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.


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a-1639066471 Dec 09, 2021 08:14 AM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

an absurd overreaction. Oscar isn't the most articulate or sophisticated council member, but he prefaced his remarks by basically asking if this would be permissible, realizing it might also be offensive. But it was well intended as a method to protect citizens. watch the video!

a-1639066717 Dec 09, 2021 08:18 AM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

According to the Noozhawk article, the Riviera and Foothills area neighborhoods thinks that they can avoid having the new State Law about Lot Splits Apply to them by exempting themselves as high fire risk. As we all saw this year a homeless man set the Mesa on fire, I think that areas of the Mesa and the Westside are equally at risk of high fire and should also be exempt from the new State Law on lot splits.

a-1639068550 Dec 09, 2021 08:49 AM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

OP should read the definition of the word "hypothetical":
1 : involving or based on a suggested idea or theory : involving or based on a hypothesis a hypothetical argument/discussion The theory is hypothetical. 2 : not real : imagined as an example She described a hypothetical case to clarify her point.

ZeroHawk Dec 09, 2021 09:18 AM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

OP ED this is a ridiculous post attacking someone for asking a question. That's what he did. I'm applaud at the drama you're trying to create. I watched the meeting. You're so off it's not even comical at this point. Just awful

edney Dec 09, 2021 09:34 AM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

I'm offended that our CC members pledge to uphold the Constitution, but leave our education systems without knowing much about what is in it. The 5th Amendment gives people the right to use property. If I am old, infirm etc. and choose to live in my home in a high fire danger area, there is nothing the state can do.
In agreement that some areas of the Mesa have had fires, but the easiest way to check risk is to look at fire insurance rates. There are reasons why fire insurance is so much higher on the Riviera, Mission Canyon and Cielito areas and a good deal of those reasons revolve around historical fire maps and historical home losses.
Hundreds of homes have never burned on the Mesa. Hundreds of homes have never burned on the lower eastside or san roque or the westside. When the sundowners are blowing 50MPH at 100 degrees over the crest of the Riviera, it might be 20 MPH and 80 degrees on the Mesa.

a-1639078833 Dec 09, 2021 11:40 AM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

Edney--don't you worry about consistency? Your interpretation of the 5th Amendment would also seem to allow people there to build out their lots to the max. So can the government regulate the use of property or not? Or is the issue more to do with the equal protection amendment?

El Barbareno Dec 09, 2021 10:08 AM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

More housing? What is wrong with these people? There are TOO MANY people here already. I thought we were supposed to be protecting and preserving the environment, but the mindset of the council, and their planners is to hell with the environment, pack in the people and build over every square inch of land.

Channelfog Dec 09, 2021 11:38 AM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

REQUIRE: Fireproof shelter in place facilities be built for all new projects and major remodels. The Paint Fire sped to Hope Ranch @ 60mph which no one can outrun, especially with traffic. Evacuation will always run risks of death and injury and always create justified fear.
In a different climate model, this shelter would be designed to also shelter from severe storm/hurricane. Learn to be your own Daddy/Nanny!

OAITW Dec 09, 2021 12:14 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

This is the same city council member who suggested in an interview that homeowners with empty bedrooms be forced by the city to house some in those empty bedrooms. He obviously has no concept of private property rights and is willing to use the his position in government to trample those rights. I think there is a word for people like him and examples through history of how that worked out.

OAITW Dec 09, 2021 01:51 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

SACJON I used the word suggest. I think a reasonable person hearing this would agree that he is suggesting just that.
"How do we regulate that? Do you think it's fair that someone is living in a four bedroom house and there is just one person living there?"

sacjon Dec 09, 2021 02:04 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

OAITW - Not at all. For one, you said he suggested they "be forced by the city" to house people. He never said anything of the kind. In no way could a reasonable person infer that from his statement. Second, he was cut off mid sentence so you have no idea what he was about to say. Third, it was a response to a question about how many people should be here, not how do we house others.

You're trying to hear what you want to hear, not what is being said.

