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Santa Barbara City College Bonds, $288 Million

By Ernie Salomon

Investigate before you vote on this bond measure.

sbccThe brochure that is in today’s mail emphasizes “local” students but fails to mention that nearly 50% of all the students at SBCC are not local residents! They come from outside the school district.

Do you really want to pay thousands in additional property taxes for the educational facilities for hundreds of thousands SBCC students that don’t live in the district, many of whom are out of county, out of state and out of country?


* The Santa Barbara Community College District is comprised of Carpinteria, Montecito, The City of Santa Barbara and Goleta. (“The District”)

* The District plans to issue $288,000,000 in bonds, if approved by 55% of voters in The District. The bonds will be issued over a period of 10-years and have a post issue life of 25-years. Interest rates have not yet been determined.

* Specifically what the $288,000,000 generated from the bonds will be used for has not been fully explained at this time.

* The bonds be repaid and financed by the property owners in The District.

* The bonds will add approximately $17.00 for every $100,000 of assessed valuation to the property tax bill of The District’s property owners (residential and commercial) over the 25-year life of the bonds.

* The increased tax bills of residential and commercial property owners to pay for the bonds will raise residential and commercial rents.

* SBCC has a total enrollment of 22,500 students. 10,000 students who are enrolled come from outside The District. They are from other areas in California and come from outside California and from other countries.

* Should The District’s property taxpayers and renters pay an additional $288,000,000 plus interest to finance the education of the future hundreds of thousands of students who do not come from The District?

* This question will have to be answered by the voters of the District.

Regards, Ernie Salomon

23 Responses to “Santa Barbara City College Bonds, $288 Million”

  1. Vaq attack on taxpayers

    Would we even want to pay a third of a billion dollars in bond money if it was for just our students? No way.

    This bond it totally out of control. SBCC needs to downsize and respond to local needs and stop this imperial grand act on the hill making the little people pay for their vanity issues. Someone with a screw loose is now calling the shots at SBCC because this is no longer your local community college.

    SBCC got this bond all backwards. The college created wish list that handed out goodies to to all the employee unions and are now trying to sell it to us to pay for it. Have you heard anyone locally saying we should lavish all sorts of new money on SBCC? Just the opposite.

    When you have people now in charge who think all state funding money they get per student should go for their salaries and benefits and all operating costs should be paid for by the taxpayers, this is what you get – a nearly one third of a billion bond issue.

    Pay off the last SBCC bond issue before you sell this monster.

  2. Where are the adults in the room?

    The new board that recently took over the college decimated Adult Ed and now they want to spend millions of your tax dollars to raze the Wake Center, modernize the Schott Center in order to build a new Center for Life-Long Learning so they can offer classes past life regression. Marty Blum promised voters she would find new money for SBCC. Surprise, it is yours. No, no, no on this bond issue.

  3. Chill Pill

    There is no official national community college ranking organization SBCC as a number one college. SBCC does not rank number one by any of the state of California rankings, so pushing this Aspen award to sell this bond issue falls on deaf ears.

    Please stop misrepresenting this liberal think tank Aspen award as something more than what it is. Would we hear the same message if The Heritage Foundation, the Tea Party or the Koch Bros gave SBCC similar recognition?

    Aspen is playing the numbers game for Obama. Pushing this one time Aspen award only generates more out of district campus growth fears.

  4. Anonymous

    It’s kind of a joke to call this a “community college” anymore. This institution has been turned into yet another money-making machine to benefit out-of-towners who want a chance to live in Santa Barbara–and this is at the expense, literally, of this community. I have to agree with Ernie on this one, and will not vote for this bond. The last one sure built a nice press box at the stadium, though.

  5. Or the thousands of students that push a robust property income opportunity and real estate in rentals? I guess it depends on which side of the coin you sit, do you rent or are you invested in local real estate? Most people after their college years strive to own and prosper rather than throw away income on the hole known as rent.

  6. Dan Seibert

    As a long term renter and local neighbor of SBCC I will vote in favor of this. My neighborhood has been transformed from a “gang” hangout to mix of Chinese, Swedish, Finnish, and various other student residents.

    Also, I prefer the many foreign students to the lower income/illegal workers that used to live around me.

  7. Anonymous

    Great that your neighborhood has improved, Dan, but how many of those Chinese, Swedish and Finnish students were born and raised in this community? How many of them are just here on a lark to party for a couple years while they gain some credits at the expense of local kids who find themselves wait-listed for every class they need to graduate? SBCC has taken the notion of a community college and turned it on its head, cutting out the locals in favor of education tourists, for fame and profit.

