City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

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City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees
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By edhat staff

The City of Santa Barbara is expected to layoff approximately 400 employees due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Layoff notices were sent out on Friday citing an expected 25% reduction in revenue, approximately $30 - 33 million dollars.

The city's main revenue sources stem from property taxes, sales taxes, and hotel bed taxes. Revenue from hotel bed and sales tax has almost completely stopped. The current revenue is expected to fund essential services including the fire department, police department, and utilities. 

The employees expected to be laid off are considered "non-essential" due to Governor Newsom's public health order. These include library employees, parking lot attendants, park and recreation employees, and lifeguards. 

The city hopes to rehire the majority of the laid-off employees in the future.

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Chip of SB Apr 01, 2020 12:53 PM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

I believe people are reacting positively to the city laying off employees because they are generally frustrated with the city. It has nothing to do with the specific individuals being laid off, and I expect that everyone shares my sympathy for everyone who is losing their jobs as a result of the government's response to the Corona Virus. The fact is the city has become a bloated bureaucracy that is no longer effective. For example, I would liken the city's approach to cultivating state street business to Elvira's approach to gardening in the Adams Family. When businesses leasing commercial space start insisting on provisions that allow them to walk away from their leases if the city won't give them permits in a timely manner (see the recent Independent article on state street business), then we really need to rethink what we are doing. Maintaining the traditional Spanish style architecture that characterizes our city is a nice idea. However, what good is architectural review if all the businesses close and State Street turns into a giant "homeless" encampment. The city has become the problem, not the solution. Instead of helping residents and property owners make things better, the city has become an obstacle to progress. As a result, many feel the solution is to "starve the beast" and force a dramatic reduction in the size and the power of the city government. The catastrophic loss of funding that is coming in the weeks and months ahead may be a great opportunity to achieve that reduction. Get the city out of the way and business will thrive.

Sam The Dog Apr 01, 2020 01:17 PM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

Right on Chip. The city bureaucracy with their byzantine rules/requirements and the army of staff to write and enforce those rules is the number one impediment to a thriving downtown.

Alexblue Apr 01, 2020 11:53 AM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

The mindless anti-government rants are disgusting. Yes, we need to be reasonable in how we spend money as a society and how those in government are compensated, and yes some of them are IMO over-compensated, but reveling in people losing their jobs is just gross.

PitMix Apr 01, 2020 11:38 AM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

To the extent that these layoffs have balanced the city budget, they are necessary. But the reality is: with business revenues coming to a crashing halt, the last thing you want during a recession is for governments to layoff all their workers and put the economy into more dire straits because of 0 spending. The economists say that this is the time for deficit spending, or spending the surplus you accumulated during the last 10 good years. Unfortunately the feds have been like the grasshopper and didn't save for a rainy day. CA has a rainy day fund, but how long will it last?

PitMix Apr 01, 2020 03:51 PM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

Public safety (cops and firefighters) already takes 1/2 the city budget and 2/3rds of the pension allocation. Are you saying we should get rid of them too? Mad max, here we come.

SantaBarbaraObserver Apr 01, 2020 11:55 AM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

Your assessment of a Keynesian solution is backwards. The Federal Government needs to get money into the hands of the people, not the small municipalities who re-gift our money to a few workers whose entire income is garnered from the very people they serve. Paying a small % of the population from a finite pool of public resources is not tenable nor wise, nor can it stem the bleeding or the inevitable austerity. The best thing we as a small city of <100k people (with 20-40% of whom that do not pay a penny in taxes) is to shutter all city departments not responsible for public safety and utilities and let the Feds manage the monetary situation. We are not able to keep a few thousand people on payroll when the city's income has dropped to near zero. That is of course, if you want the city's public safety and infrastructure to continue to function. Let the State and the Feds manage the unemployment and the fiscal needs of the people - that's their duty. The city's duty is to care for the well being of the citizens of the city. It is not a jobs program.

Bird Apr 02, 2020 04:44 PM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

Transparent California would not be necessary if we, in California, state as well as cities, had transparency so that the salaries of all public employees were listed. They could be listed by occupation (and numbers), for instance, planners in the Community Development, thereby protecting the individual's privacy. But how much privacy should there be for those jobs that are paid by the public?