ZeroHawk Dec 09, 2021 03:52 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

OAITW- nah you're not going to squirm out of this that easily. There is nothing to agree or disagree on.
You just got called out for lying and creating drama. Yes you did. Sac is presenting the same facts that the rest of us see/hear. I just watched the entire video.
You are doing nothing constructive other than making up false claims and statements. Like sac says, you're trying to hear what you want to hear, not what is being said. You're credibility is schite at this point.

Council Member ... Dec 09, 2021 05:39 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

Thanks for sharing the link OAITW, I appreciate you looking it up for me. I would respectfully dissagree that I "suggested in an interview that homeowners with empty bedrooms be forced by the city to house some in those empty bedrooms." But I agree that I didn't elaborate enough. Please continue to keep me honest.

sacjon Dec 09, 2021 06:48 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

OAITW - he didn't say that either. He said "Do you think it's fair that if somebody lives in a four bedroom house and there's just one person living there, that that's..... " Who knows what the rest of the sentence would be, but he did NOT say "it's not fair for a single person to live in a four bedroom house."

Words matter. He didn't say what you're trying to make him say. Take his advice yourself and keep yourself honest.

a-1639109865 Dec 09, 2021 08:17 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

OAITW, I just watched about 15 minutes of the interview. He broached an unfinished idea, not even a full sentence. He makes a good point that I often think about, as I'm house-rich and income-low. I can't afford to downsize, but have not yet decided to share my dwelling.

Council Member ... Dec 09, 2021 12:36 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

Hello everyone and Mr. Carbone,
Please take the time to watch the video of the meeting and my comments. Skip to 2:45:00 to see me ask my question.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qv9pzi8tp8A&t=6925s

I for one live with my elderly disabled mother and I'm constantly modifying our home to keep up with her change physical restrictions. So my heart goes out to those residents and my comments were out of concern more than anything. If that offended you I sincerely apologize.

Mr. Carbone I was the Senior Producer for the Public Access TV station for 17 years and the opinion editor for The Channels Newspaper, so I am a strong supporter of our freedom of speech and expression and I appreciate you voicing your opinion and concerns but you seem to have taken what I said partly out of context and missed my point (Maybe I should be clearer next time).
I would like to offer to reach out to me personally like other people who have had serious issues with me so that I can properly explain myself. Feel free to email me for a meeting whenever you like ogutierrezsantabarbaraca.gov
As for my question and comments, for years I have been receiving comments that the foothills are a high fire zone and that we should not allow more housing to be built because it will be deadly in case of a fire and I TOTALLY AGREE and have voted to not build more in that area. Several people have stated that they are old and disabled and therefore make it difficult for them to evacuate during a fire and people have asked me if it's appropriate for such a vulnerable demographic to live in such a deadly area. I already knew the answer but people wanted me to ask anyway.

Council Member ... Dec 09, 2021 12:43 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

Now as for your question as to what more can be done to discipline for asking my questions, what would you like for that to be?

P.S.And as for the user Santa Barbara Observer, I'd be happy to meet with you at the base of Carrillo hill for a walk and talk or at the SBCC stadium or for a bike ride because believe it or not I regularly walk do for exercise. You let me know.

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

Mr. Gutierrez, thank you for doing what so many local politicians fail to do - respond publicly to those who question and criticize you. It shows courage and dignity and by doing so in such a respectful manner shows you hold the public as equals. Too many politicians feel "above" this and it's one of the reasons I don't trust them. Thanks for taking the high road!

EastBeach Dec 09, 2021 01:21 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

I watched that video yesterday and don't believe the 2:45:00 time index is correct (that's for a different agenda item). I believe the time indices are .... Council deliberation ~1:50:00, Gutierrez's comments ~2:03:00, council vote ~2:10:00.

ZeroHawk Dec 09, 2021 03:56 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

Sac, i too had an issue with the guy, and guess what!? He reached out to me and asked to meet up. We met. I was so wrong about him, and I mean wrong on every level. I've eaten my words and now am working with Oscar and I encourage many of you to do the same! He's a real Santa Barbaran and a very good human. Not a politician either. I trust him and his word goes far with me.

