Funk Zone Changes

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By Anna Marie Gott

Do you agree that, for democracy to work, people need to understand the issues? When they understand issues, they can participate in decisions and weigh in with their interests. That’s why the Brown Act requires that Agendas, like those used to describe City Council items, “contain sufficient information to inform the public of what actions will be taken”. It is what promotes government transparency, public access and civic engagement. Have you ever wondered how some major changes, policy and otherwise, occur with little public input or debate?  

That’s why I keep finding myself embroiled in these various issues. I like transparency and public debate. I believe City Staff realizes that it is far easier for the City to make major changes they want if residents aren’t properly informed. Hear me out. Don’t accuse me of being utterly cynical just yet. Here’s the logic: if proper noticing was followed, more residents might show up for a meeting when something “Big” was about to happen. That would drag meetings on longer as the pesky public argued their views. Less would get done while we exercise our civic duty. A special interest group, like developers, couldn’t get another government giveaway if the public got seriously involved. We delay, change or even stop harebrained ideas when we get wind of them. That creates problems for special interests and pet projects.  

My first example: the City didn’t give proper notice with the Great HEAP Grant debacle of 2018 for “Tiny Homes” for the homeless. The Agenda item #11 simply said: Authorization To Submit An Application To The Santa Barbara County Continuum Of Care For Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) Grant Funding. Sounds super helpful and innocent, right? Who wouldn’t agree with that? No point showing up because it sounds like the City is doing something valuable. Reading the Agenda did not translate into the actual action: that a City parking lot would be fenced in and 40 “Tiny Homes” for the homeless would be installed with 24/7 security and police presence. Didn’t people immediately impacted by that decision and residents have a right to know?

There are many such examples which leads me to this week’s Agenda. Have you seen item #13? It says that the Public Works Department will present a Funk Zone Access And Parking Assessment Study. Sounds useful right? 

Looks can be deceiving.  This Agenda item is code for the following:

·         Metered parking is coming to the Funk Zone

o    The 94 FREE on-street parking spaces will be turned into 94 metered/PAID parking spaces.

·         City employees, not sworn parking enforcement officers, will be writing parking tickets in the Funk Zone.

    • Could that violate your due process rights?
    • Could they selectively enforce who gets a ticket?
      • The City employee group that has been re-deployed in the last 2 years into a concierge service for downtown business and property owners is not going to be a credible and unbiased enforcer of the laws against everyone who violates them. 
        • Under this plan everyone will know who can tear up a ticket. 
      • Sworn parking enforcement officers are insulated from undue influence and intimidation.
        • This protects the public from ticket fixing, corruption and issues of inequality.

·         Metered parking revenue will be used to create an “infrastructure improvement” slush fund for the Funk Zone.

o   Improvements will be made at the direct request of private property owners (again, another “harmless” sounding thing, right? Wrong. Keep reading).

·         The City will be removing a lane of roadway in each direction on Garden St. to create 60 employee parking spaces moving the Funk Zone parking problem out of the Funk Zone.

·         The Zone of Benefit will be revised to reduce the parking requirements of property owners.

o   That means property owners will have more incentives to develop bigger projects and offload their parking needs to the public streets.

·         Additionally, they will be creating loading zones for Uber and Lyft drivers and on-street “bike corrals” for the for-profit “Bike Share” companies.

The plan is to start with the Funk Zone. This means that, for the first time in Santa Barbara’s illustrious history, the City will begin charging for on-street parking in the Funk Zone. You might say, “Who cares, that’s for drunk tourists. Let them pay to park”. Here’s the problem, to continue these revenues, the City will expand the commoditization of on-street parking, eliminating them for residents street by street by pushing these vehicles into neighborhoods. 

The City will be ‘’splitting the revenue” with the Funk Zone property owners. A slush fund will be created to make their pet “infrastructure improvements” happen. City streets will continue to go to developers as we’ve seen repeatedly. Not a dime will go into the General Fund. 

Let’s take this logic further. Imagine a neighborhood wanting to get in on this “revenue sharing” model and solve a parking congestion problem. The folks living on the Mesa could ticket and charge students for parking in their neighborhoods. Long-suffering residents of the neighborhoods surrounding Target, the Bowl, and Oak, Alameda and Alice Keck Park Parks could also push back.  Imagine creating a volunteer night-time parking enforcement squad to prevent interlopers from parking in your neighborhood.

Back to the Funk Zone. The scheme that pushes employee parking out of the Funk Zone, or into 28 paid parking spaces (@ $150 per month), while removing on-street parking for Lift and Uber drivers or “bike corrals” for for-profit companies, is seen as a good thing for property owners and developers. 

