Sunday, February 7 , 2016, 2:25 pm | Fair 78º

Craig Allen: Ticket ‘Nazis’ Not the Only Sign of Santa Barbara’s Decline

Our anti-business, repressive, restrictive behavior and hostile climate are costing everyone in this community

By Craig Allen, Noozhawk Business Columnist | @MPAMCraig | updated logo |

I have received two tickets in the past week — one at UCSB for not parking exactly within the lines of a parking space (UCSB graciously dismissed this citation), and one for not having a front license plate. This license plate ticket was especially concerning, since I was parked in a parking structure when I received it. This means that the Santa Barbara Police Department is paying officers to walk around parking structures looking for excuses to write tickets.

We all realize that times are tough. The recession and slow economic recovery have caused severe budget cuts across just about all government departments, and the Police Department is no exception. While I sympathize with them and understand their financial challenges, I do not agree with their aggressive ticket-writing policy. It’s bad for local residents and it is especially damaging to tourism.

Tourism is the second largest industry in Santa Barbara, generating more than $1 billion per year in local revenues, including $80 million in tax revenue. Nickel-and-diming tourists with parking and traffic tickets is a bad idea, period. One ticket can ruin an otherwise enjoyable vacation for a visitor, which could make the difference in the decision to visit Santa Barbara in the future. The few dollars we gain by writing these nuisance tickets could cost us thousands in spending on hotels, food, shopping and other services. It’s just bad business.

I believe I am correct in assuming that the tax dollars we allocate to SBPD are intended to provide for officers to protect citizens from crimes, and to solve those crimes that occur. I don’t see how having officers roaming around parking garages writing tickets is accomplishing these objectives. I would be interested to know how many officers are assigned to these duties, instead of patrolling our streets, or investigating crimes.

In a more general sense, I have seen far too many instances in which local government is repeatedly doing things to impede business, which, frankly, we cannot afford. From the recent advisory board no vote on the Chick-fil-A patio changes, to the difficultly new restaurants have securing liquor licenses, to questions about traffic stops and police behavior, it seems that there is a disconnect between the objectives of our local government and what is needed to drive our economy forward.

In tough economic times, instead of finding ways to penalize businesses, delay approvals, punish visitors with irritating tickets, and otherwise hampering businesses and driving potential visitors/consumers away, our local government should be expediting approvals for licenses, remodeling, construction, signage or anything else that local companies need to conduct their business more efficiently and profitably.

We are struggling through the worst recession since the Great Depression, and one of the slowest recoveries on record. We are more than three years into this recovery, and we are not out of the woods yet by any stretch of the imagination.

The responsibility falls on us — on every local resident — to stand up and tell our local officials that we are not going to stand for this behavior from our elected officials, government employees and those appointed to committees and boards. Enough is enough.

I urge everyone to consider not just the impact on local citizens as individuals, but on our community as a whole. This anti-business, repressive, restrictive behavior is costing everyone in this community. The revenues that are lost due to refusals to approve projects, licenses, etc.; delays and restrictions, often resulting in projects being abandoned due to excessive cost or pure frustration; and the bad experiences of visitors who suffer at the hands of aggressive ticket writers are vital to the health of our local economy. Every dollar counts and we simply cannot afford for this behavior on the part of our local government to continue.

It is up to each one of us to stand up and say enough is enough. We must vote for representatives who understand that we need to support local businesses and stop this repressive, anti-business behavior permanently, and expedite projects to help businesses thrive. We need to tell our police force to stop harassing people and focus on preventing and solving crimes.

I hope everyone who reads this article will think about these important issues when voting in the next local election. It is hard enough for businesses during these trying economic times without our local government purposefully working against business owners at every turn. We can help local businesses survive and even thrive, but we must have the support of a pro-business local government at all levels. I certainly hope things change. We have seen far too many businesses close recently and I fear we will see many more before the economy improves.

