Wednesday, November 25 , 2015, 2:58 pm | Partly Cloudy 62º

Architect Sues Proponents of Measure to Lower City’s Building Heights

Architect Brian Hofer takes issue with language about Measure B — specifically, use of the term 'high rise' in relation to Santa Barbara regulations — included in the voter registration guide

Bill Mahan is one of five advocates of a November ballot measure seeking to lower Santa Barbara’s building heights who have been targeted in a lawsuit filed by local architect Brian Hofer. Hofer said language used by the group in an “Argument in Favor of Measure B” for the voter registration guide “is inaccurate and misleading.”
Bill Mahan is one of five advocates of a November ballot measure seeking to lower Santa Barbara’s building heights who have been targeted in a lawsuit filed by local architect Brian Hofer. Hofer said language used by the group in an “Argument in Favor of Measure B” for the voter registration guide “is inaccurate and misleading.”  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer |

The debate over Santa Barbara’s building heights continues to heat up, with five advocates of a November ballot measure seeking to lower building heights now facing a lawsuit by a local architect.

Architect Brian Hofer filed a writ of mandate Friday against Bill Mahan, Sue Adams, Connie Hannah, Frank Banales and Jeanne Graffy, after their names were published in an “Argument in Favor of Measure B” for November’s voter registration guide. City Clerk Jim Armstrong is also listed as a respondent.

The lawsuit alleges that they included language in their statement that “is inaccurate and misleading.”

If approved, Measure B would require that buildings in the historic downtown not exceed 40 feet, and that other buildings in commercial areas not exceed 45 feet. The current height limit allowed by the city charter is 60 feet.

The main complaint of the lawsuit is the use of the word “high rise,” which the proponents of Measure B used four times in their statement. According to the writ, the California Building Code, used by the city, defines a high rise as any building that is 75 feet or higher.

“Under the existing height restriction of 60 feet, no high-rise buildings are permitted in the city,” the statement read.

Hofer, reached by phone Monday, did not comment on the lawsuit except to briefly explain the core of the dispute.

“It’s the language of the ballot measure we have issues with, and that’s what the legal document will spell out,” he said, referring further questions to his attorney, Jonathan Miller.

“The purpose of this lawsuit is singular in nature,” Miller said. “My client simply seeks to ensure the Voter Information Guide conforms to California Elections Code Section 13313 and does not contain information that is false, misleading or inconsistent. He believes the community is best served by truthful and accurate information, and when provided with this information, can make an educated choice regarding the ballot measure.”

Miller said a change in language would be enough to satisfy the suit, and that he expects the court to go forward in the next few weeks with the case.

Mahan, among those listed in the lawsuit, said that when the group drafted the language for the ballot, an attorney was present, as well as two dictionaries.

“When we wrote the argument, we had two dictionaries and we looked up the word ‘high rise,’ and in both it says a building of many stories where the use of elevators is required,” he said.

Mahan said he is working with a lawyer to represent the group, and added that he and his camp are calling up a definition from to support their argument.

“Buildings qualify as high rise relative to their locations,” he said. “For example, a high rise in Lincoln, Neb., is not going to be the same as a high rise in New York City. They’re thinking of Santa Barbara as they would New York City.”

In addition to the eight-page complaint made by Hofer, his attorneys served Mahan and the others with the entire city charter and uniform building code.

Mahan, a retired architect, calls the definition “obscure.”

“We are not going to be intimidated by that,” he said. “We are not going to let them deceive the voters. ... We will go to court to fight for our freedom of speech. ... It’s obsolete for this community It doesn’t work for Santa Barbara or Carmel or Nantucket or all of these communities that are trying to protect their character.”

Hannah said she was on the steering committee that was directly involved with the language of the initiative, unlike the other four people named in the lawsuit. Hannah said she felt they were trying to pick out people who were well known in their areas of expertise and who would have some influence.

Adams is the board president of the Pearl Chase Society, a group dedicated to Santa Barbara’s historic preservation. Hannah is active with the League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara, Banales is executive director of Zona Seca and Graffy is a former planning commissioner, city councilwoman and county supervisor.

“It seems pretty trivial to us, but we’re prepared to meet with them,” said Hannah, adding that the court will set a hearing date soon because the city has told the group the ballot measures are scheduled to go to print in early September.

“The term ‘high rise’ has all kinds of different meanings,” she said. “Usually, it’s in relation to something. If it’s a two-story building, a four-story is a high rise. I think that it’s a term that the court will have to decide and that’s OK with us.”

At the other end of the spectrum is Debbie Cox Bultan, who leads the “No on Measure B” Coalition. She said the group echoes the claims that the statements in the proposed charter amendment are “false and misleading.”

“The language is inflammatory,” she said. “High rises can’t be built in Santa Barbara.”

A coalition statement read: “We are pleased that a local expert with unsurpassed qualifications has stepped up and challenged the misrepresentations used by the proponents of Measure B. The community debate about our future is not and has never been about so-called ‘high-rise’ development. This detracts from the real conversation that should be happening about how we can best preserve our community character, protect our environment and provide housing for working families.”

Groups such as the Community Environmental Council, the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation and PUEBLO have stated their opposition to the initiative, even though Bultan said those groups had not spoken specifically about the lawsuit and the term “high rise.”

Mahan said he knows Hofer well and that the lawsuit was unexpected. “I saw him on Wednesday, and I wasn’t expecting to be sued on Friday,” he said, adding that he has no hard feelings toward him.

Still, he’s sure about the language of Measure B.

“We are not going to yield to this,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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» on 07.29.09 @ 01:54 AM

Nice one. This absurd lawsuit just earned at least a thousand more votes for the vote Yes on Measure B side.

The City is responsible for approving the text of the ballot arguments. Naming the ballot argument signatories is just gratuitous piling on that soon will inspire a major backlash.

I am quite sure that case law about ballot arguments has a long legal history that plain English is what governs their content, not obscure legal definitions of certain phrases.

» on 07.29.09 @ 03:33 AM

Thanks!  These people will stop at nothing to say the sky is falling.  Let’s have a real debate not a fabricated one.  Come on people let’s be honest, show me a high-rise building in Santa Barbara, please.

As for Silly Season…I’m sure they would have not filed this lawsuit unless they had their own case law to support their arguement.  This will be decided in a court of law not the court of public opinion.

» on 07.29.09 @ 04:04 AM

Very classy No on B folks—sue the citizens.

» on 07.29.09 @ 07:50 AM

Finally someone has the gall to stand up to all these Yes on B people.

» on 07.29.09 @ 08:10 AM

Silly Season is wrong.  The City has no legal authority to “approve” the claims made in ballot arguments. (In this respect, ballot “arguments” are different from the “City Attorney’s Impartial Analysis.”) Only a judge has the power to ensure that the statements in a ballot argument are not “false and misleading.”  If a citizen believes an argument contains “false and misleading” statements, his or her only recourse is to bring a lawsuit so a judge can decide the question.  The people who signed the challenged ballot argument must be named in that suit, along with the City.  That’s the law.