Are you asking yourself: “Why this is happening?” I’ve been scratching my head, too. The Funk Zone property owners, who are not providing parking for their employees, who have overdeveloped the Funk Zone, are complaining that their tourist/customers are finding it “difficult” to find free on-street parking – facts are that on-street parking there is 12% - 17% BELOW the threshold where the City would define it as “difficult”. The reality is that there is plenty of parking off the main thoroughfare and in the Garden St. parking lot.  But tourists want to find parking in close proximity to their destination rather than walk a bit. Moreover, they don’t want to pay for parking. So, they circle the Funk Zone looking for parking and complain about the time they spend hunting for a space. Look, I’d appreciate a parking spot immediately in front of each destination I frequent, too! 

Businesses are scared that tourists will tell their friends it takes too long finding a parking place in Santa Barbara, and that will depress tourism. Therefore, paid parking, which tourists/employees/residents don’t want, is now the answer. Say what?!?! Will visitors naturally gravitate toward metered parking spaces rather than look for free parking a block away? Will they start parking in the Garden St. parking lot suddenly and walk over? Something doesn’t make sense, does it? Could something more nefarious be going on? 

Imagine people start parking in the Garden St. parking lot to avoid metered parking, and picture employees using the parking on Garden St.. That could free up a few spots. Wouldn’t the Funk Zone look like it’s under-developed?  Would that make it easier to relax parking requirements?

The Zone of Benefit is the “Holy Grail” to development in the City. The larger the increase in your Zone of Benefit the fewer parking spaces are required to provide for new development or re-development - the closer a property is to a City parking lot, even an oversubscribed parking lot like the Depot, the greater the reduction in parking. The Zone of Benefit makes business owners pay fees to support the Depot parking lot. Property owners reap financial benefits through increases to the value of their properties because parking requirements are substantially reduced. This scheme makes financial sense to property owners. But, it hurts small business owners, spreads out development and leaves vacant spaces shuttered downtown where there is much more available parking in City parking lots.

Funk Zone property owners and the City need another City parking lot. Unfortunately, this means taxing themselves so as to purchase or build one.  The City would have to continue relaxing every zoning law it has enabling over-development of the Funk Zone (an area which will be underwater in a few years due to sea level rise and taxpayers will have to pay for a solution to that pesky problem, too!).  The sad thing: these “action items” will probably get passed. 

Why? Just look at who supports the mayor and City Council: large property owners, developers, architects, real-estate agents, planners, attorneys and the unions.  – This is all you need to know about why the City is so screwed up. -  Too many special interest groups putting their thumb on the scale to drive half-hatched City policies and development choices for self-interest rather than the public interest.

Back to the Brown Act. This item was not agendized properly. The actions are not clear. Thus, it violates the Brown Act. I don’t know if the City will cancel the meeting and reschedule it or if it will include this item in Tuesday’s meeting. - Why did they do that? Feel free to speculate.

If you want to weigh in on this issue send an email to SBCityCouncil@SantaBarbaraCA.Gov or attend the meeting at City Hall (2nd Floor, 735 Anacapa) at 2pm on Tuesday, April 23rd.

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Show Comments
PitMix Apr 24, 2019 01:41 PM
Funk Zone Changes

It seems like very little of this post had anything to do with the Brown Act. Anyway AMG seems to have a lot of supporters here so maybe they can get together and hire a lawyer to sue the City? A lot of this info seems to be "The Sky is Falling....." type. They wanted to authorize getting a grant to help the homeless and then they would discuss how to spend it. That tiny homes project was not a done deal. And now they want to study how to address the parking issues in the Funk Zone. It is not a done deal either. The problem with providing incomplete info like this is that now a bunch of people think they are going to get rid of two lanes of traffic from Haley to Cabrillo when anyone with any sense would know they couldn't do that from Haley to the 101, at the very least. Let the downvoting begin.

RHS Apr 24, 2019 10:15 AM
Funk Zone Changes

I am heavily outraged that city government would specifically create parking spaces for "Uber" and "Lyft" which are exploitative businesses cannibalizing taxi drivers and other licensed, inspected and properly managed business transporting the public. These drivers are renegades and basically what used to be called scabs. -

sommerfee Apr 24, 2019 09:47 AM
Funk Zone Changes

Now THIS is investigative reporting. I'm a recent "urban immigrant" -- a transplant from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara and therefore part of your city's problem and I apologize for that -- but I have a parking solution. Visit Burbank. Park downtown. Walk a little and shop a bit. Observe parking conditions closely and photograph them. Then return to SB and demand your beautiful city offer shopping, residential and employee parking exactly how Burbank does or you will vote them out.

