City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station title=
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station
77 Comments
Reads 4961

City Council meeting on September 17 (Photo: City of Santa Barbara)

By edhat staff

The Santa Barbara City Council voted in favor of repurposing the Cota Street Commuter Parking Lot for the new Santa Barbara Police Station site on Tuesday evening.

In 2017, with the passage of Measure C, Santa Barbara residents chose to create a new police station to address what the Santa Barbara Police Department (SBPD) states are inadequacies at the current location and a need for special equipment necessities and everyday patrol.

Last week the City released five potential locations for the new station: Sears, Earl Warren Showgrounds, Louise Lowry Rec Center, the existing location, and the Cota Street parking lot. These sites were narrowed down from 19 total which included: Alameda Park, Armory, Carrillo Commuter Parking Lot, City Parking Lot 11 (Haley), City Parking Lot 3 (Figueroa), City Parks & Rec Facilities Property, Federal Property at Las Positas/State St, Macy's Downtown, Newspress Building, Santa Barara Golf Club, SB School District Admin Offices, US Post Office, and Verizon Building.

All sites were reviewed based on the criteria of location, size, flood zones, re-use structures, city-ownership, and charter limitation/annexation.

The vote was 4-2 in favor of the Cota Street Commuter parking lot with councilmembers Jason Dominguez and Kristen Sneddon dissenting. Councilmember Randy Rowse abstained from the vote stating a conflict of interest due to his restaurant, Paradise Cafe, being near the site.

During the meeting the Louise Lowry Davis Center was discussed as needing a zoning change from park land and a public vote. Earl Warren Showground and the Sears building were deemed too far away from the "main call area" which would delaying police response time in emergencies, as well as both properties being privately owned and too expensive.

The Cota Street Commuter Parking Lot currently charges $70 per month for commuter Monday through Friday parking. The lot has 221 spaces and if all those spaces were full of permit purchasing commuters, an unverified estimate would equate to $15,470/month and $185,640 annually for the city. 

Farmer's Market Rally (Photo: John Palminteri)

Additionally, the parking lot is used for the downtown Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings. Farmers and supporters of the weekly market have gathered thousands of signatures to support keeping the farmer's market at its current location.

Supporters of the Farmer's Market held a rally outside City Hall on Tuesday ahead of the City Council meeting wearing shirts that read "Peas Lettuce Romaine." The first farmers’ market in Santa Barbara was held at the Santa Barbara Mission in 1979 and in 1983 Santa Barbara Certified Farmers’ Market Association was established as Non-Profit Mutual Benefit Corporation. The market's Executive Director, Sam Edelman, stated they've been in operation at Cota Street for over 35 years and average 3,000 to 5,000 visitors.

Many Farmer's Market supporters who oppose the Cota location spoke during the meeting expressing concern for farmers loss of income as well as the lot location being too small and a hasty decision. Local resident Lanny Ebenstein stated there isn't a general consensus in the community to make this decision today. "If the council moves prematurely with the Cota lot, it's going to delay everything," he said urging the Councilmembers to discuss and review other options.

Ben Sprague, the CEO of Earl Warren Showgrounds, stated the board was not notified the showgrounds were being considered as a possible location. He then reminded the Council that in 2017 the board denied the possibility of California Highway Patrol building new headquarters at their location.

Supporters of the Cota location spoke of the safety risks to police officers the longer this decision is drug out. Representatives of the Police Association League (PAL) expressed how vital this station will be to help local children. Kevin McGibben, CEO of LogicMonitor based in downtown Santa Barbara, expressed support for the new station stating how important quick response time is to crime and how it will affect the safety of his employees.

Farmer's Market Executive Director Sam Edelman stated it's been evident the Cota lot was a target from the beginning and that De La Guerra Plaza was where the city wanted to place the farmers. After his public comment Councilmember Oscar Gutierrez asked how many of his farmers are residents of the City of Santa Barbara. Edelman stated, "I don't know those demographics... maybe a dozen or so." 

Gutierrez followed by stating, "That bothers me a little bit because I've asked you a couple of times already for that number. What I'm worried about is that your farmers, they're not residents of the city, they're not the ones calling 9-1-1 here, they're calling somewhere else, so there this disconnect because there's 90,000 people that live here that rely on this police force. So, I don't think it's appropriate for outside business owners to dictate how a city will support their police."

Owner of Dune Coffee Roasters/French Press, Julia Mayer, stated the reason she signed a 20-year lease for her business at the corner of Cota and Anacapa Streets was because of the symbiotic relationships with the farmers. "I'm committed to the health of downtown Santa Barbara and I want my taxes to be paid downtown," she said. While stating it's risky to move something with such roots, she ended her public comment by pointing at Gutierrez saying "and I'm a westside resident and business owner."