» on 07.29.09 @ 12:31 PM

I applaud Brian for going after one of the nuttiest groups of people in Santa Barbara. Finally, the architectural community is going to police their own and rein Bill Mahan in. This incompetent nit wit has done significant damage to the community and has used fear, lies and distortion to bolster support, particularly from people who are the most vulnerable. Once the “high rise” language is brought out into the light of day we can then start working on other misleading and false statements the measure B folks continue to use like “small town charm”. It won’t be hard. This group has roots that go back 4 decades. There is considerable published material that will expose them for the extremist, urban butchers they are. Go get them Brian, you have an over whelming amount of support out here from those of us that still have a brain. We are not developers, land owners, real estate professionals, housing advocates or any of the other trades that are typically associated with condemning obscene building height restrictions. We are simply rational folks who recognize that a city is a city, not a tourist trophy, suburban shopping mall or some delusional idea that never existed.

» on 07.29.09 @ 01:04 PM


I’m curious if you used the term “high-rise” when you approved the buildings in question while you were on planning commission?

» on 07.29.09 @ 01:27 PM

What a waste of the courts!

» on 07.29.09 @ 01:29 PM

Thank you, Brian.  It is important to know the facts.  No on B…our city is a living organism and not a museum.

» on 07.29.09 @ 01:41 PM

So AN50 has to resort to personal name-calling in an attempt to support his/her position…?

It always seems to me over my lifetime that people who resort to calling other people names do not have many facts to bolster their position, thus the personal attack on those others that have different ideas than them.

» on 07.29.09 @ 01:44 PM

A 6’ man may be considered tall in my family but could not honestly be considered “a giant”. A 4-story building may be considered tall in Santa Barbara, but it cannot be called “a high rise”. Bill Mahan, an Architect, should not allow this inflamatory term to be used with his signature.

» on 07.29.09 @ 01:57 PM

Fear, Fear, Fear, that is all this Yes on B group has going for it!!  This is a vibrant college town with real people living and working.  Not a wax museum, that is only for a small group to admire.  The reason people come to Santa Barbara is because of it’s vibrance and community spirit.  These Yes on B people want to turn Santa Barbara into Beverly HIlls….I don’t want to live in Beverly HIlls, I want to be in a diverse community with a vibrant downtown.  A community that has 20 to 30 Thousand people commuting into work a day should be ashamed that it’s so called leaders don’t have the vision to create a livable, sustainable city.  We don’t live in a museum, we live in a thriving community that is being threatened by a small group of fear mongers.  We should be having the dialogue that would create a sustainable, walkable, transit oriented city.  Instead we have these small minded people talking about 40-45 foot building heights.  I have lived in this community since 1976, a 40-45 foot height limit is absolutely ridiculous, and will prevent working people from living in Santa Barbara, young architects, young doctors, medical technicians, firefighters, police, planners,  college professors.  Is this really the community of the nearly dead and wealthy?  Don’t we want some diversity?  We need to elect officials that will LEAD, not just follow.  We need to shake up Santa Barbara!!! Let’sget the young people out who have the most to lose if this passes!!!!

» on 07.29.09 @ 02:15 PM

If people think that Santa Barbara can build its way out of the need for 20,000 to 30,000 commuters coming to work there every day they just are not paying attention to the facts.

Even if every downtown building were torn down and raised to 60 feet (4 stories) there still would not be enough dwelling units for all of the commuters. Plus many of the commuters, especially those with families, don’t chose to live in urban multi-family buildings. Then how do we find enough water and sewer capacity for the 20,000 to 30,000 newly moved former commuters?

It seems to me that a lot of people just are not thinking through all of the issues and have latched on to the height thing as the only aspect of housing in SB.

One final observation - if “high-rise” is a bad term on the one hand why is “canyonization,” which has been tossed about a lot, not a bad term from the other side…???

» on 07.29.09 @ 02:36 PM

Because “canyonization” is not used in a ballot argument and is not a definable term codified by California State law.

» on 07.29.09 @ 02:37 PM

No one says we are going to build 20-30 thousand units, that opportunity has been missed.  Getting two thousand people off the highways, living and working downtown would make this a livable, vibrant community.  I was told by 3 different young, 26-30 year olds last week that they were going to move out of SB due to the unaffordable nature of the community.  It’s all about supply and demand…you create the supply and there will be the demand.  We need to build more sustainable buildings that use less water and electricity.  If other cities can do it, so can we.  If European cities can do it so can we….YES WE CAN!!!!  To quote a very popular president!!!!  Let’s get our head out of the sand people….we need to build housing, get out of our cars, create a vibrant downtown that will support the local businesses and the arts!!!!  Open your minds….this is very simple!!

» on 07.29.09 @ 02:58 PM

Bill should know better. If he was to design a building that was wrongly classified as a high-rise it would have serious ramifications and he would be outraged.

» on 07.29.09 @ 03:06 PM

I agree with No on B, but I also believe that not every building built forthence is going to be 60 feet or for that matter 40 feet.  We are a city/community that is a “built to suit” idealism.  A similar issue is occuring in Montectio regarding the 76 Station on the corner of Olive Mill Rd and Coast Village Rd. not everything is going to be over-sized.  Look at the other buildings along Chapla Street or Upper State where there nothing execpt for the motels that are two stories, or Downtown Goleta. The whole world does not always center it’s life around the downtown area of State Street.  Santa Barbara is about whole South Coast, we pride ourselves on a being a clean, friendly place where you can walk safely down city streets at 2am without the worry of being hurt.  We put on the best parades in all of Southern California, we enjoy a standard of living that is thousands of times hirer than even some who live less than 100 miles away from us. We need to be able to build what we need where we need it, and be limited to restrictions that could hamper our ablity to become even better than we already are.  I would love to get rid of all the junk yards south of 101 and dirty industries that people see as they come in and out of town.

» on 07.29.09 @ 03:30 PM

The only reason this measure came about was because of a very small group of people who don’t like the Chapala One building, and other buildings like it on Chapala Street.  They argue that Chapala Street will be canyonized.

This is a ridiculous way to address canyonization.  If anything, it will make the problem worse because architects will be forced to stuff as much square footage as they can under the 40 foot limit to make the project economically viable.  We’re going to end up with 40 foot boxes everywhere.

Reducing the height limitation does not address the overall mass, bulk and scale of buildings, which is where the real problem lies as of late.

This height limit measure is a very shallow approach to address a complex issue.  Let the ABR, HLC, etc. do their jobs.

Hey Bill - should we go ahead and take down all the buildings that are currently over your proposed 40 foot height limit while we’re at it?!

Go Hofer!

» on 07.29.09 @ 03:33 PM

Regardless of the debate about “high-rise” language, emotive appeals, calls for accommodation of growth - which I’m sure contain their own nuggets of truth - this 28-year old, young professional, who rents and not owns, self-identified liberal, will vote Yes on Measure B.

When I chose to stay in this town, there were certain quality of life aspects I found appealing.  For my own personal reasons, I find this Measure to be in support of that quality of life, and I’m not purporting (or name-calling) as if this viewpoint should be adopted by others.  That’s why we all have equal vote, so that our various viewpoints can be accounted for.

