It’s déjà vu all over again.
Two weeks ago, an oil company sought planning permission to drill new wells just south of Orcutt. The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission had given the green light for a project that would bring jobs to our area and pour badly needed tax revenue into the county’s General Fund. The Board of Supervisors rejected the findings of its Planning Commission and voted 3-2 to impose crippling air-quality restrictions.
At its last meeting, the same 3-2 board majority voted to advance a Community Plan for the Gaviota coast toward adoption.
So what, then, is the common thread that makes these two decisions alike? Why is it déjà vu all over again?
With both the Santa Maria Energy project and the Gaviota plan, the folks who live and work in the area and who would be most directly affected by the projects came in to testify and make their wishes known. And in both cases, they were ignored.
The board majority not only ignored the people most affected, they also ignored the advice of its own advisory commissions.
With the Santa Maria Energy project, the Planning Commission selected a mitigation standard for greenhouse gas emissions that exceeded the requirements of California law. The board rejected that advice and voted for an even tougher requirement. With the Gaviota plan, the board majority bulldozed over its own citizens drafting committee and the Agricultural Advisory Committee.
Why is this board majority doing this? Is it the north-south divide that has been well understood for the last 40 years? Or is something else going on? My view is that it’s more than the difference in political coloration between north and south.
We have three supervisors who are significantly more radical than their own constituencies. They share an elitist set of attitudes that makes them comfortable enacting command and control regulatory requirements.
Social engineering is a way of life with them. They have no qualms about coming out to the colonies to tell the folks who own and work the land what they will be allowed to do with it.
They seek to stifle economic development against the will of the governed and against the best interests of the county itself. These three align with the enviro-socialists, self-identified "stakeholders" who would like to impose extreme and unreasonable restrictions on property. Deep down, they do not believe in the basic tenet of private property in the first place, and they use whatever means they can to diminish the value of private property and the generation of wealth. My colleagues in the majority are only too willing to help move forward this radical agenda.
What is common to both Santa Maria Energy and Gaviota is that we have more devaluation of private property and more control and limitation on wealth creation. This is economically suicidal behavior.
Interestingly, the public testimony in both cases was roughly 2-to-1 in opposition to what the South Coast majority ended up voting for. This kind of “tin ear” to the needs and rights of those affected by their decisions demonstrates how out of touch our South Coast supervisors have become. We would like to see folks on the South Coast elect representatives who reflect the needs of the whole county.