Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

98 Comments
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By Paulina Conn

The Cota Street parking lot is not idle five days a week as City Council Member Randy Rowse implies. It is a “no-vacancy” commuter lot with parkers paying the City receiving $70 per month per parking space permit. This lot is especially needed since workers can not afford to live in Santa Barbara and increased density rental housing with inadequately mandated on site parking is causing increased dwelling unit parking on public streets leaving less for others.

Cota Street floods in heavy rains. First responders will have a hard time getting out.

Look at all the sandbags on Anacapa Street just half a block away. Parents picking up students during heavy rains at Santa Barbara Junior High, which is located on Cota St. just a few flat blocks east, have to park on streets north and walk to ensure their vehicles do not get stuck on flooded streets.

Police station underground parking is likely to contaminate the drinking water supply with salt- water intrusion.  Cota St. is only 12 to 15 feet above sea level. The greatest concentration of groundwater wells is right here. See the study done in 1984 by the USGS. https://pubs.usgs.gov/wsp/2197/report.pdf.  There are no barriers to salt-water intrusion at any level of the wells. Vera Cruz Park, right across from the lot, is a primary monitoring site. City supplied water information is at: ahttps://www.usbr.gov/mp/watershare/docs/2012/city-of-santa-barbara.pdf.

Lanny Ebenstein has proposed the purchase of the publicly owned La Cuesta High School site at 710 Santa Barbara. This is a sloping hill with no likely flooding or salt-water intrusion. Perhaps La Cuesta could move to the newly acquired Armory site.

The City is using excuses as to why other places are not feasible for a Police station including the current site. The current site is likely large enough with the proper design. If not, the next door building on the corner at Santa Barbara and Figueroa,  is “For Sale” or buy an adjacent apartment on Anapamu St. The cost of private purchase is small over time. Give the community the criteria and ask for volunteer designs at the current location. Underground parking at the current site can be dug without contaminating ground water.  The current station can be rebuilt taller. This is a sloping piece of property. If there is a will there is a way including temporary place(s) during construction.

The Cota Street lot is perfect for the Farmer’s Market. It serves the most positive of functions for locals, tourists, and businesses.

A winning solution for the Police Station is possible. Cota Street is seen, short-sightedly as a financially cheap, easy solution but long term it is a costly, losing solution.


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98 Comments

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72torinomike Sep 17, 2019 09:05 AM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

Other than testifying in court, working as bailiffs, bringing inmates to and from court, the Sheriff's Civil Bureau is located in the courthouse, probably other dealings as well, sure, the SO has nothing to do with the courthouse.

yacht rocked Sep 16, 2019 04:31 PM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

Sears property by eminent domain. Close State Street one afternoon per week and put the Farmer's Market there. It works for Carp's Linden Ave and brings folks downtown to do additional shopping and eating out.

PitMix Sep 17, 2019 08:34 AM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

When was the last time eminent domain was used by the City for any reason? I don't remember any cases. It is rarely used as people get really upset when government does this. One of those theoretical powers that doesn't really get used.

Factotum Sep 16, 2019 04:38 PM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

Eminent domain requires just compensation. I don't want $20 million dollars in extra taxes, just so the Farmers Market can continue one morning a week at the Cota Lot. Do you, YATCHTROCK?

LocalMatt Sep 16, 2019 03:58 PM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

The argument that police need the building close to high crime area and thus need it in the cota lot is absurd. There are beat coordinators with officers patrolling that beat. Why would we need office personnel close to high crime areas. The police are all ready there.

a-1571371027 Sep 17, 2019 10:39 AM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

At Sept 16 11:12 - Have you ever looked at a map of Santa Barbara? Pretty clear that you haven't. It's a 6 block walk up Anacapa to the Courthouse. Where did you get 9 blocks? Jeez are you even from SB?

a-1571371027 Sep 17, 2019 08:37 AM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

Sadly, there aren’t many beat cops. Neighborhoods lack regular police patrol. Drunk Zones like the Funk Zone, and lower State St get the police, while City refuses to add a City Charge to every drink poured to help pay for police and first responders.

a-1571371027 Sep 16, 2019 04:05 PM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

LOCALMATT - it's not so much being close to "high crime areas" as it is being close to the Courthouse, at least in my opinion. Officers are constantly walking to/from the courthouse for a variety of reasons every day. Pushing them out to Sears or Earl Warren would increase the pressure on downtown parking and increase the number of SBPD vehicles on the road.

a-1571371027 Sep 18, 2019 01:41 AM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

Which is why you see such huge ugly walls all along the highway, blocking noise for houses built right up against the freeway (or houses unluckily situated right next to the freeways thanks to expansion of lanes).

a-1571371027 Sep 17, 2019 08:57 AM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

ZERO - like most other towns, the farmer's market does not need to be down there...... Why should the police have to move around the farmer's market? Who are you people that think having a 4 hour, once a week market is more important than a permanent and effectively located police station?

a-1571371027 Sep 16, 2019 04:51 PM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

Doesn't matter if the Sears building is not for sale if the City decides to take the eminent domain route. I hope they don't, never cared for unreasonable exercising of eminent domain.

a-1571371027 Sep 17, 2019 10:22 PM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

Awful atmosphere outside a defunct retail ghost town, ugly architecture, literally right next to the freeway. Really? Come on. I support moving the FM somewhere else downtown, including a revamped De La Guerra plaza (that isn’t soiled by vagrants). And actually I live in the middle - geography isn’t the issue.

letmego Sep 17, 2019 09:13 AM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

