Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

By Ernie Salomon

Upper State Street Motel May Rent All Rooms to Homeless: After Loma Fire Scare, City Council Considering Drastic Action to Clear out Encampments

The four-month plan at the Rose Garden Inn ― expected to cost the city between $1.6 million to $2 million ― would provide emergency lodging, food, transportation, and services for as many as 50 people now living on the streets. |

Why didn’t I think of this?  What a great idea and cost effective as well!

If I am more proficient in math than over 50% of our local school children, then this brilliant plan will only cost local taxpayers $40,000 or more, per person for only four months; $10,000 or more, per person, per month!

Is this how the hard earned tax dollars of our local working people should be spent?

I will wager the city council that all expense paid vacations including airfare, hotel and food are available for much less than $10,000 per person, per month.

The cruise industry is trying to recover and I am positive that month long  cruises are available for $10,000 per person, or less.  Why put these people up in a crummy motel when our City Council can provide them with luxury for less?

Have you even thought about asking those homeless who can work, to earn money for their food, shelter and clothing?

This program covers only 50 people out of the hundreds of homeless people we have on our streets.

What happens to the people who are in the motel after four months?  Do they get thrown out onto the streets of Santa Barbara again?

If this plan is put into effect, then every member of the Santa Barbara City Council should be recalled.   I will initiate the recall myself with as much help and money that is needed! 

Op-Ed’s are written by community members. Do you have an opinion on something local? Share it with us at ed@edhat.com. The views and opinions expressed in Op-Ed articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of edhat.


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  1. Why is a small city with less than 100k people responsible for the care and housing of people? Let alone the thousands of people that the City of Santa Barbara gifts various housing, food, healthcare and childcare subsidies to… This is not the roll or the responsibility of a small city or its small population. This is a State and Federal issue. The more housing that our city builds and removes from the market, the worse the housing issues will become for the people who ACTUALLY WORK and CONTRIBUTE to the community’s best interests. The City of SB should NOT be in the housing business in any way, shape or form. This is the roll of private entities (especially the un-taxed churches and non-profits), this is not the responsibility of the 40% of people who live here and actually pay the taxes that this city squanders.

  2. I agree and I don’t think it’s sick. If people want to be lawless and live, let’s take some BLM land and build a dedicated hobotopia. The others who actually want to be rehabilitated and who are willing to enter drug treatment programs, alcohol treatment programs, and undergo mental health treatment actually have a shot at the elusive “rehabilitation” so many speak of and they can be the prime candidates to receive slots in limited housing facilities in cities and towns.

  3. so someone finds a solution to HELP these other humans/fellow santa barbarans but yet some of you still want to poke a stick at it and complain. These are people. These are fellow santa barbarans and fellow Californians. What is your issue with helping people? Do you not have empathy or compassion? Do you not have a sense of community? These people have it hard enough without your judgement. If you have walked a mile in their shoes then you can judge, but i assure you, not ONE of you have been there. How about back off unless YOU have a better solution? Recall blah blah blah. This is the lamest oped yet. Go cry a fountain because someone came up with an idea to help people with less than you. These reactions, not all of them, but many, make me embarassed to be a Californian/Santa Barbaran.

  4. While this plan offers help, it lacks any component of force or compulsion. People suffering from addiction and mental health problems desperately need our help, but helping them requires us to force them to change. Unfortunately, these people cannot and will not consent to making the changes necessary to break out of the cycle of addiction. I want to help these people and I would support spending a substantial amount of money on a per person basis to provide that help. However, this plan will effectively establish a meth/heroin/fentanyl den and will do little to address the root cause of the problem.

  5. EXACTLY!! All I ever hear is folks complaining about the fact we are drowning in homeless wretches and at the first sign of an attempt to at least help the situation the usual suspects come out complaining about that too. Ernie, for one, is a professional complainer. I wonder if it pays well.

  6. You just don’t get it, do you. Forcing folks to do what is palatable for you but objectionable as hell to them is NOT going to change any hearts and minds. Unless your tent city is surrounded by barbed wire and armed guard towers these people are just going to exercise their American freedom/liberty to do what the futch they want. They ain’t no different from you, after all (want all the freedom they can muster without any of the costs/consequences associated with it).

  7. Right now we just offer them help, force them to move, blame them, and often we try to pretend they don’t exist. The only solution to this problem is to tackle it head on with compulsory care and treatment. If that is not allowed by law, then the law needs to change.

