From Our Inbox: Letters to the Editor for the Week Ending Aug. 5, 2022 | Opinions

Regarding the July 26 Noozhawk article, “Santa Barbara Council Votes to Hire $780,000 Consultant to Come Up with Plan for State Street,”all one can say is here we go again, kicking the can down the road.

Once again, when faced with a “planning” issue that is outside the everyday routine, the city staff’s solution is to hire a consultant rather than do it in-house. And unfortunately, the City Council has again decided to go along with this business model as they have in the past. After all, it’s only taxpayer money.

Santa Barbara has a community development director and city planner, both having support staffs and both paid significant salaries, with a major department to plan development in the city. Why are they unable to accomplish this planning project? Why are we hiring contractors to do their jobs?

The city has a General Plan for the development of the city. Why isn’t State Street development part of the General Plan?

As far as the city’s planning staff, a review of state data reveals that Santa Barbara has more planners per capita than any other California city. Why are we then too short on staff to handle these types of tasks? And this doesn’t even include transportation planners who aren’t in the Community Development Department.

Three years ago the city hired Kosmont Companies to prepare a strategic plan and specific recommendations to revitalize the downtown area. That report was widely discussed and was supposed to be implemented as soon as possible. What happened to that and why do we need another strategic study at almost 10 times the cost?

Two years ago, the local chapter of the AIA hosted design charrettes to come up with ways to update and improve State Street. The team included local land-use planners, architects, city planners, community leaders. A major, detailed report — “A Community Vision for Downtown Santa Barbara” — was prepared and, as far as I know, it was given to the city for free. What was done with that?

Two years ago the city hired Jason Harris from Santa Monica as the new economic development manager to fix State Street’s and the city’s economic development problems. What has he come up with and how will his responsibilities coordinate with this new consultant and existing planning staff?

A year ago the city established a State Street Advisory Committee, headed by former community development director Dave Davis, to chart the future course for State Street. What happened to that planning effort?

Earlier this year, the city promoted Tess Harris to be the State Street master planner. What master planning has she done, and how do her responsibilities coordinate with all these other people, committees, consultants and departments supposedly working on this issue?

The city really can’t afford to spend almost $1 million on yet another consultant, especially one from out of town and that has no skin in the game. And this $1 million won’t accomplish any changes, only give us yet another plan to implement further down the road at even more cost.

We are already well into a financial hole to fund unpaid CalPERS retirement benefits for our large staff. And with CalPERS’ recent admissions that it has lost fund value, not gained as predicted, the hole will get deeper.

Rather than more consultants and committees, we are in need of some serious leadership to steer us back in the correct direction using existing assets rather than just throwing more of our tax dollars at yet another consultant.

By the way, did Pearl Chase hire consultants?

Art Thomas
Santa Barbara

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Regarding the Aug. 1 story, “Sheriff’s Department Recommends Hate Crime, Theft Charges for 2 Suspects Accused of Stealing Pride Flags,” we were shocked and disappointed when the Pride flag was ripped down from St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church in Los Olivos.

St. Mark’s is open to all people of all faiths, including the Jewish community. When it was discovered that the Pride flags (another one stolen from a yard in Ballard) were burned and posted on social media, we were saddened for all people but most especially the congregants of St. Mark’s and the LGBTQ+ community.

We totally support St. Mark’s and the LGBTQ+ community. As Jews, our history is rife with acts of violence and, today, Jews around the world are regularly beaten, synagogues burned and more.

BUT this is our little community where we hoped some of the ugliness in the world would not affect us; we were wrong. Because there is no “them,” only us, we stand up against all forms of hate. An attack on any one of us is an attack on all of us.

To the St. Mark’s congregation, Father Randall and the LGBTQ+ community, we proudly stand with you.

Santa Ynez Valley Jewish Community Board of Directors
Los Olivos

•        •        •

In the July 29 letters to the editor, Karl Hutterer Ph.D., Leah Braitman and Debra Smith go to great lengths to dismiss those who disagree with their climate change alarmism (extremism?). Smith pulls out the tired old “climate-change deniers” charge.

