Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

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By Jim Carbone

Last night at the City Council Meeting, Santa Barbara City Councilman Oscar Gutierrez asked if they could enact an ordinance to prevent old, sick and disabled people from living in the SB foothills to develop more housing in high fire areas. When did it become ok to discriminate against protected classes? If this is how he conducts himself in a public meeting, what is happening behind the scenes that we don’t see? This behavior should not be allowed to happen without ramifications. The fact that the City Attorney advised him that this was not legal and the rest of the Council did not support it is not sufficient; it does not change the fact that Councilman Oscar Gutierrez was advocating for discrimination.

To provide further context, his comments came up in a discussion related to an ordinance to allow lot splits (item number 17 on the agenda). The City Council and Mayor were cautioned by many that allowing lot splits in high fire areas would pose a significant risk to residents and there are no plans to mitigate this risk. This was Councilman Gutierrez’s solution. So I guess it also means it’s ok if people not in these protected classes can’t get out in an emergency and die?

For the record, I am a strong proponent of the need to develop housing, especially targeted to low income individuals. Discrimination is never the answer.

I for one would like to know what actions our City is taking to respond to this behavior and our community needs to know what our elected officials are doing.

Op-Ed's are written by community members. The views and opinions expressed in Op-Ed articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of edhat. Do you have an opinion on something local? Share it with us at ed@edhat.com.

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a-1639001048 Dec 08, 2021 02:04 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

Because Democrats simply can't be discriminatory; there must be another reason. Kinda like how if a Republican president bans travel from certain countries to prevent the spread of a highly contagious virus because of racism and xenophobia, but if a Democrat president does it it's because they're trying to prevent the spread of a highly contagious virus. So simple I wish more people would understand.

sacjon Dec 08, 2021 03:05 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

2:04 - VOICE, a Democrat prez did it over a year later after we'd learned a lot more about the NOVEL virus. With Trump's track record, no wonder most peoples' knee jerk reaction was that he was just, once again (see Muslim ban), being a racist. It IS simple, but you don't understand that.

a-1639015319 Dec 08, 2021 06:01 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

This is pretty obvious discrimination. Oscar has only one perspective as he has expressed it to me, he represents the people of his own ethnicity and he sees the housing issue through a distorted lens of bias against these folks. He is a wanna be demagogue but his personality is so obnoxious one has to hope he will get no further than this job.

ZeroHawk Dec 09, 2021 09:10 AM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

@601, i know him personally and am as white as a jar of mayo. you're so wrong it's disgusting. he was not being discriminatory. there is logic to what he said. it's pretty pathetic that you all just JUMP to create drama and a mountain out of a mole hill.

PitMix Dec 08, 2021 01:59 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

Seems to me Gutierrez was referencing the practical problem of how to evacuate people with mobility issues in high fire areas.
Really I think the insurance companies are doing the work for us because fire insurance is now unaffordable for many people in those areas. And the rich who can afford the insurance won't have trouble evacuating themselves, will they?

el_smurfo Dec 08, 2021 02:46 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

Oscar is very young, but his heart is in the right place. He's literally the only CC member who reaches out to his constituents. While Kathy is hiding in a bunker, he's posting on social media, meeting people in the neighborhoods, etc. Sometimes people just riff on an idea to see what others say. This is hardly discrimination.

Signed, old white guy who lives in the foothills.

ZeroHawk Dec 09, 2021 09:12 AM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

ElSmurfo- yes he is and yes he does! i called him out on things, we met, we discussed our neighborhoods and what projects are needed for safety. he reaches out to his people constantly and you're right, he is the only one. He's also NOT a politician. he has my full support, my friends and familes support.

sacjon Dec 08, 2021 03:01 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

"When did it become ok to discriminate against protected classes?" - It's not, that's why it was shot down by the City Attorney.

It was just a dumb suggestion, not a discriminatory policy. If acted upon by the Council, we'd be having another conversation.

Blue Onion Dec 08, 2021 04:25 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

DEAR JIM, Instead of complaining about (somebody) trying to work on a solution to a problem, you should "Make The Headlines" by calling out what is NOT being done by local leadership; easy on crime (by homeless or otherwise), and we know that it start's at the "top",; it's disgraceful what the President is doing to our nation.

