Saturday, July 21 , 2018, 6:51 pm | A Few Clouds 70º

 
 
 
 

Letter to the Editor: County Weapons Are Dull When Wielded by Planners

In the last two months, the Santa Barbara County Planning & Development Department has failed miserably and with great expense to crush the Short-Term Rental and the Winery businesses.

Over the course of five hearings at the Planning Commission and two in Montecito, plus a host of “public outreach” meetings, P&D created such a flawed attack on STRs that the Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to insist that they come back, with a more sensible plan.

In order to try again, they must once again go before the Planning Commission, seek approval there and then come back to the BOS.

Even the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), one of several bibles used by P&D, has three sections in which it declares, “no possible impact” from STRs.

Complaints from the public are most often used as the basis of storm-trooper action by supervisors and planners. However, after reading 756 pages of reports about this issue one can only discover two areas where possibly legitimate complaints could be found. Since there is no current ordinance for reference, most of this mountain of print was consumed with inter-office emails among the planners.

At the last BOS hearing, about five women in Santa Barbara and a couple in the Santa Maria hearing room, spoke against STRs. At least 75 speakers lined up to support STRs.

Neither the planners nor the supervisors took much note of this disparity. Supervisor Janet Wolf, who had made up her mind before the hearing, spoke for a complete ban. After asking numerous questions to which she already knew the answers, she lost the vote to four other supervisors, including pal Doreen Farr.

The most frequently heard complaints are nonspecific and subjective. They fall into the category of “spoiling the character of the neighborhood” or, in other words, classic NIMBYISM. How does one define character of a neighborhood, or what spoils it?

Arguably, there are five possible nuisances: noise, lights, traffic, parking and dust. One can complain about these to the sheriff and even the county with mixed results. It’s a bit easier to call the owner of the premises or even drop in on the nuisance makers and request moderation or mitigation of the problem. If that fails, then the sheriff or county would be the next stop.

These nuisances are reasonably dealt with in the Land Use Development Code, and this has operated very successfully in the Special Events business. Complaints in this area are counted by the county. They are available as public records. I challenge readers to demand that information from the county and then observe how few complaints over the last four years have been directed at wineries and special events.

The heart of this matter is the enormous expense generated by these initiatives that, along with terrible budgeting, has put our county on the financial edge. Supervisor Steve Lavagnino shined light on this disaster in the last BOS hearing on STRs, when he outlined how much tax was collected from STRs. He did not mention the deferred maintenance and huge pension fund liabilities whose can has been kicked down the road.

I urge readers to follow these county shenanigans closely. When they produce the inevitable “crash,” we will all be on the hook. In fact, you can start writing the check now.

Lee Rosenberg
Solvang

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >