Don’t Bother Talking Parklets, State has a Plan Anyways

By Montecito Journal   |   July 1, 2021
Coast Village Road features a handful of parklets, all utilized consistently, particularly on weekends (Photo by Nick Masuda)

Mayor and Councilmembers,

You have an agenda item coming up June 22, agenda item No. 16, that could remove parklets in July, or impose onerous modifications on them.

Please avoid doing this. It is the most business unfriendly thing you could do right now.

Thanks to the quick actions of Anthony Wagner, and the blessing of the state, restaurants saved themselves, and you, from their bankruptcy and permanent closure by expanding into the street. BEST thing you ever did. Restaurants shoved out money they didn’t have to build structures, install lighting and outdoor heaters, just to stay alive. The parklets are immensely popular and have created a terrific new vibe in areas much in need of revitalizing.

Please be smart right now and let a good thing stand. Your business community has been hit by three mega disasters in three years: the Thomas Fire, then the biggest wildfire in California history, which killed pretty much all restaurant business December 2017, the very time they count on; the Debris Flow that shut down the tourism industry and stranded workers who needed to use the 101; and now the COVID pandemic.

Surely you can find it within your hearts to extend some grace to those who’ve had it rather hard the past three years.

You need to think with disaster recovery heads. First rule: do whatever you can to minimize economic disruption, meaning especially DO NOT disrupt recovery when it’s underway. Reopening has propelled labor rate increases due to a lack of workers — a very good thing for long low-paid workers here. It’s kept businesses going that send you sales tax revenues — a good thing. It’s crowding the streets so they’re less liable to being taken over by people experiencing homelessness colonizing public sidewalks — a good thing. You have a robust recovery trying to happen — you should get out of the way and let it run.

Don’t waste your time on parklets right now. You should be focusing your attention on the homeless explosion, fire season, the health of your community, and truly important issues. Just like your discussions on FAR for State Street and various housing developments, the state intends to override you anyway with this year’s housing legislation. They’re going to do the same thing re: parklets. Senate Bill 314, introduced by Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, just passed the Senate and will likely clear the Assembly next month, as it has an urgency clause. 

The state intends to give businesses a year extension on parklets and alcohol licenses to keep serving outdoors, dating from when the COVID emergency order lifts (it hasn’t yet). The bill also makes it simpler for bars and restaurants to share their spaces with pop-ups, with each other, and with non-alcohol-serving businesses — which allows a retail area to be shared by multiple entities, lowering costs for all, with continued alcohol service from the licensee.

So, whatever you’re planning to do, the state has bigger plans, and theirs will override yours.

You can read the text of SB314 here:

Kind regards,

Sharon Byrne

Not So Fast on Mission Creek Bridge

The fate of one of the most significant landmarks in our area — the Mission Creek Bridge near the Santa Barbara Mission — is at stake. The bridge was originally built in 1891 and acquired its current configuration in 1930. It is an intrinsic landmark to our larger area.

There is no reason to demolish this bridge. The Mission Canyon Road corridor is safe. City officials have repeatedly testified before elected and appointed bodies that other thoroughfares in the city have significantly more traffic issues.

In fact, the proposed Mission Canyon Bridge demolition plan would make Mission Canyon Road less safe. By smoothing curves, it would speed traffic up and resulting accidents would become more serious.

With respect to retaining authenticity and the historic bridge, it simply is not possible to remove every stone on the existing bridge, redesign the bridge, place some of the old stones on the new bridge, and say the historic bridge has been preserved. 

The new bridge would be 47 percent wider than the existing bridge. The stone parapet walls flanking the new bridge would be 75 percent higher. Existing attached historic stone walls would be breached and moved. Sycamore trees in Mission Creek and along Mission Canyon Road would be cut down. 

There is no reason to spend as much as $15 million or more to demolish an important, functioning, historic bridge and replace it with a new bridge that would be less safe. Please support efforts to save the historic Mission Creek Bridge! 

Lanny Ebenstein
Ph.D., Chair, Coalition to Preserve Mission Canyon

What the Heck

Over 50,000 people have signed a petition not to let Jeff Bezos back into Earth after his 11-minute flight into space.

As Jerry Seinfeld might say, “Who are these people?”

As I do not know anyone who signed this petition (or at least I don’t think so) let me take a shot at why.

Jealousy, hate, anti-capitalists, or some sort of attempt at humor.

Billionaires are people, too.

Visionaries are people as well.

Once we go down the road of deciding what kind of people do not belong on the planet we have lost our way.

I for one have zero desire to go into space.

I love this planet and love to look into space and nobody should be able to petition me not to.

Steven Marko

A Lack of Leadership at Fault

Today our politicians are crowing loudly about 55% of targeted Americans being partially vaccinated, and maybe 45% being fully vaccinated, as if these numbers are the equivalent of summiting Everest.

Am I missing something here? At school, getting it 50% right would earn a student a grade of F.

I get that most people don’t trust the government and most never learned much science in school. But these social failures are the fault of leadership.

The founding fathers were clear about what was needed for real political leadership: knowledge, experience, and virtue (selfless personality).

The founders wanted leaders who had knowledge of political science, and particularly the difference between republicanism (“democracy”) and elected monarchy.

The founders wanted leaders who entered local public service and stayed there in a variety of capacities for a long time.

The founders wanted people who did not care for fame, fortune, or control, but merely the opportunity to educate others, serve the majority, and preserve the rights of the minority.

Is there one such politician serving anywhere in the United States today?


Kimball Shinkoskey

Convenient Concern?

Via Los Santos is a long winding street in the west of Santa Barbara near the Goleta boundary. It is in close proximity to San Antonio Canyon Park, which, as a Google search reveals, has many popular and extensive trails.

Via Los Santos is considerably wider than Riven Rock Road. In most places by five feet or more. Nevertheless, as anyone who has driven there will readily observe, the same white lines prohibiting parking on either side of the road, now exist on Riven Rock Road, are clearly in evidence.

So, the obvious question to be posed to Mr. Hartwig, who happens to live on that road that prohibits parking, where is his concern for wilderness access when it’s a little closer to home? Was there a public hearing with community input before Mr. Hartwig and his neighbors were able to get officials to prohibit parking in front of their houses?

In short, I respectfully suggest to Mr. Hartwig, that if he wishes to enjoy the great outdoors in the “Los Padres National Park” a/k/a Los Padres National Forest, he look no further than down his road, rather than driving miles to park his vehicle in front of someone’s house all day in Montecito.

Jon Emanuel

Knickers in a Twist

“Don’t go givin’ yourself a Melvin over it.”

An amusing visual, gender neutral.

Anyone can experience a Melvin.

Even a middle-school friend can sneak up behind you and give you one as a slapstick surprise, for literally no reason.

Here’s to reviving the Melvin!

LeeAnn Morgan


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