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Election Q&A with Frank Hotchkiss

NOOZHAWK: What specific actions should the City Council and the police department be taking to fight gang violence? If elected, what would your plan be and what would you identify as benchmarks for success?

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Frank Hotchkiss
FRANK HOTCHKISS: First off they ought to look at being more stringent in enforcement by setting up gang-free zones. Also, they should make it clear that parents are responsible for their child’s physical destruction of property. For the real bad guys, they should put a GPS bracelet on them. Their friends will stop hanging around with them. That’s been the experience in L.A.

NOOZHAWK: Would you consider an injunction banning certain individuals from wearing apparel associated with gangs?

FH: I don’t know if you could do that legally. I’d certainly consider it.

NOOZHAWK: With the General Plan update in motion, what is your vision of what Santa Barbara will look like in 30 years?

FH: This has got to be a commercially vibrant place of business of all sorts, so the downtown area is populated by people who can enjoy it and have the money to do so, and in an ambience that is absolutely unique in the United States.

NOOZHAWK: Should Santa Barbara’s Sphere of Influence boundaries be expanded? Specifically, what should the boundaries be?

FH: No. It should be kept as it is.

NOOZHAWK: Should Highway 101 be widened from Milpas Street to the Rincon?

FH: Yes.

NOOZHAWK: Are you willing to spend local tax dollars to bring commuter rail to Santa Barbara?

FH: No. I think it’s an expensive experiment with unproven results.

NOOZHAWK: What is your opinion of street narrowing and roundabouts as traffic-control measures, and do you think they have been successful?

FH: You have to plan for cars, not against them. You don’t want to make it onerous for people to drive in Santa Barbara.

NOOZHAWK: With regard to new buildings in downtown Santa Barbara, how high is too high? What should be the height limitation in terms of stories?

FH: Forty or 45 feet. Right now buildings can be as high as 60 feet, because that’s the height of the Hotel Andalucia. Everything else technically can be that high so the ordinance needs to be changed.

NOOZHAWK: Is Santa Barbara losing its middle class?

FH: I don’t even know what that means. But affordable housing is a bad idea, because it can never meet the need, therefore people get preferential treatment. Mobile homes are great; renting is fine. The city should not be in real-estate work.

NOOZHAWK: Should the city help develop more workforce housing?

FH: See answer to last question.

NOOZHAWK: Seizing on the adoption of the Isla Vista Master Plan that will yield more than 1,400 housing units, Santa Barbara County has asked the state of California to certify that the I.V. plan satisfies the county’s unmet need for affordable housing under the 2002 Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). Is it fair to use Isla Vista’s willingness to accept increased density as a way to avoid a regional allocation of affordable housing units? How would you handle this obligation?

FH: The whole state model should be fought. Central planning was proven to be a disaster by the Soviet Union. Central planning from Sacramento also won’t work. The bottom line is the free market should determine and will determine most effectively what housing is both needed and built.

NOOZHAWK: The City Council is looking at approving a new downtown transit center of up to four stories that, conceptually, would include affordable and market-rate housing, retail commercial space, a day-care center and underground parking. But under the proposal, most MTD buses would still require street parking. Do you agree with this approach?

FH: No. Why would you have a day-care center? That doesn’t make any sense to me at all. Parking buses in the street is not good.

NOOZHAWK: Measure A calls for aligning the city of Santa Barbara’s Election Day with that of the nation by moving it to even-numbered years. Proponents say this would help boost voter turnout. Opponents say it would add a year to council members’ four-year terms and lead to campaigns that are more partisan. Do you support Measure A?

FH: I’m against it. I call it the Hugo Chavez amendment. He’s a dictator in Venezuela who was supposed to have power for seven years. He changed the rules, and has got it for life now or something.

NOOZHAWK: Mayor Marty Blum recently gave her staff a grade of A minus. What grade would you give?

FH: I don’t know; I haven’t worked with them yet.

NOOZHAWK: Do you support cities competing with the private sector for the deployment of Internet broadband networks? If so, what is your preferred financing method to build the required infrastructure?

FH: No. The private sector will do it better, and cost the taxpayers less.

NOOZHAWK: Have we heard the last of the "blue line"?

FH: The (current city officials) are the people who have made that decision. If they are still in power they are going to make other stupid decisions. These guys have an environmental agenda that puts "environment" before the people. They stopped raking the beaches of seaweed and driftwood because they want it to be a better environment for birds. They don’t care that it’s dirty for the citizens.

Also, the state has mandated certain energy preservation requirements on new construction. The city just increased that by 20 percent, with great pride. What it means is virtually wrapping a house in plastic. Which means that mold, natural human effervescence, smoke from cooking, doesn’t leave the house. This makes the house less healthy. It can even be fatal. If a house has radon, the cure for radon in to open the window. They have effectively just shut the windows.

NOOZHAWK: What are your thoughts on medical marijuana? Do you agree with the mayor that it should be available in pharmacies?

FH: The city rightfully said let’s put a moratorium on new medical marijuana dispensaries.

NOOZHAWK: What’s your favorite neighborhood?

FH: Where I live — the Riviera, because of the sense of history — things that are 150 years old, plus the Mission. It’s like living in Europe.

NOOZHAWK: What book had the most impact on your life?

FH: It’s a short story. The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber is one of the best stories I’ve ever read. A lot of Shakespeare is fabulous. Hamlet. Othello was pretty fabulous, too.

NOOZHAWK: What’s your favorite movie?

FH: Fargo.

NOOZHAWK: What music are you listening to now?

FH: Mostly classical: Beethoven, Brahms, Samuel Barber.

NOOZHAWK: What kind of car do you drive?

FH: 2001 Porsche

NOOZHAWK: What do you do for a living?

FH: Real estate for Sotheby’s. Also used to be a reporter for the Associated Press, an actor (appeared in the 1972 movie Cisco Pike and numerous TV shows) and started a public relations business.

NOOZHAWK: What political leader or historical figure do you draw inspiration from?

FH: Abraham Lincoln. Because despite calumny from political parties and the public he stood fast to what he believed in: to protect and save the nation and never wavered from that, despite tremendous criticism. Without him the world would be a very different place, because there would never have been the United States.

NOOZHAWK: Would you support an ordinance requiring that Santa Barbarans set their home pages to Noozhawk.com? Will you propose it for us?

FH: Absolutely. Three times a day.

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