Bird Apr 02, 2020 04:49 PM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

MACPUZL, I replied to yours and it got posted above not after yours. Just because the Transparency Project is funded by various right wing organizations does not mean that its goal is to "...increase corporate profits". As I noted above, if we had true transparency, there would be no need for the separate Transparent California. Without public openness, I think it is providing a valuable service.

PitMix Apr 02, 2020 03:54 PM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

CitizenSB, and yet, if a government agency is mismanaged, it can cause a lot of problems. Hence the lack of PPE gear for this current crisis. Don't you wish you had a decent administrator making a decent salary in charge of things right now?

citizenSB Apr 02, 2020 10:17 AM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

Not the same -- the CEO if a company has to create revenue by creating a product and selling it to people willing to pay for it. The CEO of a municipality is an administrator - nowhere in the same payscale.

citizenSB Apr 02, 2020 10:18 AM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

Not the same -- the CEO if a company has to create revenue by creating a product and selling it to people willing to pay for it. The CEO of a municipality is an administrator - nowhere in the same payscale.

PitMix Apr 01, 2020 03:54 PM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

Yes some city employees make decent money. No, they are not part of the 1% that control the business and financial aspects of this country. The CEO of the County in charge of 1000s of employees and a huge budget makes $400K a year. How much do you think a CEO of a company with a similar budget would make? Millions.

SantaBarbaraObserver Apr 01, 2020 12:20 PM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

Are you disputing the figures or just trying to muddy the waters by mixing a political agenda into the conversation? If the figures are wrong, please cite some examples. I would say that looking at the numbers, the total annual earnings are likely inflated due to the calculations of benefit costs. But the salary data is pulled from public sources, so unless you have some other citations, I will assume its accurate. But if its not, please let us know with some actual citations rather than trying to gaslight the conversation. That does not help nor does it provide any avenue for clarity on the figures or the true costs to the people.

macpuzl Apr 01, 2020 12:14 PM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

When evaluating claims like this, you should consider the source, which is neither transparent, nor California. "Transparent California" is just one of the many names used by the tax-exempt "free-market think tank" Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI). NPRI refuses to divulge its own funding sources, stating, “NPRI respects the privacy of our donors, which includes the amount of a donor’s gift”. NPRI's primary funding source, as determined by The Conservative Transparency Project, is Donors Capital Fund, a dark-money source of funding for conservative groups. Its donors also include The Cato Institute, co-founded by the Koch brothers, and organizations affiliated with the climate change denial movement. NPRI spends 75% of its revenue on six-figure salaries and benefits. Its goal is to undermine support for employee unions nationwide, thereby decreasing salaries and increasing corporate profits.

Red Creek Apr 01, 2020 09:37 AM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

So terribly sad for all involved in the layoffs, from the unemployed workers to the boss who has to do it. I have no happiness in the misfortune of others, and personally really appreciate the library works, parking lot attendants, parks workers, police officers, firemen, sanitary workers, planning department planners, plan checkers, assistants, secretaries, transportation with their planners, supervisors, road crews, Never worked for the City but certainly appreciate all they do to keep Santa Barbara the beautiful, safe and livable place that it is. Thank you City workers.

LooseCannon Apr 01, 2020 09:43 AM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

Noble sentiments, Red Creek, but perhaps some of those higher salaried employees, some of whom are making pretty obscene wages for government employees (along with very generous pensions, tenure, and benefits) could sacrifice a chunk of their salaries so some of these low-wage workers could keep their jobs.

LooseCannon Apr 01, 2020 09:49 AM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

In every crisis, there is a redistribution of wealth, and we know which direction it flows. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The top brass keep their jobs, and the minions get crushed underfoot.

AdamVant Apr 01, 2020 07:01 AM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

I had to fire two employees. Now the government knows how it feels. Now the government sees that there are consequences to imposing a police state on everyone without doing any triage.

Alexblue Apr 01, 2020 11:54 AM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

"The Government" doesn't "feel", buddy. People feel. And the people who are being laid off are feeling bad--you should try and dig down a few layers past your snark and find some empathy for other people.