Burbank refuses to overmeter parking in shopping and tourism areas. They know money saved from parking is money spent in shops. Every space is 90 minutes, there are two massive multilevel parking decks downtown and they are free, and most nearby streets aren't even marked. Results? Burbank has the highest suburban merchant success in Los Angeles (minus Magnolia) and is a shopping mecca.

Tell your council "Burbank has friendly parking. Burbank became rich. Be like Burbank."

The sole reason I left is no beach.

a-1556123102 Apr 24, 2019 09:25 AM
Funk Zone Changes

Thank you Anne Marie. Please keep up the good work.

a-1556121856 Apr 24, 2019 09:04 AM
Funk Zone Changes

Garden Street is kinda critical as an emergency escape and for access as the area between 101 and Carrillo continues to develop. Is the aquarium idea still floating about? Master plan for all the underdeveloped land? How about the city's general plan?once again the planners are hard at work justifying their existence and failing miserably at their job description.

Crystalandmaui Apr 24, 2019 08:24 AM
Funk Zone Changes

Hey: that’s a terrible idea to turn Garden St. Into 2 lanes, one each way. That’s the street I take to get out of downtown Santa Barbara, because it has two lanes, or your in bumper to bumper traffic on the other ones.
It’s always about the money, not about the saving a great little town from big commercial corporation, bull shit. People come here to enjoy the outside fresco dining, being able to shop in little boutique stores, take in the sites, walk to the beach. That what brings people here, so now let’s make it just like all the other big city mall areas. Yuck. To much traffic, have to hunt around for parking, pay a meter and worry if your time is up, come out and find your car has been towed, that will leave a great taste in your mouth. Walk around big commercial stores, high rise buildings blocking ocean views, yep that will make it better. (Sarcasm here) this used to be a unique place, something to talk about somewhere you want to vacation at. A place you’d take pictures at tell your friends about beautiful Santa Barbara, so it will be just another commercial corporate, pay everywhere you go, can’t enjoy the relaxed beach life, over crowded same stores as everywhere, high rise buildings, so the person who said,some people are afraid of change, yes your right when it’s change only for the few making money here. And exploiting this great little city. Only for money. Let’s preserve the beauty, that’s the change I want.

Thomas John Apr 23, 2019 06:02 PM
Funk Zone Changes

The funkzone is like the beach arts and craps show on Sunday. I only go there once a year when semi friend tourists are in town.....

monkeyboy Apr 23, 2019 01:56 PM
Funk Zone Changes

I hate metered parking, but since this is now more of a tourist disneyland than a local's spot, I'm actually fine with it. Garden doesn't have enough traffic there to be 2 lanes anyways, so also a great idea. I do agree that the city works very hard to keep it's agenda secret and generally seems to make major decisions when people who pay their bills are at work, but the answer there is to eject them and vote responsible representatives, not incompetent yet authoritarian community organizers.

a-1556119512 Apr 24, 2019 08:25 AM
Funk Zone Changes

I use Garden 2-3 times daily, 6-7 days a week. Both lanes are needed. Otherwise traffic will back up to Gutierrez which is already a traffic nightmare.

a-1556119326 Apr 24, 2019 08:22 AM
Funk Zone Changes

How do we identify and then get competent, prepared locals to run for our so-called “non-partisan offices” controlled by the Dem machine. Is there any local group to find and support informed candidates instead of lightweights? City officials won’t deal with City problems because they lack the ability to deal with anything more than white striping lanes and spaces, or straws. I bet only 1 can read a financial statement. Only one has business experience. Too sad. Let’s find some good candidates to support!

Bird Apr 24, 2019 07:53 AM
Funk Zone Changes

We need to spend some time watching the traffic on Garden Street. Seems to me, a frequent user of lower Garden Street, that both lanes are busy on weekends, turning right on Cabrillo, crossing to the parking lot by the skate park, turning left heading east on Cabrillo. A lot of locals use it --- and a lot of locals are visitors to the beach and Chase Palm Park.