Local activist and Los Olivos resident, Anna Marie Gott, urged the council to look for new options and to take Cota Street and the Louise Lowry location off the list. She stated there's a desperate need for a new police station but the Cota location is very constrained and doesn't allow for growth.  She argued that due diligence was not done as it was clear that Sears location owners wanted to build housing and Earl Warren Showgrounds had no idea.

Anna Marie Gott speaking at Tuesday's City Council meeting

All Santa Barbara City Councilmembers agreed the current police station is inadequate and unsafe, offering support for a new station.

Councilmember Eric Friedman stated both police officers and farmers have the two toughest jobs in America today and feel there are critical issues as the current station is not seismically sound and lacks proper facilities for female officers. He supported the measure to move forward.

Councilmember Jason Dominguez proposed to eliminate the Cota location for 10-12 weeks and to look for another viable option then to come back and compare. He agreed that Cota was the obvious front runner and everyone provided evidence to make that location stick but it ultimately offers no room for growth.

Councilmember Sneddon agreed saying she changed her mind and cannot support the Cota lot at this point and wants to see it and the Louise Lowry location removed from the list.

Councilmember Oscar Gutierrez spoke passionately for the police department and challenged those opposed to the Cota location to go for a police ride-along. He then pointed out Mayer and offered for her to come door-to-door with him and chat with residents on the Westside since that's who he's speaking for.

This recommendation will now go to the Santa Barbara City Environmental Review Board. The entire meeting can be viewed here.

Login to add Comments

77 Comments

Toggle Comments (Show)
a-1571371915 Sep 24, 2019 02:21 PM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

The City would not have to modify De La Guerra Plaza much to accommodate the Farmers Market. They could create pull-in angled parking around the perimeter drive and sell out of the backs of their trucks. The driveway seems wide enough depending on the angles. If not, they could widen in a bit.

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 05:20 PM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

Seriously, aside from personal feelings I don't get the opposition to moving the FM. Would someone opposed please provide objective fact why this is bad? (Personal feelings while valid, are not objective fact which a society has to stick with so all members benefit as much as possible). Is it b/c they think it's hip to wake up Saturday a.m. and stroll to their local FM and they think that's Euro or something? Or they dont' want to use or dont' have a car? I don't see any solid reasons for why this is such a huge issue.

a-1571371915 Sep 20, 2019 09:19 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

At 5:20 PM - Another great question. I've asked that multiple times on here and....crickets. NO ONE has a solid, objective reason why the FM can't be moved. The only arguments are "it's been there 35 years," "it's within walking distance of dowtown," and "it's good for the community." Did I miss any?

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 11:52 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

What they should do is invest in a satellite location uptown then revamp their downtown location. Having it right on Cota and Anacapa is ridiculous for so many reasons, least of which is the farmers market. Part of their argument is so they can 'walk' downtown. They can't do that now? They have bikes! Just makes the wait longer for those on the north side of town. Enjoy!

PitMix Sep 19, 2019 02:46 PM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

Retrofit standards for a public safety building are much more stringent than for theaters and buildings that are not critical in the event of an emergency. The cost to design an interim facility meeting their requirements would also be very expensive. Are the non-Cota people offering their wallets to pay for the extra costs? Haven't seen any posts to that effect.

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 01:09 PM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

I thought the problem was that the current station is too small, not that it is old and needs work. Also, sometimes the cost to renovate an old, unsafe building is greater than demolishing and starting fresh. This issue has been discussed for decades. Let’s just build the damn thing and move on. I have faith that the Farmers’ Market people will adapt and do well in DLG plaza and adjoining street. It will be inconvenient, but they’ll figure it out. The police have been inconvenienced for a long time, and they have to be there all day every day.

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 12:54 PM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

at 12:32 - Haha, yeah, those supporting the new station are totally "clueless" - by that, you mean, EVERYONE. No one, aside from yourself, dispute that the current location is unsafe, unstable, and no longer acceptable for its use as a police station. Earthquakes are only ONE of many reasons it is unsafe. Quit hyper-focusing on non-issues and grow up a little. Calling people names is childish. NEXT.

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 12:32 PM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

Obviously, the puppet supporting the new station is clueless. ANY building can be retrofitted. Wasn't the Granada retrofitted? Wasn't the Hotel Californian literally cut in half and brought current? Any brick building in California? The Coliseum in Rome, Notre Dame in Paris now being rebuilt from the fire. Yes, anything can be revamped. Next.

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 12:22 PM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

ZERO - are you an engineer? How do you know what the police station needs to become safe? Also, 11:52 specifically stated: "satellite location uptown," not downtown as you claim. Again, you're not making much sense.

