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Barking of the Neighbor’s Dog

Linking La Entrada de Nada to Injunction to Nowhere


Thursday, April 18, 2013
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TAKE A GANDER AT THAT GOOSE: Sometimes, you have to stretch to find dots to connect. But other times they stab you with a butcher knife in both eyes. Such was the case at this Tuesday evening’s Santa Barbara City Council meeting, which otherwise could easily have been mistaken for a circle jerk except that all the councilmembers were sitting in a straight line. Three arduous hours were spent resurrecting an ancient debate ​— ​so dead the bones had turned to powder ​— ​about the La Entrada development slated for the bottom of State Street. What saved the evening from utter sterility were efforts by anti–gang injunction activists to engage the council in a public debate over an issue it has spent the past two years ducking.

Angry Poodle

On the table was a hope and a prayer brought by councilmembers Dale Francisco and Randy Rowse to reexamine whether it makes sense to expand the sidewalks on the lower two blocks of State Street where the new 114-room La Entrada hotel project will soon sprout up. By widening the sidewalks to make the area ever more enthralling to the teeming masses, Francisco and Rowse worry cars will get squeezed as State Street is narrowed from four lanes to two. It’s an old argument on which people can reasonably disagree, though I’m right and they’re wrong. Francisco ​— ​the Fred Astaire of the political right for his clever footwork ​— ​seized upon recent project-design changes proposed by the project’s third developer, ​Michael Rosenfeld from L.A., to reopen this can of worms. If Rosenfeld can alter certain aspects of the project, first approved by City Hall 12 years ago, Francisco pointedly wondered, then why couldn’t he reconsider the road narrowing, too? The original traffic studies on which the project approval was based, Francisco argued, were bunk then and have only gotten bunkier since. And with all the wine bars bursting out in the adjacent Funk Zone ​— ​not to mention the threat of an errant tsunami ​— ​Francisco argued it makes no sense to narrow State Street. Can’t we just study it some more, he asked.

The short and long answer is no. And only superficially is the question remotely sensible. Here’s why: Ever since 1998, when La Entrada was first proposed, City Hall insisted ​— ​and the developer agreed ​— ​that the sidewalks should be expanded and the street narrowed. The idea was to maximize the public space around what would be the biggest private redevelopment project to hit city limits. This was a key strategy to ensure that a private developer didn’t effectively commandeer a major public space for the benefit of well-heeled out-of-town visitors. It’s the same reason City Hall also insisted the project include an expansive and inviting public plaza. The wider sidewalks have been integral ​— ​not incidental ​— ​to the design of the project from its inception. It was one of the defining elements during environmental review, and it was one of the key reasons the project was ultimately approved both by City Hall and the Coastal Commission. To remove this from the project now would constitute a capital case of bait-and-switch. It would also open City Hall up to a host of lawsuits and a revocation of Coastal Commission approval. With lower State Street sitting in a zombified state of suspended animation ​— ​our very own Miramar ​— ​does anyone really want more delay? But Tuesday night, we rehashed the old debate for so long I had carbuncles sprouting off my backside. Francisco and Rowse justified this exhausting expenditure of time and spit, arguing it allowed the issue to be better vetted. It gave the public, they said, a clearer understanding of what’s happening. I don’t know how much clearer it could have already been. Since 1998, there have been more than 40 public hearings, lawsuits, appeals, and even an attempted initiative about La Entrada ​— ​almost all focused on the sidewalk-widening, road-narrowing aspects. If any animal were beaten to death as badly as this, PETA would have dispatched shock troops. Yes, it’s true that the underlying traffic study was pretty dubious. But that’s ancient history. But even if it weren’t, it would show that on busy summer days, there’s going to be serious congestion at State and Cabrillo streets no matter how many lanes you build ​— ​six or two. The punch line: If you can’t make cars happy no matter what, then make sure you handle the flow of pedestrians. They are, after all, what causes the congestion down there.

But that’s not what bugs me. What irked me was how Francisco and Rowse were so willing to waste the council’s limited time to debate something written in stone years ago, yet the council has somehow been too busy to conduct a single public hearing on the gang injunction. Whether you support the injunction or not, it qualifies as a bona fide major policy issue. There should be a council discussion where the pros and cons are hashed out. The council and the police chief should make their case to the people; the people should talk back. Maybe some facts and figures could be presented, and a decision should be made. Yet here we are ​— ​two years after the injunction was first proposed ​— ​and it has yet to make it onto a single council agenda. Given that the injunction covers pretty much the entire East and West sides of town, I would think it could be of considerable interest to a whole lot of people. Maybe even more than La Entrada.