Vote No, Vote Yes, don’t vote - but whatever we do as citizens, it would be helpful to cut the crap when it comes to generalizations that assume you know something about my/other people’s character, degree of ignorance for not agreeing with you, or motivations.  If we engage in dialogue, how about we do so in more productive terms?

» on 07.29.09 @ 03:52 PM

This is a simple choice: If you want the cost of housing and running a business in Santa Barbara to continue to skyrocket year after year then vote “yes” for this measure. If you are tired of spending more than 1/2 your income on housing costs then send that message by voting “no” on this ridiculous measure.

» on 07.29.09 @ 05:00 PM

SBres has it all figured out.  The economic facts are just so true and accurate and vetted and proven that if downtown buildings are prohibited from being 60 feet tall then the prices of business and housing will go down.

We all know that is an economic fact about supply and demand of housing and commercial space.  We also know that a secret committee decides who gets to live in Santa Barbara and who gets to hire people here only from certain places.  We also know that the property owners on the Gaviota Coast will stop wanting to subdivide their open space property if Measure B fails at the ballot.

If Measure B fails, then the facts are so obvious that the prices of housing will fall so much that a typical resident will save $1000 a month in housing costs. It’s so true and obvious.

» on 07.29.09 @ 05:18 PM

Would Hofer support the ballot measure IF this language were not on the sample ballot statement?

No, of course not. Hofer would still be against it. That’s understandable.

While opponents keep talking about needing bigger buildings to get “affordable” housing for “working” people, the reality is that developers, and the architects and contractors who eat at their tables, can only make big money if the south coast keeps building, and keeps growing.

Hofer’s fighting for his business prospects, his own family. Fine.

The flip side is, don’t communities and their residents have a right to prefer to stay
“small”, and to discourage excess development size and height if they wish?

Why must Santa Barbara risking permanently losing its mountain and ocean views so Hofer and his business friends can live La Dolce Vita a few more years?

Thousands of Santa Barbarans signed petitions to put building heights on the ballot because many signers have lost faith in Hofer’s profession to show self-restraint. Lost faith in City staff to say No to anything. Lost faith in City boards, commissions, the City Council itself, to say No to big, ugly, excessive developments.

Hofer’s lawsuit aside, voters who think lower Chapala Street is what Santa Barbara
should look like in the future should vote No on November’s ballot initiative.

Those who think Chapala would look better with smaller, better designed buildings in the future should ignore Hofer, and consider voting Yes.

» on 07.29.09 @ 06:13 PM

Wait!  I’m confused! 
1. High Rises are buildings that are greater than 75 feet (by definition of the California Building Code - the legal document that governs the building of buildings).
2. Santa Barbara only has one High Rise building - the Granada Theatre built in the 1920’s (it is over 100 feet). 
3. Our current law in Santa Barbara does not allow buildings over 60 feet to be built.
SO, what are we talking about???  And when the finances are stretched, why are we spending time and precious resources to make an unnecessary change to allowed building heights?? 
(Note: The Lobero Theatre built in 1924 is 70 feet tall and could not be rebuilt if it fell down… shouldn’t we be raising the building height?, not lowering it?)

» on 07.29.09 @ 07:16 PM

Art, I have exhausted this online and many others with facts. Problem is people like you run and hide under your desk when they are used. You only come out when I start kicking teeth in, so please spare me the melodramatics. Bill Mahan has earned every besmirching remark he gets and so have his followers who invented the practice and have used it extensively for 4 decades. So go lecture your own crowd pal.
To Observer, “canyonization” is yet another widely misused term by the limiters. Believe me this law suit is going to flush the creeping malaise the limiters have brought upon this town into the light of day, where it will wither and die.
To Alex, I have often been at odds with you on many issues, but on this I am happy to see that you are bringing the sanity of your profession to light, much thanks. Same for Westsidegal, we see eye to eye on this one, a city is a living organism, not something you soak in formaldehyde.
I have found it very interesting that this one issue, building heights, it is not partisan in the least. I have many supporters on both sides of the fence as well as opponents. That is why I have tried to bring the argument out of well worn partisan ruts and put it on the table as an aesthetics issue. There are many people on both sides who are very passionate about how things look and rightly so, aesthetics is very subjective. I have also found that many opponents become supporters when growth is factored out. On the other hand, many opponents use growth as a wedge tool to prop up their subjective feelings on what the city should look like. So for people like “Regardless” it doesn’t matter that some people like cities to have an urban appeal (denser, taller), since what appeals to them is a different set of aesthetics. On this I have history on my side. Santa Barbara is unique because it has a down town with taller buildings in a dense format, very unlike most of California. There was a time when they called LA a suburb in search of a city. When the 150’ building height restriction was lifted the city went on a binge, only with no discernable plan for how new taller buildings should be zoned. The result is the chaos most of us reject and do not want repeated here. But in SB its core was preserved and up until the late sixties SB was still trying to hang on to its stature as an urban center for 3 counties. When the formaldehyde culture was formed, SB died as that center and since then its commercial, financial and cultural status has withered away creating the very shallow touristy Disneyland we have today. Worse, it is now infected with all the diseases of a much larger urban area with rampant vagrancy, gangs, crime, traffic and high costs. To that I ask the young urban professional just what about that is attractive.
Squashing this town flat will not rid it of the problems I mentioned above but only exasperate them. If you want to preserve anything then preserve what set the city apart from its sprawled out low rise shallow suburban neighbors to the south. Taller buildings done right and rightly located will not only enhance SB’s urban feel but also make room for all the business that is making SB’s neighbor to the west so much more financially stable. This is where Brian, Alex and their profession come in. They are the experts in the field and they should be taking their colleges to task when they misrepresent that profession. We the general public, with little or no schooling in architecture, should not be demanding our narrow and often destructive proclivities be imprinted on the physical fabric of the city. To that, go get em Brian and help us bring Santa Barbara back as a real city, dynamic and alive, the place to be, like it once was, a long time ago.

» on 07.29.09 @ 08:20 PM

Of course it is legitimate to use the term “high rise”  in the ballot argument in favor of B, whatever the technical definition might be, and even if there are currently no “high rises” in the city.


Because the opponents of B have repeatedly seized upon the “smart growth” tenet that claims that the sustainable city of the future must “Build UP rather than Out”. Their vision for the future is to cure our housing affordability needs by “building up”, and they have trumpeted this repeatedly.

How the hell do they intend to do this without building “high rises”?

» on 07.29.09 @ 08:44 PM

Can somebody please buy an ad in Noozhawk at the top level and then you can really get your point across..

» on 07.29.09 @ 09:27 PM

SBres wrote “If you want the cost of housing ... to continue to skyrocket year after year then vote “yes” for this measure. If you are tired of spending more than 1/2 your income on housing costs then send that message by voting “no” on this ridiculous measure.”

SBres you refute your own argument - right now we have a 60 foot height limit in effect and the cost of housing with that 60 foot limit, by your own admission, continues to increase. How will voting against the proposed measure suddenly change the cost of housing?