ZeroHawk Sep 19, 2019 12:17 PM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

BS, it can be retrofitted just like any other building in town that has gone through earthquake renovation. what he was suggesting is that they build something uptown and keep a satellite office downtown...like just about every other city does. our PD uses mountain bikes. They don't walk beats, Ventura and other cities do. They are two blocks from downtown already, and near the courthouse as intended.

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 12:00 PM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

at 11:52 - You missed the main point. The current location is UNSAFE and the police station needs to be re-located, not "revamped," and moved to an entirely new location. What is so "ridiculous" about having the police station downtown at Cota?

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 11:47 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

Why not have it on State Street on blocks up near Granada where there are more parking lots/garages? Why should lower State Street get all the biz? Plus it is closer to actual neighborhoods where people live downtown.

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 12:11 PM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

Yeah, the argument that people don't come because they have to go down/up or up/down to return to origin spot is silly because they have to anyway for their cars/bikes. When I go, I make many loops around to see who has the best whatever before I buy. On Fiesta weekend, they could just move the market to the (Tuesday) lower State St location during the Children's Parade. Plenty of people will be downtown then.

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 12:11 PM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

Yeah, the argument that people don't come because they have to go down/up or up/down to return to origin spot is silly because they have to anyway for their cars/bikes. When I go, I make many loops around to see who has the best whatever before I buy. On Fiesta weekend, they could just move the market to the (Tuesday) lower State St location during the Children's Parade. Plenty of people will be downtown then.

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 11:51 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

at 11:47 - great idea! There are SO MANY great locations for the temporary Saturday market. The problem is, some very loud people are totally against moving it anywhere because "it's been there for 35 years." Nonsense. That's no reason not to move it so the police can have a centrally located police station on City owned property.

Factotum Sep 19, 2019 11:05 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

Since the Farmers Market supports county wide ag farmers, put the Saturday morning market on the County Administration Building parking lot - East Victoria and East Anapamu- great underutilized weekend parking lot. Good surrounding parking and brings new foot traffic into the Historic Arts District. How did the Saturday Farmers Market become the sole obligation of the City of Santa Barbara alone to provide for them?

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 10:34 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

If they move the Saturday farmer's market to Earl Warren I will resume going much more frequently! The parking on Saturdays is abysmal for those of us who do not live close enough to walk, and we stopped going. As for the French Press' gripes, if you are so unsavvy that you signed a 20 year lease the rest of us should not pay for your mistake.

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 12:49 PM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

@letmego No, the parking isn’t bad a time all. We go every week and we have zero problems parking in the city lot on Anacapa. People in this town are so prone to out of touch dramatic hyperbole it’s truly insane.

letmego Sep 19, 2019 12:40 PM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

Is parking really that bad? When I go I park in the Ortega garage, or the lot across from 99 cent store on Haley - I never have difficulty parking in either of those locations.

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 12:27 PM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

1000s of people will quit going to the farmer's market altogether if they can no longer have the luxury of walking there from their homes? My my, what a fussy and shallow bunch! Personal comfort over the needs of the farmers..... hippy-crites!

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 12:26 PM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

Zero - my "Goleta thing" is working out just fine and no one starts crying and pitching fits if we move things around. People will still go to your farmer's market even if it's not within walking distance, if they truly care about supporting farms that is.

ZeroHawk Sep 19, 2019 12:22 PM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

i walk to it and there are hundreds that walk to it. you are correct, many drive there (folks from deeper east and west sides and APS and some elderly customers).

ZeroHawk Sep 19, 2019 12:21 PM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

yeah and those people drive to it. the people that live downtown walk, ride bikes, etc. you do your goleta thing, we'll do ours. very very different circumstances. Also the businesses downtown line up and buy a lot of food from the Farmer's Market. Bars and restaurants. It's where it is and has been fine for 35 years.

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 10:20 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

Zerohawk - why does it "need" to be downtown? There's one in Goleta that is packed and lively and wonderful every week. A farmer's market CAN succeed even if it's not within walking distance to your house...

PitMix Sep 19, 2019 10:06 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

Would be interesting to know how many people actually walk to the Cota farmer's market. Those adjacent parking lots look pretty full on Saturday mornings. People just seem to have a hard time with change of any type.

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 09:59 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

EHDAT - Yes, it would be perfect, however, the people who enjoy walking from their downtown homes to their market will be upset. They seem to be the most vocal opponents of this. It's fine and dandy to force the cops to have to drive from Earl Warren or Sears to the Courthouse, as long as they get to walk from their DT home to their market 1 day a week for a couple hours. It's pure selfishness! There are MANY great locations for a Saturday market, but they will have none of it if it means they don't get to keep the convenience of "their" location. I'm so happy the Council used their brains on this one!

giftedinSB Sep 19, 2019 09:30 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

Based on her quotes in this article, I can't tell if Julia Mayer is satisfied or disgruntled with the decision. Sure, the farmer's market kept a line out the door at French Press every Saturday morning, but she certainly doesn't have to worry about any lost business. With a police station close by, she might even have more business. Police love their coffee.

