Letters to the Editor
The Future of Santa Barbara
Your Editorial and article “The Long now of Santa Barbara” (March 5, 2020) provide a great service to our community. You’ve touched on all the hot-button issues that will determine how we grow and adapt to a changing world: density, cars, parking, building height, views, retail, community. I loved the renderings of future city-scapes, but one figure captures the essence of the problem (p. 33): “Living Space vs. Parking Space.” Parking for two cars takes the space that could house two to four people, and that’s not even counting the amplifying factor of building height. Think of those 15,000 commuters a day who drive to Santa Barbara to make our food, clean our houses, haul our trash, heal our sick, teach our children, police our streets, and put out our fires; they could live in those homes, be part of our community, and populate empty State Street.
We prioritize cars over people, and we pay for the price for that priority. Residents complain that Santa Barbara is already too crowded and cannot afford more growth. But how many times have you stood on a street and thought: there are just too many people here? Probably never. But you’ve certainly seen streets choked with parked cars, or the 101 so chock-a-block that you can’t get from point A to B, or cars whizzing past so fast you’re scared to cross the street or put your children on a bike.
I’ve lived here over 30 years, and the population of the city has barely increased. Why? Because we have barely built any new multi-family residential housing in that time period. Whether the argument is lack of water or parking, or increased traffic, or blocked views, the anti-growth forces are out in force to stop multi-family construction. And what about those who’d benefit from that future housing; well, they have no voice, and they can’t even argue their side at the planning meetings.
All those supposed arguments against growth and high density residential construction are solvable; desalination can provide water, active and public transportation can reduce the need for cars, and thoughtful infilling of buildings can frame views, as your architectural charrette drawings demonstrate.
So what’s the way forward? Those of us who live and own here, and who already enjoy all the benefits associated with that easy lifestyle, have to advocate for: 1) growth and increased density in downtown Santa Barbara; and 2) reduced priority for drivers, which might include less parking, lower speed limits, and designated car-free city blocks. Yes, it will likely mean we lose some of the ease we currently enjoy in driving right up to our favorite downtown venues. But in the end it will create a better outcome for our community at large, meaning everyone who both lives and works here, and will lead to a brighter future for Santa Barbara.
David W. Lea
Land of the Free?
I enjoy your writing and believe you do an excellent job as editor for the MJ.
However, one thing stood out in your most recent editorial re Santa Barbara visionary, Pearl Chase: “Most people believe it is the job of government to solve our larger societal problems.” Alas, that may be true, but I strongly oppose that concept. The founders did not intend for the government to meddle in societal matters. They strove to establish a government that would limit itself to protecting life, freedom and property. Thomas Jefferson: “The policy of the American government is to leave its citizens free, neither restraining them nor aiding them in their pursuits,” and “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” And Alexander Hamilton: “It’s not tyranny we desire, it’s a just, limited government.” And James Madison: “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one…”
The founders believed societal matters should be left to free people.
Mid-19th century Frenchmen, Frederic Bastiat and Alexis De Tocqueville understood and articulated most persuasively the problems with an overreaching government. They both had witnessed the spirit-crushing, thieving nightmare of socialism in France (the short step after progressivism). De Tocqueville traveled and wrote about his mostly favorable experiences in an emerging United States. Bastiat admired the U.S. as best observing limited government, with but two major exceptions that he warned could lead to our downfall: slavery and tariffs.
Walter Williams (http://walterewilliams.com/) quotes and describes Bastiat this way:
Frederic Bastiat, a French economist and member of the French National Assembly, lived from 1801 to 1850. He had great admiration for our country, except for our two faults – slavery and tariffs. He said, “Look at the United States. There is no country in the world where the law is kept more within its proper domain: the protection of every person’s liberty and property.” If Bastiat were alive today, he would not have that same level of admiration. The U.S. has become what he fought against for most of his short life.
Bastiat observed that “when plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” You might ask, “What did Bastiat mean by ‘plunder?’” Plunder is when someone forcibly takes the property of another. That’s private plunder. What he truly railed against was legalized plunder, and he told us how to identify it. He said: “See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.”
De Tocqueville wrote:
“…After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”
Lastly, I’d like to compliment Ashleigh Brilliant on his philosophic-literary-irony and humor laced (or laden) columns. Ashleigh’s warm, thoughtful writing reminds me of the witty, agreeable (better described as “urbane” in his L.A. Times tribute), Jack Smith of the Los Angeles Times, daily columns 1958 to mid-‘90s (my mom was also a big fan). I had the pleasure of meeting Jack and his lovely wife, Denise, at a book signing at Chaucer’s (God and Mr. Gomez) in the early ‘90s. More on Jack Smith if you’re interested: https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1996-01-10-mn-23066-story.html
So, it looks like a Class Action lawsuit was recently filed against certain cannabis growers in the Carpinteria Valley.