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

What is the city's specific plan to evacuate all the new residents where housing discourages car ownership and encourages transportation dependency on a bike. Will they have city busses and pick up points designated ahead of time? Will this be the sole responsibility of the car-less residents to make alternative plans?

Byzantium Dec 09, 2021 01:08 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

City should not have turned down the opportunity to smooth out the Mission Creek Bridge choke-point since this provides a main evacuation route out of Mission Canyon and the Riviera. Money was on the table for the state to help with this reasonable project, but the city turned it down. Hope they compensate for this developing other evacuation routes, because if one car gets stuck at this badly designed curve in the road, hundreds of residents will be stuck in a looming fire trap.

Byzantium Dec 09, 2021 01:11 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

Every mom and pop landlord I know in town is scared to death of this current city council. Expect to see a lot more rentals converted to sales - highest bidder wins. Too much hassle being a landlord in this town. Under four unit landlords should have been entirely exempted from this city council's inherent prejudice against "greedy corporate landlords".

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

Not much info here, lots of speculation.
“ 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.”
Shocked Gutierrez didn’t know you can’t prevent people from living where they choose.
Where did he get the idea?

Perhaps he is trying to create ocean view housing for low income people?
Perhaps he’s trying to put low income people into dangerous fire areas with outrageously high home insurance?
Perhaps he has no idea what he’s talking about?
Perhaps he selfishly would like to move up to the hills with an ocean view but can’t afford it unless it’s low income dense housing?
Similar to Murillo and her 2% max rent increase. She’s protecting herself as a renter or so she thinks.
Have you seen them do things in the best interest of ALL of SB?

It is not a right to live in SB.
Demand/Supply controls pricing. Demand has exceeded supply for over 4 decades. And here we are still discussing the need for more housing.
Who wants to live in downtown LA, Oahu, Manhattan?
Supply never keeps up with demand. Look at our 50 year old two lane highway system to Carp. And when that’s done in twenty years, there will still be too many people going to & from SB.
Has anyone driven through LA or San Diego lately? 6 lanes all full of stopped cars at 8pm on a Sat eve.

All ocean front cities are expensive. High demand. You all have good taste.
Go to Los Alamos, Santa Maria, Bakersfield, Inland Empire if you want less expensive housing.

a-1639110950 Dec 09, 2021 08:35 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

In practical, daily life terms, I wonder every day where all the food service workers, dry cleaners, gardeners, house cleaners, babysitters, caregivers -- the low-income people who help the well-off live their lives, the precarious people who serve the comfortable people -- where are they going to live?!
There has to be space for them to live, and pay that feeds and houses them and allows them time to sleep, and some form of affordable housing, or else the underpinnings of the way of life of the rich crumble. Or crumble more.
I've been a house cleaner, and I've hired a house cleaner.

a-1639177157 Dec 10, 2021 02:59 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

Santa Barbara City Councilman Oscar Gutierrez actually just got played by the other council members who were gas lighting him about fire danger in the Foothills when he should have been pushing back on their claims of narrow streets and high fire hazard designations when we just had a fire on the Mesa a few months ago. How quickly he forgets. Now the wealthy side of town's properties don't have to worry about lot splits on their neighbor's properties. The Westside and Mesa will become overcrowded and dangerous with 4-plexes on tiny lots with and narrow crowded streets.

Byzantium Dec 10, 2021 04:28 PM
Discrimination Should Not be Acceptable at City Council Meetings

Service personnel will live exactly where they used to live in this town - onsite in what is not called an ADU, otherwise known as maids quarters and gardeners cottages. People who need these auxiliary services will either pay for them or go out of town to obtain them. People forget it was not that long ago there were about zero restaurants downtown. And students working their way through college were happy to get any of the pastime service jobs with flexible hours. We will adapt according to our needs. But one thing this town does not need it crowding it out to house workers or UCSB post-graduation hanger-oners who serve limited or no municipal population needs. City has no business promising housing to everyone who is now demanding it. Insanity.

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