I get it. The gang injunction was the function of political posturing needed at the time to reassure people getting scared and jumpy that something was being done. Tuesday night’s discussion was posturing, as well, priming the pump by Francisco and Rowse to tap into that simmering reservoir of discontent about such things as traffic calming, bulb-outs, and social engineering. But if Francisco and Rowse want to abuse the council process to kick what’s obviously a dead dog, maybe the council as a whole should consider throwing a live one into the mix. To do less is to defame circle jerks. And that would be most unfair.

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Independent Discussion Guidelines

The Poodle nailed it. Again.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
April 18, 2013 at 7:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Since when can we believe that anything the government says is the truth forever, even if now (often doubtful). There is no such thing as a done deal. Why should this case be any different?

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
April 18, 2013 at 8:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Rowse and Francisco are just vying for the upcoming mayoral run. Hotchkiss could hand them both their hats in that race. Francisco has way too much baggage and gets worse every week. Rowse is seen as pandering to drunks so he'd lose a more narrow election.
Bad political grandstanding by very bad political actors.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
April 18, 2013 at 12:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

let's elect Bendy White!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
April 18, 2013 at 1:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Do you think he'll run? The voters like Schneider because she's seen as smart and independent, she's seen as dependable and willing to buck her party's establishment to solve problems. You might not always like her ideas, but she's genuine and in politics that is priceless.
That's why any campaign donors to Francisco or Rowse might as well put their money in a pile and light a match.
The only "right winger" that even comes close to sharing Schneider's qualities is Hotchkiss but he probably hasn't the cajones to make a grab for the brass ring.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
April 18, 2013 at 1:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

yes, and a nice gal, but fairly weak...she also dropped her 4-point program from last year, including the needed pension reforms which would help save the system. The unions got to her.
I don't think Bendy is interested, to be honest, too smart for the job.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
April 18, 2013 at 1:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

nice going, Nick, & I agree the Council is just playing with itself and...kicking the gang injunction can down the road. I'd like to see Rowse and Franco, and the others, step up on the injunction, debate it openly as they ought in a supposed democracy, and make a friggin' decision. Since I live on the Westside, I'm pretty interested. How 'bout some real dialogue, council members?! This posturing is silly.
In fact, let's narrow the Las Entrada lane area to ONE LANE, make all of State St up to Micheltorena ONE LANE, and that single lane only for emergency vehicles, cops, etc. Walking zone. This is a direction we should go, or at least debate. Hey, if the infamous Blue Line were drawn, Las Entradas is ALREADY UNDERWATER.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
April 18, 2013 at 1:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yeah shut down State St from the ocean to Sola sounds really cool.
I often walk faster than State St. traffic anyways. Also decriminalize skateboarding in the bike lane, that piece of ignorant prohibition is still on the books.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
April 18, 2013 at 1:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Did anyone watch the entire hearing on Tuesday and see how ridiculous Councilmember Murillo was, waving her arms, wanting, practically demanding to make a motion before the mayor had a chance to speak on an agenda item that didn't require a motion?!

at_large (anonymous profile)
April 18, 2013 at 4:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Nobody knows wth you're talking about at_large, do you?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
April 18, 2013 at 5:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I think this is a realllly bad idea narrowing the lanes. With the train traffic also...what a cluster#$%. Bill Levy, the gift that just keeps on giving. Betcha in 10 years they widen it back to where it was.
This column was funny!

bimboteskie (anonymous profile)
April 18, 2013 at 5:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The quaint eclectic sleepy seaside town of Santa Barbara is dead, Long Live Dismal Land by the Sea and its many Cruise Ships. A Santa Barbara for the Tourist by the Tourist and the Asphalt Jungle People sipping overpriced wine and buying Landfill Trinkets on State Street will long endure, until it runs out of water or finishes poisoning the Ocean with its dilapidated leaking sewer system.