» on 07.29.09 @ 10:24 PM

How will voting for this solve anything either. The entire thing is flawed. This does nothing to get at the root of the issues here. If you stub you toe do you amputate your foot?  Let’s all take our collective energy here and have a real debate not a manufactured one.

» on 07.29.09 @ 10:45 PM

If you can’t defeat a popular initiative legally, waste tax payers $$$$$ and take it to the courts. Extreme self-interest on display.

» on 07.29.09 @ 11:50 PM

I do not support the height limit and will not vote for it.

But the bigger issue to me is planning via the ballot box and the entire initiative system.  The courts and attorney’s like it because most of the state initiatives end up in court so it keeps them busy.  So the entire process from signature gathering, to placing it on the ballot, to the vote, to the litigation is flawed. 

The initiative process is one of the reasons why our state is so F’ed up and now its leaking onto our local ballots.  UGH!!!

» on 07.30.09 @ 12:30 AM

May we get back to the article please?

Five individuals filed a ballot argument that is subject to California Elections law.  To summarize, you are not allowed to use false or misleading information in any information that goes into a .

I person who disagreed with some of the language used in the ballot argument decided to exercise his right to dispute that those statements in court.

A well respected lawyer felt there was enough merit in his argument and took the case.  He sites case law to defend his client’s argument.

The defendants will have the opportunity to present their arguments. 

Then it’s up to a Judge to decide who’s right.

What the big deal?  It happens all the time.  There’s nothing out of the ordinary here.

If the plaintiff wins then the voters will have more truthful and accurate information to make their decision.

If the defendants win then there will be more confidence in the process.

Everyone wins.

» on 07.30.09 @ 12:34 AM

AN50 wrote “Art, I have exhausted this online and many others with facts. Problem is people like you run and hide under your desk when they are used. You only come out when I start kicking teeth in, so please spare me the melodramatics.”

Well AN50, You didn’t raise any “facts” and you DID resort to name-calling instead of discussing the issues.

I have no idea what I am hiding from under my desk and I didn’t resort to any melodramatics. I simply stated that It always seems to me over my lifetime that people who resort to calling other people names do not have many facts to bolster their position, thus the personal attack on those others that have different ideas than them. If that is melodramatic in your world, then so be it.

I think by resorting to name-calling, etc. you betray the position that you say you support and reveal your true lack of facts to support your position.

» on 07.30.09 @ 12:50 AM

AN50 is such an easy target I can’t help myself. In his entries here he uses the strongest of language to criticize the Measure B supporters and then in the Francisco article comments he touts “Don” as a worthy candidate even though he is the only Mayoral candidate who supports Measure B. There’s consistency for you!

In his last diatribe here after a long winded lambast against those like me who want to limit growth to the maximum extent possible to preserve the quality of life that I was lucky enough to grow up with here and that I want my young child to enjoy as an adult while hopefully raising my grandchildren, he claims that his vision of the City is what it used to be “a long time ago.” Well my family has been here since the City was formed and I can guarantee you that AN50’s vision has nothing to do with the City I and the generations of my family before me lived in. I actually can hardly wait for the election because AN50 and the other like minded bloggers here will get a reality check. Measure B will win overwhelmingly and then AN50 can go back where he came from or deal with the reality of the what SB is and wants to be in the future.

» on 07.30.09 @ 01:31 AM

Bill Mahan and Connie Hannah from the “Yes on B” committee now confirm that they intentionally used the term “high rise” to make a point in their ballot measure.  What they have also made abundantly clear is that they have misled us by purposely discarding the use of the City’s own definition of “high rise” in favor of an obscure one that doesn’t even make sense.  The “Yes on B” group explained their definition as follows:

“The term ‘high rise’ has all kinds of different meanings,” she said. “Usually, it’s in relation to something. If it’s a two-story building, a four-story is a high rise…”

Following that logic—- Manhattan has NO high rise buildings because they are all similarly very very tall! 

That’s strong evidence that the “Yes on B” group’s issue with height is very poorly thought out at a very basic level.

» on 07.30.09 @ 01:39 AM

If “Also have a Cold Springs Arch Bridge I would like” had actually read what I wrote they would have noted that I never claimed that a “No” vote on B will directly lead to a reduction in housing costs. What I actually said was that a “Yes” vote furthers the problem of already rising housing a business costs while a “no” vote sends a message. Perhaps you confuse sending a message with a direct correlation, but I do not and I was very clear in my message: no sends a message, yes supports a growing problem.

» on 07.30.09 @ 01:44 AM

Just to reiterate my point for “Observer” I never claimed that voting no would solve the problem of rising business and living costs in SB nor did I claim that voting yes would cause the problem to go away. I stated that rising costs would be furthered by a “yes” vote and that a “no” vote would simply send a message. Hopefully you will choose to read more carefully this time.

» on 07.30.09 @ 01:46 AM

The idea that Mr. Hofer initiated this lawsuit in the selfish interest of himself or his profession at large is, quite simply, ludicrous. There is no money changing hands here, and some commentators on this article would do well to read “Just the Facts, Please” which clearly outlines that this is the ONLY possible, proper, and legal means by which to change the language of Measure B. Mr. Hofer is objecting to an unfairly misleading use of a term that will scare those voters who don’t think their decisions through carefully into voting for the measure. The idea that the word “high-rise” can mean whatever you want it to is ridiculous, since the California Building Code, which in this case might as well be the Bible for the construction industry, clearly defines it as something other than what Mr. Mahan makes it out to be. His definition of “a building of many stories where the use of elevators is required” is downright silly, since even two story buildings have elevators these days to accommodate the handicapped. Furthermore, he suggests that a high rise in Lincoln Nebraska is not the same as a high rise in New York. There is a simple way to test the veracity of this claim- I invite you all to do a Google Images search for pictures of the Lincoln skyline. Mr. Mahan chose a poor example, for that city has skyscrapers aplenty that put our squabbles over 10 or 20 feet to shame.

» on 07.30.09 @ 02:40 AM

I get the feeling all these anti-B comments are coming from 1 or 2 writers.

» on 07.30.09 @ 12:31 PM

My favorite sentence yet:

“Bill Mahan and Connie Hannah from the “Yes on B” committee now confirm that they intentionally used the term “high rise” to make a point in their ballot measure.”

When has anyone EVER not intentionally used terms to make their point?

If “high-rise” was not the language used in their argument, would Hofer then say “Ok this makes sense and I support this.” Nope.

If we want to talk about economics, it’s darn near undeniable that these architects and builders will earn more the higher buildings can be built. I sure wish I made enough to be able to waste time and money (mine and everyone else’s) on two words. We can nit-pick at language, but everyone who should be voting should know perfectly well what the issue is without harping over two syllables in the entire document.