Craig Allen, CFA, CFP, CIMA, is president of Montecito Private Asset Management LLC and founder of Dump Your Debt. He has been managing assets for foundations, corporations and high-net worth individuals for more than 20 years and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA charter holder), a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and holds the Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) certification. He blogs at Finance With Craig Allen and can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 805.898.1400. Click here for previous Craig Allen columns. Follow Craig on Twitter: @MPAMCraig.

» on 08.19.12 @ 06:28 PM

Absolute dead on.  Parking tickets, no matter what pious statements are made by local gov, Council included, are all about revenue for the city.  I’ll bet that more healthy businesses would result in even more revenue, not to mention non-government (i.e. not taxpayer-costing) jobs.

» on 08.19.12 @ 07:28 PM

1. Parking garages have been robbed and women have been raped in them in the not too distant past in Santa Barbara. So, indeed, having patrolling officers pass thru would make sense. “instead of patrolling the streets” - so, having them just randomly walking around/driving in the streets is going to be more worthwhile because that’s where crime happens right, in the streets? They should not bother going through a parking garage? If they had an emergency call I’m sure they’d be on it, more exciting for them, your logic does not seem to be there, just seems to be personal frustration/ venting/whining due to you earning a ticket. 2. Could it have just been a meter maid doing her job driving around and writing tickets for parking violations and such? Says on their buggys they are part of the police force. I get the “big picture” complaint of this, but the additions of your personal ticket sob story detracts from that and ruins the mojo of the pseudo rally cry.

» on 08.19.12 @ 08:53 PM

Trying to ditch ID by the traffic cams are we?

» on 08.19.12 @ 09:09 PM

I hate getting tickets as well. I make sure that I have a front license plate, my car is registered and my lights work.
Why are you complaining about getting a ticket for not having a front license plate?  It is the law in California. If you don’t like it, try to gather support to get legislation changed.

I know that was not the point of the article, but it irks me when someone starts out by complaining when they were issued a citation for an infraction that they are guilty of.

» on 08.19.12 @ 11:41 PM

You know, I find it odd that an educated journalist would resort to the “Nazi” name calling when he is trying to make a point, especially when it comes to parking enforcement.

Really? Nazis? It just takes away from the message when you dip to that sophomoric level of column writing.

The chances are that it was a parking enforcement officer. That’s what they are paid to do. Is your car so vain that it would blemish its bitchin image if it had a front plate? Chances are too, that you knew this when you chose to stow the front plate in your trunk when it was mailed to you.

Stick to the Chik-fil-a issue or something relevant, and leave your personal shortcomings off the page.

You rolled the dice to look cool, and you lost, so why complain?

You need a nice hot cup…............

» on 08.20.12 @ 09:58 AM

Hyperbole much? Receiving tickets for hogging parking spaces and for not displaying your front license plate certainly are equivalent to being placed in a concentration camp. People with an overactive sense of entitlement seem to view themselves as above the law.  The general gist of this article seems to be that if someone is spending some money they should be allowed to do as they please regardless of the law.

» on 08.20.12 @ 10:35 AM

He didn’t complain about getting a ticket for the license plate, it was the act of searching for any possible violation that got his goat.

» on 08.20.12 @ 11:44 AM

I have to admit that, after getting a ticket or two myself (from legitimately parking overtime by a few minutes on a street downtown) has made me rush out of restaurants and stores now so as not to get a ticket. My shopping trips to the mall are usually always planned to be under 75 minutes… NOT good for business as I tend to spend more in the last hour of my shopping and would spend more if I wasn’t thinking about the time limit.

Now they want to charge us for beach parking. That’s so un-Santa Barbara. Very sad turn of events. The funny thing is that the term “liberal” has turned into an attitude of restrictions, controlling attitudes, lack of freedom and nanny-mindedness. No, its not good for business and its not good for the human spirit.

» on 08.20.12 @ 11:54 AM

Seems remarkable for a guy whose resume emphasizes responsibility and prudence in managing big bucks investments (an occupation that demands strict attention to detail and respect for every tax code) to complain about being caught blatantly ignoring the vehicle code by driving without a front plate. And YES, he is complaining, if not then what is the point of the whole posting?