OAITW Dec 08, 2021 05:03 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

1. THERE IS NO HOUSING CRISIS! (Yes I’m shouting, sorry.)
2. The birth rate in California is below replacement. (Google it, it’s true.) The 2020 US Census showed that California lost so much population over the last 10 years, that it will have one less seat in the House of Representatives.
3. With an effective vacancy rate of 0%, by definition, every dwelling in Santa Barbara is affordable to those living there.
4. When our elected officials use the term ‘Affordable Housing’, they are speaking in code. What they mean is that in every community in California there should be an equal distribution of income levels living there. This is a ridiculous and ultimately destructive concept. (See 5.)
5. Each one of us is competing with the other 8 billion people for resources including housing (Now more than ever because of the internet). We may not like it, but that’s like saying you don’t like the tides or the sun coming up. It’s just the way it is.
6. Santa Barbara is a desirable place to live. Many of those 8 billion people would like to live here. There is effectively infinite demand for housing in Santa Barbara. High demand creates high prices as those people compete for available housing. (Econ101).
7. In a market with infinite demand, increasing supply (Building more housing) has absolutely no effect on pricing. I’ve lived here for 45 years and have yet to see increasing housing supply lowering prices.
8. Our elected officials are bought and paid for by the real estate and development industry.
9. Most of the government intervention in the the housing market has the opposite effect of the stated purpose. When the government mandates affordable units be built, a lucky few win the lottery for under market prices, but by removing those units from the open market you lower supply and increase prices. When the state interferes with local zoning ordinances and mandates ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units) in all zones, the market now prices in the potential income from the ADU. The more services we provide for the homeless, the more homeless we have.
10. The one sure way to lower housing prices in Santa Barbara is to make it less desirable and our elected officials are doing all they can to make that happen.

a-1639025324 Dec 08, 2021 08:48 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

Your comments are well thought out and true. I was a Planning Commissioner for a local city and could see the strain (and influence) that developers put on the staff and electeds. We cannot build enough to satisfy a never ending demand. In doing so we will only ruin what makes this area so beautiful, and use up water, utilities and roads in the process. One of the best kept secrets regarding affordable housing projects: they are either poorly or not monitored, so either eventually or quickly go up in price or rent to market rate. A few lucky clued in people snag them at below market prices, and many have the .... to rent these out at market rate. In our HOA of 56 homes, the 12 "affordable units" are mostly all rented out. The "low income" owners had all agreed during purchase to live in their unit until they sold to another family who met the income requirements for a lower priced unit. Instead., they got a great price on their unit, moved out and rent them at market rate.

EastBeach Dec 08, 2021 06:01 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

It's a good thing there's video of that council meeting because the OP ED writer is making a tempest in a teapot. The council meeting is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qv9pzi8tp8A&t=6925s ... Council deliberation starts around 1:50:00. Gutierrez's relatively brief comments are at 2:03:00. Council vote starts at 2:10:00. My goodness ... Gutierrez's question/comment are completely innocuous! He was simply exploring an option in part because his constituents had contacted him with that idea (and now they know the merits of that idea per the City Attorney). He even opens by stating the notion might be discriminatory. The last two sentences in the OP ED's first paragraph are really an exaggeration. Note there was no pushback from Gutierrez and the council voted unanimously.

ZeroHawk Dec 09, 2021 09:15 AM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

East beach thank you! this is the most reasonable and exact post on the subject. i've got oscars back as well. i viewed the video and i restate, that most of ed hat just wants drama and when there isn't any, they attempt to create it.

Chip of SB Dec 08, 2021 08:03 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

It’s too bad the city council won’t consider taking action to reduce the fire risk in high fire areas or to reduce the risk of post-fire flooding and debris flows. If we know there are high fire hazard areas, why isn’t the city working to mitigate the hazard. The city could improve roads to make it easier for residents to evacuate and for firefighters to get to the fire. The city could implement fuel reduction programs and maintain fire breaks to reduce the severity fire when it occurs. The city could improve the debris basins that are not adequate to protect it from a post-fire debris flow.