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 09:39 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

GIFTED - if she signed a 20 year lease based solely on her "relationship" with the farmer's market, then her business deserves to fail. What folly! She will now have 7 days a week of steady business as opposed to 1 day. If she's not happy about that, she shouldn't own a business.

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 08:56 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

Wow, Gutierrez certainly had a bee in his bonnet. I watched the entire meeting and I cannot for the life of me understand his points and why he's so upset about it. As an edhatter pointed out, farmers need agricultural land which is not within the city limits. So what does it matter if they live on a farm yet their business is in the city, does that make their voice that much less valuable? If they have a business emergency, they certainly call 911 in the city. It was a ridiculous point on his end and he's making this an argument of people not supporting police which is untrue. Every single person said they support the police and want them to have a new station, but let's pick a better space for everyone. Gutierrez's aggression and frustration showed his immaturity.

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 11:33 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

ZERO- so you're saying it's more important to our community to have a temporary, mobile farmer's market ONE DAY a week, than it is to have a full service 24/7 police station near the courthouse and majority of police calls? Is that really what you're saying?

PitMix Sep 19, 2019 10:20 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

You try sitting up there and listening to endless public comments about something that really just comes down to location location location and a bit of money money money. I bet most of us would be very frustrated with that process and and lose it sometimes. Maybe he isn't cut out to be a politician and is just finding out?

ZeroHawk Sep 19, 2019 10:10 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

i spoke with him yesterday. he's a fool. of the highest order. this decision was hasty, wrong and will have serious problems coming. this just destroyed part of our downtown community and heritage. this will hurt businesses. PD doesn't need to be downtown. many larger cities have it away from the downtown area. They do just fine with their policing.

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 09:43 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

There may not be muchof farmable space within the SB city limits, but Carp, Goleta, and the unincorporated areas still have many available areas. Just ask John Givens for a tour of the acres of farms in Goleta. And people from these areas also shop at the SB Farmers Market on Saturday.

SBZZ Sep 19, 2019 08:45 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

The residency of a farmer is irrelevant to this issue. The FM as a whole provides a service to our community, period. I am pro cop, SB, FM - sheesh, get real with your decision process.

VinSB Sep 19, 2019 08:35 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

Could somebody fill me in on some past history? I understand that the Saturday Farmer's Market was once located at SB High School. Why did they move from there? When did the swap meet move in? This spot seems ideal to me, with space and parking on all sides. Santa Barbara Junior High seems like another good choice, with a large parking lot and basketball court space. They pack in a greater number of cars during special events than the Cota lot could hold.

SantaBarbaraObserver Sep 19, 2019 08:20 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

This whole debacle will go down as the second dumbest protest in our town's modern history. The first belonging to the idiots who stopped the 101 widening 25 years ago because, well, they're idiots... Personally I am glad that logic took over here. Build the station, move the market. One is mobile and temporary by design, the other is stationary (get the name) and essential. Most of the hippies who need their fresh kale will find the new FM location using their Prius's GPS and iPhone. The rest? They'll find a new thing to protest that will likely be equally as stupid and wasteful. Imagine if these people put as much time and effort into solving real issues? Like the impending civic bankruptcy from decades of gross mismanagement by the city staff and reps...

bgallery Sep 19, 2019 08:11 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

Would it make any sense if the Farmers Market moved to Figueroa St. where the current police dept. is? They have a big parking lot. I have not seen this possibility mentioned and do not know if it is feasible.

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 12:20 PM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

Let's assume they will (obviously) tear down the old building and remove the lead and asbestos with it (obviously). They City is really not much into liability risk. The Farmers would be fine. Cars parking there would be fine. They could build a nice big new parking structure there. The neighborhood near the courthouse could really use it. Lots of possibilities...

PitMix Sep 19, 2019 10:10 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

Basement of police station is contaminated by lead so the tear down will involve hazardous substance removal. How much do you want to bet there are some asbestos in there too? No way the FM will want to be anywhere near that mess until the old building is gone and the site is remediated.

a-1571371915 Sep 19, 2019 09:31 AM
City Council Votes Cota Lot for New Police Station

I agree and asked the same question a couple days ago on here but no one answered or seems to know why the farmers market and police station could not just trade properties? What is happening to the Figueroa St. police station property after they move to Cota?

Pages

Please Login or Register to comment on this.