» on 07.30.09 @ 02:06 PM

Thanks Art, for so easily falling into the same trap all of your people do. Unfortunately, you fail reading comprehension, most likely do to your passion for Santa Barbara. It is fairly common for those in your camp. So let’s try this again.
Fact: Most all of Santa Barbara’s tallest structures were built prior to 1930.
Fact: The population at the time these tall structures were built was in the neighborhood of 25,000 (we are 3.5 times that now)
Fact:  Santa Barbara was a destination resort for which the Potter hotel (a 7 story structure, which burned down) was built in 1905, the Arlington hotel (a 4-5 story structure, demolished in the earthquake of 1925) was built.
Fact: The city’s two tallest commercial buildings (the Granada, 8 stories, 112’ and Balboa, 6 stories, 79’) were built in the ‘20s and survived the 1925 earthquake. They were built to house the city’s burgeoning commercial and financial businesses (they now house mostly lawyers, go figure).
Fact: The city’s downtown core was substantial for the population compared to its SoCal neighbors during the city’s heyday. Business was good and the city built a rail style trolley car system to handle the work day crowds (torn out in the ‘50s, I believe, I’ll check that though).
These are just a few tid bits Art and I write them from memory so you might want to do some fact checking yourself. I bring these up to demonstrate the size and scope of a city’s commercial core relative to its population simply because the limiters continue to use the “small town charm” argument to bolster the call for limits. It is a fallacious argument and has no historical precedence. Yes, it is true the city went into a coma during the fifties and began to emerge during the sixties (820 state building built, 5 stories, 75’ and Cottage hospital expansion, 6 stories, 80’). That come back would have continued had two events not derailed it in the late sixties, the proposal for two 11 story condo towers on the former El Mirasol property and the oil spill in the channel.
I have not mentioned any of the buildings built under the existing 60’ limit and there are a few, simply to highlight the precedent for taller structures. The main point is that the city’s down town core is dense and urban and that is what sets it apart from the flat featureless suburban sprawl that is southern California. This is easily verifiable if you use MS Virtual Earth and look at some birds-eye-views of many different communities around the world. We have more in common with older cities in Europe than modern American cities that bulldozed their city cores into parking lots during the urban renewal binge of the fifties and sixties. When you unload the terrific amount of anti-development animus, parochialism and sophistry present in modern day arguments for limits and expand your thinking historically you will realize as I have that we have become an entrenched dogmatic culture based on a delusion. I know I use very strong language with you people, but that is the passion I have for arresting what I see as a worse problem than a few 4 story buildings. If you can get past the anger and do a little research, set aside the fear and look at history and precedent you can join me in making the city great again. Yes we will have to fight bad development and remain vigilant. But hard limits do more damage than good.

» on 07.30.09 @ 02:59 PM

Sbeezy, you misunderstand the point- of course they intentionally used the word, the issue is not that they used it unintentionally but that they used it incorrectly and contrary to its accepted definiton. It may seem nit-picky to argue over a couple words, but the fact is that MOST voters do not think their decisions through as carefully as you do, and make their decisions based upon the short description of the measure that is provided on the ballot. Now imagine that you know nothing about this issue, and in reading the description you see the word “high rise” come up four different times. Without knowing anything about architecture or urban design, the actual numbers would mean very little to you. THe word “high rise”, apart from its actual definition, calls to mind images of skyscrapers. No one on either side of this issue is auggesting that these be built here, but that is exactly what the text of Mahan’s measure makes it sound like the opposition wants. The anti-B group simply wants to keep the status quo, under which high-rise development is impossible in the city. I will say it again because it bears repition: UNDER THE CURRENT RULES, THERE CAN BE NO HIGH RISE DEVELOPMENT IN SANTA BARBARA. None. Long-term growth issues aside, why waste money and energy on fixing a “problem” that doesn’t exist? So all you people who are worried about the decline of the character of downtown SB and the loss of ocean views can rest easy, because if measure B does not pass you will not be seeing any taller buildings than we currently have. Finally, it is CERTAINLY deniable that taller buildings equal more moeny for architects. The amount of height we are talking about does not constitute even a full storey, so the economic gains to designers are not significant. Furthermore, since the measure’s opponents only want to keep the status quo, you can hardly accuse them of greedy motives when all they want is to keep things the way they have been for the last few decades.

» on 07.30.09 @ 07:03 PM

The language is misleading and inflammatory but that’s been SEPV’s modus operandi all along. I can’t say it enough. If 60 feet was good enough for Pearl Chase - a far more enlightened individual than most - it’s good enough for me, this city and the VOTERS of this City deserve to know that PEARL CHASE helped codify 60 feet!!!

» on 07.30.09 @ 10:15 PM

I was one of those collecting signatures to put measure B on the ballot.
Over six months of collecting signatures I spoke with around 4000 people.  I can tell you that there were 10 residents who said that they hate those new monstrosities on Chapala and are in favor of lowering the building height limit for every 1 who said they like them and want the city to grow vertically with tall buildings.

So with or without the word high rise in the ballot measure argument, measure B is going to easily pass, as it represents the will of the vast majority of the people.

I looked up the definition of high rise in 10 different dictionaries and each one had a different definition.  One said the meaning of the word high rise varied depending on the location it was being used.  this means a 4 story building may not mean a high rise to a resident of new your city but a 4 story building does mean high rise to a resident of a town consisting of 99% one and 2 story building like Santa Barbara, Montecito, Summerland, Carpinteria, Santa Ynez, Solvang Buelton, etc.

Also, many of those in the vocal minority who oppose measure B advocate that we increase our height limit to 75 feet, and 6 stories, to accommodate vertical smart growth.  So then it is a legitimate ballot measure argument to lower the allowed height in the city charter to 45 feet, ( 40 feet in EPV), so that the number of stories is not increased in the zoning ordinance to six stories which is a high rise even in the minds of the opponents to measure B.

» on 07.30.09 @ 10:31 PM

You are mistaken.
PEARL CHASE was not in favor of 60 feet buildings and she did not help codify 60 feet.
Get your facts and history straight!

Here are the facts;

The single goal of Pearl Chase, and her grouo,  when putting the height limit in the Charter was to prevent the city council from ever giving a modification to exceed the height limit in the zoning ordinance.  This was in response to a high rise building proposed at what is now alicekeck park.

The fact is that the 60 feet height limit was already in place in the zoning ordinance , and Pearl and her friends were in an extreme hurry to put a height limit in the Charter to prevent the city council form giving a modification to exceed the height limit,  and didn’t have the time to analyze reducing the height to lower than the 60 feet that was already in existence at that time. 

The reality is that Pearl didn’t like tall buildings, and would turn over in her grave if she saw those 4 story, 60 feet high, monstrosities on Chapala. If she was alive today, she would be one of those working to lower building heights so that we don’t get any more of those 60 feet tall monstrosities, and so that we could preserve the charming small town character of our city that she cherished so very much. 

