    • No rumor here. Its fact that this company uses its profits to affect the outcome of political issues and has a LOUDER voice than most of us combined (because of People vs. Citizens United) and pours Millions of dollars into hateful political efforts. Im glad we have someone who has stood up to this.

      • Do process this

        How an applicant spends his discretionary money is not under the purview of ABR. Otherwise due process requires each and every applicant submit to the exact same level of public scrutiny when facing the ABR.

        And that personal and arbitrary criteria be used to judge the worthiness of each applicant on any grounds an individual ABR member chooses to apply to any given applicant.

        Public actions require notice and due process: basically a level playing field must be available for all applicants.

        Fine, if you think it is great this applicant was denied a permit because single board members found his discretionary applicants heinous, then each applicant is now required to undergo similar review. And this discretionary review must be made part of the public notice application process.

        Yes, an ABR member has a right to abstain for any reason when carrying out his or her official duties. Each member may also express their own opinions on any matter, as long as they are not acting under the color of law.

        However, since these are not elected positions and each member serves at the discretion of the council, their continued service is subject to review. They cannot be “lynched” out of office by mob rule. But they can be removed, if they do not meet the noticed and due process obligations of the office.

  9. My problem is not with same-sex marriage, it’s with abuse of power, Shame on the ABR members who allow personal issues to trump objective decisions.

  10. It’s going to be funny when Chick-fil-A uses the money they win in the lawsuit against the city to fund their anti-gay marriage campaign.