Height limits surface again
Santa Barbara city officials were awaiting word at presstime on whether 11,252 petition signatures will qualify a downtown building height-limit charter amendment for the November 2009 ballot.
The signatures were delivered to the city clerk Aug. 15, signed by people who want to limit new buildings in downtown Santa Barbara to no more than 40 feet.
The petition also seeks to limit structures elsewhere in the city to a maximum of 45 feet. The current height maximum for el pueblo viejo – Spanish for Old Town Santa Barbara – is 60 feet.
If the city clerk determines at least 6,480 of those signatures were signed by registered voters in the city, issue will be placed on next year’s ballot.
We will concede to the advocates that in a community like Santa Barbara some sort of height limits have become part of the architectural integrity of the city.
But draconian building height limits, like traffic initiatives, only hurt the economy in the long run. They unjustly limit opportunities for free enterprise. They particularly hurt the chances for building more housing, and by law, some of that will be affordable housing.
We can’t support the proposed charter amendment because it simply is too extreme. If the clerk finds the signatures qualify the measure for the ballot we hope that our business leaders as well as those concerned about the city’s dire shortage of housing will step up to oppose it.