Pearl Chase would say:  VOTE YES ON B

» on 07.31.09 @ 01:26 AM

What took ya so long Less? Guess what 99% of the buildings in the city of LA are 1 and 2 story, so what in blazes does that have to do with anything? No one I know is advocating raising the existing height limit to 75 feet. That is so typical of your fear mongering 40 year old garbage. Now, let’s use your last definition of high rise, the relative one, OK? That means I could build an 8 story building next to the Granada and it would not be a high rise or a 6 story building next to the Balboa and the same is true. Good grief you nit wit, now I have to SAVE you from your own fouled up logic! I, and I alone have advocated eliminating height restriction altogether. Not because I want smart growth, Manhattan or any of the other fear provoking crap you people keep spewing. I want them eliminated to save Santa Barbara from small minded suburbanites like you who still can’t see this city’s historical precedent. Now don’t get all foamy at the mouth and start spewing a bunch incoherent garbage like the last time we argued. Just think of this exchange as a gentile wrap on yer confounded noggin and come back with something intelligent that does not involve the same 40 year old non-sense that never made sense from day one. Unlike you, I don’t have anything against you personally even though I think yer a nut, just behave and let’s duke it out one-more-time. Who knows, if you do like I suggested and take a look at many communities around the country and the world from a birds-eye-view, I might make a convert out of you yet! Cheers!

» on 07.31.09 @ 03:09 AM

Then we’ll see that the sky isn’t really falling. Passing Measure B isn’t going to make Santa Barbara affordable. It’s your arguments that are absurd. If you just told the truth—you may have had my vote.

» on 07.31.09 @ 03:33 AM

Dear “Reply to SBNATIVE:”

Pearl Chase objected to two nine-story condominium towers to be built in what is now Alice Keck Park. NINE STORIES!! I’m no architect, but let’s estimate that at about 110 feet, given 15 feet for the first floor and approx. 12 feet for each floor thereafter. In actuality 60-foot building heights weren’t codified until 1972 (presumably Pearl had some input on this!) Prior to that Pearl, and the citizens who served on design review boards, had enough confidence in their skills to make complex decisions — without simplistic “height” limits.

And that is the very crux of the problem. DUMBING DOWN the process is not going to produce great buildings. I still don’t understand why Santa Barbara can’t follow other cities’ leads, and take it BLOCK BY BLOCK and make decisions based on each particular site, instead of the knee-jerk “solution” the SEPV fear-mongers propose.

Did everyone check their common sense at the door? What a sad note our grand city should be reduced to small thinking…

» on 07.31.09 @ 11:50 AM

Some of the same people who are opposing this are the ones who wanted the nine-storied condos in the now Alice Keck Mem. Garden.

Pearl Chase and her associates settled reluctantly for 60’ and as the previous writer noted, the sky didn’t fall. It was only with the development on Chapala, the Chapala One building, for instance, that we saw that the sky may not have been falling but it was being blocked - and certainly would be on smaller streets—- and that neighborhoods were being dwarfed.

To preserve views and Santa Barbara ambiance are the reasons for Measure B. The opposition seems to be those for build more for more people. If there were a firm requirement for rental housing, that would be excellent—- rental housing can indeed be put into three stories, as the City Housing Authority has done. Anything above that is expensive and needs to be luxury, with high ceilings, becoming ...high rise, not responding to the needs of the workers here.

Those who want to house all the commuters here or many of them overlook or shove under the rug that each new housing unit requires workers for upkeep, etc., generating more often-lowpaid jobs, generating more commuters.

Recall the arguments in favor of widening the freeways! No one now says that widening will take care of the traffic; soon enough the number of cars expands to fill the roads available.

» on 07.31.09 @ 01:30 PM

If measure B passes, there will be a city-wide height limit of 45” and max. of 4 stories. If it fails, we will have the (existing) limit of 60’ and 4 stories.

The only difference will be a mere 15 feet, within the same four story limit!

Now, who but a pro-development ideologue or someone who hasn’t been paying attention to the details would argue that the change is going to make one speck of difference as far as housing availability or affordability? It won’t.

So why can we not leave the choice to be made simply on the basis of esthetics and preferences for the appearance of the city’s skyline - which is all the Measure B proponents intended - and drop all the “sky is falling” diversionary rhetoric? 


» on 07.31.09 @ 02:45 PM

Thanks, SBnative for distilling my long winded responses down to the heart of the matter. Limits are STUPID. They are what stupid people do because they have no idea how to do anything differently. I am not saying that you are stupid for liking shorter buildings, but trying to impose your aesthetic through limits are stupid. So much of the argument on limits revolves around two things, growth and change, neither of which have anything to do with the aesthetics of a building. But there are some who are very passionate about building size. No amount of reasonable argument, fact or historical precedent will sway them. I know this because I am on the other side of the fence and no argument has been brought forth that has swayed me. But in this I am absolutely positive without a shred of doubt, I am right and have been since 1972 when the original height limit was added to the city charter. I was very young at the time but knew intuitively that the charter was wrong. It went against everything I believed in about architecture. I left the field of architecture over that event, convinced there was no point pursuing a career in a creative field if the end result was any idiot could trump your work. Why create anything if fear and loathing ruled the day? Though I regret that decision based on foolish youthful ideology, I have never lost my passion for architecture and now I applaud those brave architects who are coming out to defend their profession against the onslaught of mediocrity, fear and small mindedness. I have never advocated turning SB into a high rise Mecca. Instead, I have tried to point out what how destructive and mediocre limits are.
As far as the damage done by the limits the biggest lightning rod for the limiters, The Chapala One building is the very kind of development you will get with limits. Unfortunately, the mass public does not have the architectural expertise to know that. They erroneously believe lopping off 15’ will make a difference in the massing of a building like Chapala One. It won’t. The limits will ensure massive horizontal developments that will block views more thoroughly and have no vertical differentiation, in short, block after block of monotonous same height buildings where the man on the street will have all the feeling and charm of a shopping mall.  Until you unshackle the one profession with expertise to design buildings with the entire urban landscape in mind you will by fiat destroy anything left of Santa Barbara’s architectural significance.

» on 07.31.09 @ 05:22 PM

I’m pleased to see the dissenting voices among the design professional community.  Santa Barbara has one of the most finicky design review processes around.  Imposing such a restriction is like spitting in the face of the ABR, HLC, and Staff.  They’ve got to be sick of citing the words, “Mass, Bulk, and Scale” when denying projects. But in many cases, the project needs to be seen at its full potential before carving & trimming.  It gives everyone an opportunity to realize a possible gem without stunting it at the getgo.  Mr. Mahon of all people should understand that the height restriction is only going to create a flatter and duller skyline, given the nature of a developer.  This restriction will only channel them into pushing out to the corners of the envelope, rather than providing for the opportunity of a more dramatic approach.  Santa Barbara’s design community and review boards have had a knack for offering complex and creative solutions to many development challenges.  Why start now with the simple catch-all restrictions?  Isn’t that stuff left for the communities that emulate Santa Barbara but are absent of a design review board?

» on 07.31.09 @ 05:25 PM

I’m pleased to see the dissenting voices among the design professional community.  Santa Barbara has one of the most finicky design review processes around.  Imposing such a restriction is like spitting in the face of the ABR, HLC, and Staff.  They’ve got to be sick of citing the words, “Mass, Bulk, and Scale” when denying projects. But in many cases, the project needs to be seen at its full potential before carving & trimming.  It gives everyone an opportunity to realize a possible gem without stunting it at the getgo.  Mr. Mahon of all people should understand that the height restriction is only going to create a flatter and duller skyline, given the nature of a developer.  This restriction will only channel them into pushing out to the corners of the envelope, rather than providing for the opportunity of a more dramatic approach.  Santa Barbara’s design community and review boards have had a knack for offering complex and creative solutions to many development challenges.  Why start now with the simple catch-all restrictions?  Isn’t that stuff left for the communities that emulate Santa Barbara but are absent of a design review board?

