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