EastBeach Dec 08, 2021 09:57 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

The city has been doing this for years now with the Wildland Fire Suppression Assessment District .... https://www.santabarbaraca.gov/gov/depts/fire/wildland/wildland_fire_suppression_assessment_district/default.asp .... http://wfsad.blogspot.com/

PitMix Dec 09, 2021 07:25 AM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

Yes, the City should take the money of those of us who live in poorer no-risk areas and give better services to richer people who chose to live in wildland areas. That seems fair. And pretty much how the current system works.
In one of the recent fires, a fire captain lived in a neighborhood that was threatened. They had a lot of fire engines in that neighborhood for protection.

PitMix Dec 09, 2021 03:42 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

East, no way that $100 assessment on a single family home is paying to widen and repave roads at the cost of millions of dollars. Remember when they tried to up the assessment you collectively had a cow?
You will definitely be extracting funds from me for your benefit. As people living in wild interface areas have always done. Cost of fighting the tea, jesusita, aliso, etc fires: millions. Cost of fighting fires on the westside of SB, 0.


EastBeach Dec 09, 2021 05:01 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

Pitmix - The most recent Engineer's Report for the assessment district (it's like an annual report) shows your statements & assumptions are incorrect. Projected suppression costs for each year are divided by the number of homes in the district to come up with that year's assessment fee. Projected costs for 2022 are ~$310K to be paid by the 3,334 homes in the district. The Engineer's Report also details how "benefits" of the assessment district must be established per the CA State Constitution. So there is a fractional "general benefit" for those living outside of the district which the city does pay for. That is estimated to be 7.7% of the suppression budget for 2022. So bottom line ... residents living in the district will be paying for 92.3% of the cost of the program ($287K) while the City of SB will be pitching in 7.7% ($23K) for the "general benefits". The report says prior to the establishment of the assessment district, the City was paying ~200K per year for this work.

EastBeach Dec 09, 2021 05:22 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

Here is the 2021-2022 Engineers Report for the assessment district.... https://www.santabarbaraca.gov/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=227547 .... I'm not an expert on this assessement stuff but I do try to inform myself by reading before posting. As far as I know, suppression activities have mostly been what's pointed out in the latest report (e.g. creating defensible spaces, roadway/vegetation clearing, etc.). If they've ever spent "millions" for the road changes as you claim, there would have been some pretty large assessments. Finally, IMO you're really not helping by trying to make this an "us versus them issue". You don't know me and you have absolutely no idea how I feel about the assessment. There are probably people living in the district that have more in common with you than you think.

a-1639071372 Dec 09, 2021 09:36 AM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

That's what the media and liberal politicians want you to think, so you keep voting for them and not those evil republicans. Other than what you've seen on the TV or social media, have you ever even met and spoken with a Republican in real life? There are also a ton of female Republicans who would be shocked to find out they're misogynists.

a-1639093338 Dec 09, 2021 03:42 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

Hey Zero, still wondering if you ever even spoken to a republican or if you think they're "racist backwards thinking misogynists" just because the media, social media and politicians running against republicans told you they were. Any firsthand experience whatsoever?

ZeroHawk Dec 09, 2021 03:46 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

@936 yep, plenty of them. in my own family too. i stand by my statement. I've met repubs from different races, sexes, and corners of the country. *Most* have this in common. They are white, or rich. No crime against being white (like me) or rich (not like me), but to be a total fraud and impede other classes and races is just what they do. They are all for businesses and the other side of the aisle is for the people.
Then we see this. The "Conservatives" come into office and spend like a drunk sailor using credit and blank checks to win approval ratings, then when they pile onto the deficit, we vote them out and put the blame on the next guy which is usally a dem. Look I can go on, but this thread is about someone taking words WAY out of context and a bunch of you fools jumping on the band wagon.

sacjon Dec 09, 2021 03:50 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

VOICE at 3:42 - Every racist person I know is a republican. Also, stop blaming the media for the very words that come out of peoples mouths. Take a look at any of the republicans in the spotlight these days - what words are they saying? Further, "backwards thinking" is actually the foundation of conservativism - they're generally against progress. See also "Make America Great Again." Therefore, they could be called "backwards thinkers." Can't really deny that. Finally, as for "misogynists," which party is the party associated with archaic and fanatic religious beliefs?