» on 07.31.09 @ 05:58 PM

Joer, the aesthetic issue is precisely why Measure B should not be approved. Many of the buildings in the downtown area that would be considered the most attractive, the kind of buildings that we would want future developers to emulate, exceed the 45’ mark. These buildings include the Granada, the Arlington, the Courthouse, and Santa Barbara High School. When you impose such an arbitrary limit on buildings, it discourages projects like the ones I mentioned that contribute to the architectural character of the city. It allows only for less ambitious, boxy buildings that maximize square footage to compensate for their low height. In short, Measure B would not only prevent the rebuilding of these buildings (with the exception of the Courthouse, which is on County-owned land) in the event that they were destroyed, but it will discourage any new projects of a similar scope. I think that even Measure B’s proponents would not argue that any of those structures should not have been built because they are too tall, but if they get their way no one will be able to build something as great as the Arlington. I urge anyone who is thinking of voting in favor of MEasure B to carefully consider what, if anything, is wrong with the status quo, and the innumerable consequences of lowering the building height, consequences that we cannot begin to anticipate.

» on 07.31.09 @ 06:09 PM

to CRB: Who is the psychic who KNOWS that Pearl Chase & associates “reluctantly” settled for 60 feet? Wow, are you that OLD? Come on folks. Common sense. If we have any of it left, in this world, let’s not squash our options FLAT. The building heights issue has been co-opted by such special interests that we’ve lost the forest for the trees. I vote for leaving the possiblity of aesthetics in place - as is - as Pearl & her associates “allowed” in the early seventies. WE HAVE NOT SHOWN OURSELVES TO BE SUPERIOR IN DESIGN CONCEPTUALIZATION. (Or do you like all those squashed flat retail buildings fronting Upper State, for instance?) Please…

» on 07.31.09 @ 11:48 PM

I am not in favor as I believe it limits the options in the city, one size does not fit all.  There may be sections of downtown where a better design is a building that is over the mark the proponents want yet below the current limit.  I think each design should be judged on its own merit rather than changing the current limit.

Im not against the proponents although I will vote no on this, I think they deserve praise for becoming involved in the process.  Their fight to preserve the character of the city though will not be solved by a height limit, as its more of a feeling of loss of who we used to be as a city which is based on the residents and the spirit/style of the community that used to be here and not the buildings themselves.

» on 08.01.09 @ 03:07 AM

I’m voting yes on B

» on 08.01.09 @ 03:24 AM

It appears to me as if the same 3 or 4 people have written all the comments against measure B.  either by using different names of , like AN50 and SBNative, have hogged the conversation by submitting numerous comments.

It is obvious to me that lowering the building height will result in a lower density city, will less population, less traffic congestion, better mountain views, and preserves our small town character and quality of life.

Consider this:
Santa Barbara is very special and very unique. it’s not nice by accident but is nice because of people like the ones who put measure B on the ballot.

There is only one Santa Barbara.  If we transform it with a lot of high rise buildings there will never be another one.

Since Santa Barbara very beautiful just the way it is without high density vertical smart growth, then it is not ‘broken” and therefore don’t try and “fix it” by adding a lot of vertical buildings which will transform and ruin it.

We don’t want or need to be transformed.  We desire to stay special and have a high quality of life.  We don’t ned the total gridlock traffic congestion that high density vertical growth will cause.

Please join me, and the 11,000 of your friends and neighbors who signed the petition to lower building heights and preserve our small town character, in voting YES ON B this November. 

In 20 years you will be glad you did, and people who visit Santa Barbara will thank you for having a part in making, and keeping, our city so charming, special and nice.

» on 08.01.09 @ 11:29 AM

For years our communities character has been preserved with the existing height limits - what changed?

What changed is planning commissioners like Bill Mahan and Bendy White who are “slow growth” - voted for developments that are morbidly obese as well as tall.

Now these geniuses have come up with the solution - keep the big fat buildings, but just make them no quite so tall.

This stupid initiative won’t stop Canyonization. When you walk down narrow sidewalks and have no parking and have 40-45 foot tall buildings bursting at the seems, destroying the openness and small town character of our city, be sure to thank Mahan and White for “saving” Santa Barbara.

» on 08.01.09 @ 12:57 PM

Ah, Less-is-More is back at it again. The only multiple personality disorder patient around here bub is you. Look, you have a very distinct writing style and a very narrow view on this subject, so you cannot hide it with different screen names. Don’t get me wrong, I have a distinct style too and it is very long winded! That’s why I don’t bother using different screen names, Less. I give people the option, that way when they see AN50 they can either risk reading into a coma or skip it and go to all the nice short sound bite answers.
Now, you are one of those I described earlier that cannot be swayed by logic, reason or history, so no point trying. But you should consider what some other folks have written here about the stupidity of hard limits. No one has advocated building the city out with high rises. That is a bold faced lie. No one has mentioned the need for “vertical smart growth” another lie. All the opponents have said is there is a better way to preserve the unique and historical architectural character of this city than hard limits. You don’t get it, because you don’t want to. You believe, fallaciously that these hard limits will limit growth and preserve a “feeling” about our city. But as I have pointed out numerous times before, your limits will do neither. Want some of that old, “small town charm” you keep dreaming we once had? Get rid of the hobos, vagrants, gangs, vandals and a big chunk of the tourists and you will have way more charm than lopping buildings down to 40 feet. A city’s character is made up of its people not the buildings they occupy. That’s architecture 101. You cannot force charm or a feeling on a shallow self absorbed population by making a city look and feel like a shopping mall in the suburbs (physical building essence of shallowness). Your down town is over run by strangers here to gawk at the homogenous architecture, that’s not charming, nor is the bum urinating on the corner of it. Think about it Less. We want the same thing. You want to use a bulldozer to cut the lawn weeds down and I want to use a weed puller, that’s the difference.

» on 08.01.09 @ 05:20 PM

Yes, I’m old enough to have been a friend of Pearl Chase and to have been involved in what went on back then.

sbnative is wrong when he says 60 feet buildings here were not codified until 1972.
a history lesson is in order here.

In Santa Barbara we have a zoning ordinance where a developer can be given a modification to it on any given Tuesday by the City Council.  We also have a City Charter where he city council cannot give a modification to it, but requires a vote of the people to modify it.

In the 60’s Santa Barbara did have a 60 feet height limit in the zoning ordinance but not in the City Charter.  A developer proposed a modification to the zoning ordinance to allow a 9 story, 110 feet tall, building at what is not Alice Keck Park and the Planning Commission denied it, but the City Council approved it. 

So Pearl Chase and a group of us quickly put a measure on the ballot to add the existing 60 feet hight limit into the City Charter.  The sole purpose of our doing this was so no future city council could ever give a modification to the zoning ordinance height limit because the council does not have the power or authority to give a modification to anything in the City Charter.

