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Saturday, February 16 , 2019, 12:16 pm | A Few Clouds 58º


Trent Benedetti


Trent Benedetti: Imagine Noah Trying to Get a Santa Barbara County Permit to Build His Ark

Bible stories are popular in the holiday season. Likely everyone has heard about Noah and his ark. If not, you can read it beginning in the sixth chapter of Genesis.

Here is a brief synopsis of the story: In response to widespread corruption, God decided to flood the earth and thus destroy all inhabitants, both man and beast, save and except Noah, his family, and two of every kind of animal.

So that Noah and his cargo would have a way to escape the floodwaters, God directed him to build a big boat.

What if the story was repeated today, here, in Santa Barbara County? What would Noah have to do to build his boat?

Well ... he would need a permit. Who knows how long getting it would take?

The Santa Barbara County permitting process is a version of eternity; hell on earth if you will — a sad fact indeed.

Why does it take our county so long to issue permits?

If one asked the question to 100 people, there would be many different answers.

No doubt, some would praise the archaic, burdensome and cumbersome — not to mention, prohibitively expensive — Santa Barbara County permitting process. Those who did could be safely deemed NIMBYs; you know, Not-In-My-Back-Yard.

The uncertainties and interminable delays associated with our county’s permitting process make local NIMBYs happy. And let’s face it. We all have a little NIMBY in us.

But the delays and uncertainties of permitting in this county induce a form of transcendent ecstasy in our local BANANAs.

BANANA is an acronym for Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything. Only members of our radical environmental community are true BANANAs. (What an interesting and appropriate play on words because radical environmentalists are ... bananas.)

Can you imagine how loudly the local BANANAs would howl if Noah wanted to do here what he did in Biblical times?

First thing, they would not want Noah’s boat built from wood because they oppose cutting down trees. They would not want the ark built from fiberglass because fiberglass comes from oil and they are completely opposed to all-things-oil.

They would not want a steel boat because CO2 is emitted during the steel-making process and man-made CO2 drives BANANAs ... well ... bananas.

Bottom line: They would not want the boat built.

But if Noah managed to build it anyway, do you think our local radicals would sit quietly while he loaded two of every kind of animal on the boat? Not a chance.

They would flail about looking for anything they could use to keep Noah from doing what he set out to do. Perhaps they would allege animal cruelty.

At a minimum, they would claim Noah was violating the Endangered Species Act because, after all, he would be removing the animals from their natural habitat, thus upsetting something.

It would be a tall order for Noah to do in Santa Barbara County today what the Bible story tells us he did in his time.

In fact, it is painfully difficult for any of us to get done anything in this county that requires a permit, and it seems everything requires a permit of one sort or another.

Actually, there is nothing wrong with permit requirements. There is a lot wrong with how difficult it is to meet them. This needs to change.

Nothing will change until we demand it from those we elect. We have elections in 2016. We can ensure needed changes occur by electing First and Third District supervisors with views different from those held by the sitting supervisors.

If we do away with the old, we can start anew as Noah did after the flood waters receded.

— Trent Benedetti is a member of the board of directors of the Committee to Improve North County and a longtime local business owner. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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