I think Sears is a great place for the farmer's market, if you consider ample parking and ample space for vendors. The thing it is missing is that it's not "downtown", and I think the downtown feel is what people want. I mean, downtown is almost as dead as La Cumbre Plaza, yes? Moving the Sat farmer's market would probably put a nail in the downtown coffin. That said, why not just close off state street like they do on Tuesday? There would be some other conflicts during the year (Solstice and Fiesta Parades, State Street Mile, etc.), but we could figure a work-around, yes?

a-1571371027 Sep 16, 2019 01:55 PM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

I applaud your taking the time to get involved and start a discussion. I think your assessment of seawater intrusion is misguided, and a total non-issue. Our groundwater is directly connected to the ocean, and flows toward the ocean (preventing salinity intrusion) UNLESS excess pumping is occurring, causing a reversal in flow. Any sump pump installed to keep water out of the proposed parking basement would not be significant enough to effect the flow direction. Seawater intrusion to our aquifers is almost entirely guided by the amount of pumping happening. To put it simply, the more pumping we do, the more seawater wants to flow into our aquifers. The 2012 document shows that all wells in the downtown area (groundwater "Storage Unit 1") are currently not pumping, for various reasons. If you want more information about groundwater in our City, another good document is the "2011 Long-Term Water Supply Plan" here: https://www.santabarbaraca.gov/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=34152

PitMix Sep 16, 2019 12:49 PM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

I have never heard of any flooding problems at this lot and I parked there for 2 years when I worked downtown. Cota St rises uphill from Garden to the new site so is not comparable to the Junior High.....If the existing supply wells in the area have not caused saltwater intrusion then I doubt that one level of underground parking with small dewatering wells, if required, would suddenly lead to this problem. Generally buildings do not use dewatering wells in their design at present because the discharge is subject to the Regional Board Water Quality regulations and is expensive to treat.... The writer was previously part of the group with Lanny and others to try and stop the Mission Creek Bridge replacement project.

Factotum Sep 16, 2019 12:40 PM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

Cota Lot is the best place for the new police station. Not sure why the Farmers Market people are digging in and drawing a line in the sand. Farmers Market can work in a lot of places for its once a week four hour use of a large open space. Makes little sense. Learn to share with the rest of the community, Farmers Market. Your obstruction is leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

Factotum Sep 17, 2019 08:24 AM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

Shopper parking at the Louise Lowry Center Farmers Market offers vast and multiple choices for this early Saturday morning event - there are city parking lots ringing this location from across the street to the Granada garage to the parking lots near the Transit center, including proximity to the MTB transit center. There is little dedicated parking right now for the current Cota lot location, so moving to this West Anapamu part of town provides superb parking options and public transportaiton links.

a-1571371027 Sep 16, 2019 10:34 PM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

This is obviously a done deal. The council will have a fake discussion - and vote the way their minds are already made up: the police will get the Cota Street lot to build a fancy station that'll be the envy of Santa Monica. As for the farmers market, the only ones who care are the thousands of people who have signed the petition to not move. The de la Guerra Plaza is the worst of the possible places for the Saturday farmers market; maybe the parking lot by the Louise Lowry center is large enough? But what about shopper parking? Having it on State Street is almost as bad as the de la Guerra Plaza: what's excellent at Cota Street is how the shoppers can circulate around the market, something that can't be done in a straight line on State Street. There are several alternatives for the PD but it ain't going to happen. This has been a perfect example of "the Santa Barbara way": pretend to let the public decide, send out city staff people to promote "dialog" when there's really no dialog because those staff members get very sour-faced if the public stupidly, in staff's view, doesn't agree with them; and then go ahead with what staff has already decided. Then trot out the mayors, most rarely if ever seen at the farmers market, to say how right staff is with their decision. (Thanks to Helene Schneider for not giving an opinion before the official presentation; the others had no hesitation in following the script!_)

TheKid5 Sep 16, 2019 11:53 AM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

The New SBPD Station The city staff is quoted in today's News Press as preferring the new police station to be built on the Cota St./Santa Barbara St. corner "because it will allow officers to quickly respond to calls in the central business district". What they really are thinking and mean is that they want the new station to be built there "because it will allow officers to quickly respond to calls in the lower State Street Drunk Zone and to the troublemakers in the ever expanding, booze flowing Funk Zone! As I have stated for many years, Santa Barbara has more liquor licenses per capita than any other city in the State of California and that number continues to grow, especially in the Funk Zone. It is already the most policed, trouble prone area in our entire city and will only get worse. Almost 50% of your police dollars go to protecting the bars and drunks from the drunks that the bars create. This come at a price! With more break-ins and suspicious activity in the outlying areas of Santa Barbara, especially the foothills that include Eucalyptus Hill, these areas continue to be left bare of any regular police patrols or presence. The police come to the un-patrolled areas to pick up the pieces. They are slow to respond to calls on busy booze nights, if they are able to answer the call. It is not the fault of our officers. It is the fault of our weak city council. Beware- You are on your own to protect your home and families.

a-1571371027 Sep 16, 2019 11:38 AM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

That location is also within a block or two of the projected sea-level rise. Why on earth would anyone think that would be a good location? In my opinion, it should be somewhere high and dry like the old Sears building.

a-1571371027 Sep 16, 2019 11:32 AM
Opinion: Why I Don't Support a New Police Station On Cota

I have long disliked the current Cota parking lot location for the farmers market and would be thrilled to see another location after all these years but if the assertions in the op ed are indeed correct the author makes valid points.

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