  8. Anonymous

    Spot on and look at your tax bill next time – filled with these Bond measures that go to waste. Every year our educational boards put their hands out for more $$$. Time to say NO. Pass on the fees to users of SBCC not local home owners!

  9. Thank you, Ernie Salomon, for this. I received both the flyer in the mail and a smaller, single sheet equally glossy invite to register for classes.

    I was struck by how unspecific was the four-page bond-money flyer. What, for instance, do they intend to do to Wake and will it continue to have the Adult Ed (or whatever they now call it) there? I wonder how much it cost to print and mail this advertisement for itself? (And how many flyers there will be for the November election!) How large is the district being hit up by this 25-year charge, Carpinteria-Gaviota, Santa Ynez Valley from when come many SBCC students?

    I would like to see SBCC cut back on its enrollment, now over 22,000 and become a true community college.There already are 6 or 7 education bond items on the property tax bill, in addition to the fact that approx. half of the tax payment goes to the schools.

    I expect to vote “no” on this bond issue.

  10. Quiet Dog

    Who would have thunk in the past that there would be so much discord in our society? It would be nice if Santa Barbara Review included more lightness and humor, a distraction from the angry birds.

  11. SBCC Con Job

    What a piece of slick garbage in this mailer. Do you feel like you are getting conned? Remember that phony slick survey we got a while back. It was really a set up to sell this bond issue, because they are now spinning back exactly the same language.

    SBCC is really selling wholesale renovations of the old adult ed Schott and Wake campuses when they talk about “aging campuses”, so you had better watch out what their real agenda is. It is more growth to become a two-campus college, or asking taxpayers to fund brand new campuses to continue low-cost recreational arts classes for the elite few who used to take them for free.

    There is no reason to do this bond issue now. There is no reason for a bond issue this large. SBCC is not telling you the real story because every bond issue they promise to fix “leaky roofs” and bad wiring.

    You are really being asked to pay for two brand new Adult Ed palaces. They are lying when they tell you this is for the regular students. If SBCC uses this money to create two main campuses with the razing and replacement of the old Wake Center, there will be even more explosive growth of out of district students.

    SBCC is not telling you their real agenda. They should have fixed leaky roofs with the last bond issue. Why didn’t they? Where did that money get spent instead. How many consultants got hired and extra projects got over-funded, instead of doing the work they promised to do last time?

    Your tax dollars are not safe in SBCC’s hands.

  12. SBCC Big Spenders

    I heard the SBCC board of trustees wanted a half million dollars marketing campaign to sell this one third of a billion dollar bond issue to you. The SBCC Foundation turned them down, but a lot of money has been spent slickly selling this marketing to you already.

    What exactly is SBCC’s marketing campaign budget for this $300 million bond issue. Who got the marketing contract and who is paying for it? Is there a grass-roots campaign committee formed or did this campaign go some out of town marketing company? When does SBCC file their first campaign disclosures?

    Why are they still being vague about what this will cost the taxpayer and only claiming an estimate instead of a hard and fixed number, or at least a high-low range if they are still waiting to see what the bond interest rates will be. Voters will be buying a pig in a poke at this stage. One expects far better from SBCC than this ill-advised campaign.

    • Anonymous

      The new college president and board brought in a firm from the Bay Area to do a poll and help formulate the strategy to pass the bond – all with taxpayer dollars. The “wonderful” mailers have also been at taxpayer expense – i.e. it is money that should have gone to student educational needs.

  13. Anonymous

    If Marty Blum’s involved, I’m opposed to it. When will that woman go away?

  14. Stick a fork in me

    Great , SBCC decides to build another 3 story eyesore on the West Campus and stick property owners with the bill. Since the majority of people who live here are renters they know (as their poll on the matter confirmed) people love a property tax hike. Would a 1/2 cent sales tax pass? No way

    I agree with Dan that the Lower West Side is gentrifying due to the influx of foreign students, but somewhat at the expense of the low income Section 8 housing recipients who have been displaced to make room for the Swedish Bikini Team. I lived on Orange Ave by the railroad tracks many moons and have seen the area improve over the years so I get it.

    This is not all about fixing leaky roofs. I am not surprised SBCC hasn’t made any grand announcements about the new buildings planned for the West Campus, no press release, no mention on their website. People in the immediate area received the following notice (link below) which has a good basic description. If you like the view of the Garvin Theater you will enjoy the new up to 45 feet high addition and increased traffic (by the way, the Garvin went way over budget)

    I do have a personal interest as I have a grand 525 sqft house and a couple of rentals close by. The places are just starting to break even after 10 years (in that time property tax has increased 4K a year and that is without improvements that would trigger an increase in value and reassessment) , but part of that is my fault. I don’t raise rents on existing tenants and tend to rent to those whose only option is a shared housing situation. I have 2 Vets, middle age wage earners, working students and a senior, two which have dogs. Not high end. If I am forced to subsidize a destination college at the expense of programs that benefit the local population, there is little incentive for me to continue on this path. It would be in my best interest to take advantage of the transient market. Even with the additional costs and occupancy tax, I would come out way ahead to convert them to vacation rentals and it would be less hassle. I am done!