  8. I admire Ernie Salomon; he’s a predecessor to Anna Marie Gott, it seems. Government, even small city government as Santa Barbara, responds only to the loudest voice and Ernie certainly fits that description. Government, including Santa Barbara’s, deserves an equal amount of blame as always receive Saloman and Gott! And he has long been a participant in housing problems, see Nick Welsh’s column of 2015: https://tinyurl.com/7s5yp64w.
    I hope people are watching today’s council meeting and even volunteering to help.
    The City has not specified why it will cost approx. 10,000/month, what is received for that large amount. It needs to do so, at the very least to get some public support. Ernie’s question of what happens after 4 months is important. Recall of some of them sounds great, but silly.

  9. In the ‘good old days’ the people who are presently homeless were housed in low cost hotels and other similar places that they could afford from their meager pensions or disability or welfare. Single occupant residences were basically stolen by ‘redevelopment’ programs driving this population into the streets. Some found campers, some had tents, some lived in bushes or alleys. We need to recreate the space for these folks but it is bothersome that a the entrepreneur of this particular decrepit space is going to profit so largely. However, if that is the cost so be it. We, as a community, need to provide for those who aren’t competitive and competent. To speak to the other question: Santa Barbara is burdened with this because Goleta and Carpinteria have long refused to do their share. The impact on SB would be a lot less if these holier than thou municipalities would step up.

  10. Take note of all the EdHat commenters that mythologize and romanticize homelessness. They elevate bums to victim status and happily provide them an endless list of excuses (filled with logical fallacies) and eagerly generate lists of items and services bums require to continue their self-destructive behavior—all without consideration for the financial cost or expectation of accountability. The enablers make this concerted effort to defend these criminals despite the record number of documented physical assaults, thefts, fires and the litany of other heinous acts these bums routinely commit. Between these enablers, the officials happy to spend your tax dollars, and the Homeless, Inc. crooks exploiting this crisis for profit—you now know who to blame. In some ways, these people are more responsible for this mess than the bums themselves.

  11. The big elephant in the room that everyone seems to be missing is HOW do we keep these people accountable for the help that they’re getting…
    Cool. Let’s say we open a mega vagrant paradise out in the Valley…. are we trying to ship the vagrants somewhere outta sight and outta mind. without regards to their needs as individuals? Because if we’re trying to actually REHABILITATE these people and reintegrating them into society, we cannot stick them somewhere with no economic or educational opportunities.
    At the same time, we have to (here’s that word again) be fiscally RESPONSIBLE for the way in which we go about fixing the problem; would YOU, a Santa Barbara landowner, be willing to allow a homeless person to pitch a tent in your front lawn (for example, assuming the whole neighborhood did the same with homeless that were kept accountable for cleanliness) if it would help get these people back on their feet, even if its of discomfort? Or do you go NIMBY?
    And therein lies the problem… no one can fix the problem until all parties engage in mutual responsibility…. its not just the government’s problem, and it isn’t just a citizen’s sole job either… these people we talk about like so many truckfuls of graphics cards are our loved ones, neighbors, and most essentially, human….
    I don’t have answers, but I can see that what we’re doing ain’t working…. When I think about what I think is (personal opinion) the beginnings of Western decline, I look to the attitude of the people toward one another…. it ain’t pretty…..

  12. Have you every talked to an un-housed person living on the street? Many/most are not there by choice and have mental health issues, PTSD, substance abuse. Some of them are vets who risked their lives in the service of our country. There are many stories but one common thread is that every single one of them is a fellow human being that deserves some respect and understanding. And a roof over their heads. No matter what their “problem.” It doesn’t matter what the cost (as long as it is well spent) because they are people, just like you and me.
    Have a little compassion.

  13. More and more, the “Mad Max camp” that I recommended a while back where the “houseless neighbors” can live in and do anything they want to themselselves and each other with self-policing, monitored movement when they go out into the neighboring communities, unlimited and legal access to the drugs of their choice from the police evidence lockers, a “do not resuscitate” mandate for heroin od’s and all those do-gooder movements having to clean up the mess made by their “houseless neighbor” constituents isn’t starting to look like a bad idea.
    Call me a sicko or whatever for throwing out that idea, but these individuals, they want self-governance that involves zero governance from official entities. Well, let them have it!
    Movements such as Food Not Bombs Isla Vista, Eco-Vista, UCSB FTP, UCSB YDSA, Bonfire Collective and UCSB 4 COLA can all pitch in and watch over the campers in this safe camping zone, they can even put up a food forest to sustain them. In fact, they can even camp out among their beloved “houseless neighbors” to show solidarity.
    Everything else being tried is not going to fix any of the problems because it is not what the “houseless neighbors” want. They want a free for all, so I say give it to them!