howgreenwasmyvalley (anonymous profile)
April 19, 2013 at 10:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Most of that section of State St. is going to be under the ocean, wishing the water away won't make it go.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
April 19, 2013 at 1:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I think it's in good measure, and time to require developer's to post a bond to fiance these projects up front, and not have funding based on sales of units.
All the same lackey's are sowing their faces.
I agree, Rob Dayton's traffic study was a joke.

easternpacific (anonymous profile)
April 19, 2013 at 3:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

They should just trash the La Entrada plans and leave the area as is, never looking back.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
April 19, 2013 at 3:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Narrowing State St is the dumbest idea ever. Well, right next to bulb outs with bricks that have asphalt patches, or putting all the bars in a tiny area, or putting in brick sidewalks on St Street to somehow make tourists happy, or, well, jeez we have some stupid civic social engineering in this town.

No folks, choking off the transportation artery to the beach is insane. The anti car nuts think everyone will walk; they won't don't and shan't. Instead we'll pollute the air even more with cars taking forever to get through the intersection. Maybe C.A.R.B. will charge a carbon credit toll for the gridlock.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
April 20, 2013 at 6:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

geeze, I guess the suggestion to go ONE-LANE only (fire/emergency lane only) on STATE from Micheltorene to the ocean has been voted off the island...

DrDan (anonymous profile)
April 20, 2013 at 7:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Micheltorena, of course.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
April 20, 2013 at 8:12 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Seems to me the sidewalks are already wide enough down by the beach, and judging from the flow of vehicles and pedestrians, I don't see peds backed up at the intersections, I see cars. So reducing the number of car lanes makes perfect sense, right? Sorry Trixie, but I don't think this horse is quite dead until the project is built. Even then, you'll probably see angry constituents coming to the City Council asking for the road to be returned to 4 lanes once everyone realizes what a dumb idea this was. On the other hand, making State Street peds and bikes only from Gutierrez to Sola is a great idea.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
April 20, 2013 at 9:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

No word on where the rollercoaster will go?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
April 20, 2013 at 10:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

That's called Highway 154 between midnight and 2.00am.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
April 20, 2013 at 11:13 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"Tuesday night’s discussion was posturing, as well, priming the pump by Francisco and Rowse to tap into that simmering reservoir of discontent about such things as traffic calming, bulb-outs, and social engineering."
-- Nick Welsh

"Narrowing State St is the dumbest idea ever. Well, right next to bulb outs with bricks that have asphalt patches, or putting all the bars in a tiny area, or putting in brick sidewalks on St Street to somehow make tourists happy, or, well, jeez we have some stupid civic social engineering in this town."
-- itlaliansurg

That was a good laugh!

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
April 20, 2013 at 11:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It's truly a low hanging fruit issue, since most everyone thinks narrowing that section of Sate is a bad idea. The Dale & Randy show later announced opposition to stormy weather and bad cooking as well.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
April 20, 2013 at 12:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

walkers will, do, and shall. I recommend NO lands and simply green lawn and tiles for all the tourists and shoppers...locals can lay back in their outlying neighborhoods, densely populated, over-crammed schools with low test scores...really, the beach scene hardly ever enters my head...

DrDan (anonymous profile)
April 20, 2013 at 12:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

NO lanes, of course.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
April 20, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)


"The quaint eclectic sleepy seaside town of Santa Barbara is dead, Long Live Dismal Land by the Sea and its many Cruise Ships. A Santa Barbara for the Tourist by the Tourist and the Asphalt Jungle People sipping overpriced wine and buying Landfill Trinkets on State Street will long endure, until it runs out of water or finishes poisoning the Ocean with its dilapidated leaking sewer system."

howgreenwasmyvalley (anonymous profile)
April 19, 2013 at 10:38 a.m.

This isn't Facebook but I click a symbolic "like" for this comment.

"No word on where the rollercoaster will go?"

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
April 20, 2013 at 10:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"That's called Highway 154 between midnight and 2.00am."

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
April 20, 2013 at 11:13 a.m.

It's already arriving in droves.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
April 20, 2013 at 3:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Definitely opposed to bad cooking, but I like stormy weather.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
April 20, 2013 at 9:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's no wonder I joined The Conservative Anarchists Party

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GMoLE...

BBOY (anonymous profile)
April 23, 2013 at 2:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

When is the next meeting? I was too organized so they don't appear to want me anymore...

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
April 23, 2013 at 4:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If you show up on time Italiansurg your goose is cooked

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
April 23, 2013 at 5:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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