  15. Something fishy

    Why is SBCC selling this bond issue to “meet current safety codes”. School buildings already meet the strictest safety codes in the state as required by the Field Act. These buildings are constantly reviewed by the Department of State Architecture.

    No building at SBCC fails to meet current state building safety standards, including the Schott and Wake Centers which were prior Field Act certified elementary school buildings.

    Does SBCC have proof their buildings are non-conforming unsafe Department of State Architecture structures in need of millions of dollars of removal or rehabilitation? Something sounds fishy here.

  16. Once gone, hard to regain

    Prior SBCC leadership spent decades nurturing trust and integrity in this community. The new SBCC leadership is willing to throw this legacy of community trust away with this very ill-advised bond proposition. I recommend turning down the SBCC bond issue and also changing the SBCC board leadership that has radically changed the direction of the former SBCC.

  17. Mike Jordan

    Even if you could get by some of the arguments here, its even more frustrating to watch the supposed oversight process once initiatives such as this are passed. Mostly free from true oversight, the decisions on how and where (or not!) to spend money are made long before any oversight role, a role that is reduced to making sure simple accounting and procedural tasks are completed, not that the efforts matched the initiative or were effectively completed.

    Although past local efforts have passed voter approval easily, City College’s plan to place an almost $300million bond effort on this coming November ballot makes it past time for a closer look at what is promised and what is actually delivered. Practically no other approval and distribution of such significant funding is accomplished with such little advance detail or review of accomplishment.

    Initiative-based taxes, or legislation for that matter, seemingly circumvent that which we already either pay for or elect and pay representatives to accomplish. They generally don’t fix a problem, they remove the discussion of the problem from a public forum in front of our representatives who must consider this issue in the larger context, and offer no recourse when the funding is used for choices other than those that were touted as part of the selling points.

    Locally, IMO we have seen mixed results for school or college improvements, despite the glossy reports. Funds have been used for projects to remedy ADA judgments at the expense of planned projects, have not been used to lower class sizes despite such a selling point, and OFTEN move on to other uses when the publicized project is found to be more expensive or complicated than initially thought.

    Hopefully, when you review any such initiative, you’ll ask questions…. Does the initiative list specific projects and where they are located? Are they prioritized and is there a commitment to use the funding according to that prioritization? Has even just the basic amount of scoping been done to assure that the project is credible compared to the requested funding?

    No doubt proponents of this funding method can list many positive improvements in local educational facilities. As a parent whose four children have been through every local school and college, I’m pretty much on board with the positive accomplishments. But there are equally as many process improvements that are called for- more transparency in the selection and priority of projects, better advance project scoping, a willingness to follow the resulting plan, and an oversight system that really provides oversight. Until then, skepticism should be your companion.

    • Stated up front

      The bond oversight committee is useless. It merely rubber-stamps reports provided by the schools and the school boards only appoints their friends anyway, with no regard for any financial or large project oversight experience.

      The oversight committee was pure window dressing tacked on to the bill that dropped school bonds to a 55% vote threshold, rather than the required two-third majority required by Prop 13 tax increases.

      If the state demands open enrollment so students from all over the state can attend local community colleges, the state and not the local community has the duty to provide any necessary construction bonds.

      Much of this SBCC bond issue is not even necessary, but a lot of make-work for some odd reason. Crony pay-offs for friends in the school construction business? This SBCC mega-bond issue does not make sense on any level.

      If every single local high school graduate went to SBCC, the college would not need to serve more than 5000 students including locals who wanted to expand their skills. SBCC is not your local community college. It is the state’s duty to support and expand the college, not ours.

  18. State construction bond the far better alternative

    Expected to be also on the ballot this November is a statewide schools construction bond issue that requires local districts to provide only matching funds for school construction. This is the far better alternative to support.

    Makes no sense to ask local taxpayers to fully fund SBCC construction bonds, when the state allows the majority of students to come from somewhere else.

    The state should be funding SBCC construction, and that is what the state school construction bond will provide. That is the bond issue to support; not this bloated and fundamentally unfair local SBCC bond issue that demands we provide for state-mandated out of district students.

    • SBCC is a wonderful school. However, what is being said here about the number of out of district students is a key argument for only using State funding for improvements.

      My understanding is that the local matching funds are typically only 10% of what the State provides.