  14. We could clear out every transient camp in the city for 1.6million. Could probably do it for a lot less as there are salaried staff getting paid to do it already. Just a lack of political will standing in the way.

  15. California is very e pensive to live and do is Santa Barbara . Why should everyone who can’t afford to live here be subsidized. That’s ridiculous. So because you have an 8th grade education and are working at some crappy place for minimum wage , we should subsidize you so you can live in Santa Barbara comfortably . That’s insane .

  16. From the plurality of comments expressing frustration at the homeless crisis and the egregious waste of taxpayer funds, it really seems like voters have had enough and will be considering how they vote in the coming elections. The current approach of coddling lazy and ungrateful bums is going to be met with a loud voice demanding accountability: Use the existing resources to improve your life, move along, or face involuntary institution so that you are no longer a threat to hard working tax payers.
    Move along to where my critics may ask? Slab City and other places just like it. I actually visited that place to check out East Jesus and Salvation Mountain. You can opt out of society there and no one will bother you. There are places like that in Alaska and other states too.

  17. One of the groups behind this effort is ”Housing First”. This means that they will obtain housing and work on any addiction efforts later (supposedly). Of course this doesn’t ever work but it makes the Homeless Inc people happy.

  18. If this were a simple problem, we would have solved it a long time ago. Homelessness is a multi-faceted, complex problem.
    The homeless range from those that are the out and out crazies (similar to those who were dropped into society when Gov. Reagan shut down California’s mental institutions) to those who in a few months suffered a divorce/lost their job/couldn’t make rent, to all those others in between.
    Sorry to tell you folks, the homeless problem is solved one person at a time, one individualized plan per person. That costs time and money and expertise. However, the richest country in the world should be able to handle that task, yes? But no…….here we’re still looking for one- size- fits- all- homeless solutions. And that, my friends, is the problem……

  19. These vagrants are NOT “fellow Santa Barbarans”. Most of them come here from other places because of stupid ideas like this. San Roque is a prime area in Santa Barbara, and the people that have worked hard, and paid a pant load of money to live there, shouldn’t be burdened with having to live next to a building full of drug addled vagrants, wandering their neighborhood at all hours of the day, worrying about their kids playing in their own front yards. I’d like to know what how the people that live on San Pedro Lane, right behind Rose Garden Inn, feel about having this concentration of vagrants right next to them, literally able to look down into their backyards?

  20. You can’t FORCE vagrants to go into rehab… That’s why Gov. Reagan was forced to close the mental institutions, the ACLU WAS GOING TO SUE THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA…. The County provides FREE drug and alcohol rehab already… NO one uses it.

  21. Then house them be t to your house or your business . If you feel so strongly about supporting them . Put a few in your back yard.
    Some of us don’t want a homeless hotel next to our house or our business . Respect that as well .

  22. I have several problems with this:
    1. It is very expensive (taxpayer dollars) for what we will be getting.
    2. It is a short-term “fix.” What happens to these individuals at the end of the four months? More taxpayer dollars or back into the bushes?
    3. It assumes that all of these individuals are basically dealing with the same cause for their “homelessness.” There seems to be no consideration for the various types involved – some with mental issues, some with loss of job issues, some who just want to be an urban traveller, etc.

  23. GINGER, thank you! I totally agree. Makes me sad that these edhaters are reacting this way. a bunch of judges sitting in the comfort of their homes. i’ve been homeless as a child/teen. it was the worst thing ever in my life and the way most of us American’s treat others with less than us is just awful. Compassion and empathy is needed.

  24. Conservatives came out of now where and swept out four city council persons in one election a few years ago ….because of one too many wasted money sidewalk bulb-outs. This action is also a bridge too far. There will be a new city council and mayor this November and not a moment too soon.

  25. Uh yes ANCHOO that is exactly what needs to happen. Any rehab / substance abuse counselor will tell you not to enable those who don’t want the help. Let them hit rock bottom which in these cases means possibly dying on the streets if they so choose. No homes for them.

