Santa Barbara City Parks to Close Earlier?

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By Deanne Whitlee

This week the Santa Barbara City Council voted 5-2 to close all city parks a half-hour after sunset, instead of 10:00 p.m.

The reasons our Parks Director cited were due to poor bathroom cleanliness, vandalism, trash, and not enough parks staff. She also stated the Parks Department spent $1.6 million in one year to clean up homeless camps and keep the parks clean.

Is this what our city has come to? Our parks are ruined for the majority because of the misdeeds of a few?

The 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruled in April that if there is no room at area shelters, then members of the public (eg. transients) must be allowed to sleep without fear of arrest or prosecution.

So, the City of Santa Barbara decides that if any local person is watching the sunset and stays longer than the 30 minutes, we'll be asked to leave. But if a homeless person decides to set up camp and sleep in the park, it's ok. Should we all then pretend to be taking naps if the cops try and shoo us out?

One thing I do agree with, they voted to ban adults from designated children's playgrounds and play areas unless they accompany a child. Although, most of the adults creeping around playgrounds are transients who sleep and sometimes live in the parks. 

Why not come up with a comprehensive solution to the homeless crisis so our parks will be enjoyable for everyone, State Street will be a pleasant place to visit again, and the City can stop spending money on cleaning up the mess and paying outside corporations to tell us what we already know?


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27 Comments

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PitMix Aug 12, 2019 08:52 AM
Santa Barbara City Parks to Close Earlier?

Yes, "Why not come up with a comprehensive solution to the homeless crisis so our parks will be enjoyable for everyone." No other city in the US has been able to do this, but I am sure we can do it if we could just get a GOP majority on the City Council. No way the police will be ticketing taxpayers walking their frenchies at the local parks. This will be used to target other groups of people until a lawsuit is filed against the city for selectively enforcing the ordinance, and then they will have to repeal it.

Roger Aug 11, 2019 04:01 PM
Santa Barbara City Parks to Close Earlier?

If the parks close just after dark the folks who have been sleeping in the parks will most likely sleep in the surrounding Hoods..

NostraChumash Aug 10, 2019 08:57 AM
Santa Barbara City Parks to Close Earlier?

Thank-you Bird. Your response was very respectful, lucid & appreciated, however; The plan created is indeed long..very. Lots of "definition", legal citation, & areas where "out of the box" thinking must be considered due to the uniqueness of the situation. Now, to create a web-page with a comment section etc, is more work than I want to do. I need assistance..as we all do. But prior to a comprehensive plan being presented.. How are we supposed to convince the current Mayor to read it?..public outcry? Also, I have trepidations about presenting my ideas without being ripped-off by the city. No..I require a meeting with whomever it is that can "Get things done".. There's been too much talking, & no action for far too long. I'm result oriented.

a-1568528996 Aug 11, 2019 02:10 PM
Santa Barbara City Parks to Close Earlier?

City staff get paid $320,000 for life plus benefits to talk, hire consultants, refer to Committee. They cannot do anything because they have never run a business or had to do anything to eat and survive. LaLaLand Lives with 3-day weekend paid by the 76% RICH residents in Santa Barbara. The 24% living in poverty need leaders, but their rich neighbors are happy with our do-nothing Council. Time to zip lemonade thru my black-market plastic straw. Life is good! “There's been too much talking, & no action for far too long. I'm result oriented.” So was I until I learned voters seek incompetent candidates. Only Randy and Jason are able to think independently.

RHS Aug 10, 2019 08:52 AM
Santa Barbara City Parks to Close Earlier?

These comments are another opportunity to vent against the homeless and near homeless. Instead of recognizing that ALL ACROSS the nation people are being left on the streets and alleys by an increasingly greedy and selfish society, the apologists blame the victims as drug users, lazy, spoiled, lawless and selfish and probably anti-religious. Santa Barbara does not have enough shelter space for the need despite what is noted here. Goleta has NO shelter space. Carpinteria has NO shelter space. The County has NO shelter space on the south coast. The Boise decision cited above does apply here because these agencies trying to enforce their laws against the poor do not offer an alternative to the person exercising the basic right to sleep. It would be a lot more humane and a lot cheaper if our communities got together and created some real housing solutions (especially without conditioning their use by moral tests).

LCP112233 Aug 10, 2019 11:57 AM
Santa Barbara City Parks to Close Earlier?

Great! Let's all go in on free housing for them and look the other way while they shoot up. We can create an opium den of sorts and everyone will live happily ever after.

EastBeach Aug 10, 2019 08:52 AM
Santa Barbara City Parks to Close Earlier?

