Measure B is an amendment to the City Charter that would limit building heights in various areas of the city of Santa Barbara.

Perhaps you have been wondering why the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors has taken a “no” position on Measure B? Simply put, our organization is charged with protecting private property rights, and we work at protecting property values and housing opportunities for folks in Santa Barbara’s South County.

What would this initiative do? It would amend the City Charter to lower building heights in El Pueblo Viejo (the historic core) to 40 feet, and to 45 feet in all other areas of the city, which currently allow 60 feet, such as the Cottage Hospital complex and other commercial and manufacturing zones.

We are opposed to permanently lowering the building height on all such properties in the city because:

»  The initiative, if passed, would take away our private-property rights. It would reduce the value of all properties in these areas. If you purchase a property with a plan to build or develop housing or commercial space, Measure B would permanently reduce the value of such property by virtue of limiting the properties’ potential. The city shouldn’t control private property or diminish their values in this manner.

» Rather, there are city ordinances in place, a Planning Commission and an Architectural Board of Review to review each proposed project in these areas on a case-by-case basis to determine what is best for each property based on its location, use, etc.

» Future decisions or changes to the limitations could be done only through the city electorate. That would add both time and money to any project, including affordable housing, thereby increasing costs. This is referred to as “ballot-box planning,” and is not the proper way to control development.

If Measure B passes, most of our historic landmarks over 40 feet tall couldn’t be rebuilt if they are partially destroyed. If Cottage Hospital needs to enhance its final wing, it wouldn’t be allowed. Could you imagine that? A city that, by ordinance, prevents its only hospital from providing adequate facilities?

Many of the values of this community are being threatened. Continuing to allow room for units that are affordable by design allows housing opportunities for more. Allowing versatility will ensure we continue enjoying the varied character and charm. Protecting the top 20 feet that some owners are legally entitled to will allow for the Spanish Mediterranean characteristics our architecture is known for.

Finally, it is much more environmentally sound to accommodate for some of our work force here, by legal means, than to continue encouraging commuting.

Thank you for preserving our private-property rights, and vote no on Measure B.

Alyson Spann, president
Santa Barbara Association of Realtors