  26. I completely agree with the “Mad Max camp” philosophy, and have proposed in the past that we set up a 7-11 and a do-gooder distribution facility at El Capitan State Beach Park. Move the vagrants in, and let it rip. But the REAL question is “Why are they above the law?” Because this is California. If they commit a crime, incarcerate them! Every one of those trashed bicycles, lawn chairs, tables etc filling the “encampments” has been stolen from a hard-working citizen’s yard or home, so stop funding the lifestyle that preys on us all and is ruining our city.

  27. Your city council again lied to you. City admits the motel rooms only cost a hundred dollars a day, the rest of this money down a rat hole per person goes directly into the hands of Homeless Inc. They call this “wrap around” services; which in fact is full employment for Homeless Inc, who have no intention of giving up this well-paying job with no accountability for results or out comes when the four months cash flow is over. This city council just threw away over $1.6 million dollars on one more reckless, virtue-signaling bandaid that does nothing to stop the inflow of even more vagrants to take over the newly empty squatter camps the city allowed to fester and materially harm the rest of us. Zero tolerance for any squatter camps. There is no other option. And get state Senator Monique Limon into a one on one session, until she provides the solution at a state level. The city has no business getting into this city funded Homeless Inc shakedown extortion racket. Entirely new city council and mayor coming up – Nov 2021.

  28. Housing is a commodity; not a right. You buy or sell it according to your own means and available supplies; not according to your own inflated wish list. If your skill set and abilities allow you to buy a manufactured home in Lompoc or a lot with hook ups in Trona, so be it. That is where you chose to call home – where the commodity called housing meets your own needs and abilities to pay for it..

  29. Homelessness is a real crises in CA and elsewhere. It’s not just addicts and the mentally ill in need of shelter but a lot of low income wage earners who simply cannot afford the cost of housing. Either wages need to increase or the government needs to provide subsidies and create a lot more affordable housing. The demand far exceeds the affordable housing inventory. The problem is sure to only get much worse if local, state, and fed govt doesn’t take the necessary steps that have created this societal problem.

  30. “Entirely new city council and mayor coming up – Nov 2021.” We can only hope. It will not happen unless voters with common sense get out and vote. But if it is more of the usual Democrat Committee, Police, Fire and SEIU union choices we’ll be stuck with more of the same.

  31. Reality Check. How recipients of LA’s Project Roomkey showed their appreciation:……”Members of a new group, Unhoused Tenants Against Carceral Housing, have demanded changes to the program, complaining that Project Roomkey participants have been subjected to restrictive curfews, harassment, intrusions on their privacy and punitive rules at sites that they likened to jails. One woman said a friend died by suicide after suffering isolation in a Roomkey hotel.
    Former Airtel residents interviewed by The Times had a range of complaints about their experiences, many revolving around their treatment by program staff. Abra Marshall, who complained to a state agency about being groped by a security guard, said she had suffered a miscarriage at the Airtel because of stress and harassment.
    Another former Airtel resident, Jennifer Blake, said the staff had neglected to send a nurse to check on her, as promised, after she measured her own blood pressure and found it was spiking……..”

  32. Those looking need to upscale their skill sets or downscale their housing expectations. Plenty of places to live in this state that one can even afford on an SSI check. Santa Barbara is not one of them. Don’t come here and make demands we are supposed to house you, feed, you and pay for non-marketable job skills.

  33. I agree, Byz. It is bizarre that a large portion of people believe that someone has a right to a home wherever they want. I might differ from you in that I sort of agree you have a right to a home, but it is wherever it is most cost effective to build them. If that means giant shipping container buildings in the middle of Kansas, then that is where you will live. If you do not have a home and cannot or will not work to obtain one, then you must accept one wherever it is offered. The idea that we should pay to house people wherever they desire is ludicrous.

  34. SBT, I believe this is called incarceration. Luckily we still have a constitution and I doubt even the most rightist justices on the Supreme Court could find some original intent to forcing people to live somewhere if they haven’t committed a crime…..

  35. Carrillo Hotel residents were then placed in the HASB Garden Court project – what is your point Seabird? Don’t start with the false assumption nothing is being done or we are not doing enough. Both fallacies actually grew this problem so it is people who continue to lie about our huge social welfare programs already in place who are creating this city as a vgrancy magnet. I don’t understand what the pay off is for lying about what we have already done, including the large Garden Court public project that was required to convert the Canary Hotel.

  36. More than a quarter of a billion dollars will be spent on the ridiculous anti-democratic Recall Newsom campaign, bankrolled by right-wing millionaires.
    Imagine all the homeless people who could be housed with that money.
    What a waste of resources. Thanks GOP.

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