Regarding Josh Molina’s Oct. 30 Santa Barbara Talks podcast, “Ex-Councilman Brian Barnwell Says Parking, Cars Should Not Drive Housing Conversation,” at the 55:00-minute mark, Barnwell talks about the current Santa Barbara City Council. I agree with him.
The next day, I watched the City Council meeting on its YouTube channel and, at the 2:08:00 mark, Mayor Randy Rowse, the elder, implores the council members not to vote for another $55,000 to paint new stripes on State Street.
This is all I need to say. Look for yourselves.
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Santa Barbara City College trustees apparently approved, of a 4-3 vote, advancing plans for a $350 million bond measure. The language is written in the board goals and the SBCC president has been authorized to begin the process.
First, we should inform taxpayers who will be asked to approve this bond, that the average 30-year interest rate today is about 4.4%.
$350 million borrowed at a rate of 4.4% over 30 years amounts to $462 million in interest payments. In addition to the $350 million borrowed, that amounts to $812 million in taxes to be paid over time.
A lower interest rate of 3.8% produces a total interest cost of $399 million over 30 years, bringing the total cost of interest and principal to $749 million in taxes to be paid over time.
Three quarters of a billion dollars is a great deal of money. We don’t know in any detail yet what it is wanted for. But can we afford it anyway?
In California and Santa Barbara County, we are beset with ever-rising taxes and unaffordable housing costs, coupled with rising crime rates, drug addiction and mental illness on our streets.
In the list of priorities among the taxpayers of cash-strapped cities, saving Santa Barbara City College by boosting student numbers — especially with subsidized, undocumented immigrants — is not high.
Enrollment is on the decline, with fewer students from within the SBCC boundaries from which tax and bond fees are paid.
In 2009, SBCC had 20,232 students. In 2016, that number had fallen to 17,608 and, by 2022, was down to 13,549.
Over just 13 years, the student body numbers fell by 6,683, a reduction of 33%.
However, it appears that the new student body number of 13,549 is misleading in that only 9,122 students physically attend class regularly, with 4,427 studying exclusively online.
In the fall of 2022, only 8,644 students were considered local. The other 4,905 students were from somewhere else.
3,818 were from somewhere else in California, 548 were from out of state and 539 were international.
There are several major issues with this request for a bond that will cost taxpayers somewhere between $749 million and $812 million in principal and interest, especially when added to the costs of past bonds and the running costs of SBCC paid by taxpayers:
- Is SBCC worth all the money it is costing over time?
- Can we, as taxpayers, afford the continuing increases in taxes?
There are three main reasons people are leaving California by the thousands: Ever-increasing taxes, more and more unaffordable housing, out-of-control homelessness and street crime.
Santa Barbara City College is no longer our college for our resident students. 43% of the SBCC student body in 2022 was from elsewhere.
SBCC provides no housing for its students, faculty or staff. Right now, in Santa Barbara, about 5,000 nonlocal SBCC students compete with local, low-income workers for housing.
We have a publicly funded institution that has lost 33% of its paying customers in just 13 years. There appears to be an ongoing war between the SBCC faculty association and the Board of Trustees. The school has not been able to keep an SBCC president in place for a number of years.
Is this where taxpayers want to invest another three-quarters of a billion dollars of their hard-earned money?
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Santa Barbara County residents in the immediate vicinity of Tajiguas Canyon were notified in advance of a public information meeting, held Oct. 26 at the Tajiguas Landfill and online, about a requested landfill expansion — horizontally, vertically and in terms of operation hours.
About a dozen of us attended. While the few families who live in the neighborhood are more severely impacted by the landfill operations, it seems to me that the larger community requiring these services rightly should be involved in decisions about the future disposal of our waste products.
Another short-term fix cannot be this county’s solution to a mushrooming problem left out of sight and out of mind. If we currently fall below the state averages of landfill efficiency, if we plan to run out of capacity to accept more refuse in four years (or 12 years if granted the expansion, when our landfill debt is scheduled to be retired), it is definitely time for a community review.
We must think creatively about where our waste should be going, how to divert more of it, and how to educate future generations to live sustainably, preserving this special place on the coast, even if that means putting more of our money where our trash goes.
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I read Noozhawk fairly regularly, I pay a small amount monthly, and appreciate many of the reports, stories, articles by Dan McCaslin, and other pieces.
But I wonder why Noozhawk runs religious articles by D.C. Collier? I read a couple, skimmed a few, and they just seem out of place.
And not being a believer, I think proselytizing in a newspaper is out of line.
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