PitMix Apr 01, 2020 11:35 AM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

I haven't heard that anyone is under house arrest. Actually it seems we are all free to go out and do stupid things if we want. Don't need the hyperbole.

AdamVant Apr 01, 2020 09:45 AM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

"And are you willing to lose 10% of the people over 70 by not quarantining?" Of course not. That's what doing triage is about -- determining priorities for action. Not putting everyone under house arrest and closing down the city to all activity and movement.

a-1590594383 Mar 31, 2020 11:21 PM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

We are finding out that we can get by with far less than we think. Look how much pollution and traffic congestion we have eliminated. Businesses are realizing how much work can be done at home. Keep office employees working remotemy and turn all those empty offices into housing. Kill two birds with one stone. No added density in the city and no commuters. Then out of town developers can stay out of town.

Sam The Dog Apr 01, 2020 08:31 AM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

With some of the strictest building codes, most inflexible building department, and highest construction costs of any city in the country, office space can not simply be converted to housing.

LooseCannon Mar 31, 2020 09:44 PM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

"'Non-essential' ... include library employees, parking lot attendants, park and recreation employees, and lifeguards." Funny how the "non-essential" employees are the ones who are actually visibly doing a job. The last time I checked the list of salaried employees in the City of Santa Barbara, I saw a lot of people making $150,000 to $300,000, and I have no idea what any of these people are doing to improve my life here in Santa Barbara . . . except issuing edicts closing down businesses and public spaces . . . . . . while collecting handsome salaries, uninterrupted, at our (taxpayers') expense. Nothing like social distancing when you're sitting at home collecting your salary as usual. Must be nice.

midair Apr 01, 2020 12:45 AM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

Your ignorance of the functions of city staff is your own fault. No reason to lay them off because of your shortcomings. If you want to know try getting involved.

Yeti Mar 31, 2020 07:59 PM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

Not listed as a closed department is code enforcement.. the only department that turns a net profit due to the overload of red curbs and timed parking on most streets. Too bad they don't kennel these dogs and let the very few citizens on the street park where they wish. Who cares, it is like a ghost town currently.

SantaBarbaraObserver Mar 31, 2020 06:12 PM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

This is a good start but to save our city they need to layoff several hundred full time, salaried employees in addition to these hourly employees. The revenue the city uses to pay for its bloated bureaucracy is all but gone for the next year at least. The city will receive a tiny fraction of ToT and sales tax normally remitted, not too mention all the fees and fines they collect. They need to lay off most of their staff and shutter all non-essential services immediately.

oceandrew Apr 01, 2020 08:55 AM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

I always find it telling to hear from those demanding the removal of alleged deadweight in the city govt are the first to cry out when services they once took for granted are no longer answering the phone when needed.

SantaBarbaraObserver Apr 01, 2020 08:40 AM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

I dont believe you understand what "Trickle Down" theory means Midair. I'd assume based on this post (and others) that you are likely a city employee. After all, where else but in a government bureaucracy does ignorance and ineptitude meet to produce a $100-200k a year liability? Our city survives on the gratitude of tourists and outside money. Who do you think invest in the hotels and buys the multi million dollar homes? Now that they are gone for the foreseeable future, the people who are in place to support their influx are no longer needed. To prevent a bankruptcy, every one of these people need to be let-go immediately. It is not the duty for a city of 100k people to employ a few thousand when they are not necessary. Furlough the entire city and you will see how many of these staffers are unnecessary. Tough times call for tough choices. If you want Santa Barbarta to be solvent, to rebound, the city's headcount must be reduced drastically. This is basic econ, not a silly theory pushed by long dead politicians.

a-1590594383 Mar 31, 2020 08:34 PM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

Maybe they should also lay off the city council? Those laid off are also part-time workers --- all the councilmembers except for Mayor Murillo have other jobs. Along with the parking lot attendants, they too are not unionized. They're not having a council meeting this week, so there will have been only two meetings in March.

mrtrump Mar 31, 2020 06:49 PM
City of Santa Barbara to Layoff 400 Employees

And they need to make the layoffs permanent. It will soon be discovered that the laid off people were not necessary for to proper functioning of a society, but the hard working people in the private sector are the ones who make good things happen.

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