Housing crisis

A sensible way to tackle the housing crisis


DID YOU KNOW? Bonnie Donovan

Did you know that in Santa Barbara, the most expensive component of the cost of housing is land?

The only way to find truly affordable housing in Santa Barbara is to take an inventory of all government-owned land in Santa Barbara County, whether federal, state, county, or city-owned. . Then select which of these plots might be suitable for high-density development to provide affordable housing. Then ask the appropriate land authority to grant a claim to use the property for municipal housing development to meet state-ordered housing mandates.

Did you know that 10 new hotels are coming to Santa Barbara, some of which are already approved? The total number of rooms in these 10 hotels would be 500. Wouldn’t it be wise to put a moratorium on hotels so as not to create more low-income jobs for people who cannot afford housing currently ?

With the need for low income workers and the demand for water supply for tourists staying at these hotels, wouldn’t it be beneficial for us to do this? These 500 rooms could be 500 studios/one bedroom for residents instead of more tourists.

If we really have a housing crisis, why hasn’t the Santa Barbara City Council brought up the idea of ​​a moratorium? Also, the size/footprint and scale could be smaller without the need for a lobby, bar, cafe, lounge, public restroom, etc.

Wouldn’t that also lower the construction cost?

By the way, we haven’t seen any objective data to prove the extent of a housing crisis beyond the fact that a massive influx of students is taking over rental housing every year and that laws Current restrictions on renting make them more attractive as tenants than working-class people. .

Let’s start with a cap on their registrations.

Santa Barbara City College became a member of the Educational Industrial Complex. They seem more concerned with increasing the number of out-of-state students to increase their income, securing their pay and benefits rather than educating our local students, who are in dire need of re-education to rectify the failings of the universities. Santa Barbara Unified School District schools.

This focus on out-of-state students adds to the housing shortage. The SBCC needs to focus on the students of Santa Barbara, or we should stop paying taxes to fund their obligations.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, “housing” was the big topic, and we taxpayers were spared another $200,000 study. But the council instead set up an ad hoc committee to develop a rent control/stability ordinance and a rent register. It was a victory of common sense over prejudice against landlords for the time being.

It is the members who want the additional restrictions imposed on owners. No one sits on the committee to represent the other side, and no one has real knowledge and data to contribute to recommendations and decisions.

Thank goodness for the economist, Dr Peter Rupert, who said he had 80 years of real data proving that rent control does not work and is in fact counterproductive to reducing the number of rental units available. It’s actually Economics 101.

Councilor Kristen Sneddon questioned Dr. Rupert’s knowledge. She probably would have done the same if the $200,000 study had come back with the same answer. Dr. Rupert offered vouchers to tenants to pay their rent (article 8). Now the board is talking about vouchers.

Soon they will run out of money to spend.

Let’s go back to the possibilities of using government land. The city could lay claim to other vacant or underutilized government-owned properties in Santa Barbara County. The city could enter into joint ventures with developers to build affordable rental housing, where the city provides the land on a lease and the developers build and own the rental housing, under rental and lease terms negotiated between the city and the promoters.

Oh, but wait. This idea could be screwed up with the requirement that anyone working in a municipal job must be unionized.

We, the taxpayers, are therefore off the hook for this $200,000. But now we move on to Friday’s special meeting where, again, the Santa Barbara City Council discussed spending more than $600,000 annually on a police oversight board.

The Citizen Education Commission proposal included a survey, which was offered in English and Spanish. Of Santa Barbara’s 90,000 residents, 1,040 people responded to the survey. Of the 1,040 attendees, 30.4% were from outside our city limits, proving that outside influences are part of CFC’s recommendations. Only 0.87% were Spanish speakers who participated. Obviously, all reported results of this investigation are seriously flawed and should not have been entered into evidence.

There is no doubt that we must take a strong stance and recommend outright rejection of the costs and bureaucracy inherent in the CFC’s proposal on the grounds that no compelling case has been presented to justify its approval. As noted in our previous column, four actual and potential oversight mechanisms are already in place. Their proposal does not even acknowledge their existence.

The basis of approval from the development of the surveillance proposal to its inception was completely flawed and resulted from the previous mayor bowing to pressure from Black Lives Matter/Healing Justice activists confusing the killing of George Floyd with a policeman in Minneapolis, in Santa Barbara. They were specifically asked to produce a proposal suited to the circumstances of the city of Santa Barbara. But they couldn’t argue the case due to a lack of justifiable data pointing to the need for additional oversight from the Santa Barbara Police Department. They were therefore forced to use the parameters of the general case developed for cities such as Minneapolis, Chicago and other large urban agglomerations.

As constructed under the influences of Healing Justice, the proposal will create an adversarial relationship between the Santa Barbara Police Department and the Santa Barbara City Council. What the city needs is a partnership between the police and the management of the municipality.

SBPD has very strong community support. The police use very little force, and the low number of complaints last year – only eight – shows that we have no problem.

In the staff report on the agenda, they note that they need to transfer $1.3 million from the general fund to balance the budget. Remember all the city workers in the rooms last Tuesday begging for a raise.

These are good reasons not to adopt the CFC recommendations. If the city has more than an additional $600,000 each year, that could fund raises for non-executive employees.

This whole project was started under a different administration and was spurred by national emotions at the time following the assassination of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Santa Barbara is not Minneapolis. The Santa Barbara Police Department is not the Minneapolis Police Department. Our police officers are models of behavior and professionalism for other cities like Santa Barbara to follow.

“No one makes a bigger mistake than someone who does nothing because there was not much they could do.”

—Edmond Burke