We had to move so very quickly that there was no time for us to discuss whether or not the existing 60 feet limit should be changed.  I recall Pearl saying that if 60 feet became a problem in the future that it could be lowered in the City
Charter by a vote of the people. and have time for a community dialog as to how much.

So you can see that the fact is that sbnative is wrong when he says the 60 feet height limit was not codified until 1972.  The 60 feet height limit was in the zoning ordinance code long before that, and Pearl Chase had nothing to do with setting this number.  And the ballot measure to put it in the charter was for but a single purpose of putting the existing height limit into the City Charter to prevent the city council from ever approving buildings taller than the designated limit.

Now, we currently do have a problem with developers building many buildings up to the maximum 60 feet, which transforms the cherished small town character of our community, and so the citizens are lowering the height limit in the City Charter, in order that the city council cannot approve any more 60 feet tall monstrosities like those on Chapala.

» on 08.01.09 @ 10:03 PM

I would like to invite all you supporters measure B (and of course those of you who don’t) to do something. Download MS Virtual Earth (don’t worry its freeware just like Google Earth). Play around with the program a little and get used to the controls. If you have a sucky computer it probably would be painful so find someone with a decent newer computer and do it there. Once you are ready you can zero in on Santa Barbara and her downtown. Click on the Birds-Eye-View Function and enjoy the view of your city you probably have never seen before. There are hundreds of these views and you can select them and zoom in on certain areas and buildings. You will be amazed at how really flat and sprawled out our city looks from the air. But zooming in on certain street angles will quickly bring you to realize the true scale of building downtown. Chapala One (under construction in these photos) is positively dwarfed by the immense sprawling low rise Paseo Nuevo mall. When scanning the cityscape you begin to realize the enormity of the low rise buildings compared to the taller multistory buildings. But I have said too much. Go, look, see for yourself. See if what I have been telling you is true. But do it and see for yourself. Then I invite you to comment on the experience. This is the internet age, the age of information, you no longer have to live in ignorance and fear. You no longer have to depend on others to show you the way.

» on 08.01.09 @ 11:25 PM

AN50 said: “No one has mentioned the need for “vertical smart growth”.

What planet have you been living on AN50?  It is a fact that the vast majority of those opposing lowering the height limit are advocating for mixed use high density vertical smart growth.  Thats what those monsters on Chapala are all about.  Growing vertical as opposed to growing horizontal, or not at all.

The Community Environmental Council ( CEC) is advocating that the city grow in vertical smart growth.  The city council, the city planning commission and the city planning staff and the city transportation staff are advocating that the city grow vertically in high density smart growth.

Thats what has the citizens of this community up in arms about:  Opposing vertical high density smart growth.

That what this is all about!  Where have you been?

It is a fact that the vast majority of the citizens of Santa Barbara want to preserve the quality of life and our small town character, and live within our resources by controlling growth instead of growing vertically.

The opponents of measure B, 99% of which make their living in the building industry one way or another,  all want a taller building height so the city will substantially grow vertically and so they can make a whole lot of money off of this new growth.

Follow the money!

» on 08.02.09 @ 04:44 AM

Dear Friend of Pearl Chase… your we had to move quickly whine sounds like the stimulus package excuses… I don’t buy it. And PS I am not AN50 though I admire his/her posts. You people are a bunch of old farts who obviously don’t have to work so you can write epistles while the rest of us slave away. There’s so much wrong with this I can’t even take it on. But you’re going to have to do a real good sales job on your squash-it-flat campaign, because WE THE PEOPLE are catching on! This isn’t about preservation, it’s about your agenda. Which is STOP TIME. I want my old Santa Barbara back. But… but… wait… wasn’t Old Santa Barbara the place of the Courthouse, the Arlington, the Lobero, the Granada… Oh drat, that really doesn’t make your case, does it?

» on 08.02.09 @ 11:25 AM

Why is this even an issue? We should have both a commercial and residential building moritorium until the inventory gets back to a balanced level. Look at the inventory of unleased buildings and unsold housing. We have several years of supply so all you developers go on vacation and let the economy catch up for a few years. That will give us plenty of time to further consider the merits one way or the other of Measure B.

» on 08.02.09 @ 12:20 PM

Thanks for the support sbnative, it is rather exasperating taking on 40 years of stubborn narrow minded indoctrination. To Less, I was referring to this post as far as the “smart growth” thing goes. You and I have argued that angle many times before so you should no by now I would not let those guys off the hook. As for the opponents, many of them are just rational citizens like sbnative who don’t follow the irrational logic of the pro B camp. Unfortunately Less, I don’t see enough of the building and architectural community commenting on this subject. The reason may surprise you but I suspect that there is just as much split among members of that community as well. You generalize way too much if you assume anyone in the building industry is an opponent. I suspect we will have many more opponents when pro B folks start looking at their city from a whole new angle and they see what I have been preaching for the last 40 years. Trust me Less if the only perspective you have had of your city is from the sidewalk up then yes anything over six feet looks tall. When you look at a city from a broader perspective you begin to realize you are not working on a small little town but a very large and complex living organism. It simply cannot be saved by unimaginative one-size-fits-all draconian regulation.

» on 08.03.09 @ 03:48 PM

OK, forget private property rights, the will of the majority, etc.  Keep Prop 13 as is, enact height limits, and watch real estate prices rise again.  The REAL beneficiaries of height limits are not the greedydevelopers (there’s that SB word again), but anyone who owns a home in SB.  If you own a home, vote for height limits!

» on 08.04.09 @ 03:23 AM

YES ON B: Preserve and Protect Santa Barbara’s “small town feel“

NO ON B: Preserve our Height Limits; Protect Santa Barbara’s Future

» on 08.04.09 @ 12:07 PM

Was that the small town feel with the hobo urine or did you mean the small town feel when the gang banger shoves that knife into your back? Oh, I know, it’s the small town feel you get when 15,000 workers show up every day or maybe the 10,000 tourists who come every weekend to watch the hobos peeing on your Spanish architecture?
Really, you pro B folks need a new slogan cause the small town charm, we ain’t got and haven’t since before limits were ever approved.

» on 08.05.09 @ 12:58 AM


» on 08.05.09 @ 01:29 AM


» on 08.06.09 @ 01:18 AM

Takes one to know one.

Vote YES on B

» on 09.01.09 @ 05:49 PM

I just read where Judge Anderly ruled against the No on B Pro High rise crowd and found in favor of the Yes on B group of concerned citizens.

No more High Rises in Santa Barbara.  Vote yes on measure B!
No more High Rises in Santa Barbara.  Vote yes on measure B!
No more High Rises in Santa Barbara.  Vote yes on measure B!
No more High Rises in Santa Barbara.  Vote yes on measure B!
No more High Rises in Santa Barbara.  Vote yes on measure B!
No more High Rises in Santa Barbara.  Vote yes on measure B!
No more High Rises in Santa Barbara.  Vote yes on measure B!
No more High Rises in Santa Barbara.  Vote yes on measure B!
No more High Rises in Santa Barbara.  Vote yes on measure B!

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