We've ALL had firsthand experience with these traits being more heavily displayed by republicans than democrats, and so have you. Stop pretending the very foundation of conservatism is just a made up lie by the media.

a-1639096105 Dec 09, 2021 04:28 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

Why are you hanging out with so many racist people? Fanatic religious beliefs? Racism the very foundation of conservatism? You guys have drunken so much Kool-aid you don't even realize you're running around on a sugar high, exactly where the political elite want you, where you're easy to control.

sacjon Dec 09, 2021 04:35 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

VOICE - 4:28 (you're not fooling anyone) - I never said I hang out with them, nor did I say there's a lot. Just that every racists I know (could be 1, could be 1000) is a republican. "Racism the very foundation of conservatism?" Never said that at all, I said backwards thinking was the foundation, due to their whole platform being about reverting to how things used to be (MAGA) and generally being against progress, at least social and environmental progress.

You really didn't read (or understand) a word I wrote. Maybe you republicans should spend focus a little more on education too.

Byzantium Dec 08, 2021 09:24 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

Only reason "developers" are given a free hand is because city employee unions think growth is necessary to keep raising their own salaries and benefits. That is the sinister hand in glove cramming down more housing in this town - more tax payers to pay city compensation packages and their endless raises. Don't just rag on "developers" - they are only doing the lord's work as far as city employee unions go. Bring in more money, but the greed starts inside the city - developers only carry out the city staff marching orders.

sbsunshine Dec 08, 2021 09:44 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

We need better rental ordinances that protect tenants. Many landlords are renting properties they plan to tear down eventually and are renting "as it". The problem is that these properties have asbestos, mold, bad electrical and many features that do not meet code. The landlords are doing this through loop holes. Unsuspecting tenants invest in their move and then find out that the property is a lemon and the landlord doesn't want to fix anything. The attitude with the landlords is "don't like it, than move" and they flip the problems to another unsuspecting renter. So, yes, we do need to get a handle on the rentals because many landlords don't respect tenants and don't care if they are subjected to poor conditions. There are few if any attorney's in town that will represent tenants because they don't make money on it. We need a better tenant education-empowerment program that provides proactive education and exposes the loopholes. We need to even the playing field and expose the landlord subterfuge. I recently looked at a house rental that had a guest house in the back yard that the owners occupy and the the property manager wouldn't disclose how often the owners show up and for how long. And, the house was extremely dirty and had an old mattress in the garage along with other "garbage". The property manager said the landlords want to keep all that in the garage. I was like "wait, you want me to rent a dirty, not updated house, no garden service, broken blinds and the owners get to store their garbage in the garage I am supposed to park my car. And, you want me to pay excessive rent. WTF". It was rude, disrespectful and full of entitlement. Literally, in their eyes I was a piece of shit. There were no smoke detectors to code, there was one meter feeding both the house and guest house and the property would be considered exempt. Under these and other conditions, a tenant would need to know what the law really is. Also, there are a lot of homes in SB built in the 50's which means asbestos in duct work, walls, ceiling tiles. It costs about $2K to remediate asbestos duct work, its not expensive. But, rentals should not have old asbestos ductwork. It's just not safe. And, we need better mold disclosure laws. Here is a tip - hire a house inspector to do mold tests, never ask the landlord or property manager as they will never do it because they would then have liability. So, if you smell a "musty smell", if you see discolored walls, if there have been leaks you most likely have mold. Spend the money and do the test, then they have to address it. The SB Tenant Union is excellent as a resource and legal aid. We need more of this type of empowering info in the hands of tenants.

a-1639067114 Dec 09, 2021 08:25 AM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings


Many times you have to be your own advocate.

a-1639031436 Dec 08, 2021 10:30 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

Question: if street width dictates (& high fire) exempts the Riviera, then wouldn’t it likewise be applied on the Mesa where there are high fire areas, high density and narrow streets? This Riviera exclusivity story is getting old.

Lucky 777 Dec 09, 2021 08:12 AM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

If old frail people want to live in the foothills then the solution is to have them build an ADU and move in a family of undocumented migrants to be their household servants while they learn the language and get started on their new life in America. A win-win for both.


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