No surprise to me as Class Actions are not about any one person, they are about communities. A community that suffers odors reducing their quality of life and quiet enjoyment, i.e. “nuisance.” A community where 186 acres of pot can be grown, yet where only about 60 acres are “in ground”. In other words, these odors – that travel for more than one mile – will spread and/or intensify by a factor of 300%.
While the lawsuit was filed in Carp, let’s not forget that the Ordinance is the most sweeping piece of County-wide legislation passed in decades. Commercial cultivation is an existential threat to our brand, avo industry, wine industry (yes, terpene odors penetrate grapes) and the air that we breath. We have all become guinea pigs with respect to Vapor Phase Odor Systems, VOC’s and terpenes that are used in turpentine’s and varnishes.
The growers who, for the most part, drafted the most lenient Ordinance in the country needed to be saved from themselves, but the county utterly failed. Our Political Monarchy (i.e. Board of Supervisors) didn’t push-back even slightly by requiring, perhaps over time, sealed greenhouses and carbon filtration – a broadly accepted solution where neighborhoods and other crops exist. It really is sad to see that lawyers and non-cannabis profiting residents are now needed to define the term “good neighbor.”
In the county that gave birth to the environmental movement, I don’t understand why commercial Cannabis cultivation is not couched in environmental terms. This is a water affecting and extremely thirsty crop whose terpenes can increase ground level ozone, not a good thing. Do environmental organizations jump-in to help? No, actually the opposite – they laud the environmental track record of our pols as litigation and suspicions swirl.
Anyway, I want to echo Ms. Laurie’s recent piece – get involved, be involved! It’s the reason why I’m thankful to the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis and their efforts to protect us. Someone had to do something because, unfortunately, neither the County nor the growers will.
SB County Resident
A Message to Women
We must be our own advocates in closing the gender gap.
A female must function in a world that all too often treats her like prey, clips her wings, and burdens her with fear and shame.
The challenges to women exposed during #MeToo reopened discussions about harassment, gender, and power. The struggle with stereotypes against girls who are intelligent and articulate, who speak up for themselves, and who are active members of school and society, is very real.
The World Economic Forum’s most recent Global Gender Gap Report finds that while women worldwide are closing the gender gap in areas such as health and education, inequality persists in the workplace and politics.
However, data shows that when women are present and in leadership roles, more women are hired at all levels. This holds true even when taking into consideration the disparities in the size of female talent pools across various industry sectors.
As president of ShelterBox, a Santa Barbara based disaster relief organization that works globally, I see how even disasters disproportionately affect women. From higher death rates, increased gender-based violence, economic loss and loss of education, disasters exacerbate gender inequalities. However, women are pivotal in the recovery process – they often are the first responders to a crisis and play a central role in the survival and resilience of families and communities.
International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, and political achievements of women. It also marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality.
Right now, it is estimated that gender parity across the world will take another 100 years. None of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, and neither will our children. We must do better.
Women must have opportunities to be represented as powerful figures, from politicians, to corporate board directors, to musicians. The race is on for a gender equal boardroom and workplace, a gender equal government, gender equal media coverage, gender equal sports coverage, and more gender equality in health and wealth. There is not enough being done to change the view of “girl.” Each of us, working together, can initiate change.
We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perspectives, and lift and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, each one of us can work to create a gender equal world.
While we need men as our allies, we must be our own advocates – both for ourselves as well as for each other. We must speak up. We must speak out. We must stand together.
Melinda Gates said, “A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.”
Having a voice can be a challenge when we, as women, are told we are not valued, when sexism is institutionalized in many spaces across our society and culture, and when we are punished and silenced for speaking out.
But our silence will be interpreted as our acceptance.
I’ve been able to rise to a leadership role as a female by having the courage to find my voice and connect that voice to causes I believe in. The road for me has been long and rife with unimaginable obstacles along the way. But I remain steadfast on this path to progress and greater gender equality in our world.
I am reflective on the progress made and inspired by acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played extraordinary roles in the history of their countries and their communities. But, so much as we want to celebrate achievements, we must acknowledge just how far we still have to go.
I encourage you to give, get, and gather. Give your time to issues that matter to women, get a mentor who can give you support and provide perspective, and gather fellow females and allies to join you in raising our collective voice.
Fantastic Winter/Spring issue of MJ but I noticed that important civic planner Bernhard Hoffmann’s first name was misspelled as “Bernard” on page 136.
I offer a warm welcome to the new owners and incoming Editor-in-Chief, Ms. Lurie.