The true deniers, however, are zealots like these three who simply ignore facts that are inconvenient to their “truth.”

I’m an economist by training, not a scientist, and my question to them is this: Where does the electricity of our future come from?

They, and the like-minded Robert Sulnick, seem to think that “renewables” can simply run today’s modern society because they want them to. The problem is that renewables are only going to supply a miniscule fraction of the power we need — here in Santa Barbara County, here in California, here in the United States, here in the world, etc.

Furthermore, decarbonizing electricity is — at best — years away, but more likely decades into the future. And it will come with an enormous price tag.

Those are facts, not denial. So, again, where does the electricity of our future come from? The only reliable — and the cleanest — sources will continue to be the hated “fossil fuels” (petroleum, natural gas, coal) and nuclear energy.

As an economist, I find it curious that climate change absolutists usually ignore the role and demands of the economy, which is kind of a big deal. Take transportation. There’s a reason that long-haul semi trucks run on diesel fuel and not electricity, and that is because electricity simply can’t keep up — no matter the cost. Same goes for cargo planes and ships.

Much of the renewables infrastructure depends on batteries, wind turbines and solar panels, but that all requires heavy use of petrochemicals and petroleum polymers to manufacture them. How will that be replaced?

If we want a truly sustainable future, it must start with an honest conversation. And the first question should be: Where does the electricity of our future come from?

Dave Taylor

•        •        •

Regarding the July 29 letters to the editor, opinions on global warming are widely exaggerated by most observers. They are the “woke” views based on political opinion and not science. There is no proof that there is global warming that is not a natural progress of our planet around the solar system.

Ron Fink’s July 26 commentary, “Changing Climate — It’s Dry and ‘June Gloom’ Is Now in July,” is thoughtful and rational, and does not deserve the attacks by woke liberals. They want to stop ANY other thoughts but their thoughts.

Humans have affected things by their numbers but that can be reversed by rational planning. And fossil fuels and nuclear power are the only reliable sources available. Windmills and solar are like trying to photograph a flag in the wind, always changing.

Our fuel sources must be on and steady all of the time, as they are with nuclear and fossil-fuels power. There are not enough batteries in the universe to store renewables on a reliable basis except for very limited applications like a small island or town.

Going all electric without steady reliable sources of power will just lead to disaster, brownouts and blackouts until the sun comes up — unless it’s raining.

Let’s put more logic and science in the discussions of global warming.

Justin Ruhge

•        •        •

America’s economy under President Joe Biden is in real trouble. Inflation is the No. 1 issue facing American families. Many are struggling to pay for basic necessities. And now, our 40-year high inflation rate has plunged the United States into a recession that may soon become a depression.

What is Rep. Salud Carbajal’s answer to help Americans? To push through a $739 billion tax and climate bill called the “Inflation Reduction Act?”

Sadly, it does not reduce inflation. This massive spending bill is crammed with the very same spending, corporate welfare, price fixing and tax hikes that were part of Biden’s “Build Back Better.” Included are $385 billion for energy/climate (AKA the Green New Deal) and $100 billion for new health care in the form of extended Obamacare subsidies and vaccines as well as drug prescriptions.

Then there are new taxes. Won’t there be a 15% minimum corporate tax provision in the bill? Won’t that cost be passed on to consumers? And aren’t there going to be changes to the carried interest provisions? Won’t that further tax Americans?

Finally, why are 800,000 IRS agents going to be unleashed on the American public?

According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, in 2023, taxes will increase by $16.7 billion on payers earning less than $200,000, a nearly $17 billion tax targeted solidly at low- and middle-income earners next year.”

The committee added that “there will be a GDP reduction of $68.45 billion, 218,108 fewer workers in the overall economy, and a labor-income decrease of $17.11 billion.”

Rep. Carbajal should explain how this tax-and-spend bill is going to help fight inflation when over-spending is one of the main causes of inflation.

As a nation, we cannot spend our way out of inflation, a recession or a depression.

Diana and Don Thorn

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