City parking enforcement is aggressive and lots of people hate getting tickets (me, included.) Lots of posters here also want much more active enforcement of vagrancy and immigration laws (me, included) but they hate actually having to be accountable for their own misdeeds, however trivial.

Expanding his own experience to include the notion that some of the city’s and the nation’s economic woes are due to local vehicle code enforcement is one of the silliest ideas ever promoted on these pages. And that includes a lot of very silly ones!

» on 08.20.12 @ 12:43 PM

man up, wipe your tears, pay the fine, and put the front plate back on.

» on 08.20.12 @ 01:55 PM

Remember when the police were called Peace Officers?  Today they are affectionately called Law Enforcement.

Its not only a shift in language its a shift in mentality.  The police are now equipped and trained to be warriors. 

Us law abiding citizens fear encounters with them for we are all assumed to be violent, law breaking criminals regardless of our own actions and or past.

Craig is right on here - our community is not policed by peace officers, its patrolled by warriors who have been brainwashed into thinking that they are there to RULE over you.  We do not live in a free country folks, we incarcerate more people than any other country and we have more laws than any person can possibly understand or be aware of…

I once received a parking ticket on Memorial Day.  A day our country set aside to honor those who died for our freedom - a national holiday.  And the jerks who patrol the city in their 100k carts needed to police an empty street while the real heroes were marching in a parade just a few blocks away…

» on 08.20.12 @ 02:09 PM

Most of these posts seem more intent on attacking the author of the article than on discussing his major point:  which is that overly vigorous parking enforcement is harmful to business and wasteful of city resources.  Just think how long it must take for a parking enforcement person to tour just one parking garage looking at the front of each vehicle to determine whether it has a front plate.  Ridiculous. 

And why did the city cut the free parking allowance from 90 to 75 minutes?  DUH!!!!  more tickets and more revenue.

» on 08.20.12 @ 04:29 PM

Laugh, one has to admit the author does sound a bit whinny!

State of California “requires” a front lic. plate for purposes of identification of cars both regardless of how they are parked, and for infractions or accidents where witnesses can only see the front of the vehicle.  What makes Mr. Allen sound so whinny is he has a successful and high profile business making good money, and he cannot see to it his car is in proper condition?  There are many instances of front plates stolen and then put on different cars with either false lic. sticker or stolen stickers.  Time to pony up, fix the problem.

Perhaps he should ask the city of SB why it has removed so many on-street-parking places (yes to fill the paid lots), and start a campaign that the city go back to reasonable street designs (kick out micro roundabouts, trash bulbouts, and time lights for flow).  Or he can spin his wheels (get the pun) writing instead of doing.

Just a thought.

» on 08.20.12 @ 04:36 PM

Good grief. I don’t go down town unless I absolutely have to, which is rarely. SB is well known for its Nazi parking enforcement, ya that’s right friggen Nazi, all for the sake of revenue generation while the social engineering police who used to be traffic engineers make driving as painful as possible. Oooh don’t you want to abandon your car now and take a bus? Idiots.

Craig is right, the offensiveness of the city toward cars is not lost on the tourist population, which I could careless about, but since that’s the only game the city has they better lighten up.

» on 08.21.12 @ 07:36 AM

I avoid tickets for both of those things by keeping my front plate attached, and taking care to park within the lines.  You might find that this works for you.  Bryan G. Gaggs

» on 08.22.12 @ 05:57 PM

Yep, Germany was full of people like you.

» on 08.25.12 @ 12:13 AM

So the police should enforce some laws and not others? It is the law…why not obey it? The city parking lots have been the scene of many crimes…burglaries, theft, assaults, medical emergencies so it is important to have the police in the lots!!!!! Why don’t you spend your time putting the front license plate on your car rather than writing stupid comments like yours on parking tickets!

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