City Gives Away Public Sidewalks
Update by Dana Johnson
The item was not on the Agenda and all I have is this weird thing from the meeting. They are bringing it back this week, but I don't see it on the Agenda.
By Dana Johnson
When the Soviet Union disbanded the people we now call "oligarchs" got rich by getting the new Russian government to give them public assets for far less than what they were worth. This week the bar and restaurant owners of Santa Barbara are hoping to pull off the same trick. They want exclusive use of city sidewalks for customer seating without paying us for it. I say "us" because it is "ours."
The public property in Santa Barbara is held in trust for all of us. It should not be given away or rented for less than it is worth. This is a terrible precedent. Obviously if the city decides to allow these sidewalk takeovers for free, there will be a lot more of them created, and the existing ones will be expanded to claim as much free real-estate as possible.
Furthermore, these outdoor bars areas on public sidewalks are a gaping loophole in the city's alleged crackdown on public smoking. This is contrary to the grant money the city has received as a reward for its supposed crack down on outdoor smoking.
It's just a fundamental principle of good government that public real-estate should not be rented or given away without fair compensation. The public sidewalks belong to all of us. The city has already removed the majority of public benches on State Street and now they want to create a situation where you have to pay sit down. It is the continuation of a trend where the city proposes to charge residents to use public parking and public sidewalks but at the same time proposes to give them to business for free.
Let your Councilmember and the Mayor know that you expect better stewardship of our public assets: SBCityCouncil@SantaBarbaraCA.
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