Ehdat Apr 23, 2019 11:50 AM
Funk Zone Changes

There are people against change and their are people for change. Which one are you?

a-1556116909 Apr 24, 2019 07:41 AM
Funk Zone Changes

An irrelevant question, no? Change for the sake of change is rarely helpful; change to correct a problem may be helpful -- "may" because only afterwards can we weigh the ramifications. An example would be the restriping, the change underway on Cabrillo Blvd: for proponents, it's good; for those living in the area or frequent drivers in the area, it may not be time: time will tell. Kneejerk reactions, pro or anti change, or asking broad questions as this, are rarely helpful, rarely more than ego expressions. Unlike the discussion about all important tenant rights, there were a lot of facts given yesterday at council. They need to be assimilated and it is good that the decision is pushed off to next week.

tagdes Apr 23, 2019 04:19 PM
Funk Zone Changes

They're everywhere...way to too many.

a-1556054622 Apr 23, 2019 02:23 PM
Funk Zone Changes

EHAT: And there are people who spell it "there" and there those who spell it "their" when it's supposed to be spelled "there." So there.

SantaBarbaraObserver Apr 23, 2019 11:42 AM
Funk Zone Changes

Keep at it Anna, you do great work. The city needs to come up with creative revenue solutions in order to pay for their compete mismanagement and financial trickery. They have been lying to us for years about the financial strength of our little city. Starting in the next few years the pension liabilities and debt will be more than we can service unless taxes and revenue are increased. So look for increases on EVERYTHING having to do with the city over the near term. Whether its increases in parking, tickets, hidden fees on your cable bill, telephone or waste/water bills or the increases in paid services like permits, passes, registrations, etc. The city is doing everything it can to increase revenue while doing absolutely NOTHING to reduce its expenditures and liabilities. This is the result of years and years of nepotism and favoritism and is one reason we are headed towards a very dark period unless things change dramatically at city hall. But with Murillo and her gang of public employee union shills holding office, we're accelerating towards the inevitable. Let's just hope that the economy stays strong and we avoid any more disasters. Either scenario will bring the chickens home to roost much, much sooner.

ZeroHawk Apr 23, 2019 11:23 AM
Funk Zone Changes

i live 1.5 blocks west of the old Macy's building. Parking enforcement cherry pick when they ride around and ticket. they constantly harass tenets and property owners that LIVE here. I have chased them off my block several times. they wont' show up for farmers market or any downtown events, just when they like to.

Easeinsb Apr 23, 2019 10:10 AM
Funk Zone Changes

Keep the Funk Zone Funky!!!
Less parking, less cars, less drinking and driving!

a-1556119841 Apr 24, 2019 08:30 AM
Funk Zone Changes

Easeinsb, It's too late to keep the funk zone funky. Funk left that zone when the first remodels appeared a decade ago.

420722 Apr 23, 2019 06:12 PM
Funk Zone Changes

I think they mean before what it is now..It was funky and different and artsy and interesting now it’s just seems like drinking, tourist and parking problems but you work there I get it so of course to you it’s probably awesome.

ZeroHawk Apr 23, 2019 11:22 AM
Funk Zone Changes

then why would they come to the funk zone? i work here. it's wineries and breweries and bars. a few tiny cafe's.

Red Creek Apr 23, 2019 09:58 AM
Funk Zone Changes

You are right. The lobbyists are in charge because they have access, time and lots of money. It is also unfortunate that the lack of a local newspaper covering the local government meetings has resulted in poor information to the public. Noozhawk and Edhat do provide information but they do not have the resources to cover the detail and quantity of meetings for Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and Goleta City Councils and Planning Commissions. A lot of stuff gets decided that the public is later appalled to discover (and experience).

macpuzl Apr 24, 2019 03:20 PM
Funk Zone Changes

Andy Caldwell and Joe Amendariz (note spelling)????? They are just shrill shills for everything bad about our society.

PitMix Apr 24, 2019 01:34 PM
Funk Zone Changes

Best laugh I've had all week. Yes, subscribe to the NP to help the owner that destroyed the paper. Or, maybe she could just hire back the reporters she fired and it could be a good newspaper again?

a-1556120347 Apr 24, 2019 08:39 AM
Funk Zone Changes

Yes, Anne Marie Gott lobbies for US: overwhelmed residents who are working or raising kids who cannot or will not make time to adequately monitor schools, City, County, and State government bodies in addition to dozens of boards and committees. She’s is a local hero , like Andy Caldwell and tax watchdog Joe Armenia’s, for communicating whether I or anyone agrees with a specific position. She informs! We need dozens more watchdogs and to support those few we have.

SBWoman Apr 24, 2019 08:31 AM
Funk Zone Changes

Subscribe to better support the NewsPress daily newspaper that we do have covering what it can with a small staff. Submit Op-Ed’s. Buy advertising. Reporters cost money . Grateful for EdHat: encourage all to subscribe and support tonight at Carr’s! Information is essential for civic participation.

jqb Apr 23, 2019 12:41 PM
Funk Zone Changes

AMG is a lobbyist:

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