I agree with the OP's sentiments. A bandaid to a larger problem that will impact after-sunset users of parks (more than one would think). There are going to be some surprised tourists and dog walkers when they get ticketed at Chase Palm and Shoreline.

a-1568528996 Aug 09, 2019 02:53 PM
Santa Barbara City Parks to Close Earlier?

Most parks in most cities close at dark. Parks after dark attract all kinds of nefarious activities which is why most towns/cities have these types of ordinances. Maybe the fact that SB's parks were open so late was part of the problem? Here's a comprehensive solution - one way bus ticket out of town.

Bird Aug 09, 2019 02:36 PM
Santa Barbara City Parks to Close Earlier?

People have been trying for many years to come up with solutions to the "homeless crisis". The obvious one is providing homes, making the "homeless" "homed", but that's not so easy to do! In the meantime, having a time to be out of the parks 30 minutes after sunset means that all but those without homes must be out. The homeless may sleep there, but I don't think they can put up tents, although some do so now along the beach. It will or should mean no bicyclists on the beachway on Chase Palm Park; instead, they should use Cabrillo Blvd, which is seriously more dangerous for bicyclists, especially at night. ... I am guessing that the trash, vandalism, etc. are not caused by people who _will_ leave at the required time! Too bad for councilmember Harmon's husband and his soccer playing friends; with her concern for her husband and pals, she does win an award for the most self-centered of councilmembers, at least for that particular meeting!

LCP112233 Aug 09, 2019 03:50 PM
Santa Barbara City Parks to Close Earlier?

JQB. And the shelters aren't full because the drug users and/or mental cases are not allowed in. They choose to stay on the streets, littering our communities with toxic waste.

jqb Aug 09, 2019 02:31 PM
Santa Barbara City Parks to Close Earlier?

"due to a new federal or state law." There is no such law. This op-ed mentions a 9th circuit court ruling (basic civics: the difference between the judiciary and the legislature), but that ruling isn't relevant because the shelters aren't full.

a-1568528996 Aug 09, 2019 01:26 PM
Santa Barbara City Parks to Close Earlier?

If the homeless are not kicked out at 10pm (which they most certainly are NOT 99% of the time), why would they be kicked out at the new closing time? Stupid and pointless choice that only punishes the law-abiding public.

a-1568528996 Aug 09, 2019 12:58 PM
Santa Barbara City Parks to Close Earlier?

I like the new rules the City has imposed. I think they're trying to keep everyone safe, and healthy. It took courage to do this and I applaud them. Thank you, City of Santa Barbara. Seattle is dying, but we're not...

Bird Aug 09, 2019 05:15 PM
Santa Barbara City Parks to Close Earlier?

"Seattle is dying" - really? How so? Seems to me that SB, at least what it used to be, is dying, from several causes, affordability, for one --- caused by the huge population increase in California over the last 10-20 years while SB has struggled to remain a small town-city. And the lack of affordability has meant that a lot of the homeless had been homed in Santa Barbara.

LCP112233 Aug 09, 2019 12:39 PM
Santa Barbara City Parks to Close Earlier?

Great article. Why would anyone (ie: vagrants) abide by the sunset rule, when they don't abide by the 10pm rule? Is it not illegal to shoot up heroin in the park too? That doesn't seem to stop them. This decision is a foolish waste of time and resources.

a-1568528996 Aug 09, 2019 12:02 PM
Santa Barbara City Parks to Close Earlier?

Yes, all very true. But as I've stated these past 3 years..a plan does exist that would solve these issues well. Legally, respectfully, quickly & with very little cost. Getting city council to read it has been impossible due to lack of profitability & ego. Even on the mild edhat forum, I have only experienced ridicule & doubt. Yes, a plan exists..want to hear it? Then the readers must ask respectfully..city hall & council must ask respectfully. Until such a time presents itself, parks & anything else the city deems "unsavory", shall have it's regulations tightened for everyone involved.

Bird Aug 09, 2019 05:20 PM
Santa Barbara City Parks to Close Earlier?

Seems to me that Edhat has been open to quite a few op-eds. Have you asked to have it published here? If it is very long, then this may not be the place. Or you could do a free website (wordpress, for instance, has a free side to it) --- and ask to do an op-ed with a link to that website. Ditto a letter to the Independent. And the News-Press seems to have op-eds. All have word limits so a free website might work. ...I am asking respectfully, I think. ...But there is no guarantee that any plan that's unsupported by a strong public demand will get anywhere ---- and how can there be a public outcry without publication!

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