We’ll go ahead and put the Business Times officially on the record as opposing so-called Measure B height limits for the city of Santa Barbara.
We’ve generally been opposed to the more onerous of these measures, whether they cropped up in Ventura or San Luis Obispo. And there are really sound business reasons why unreasonable height limits — such as the ones proposed for Santa Barbara this time around — make no sense.
For one thing, they are not particularly “green.” They don’t allow for building with the proper amount of density that enables mixed-use development, walk-to-work solutions and, eventually, mass transportation such as light rail.
For another, they basically steal property rights from landowners without giving anything in return. Property rights barely exist in Santa Barbara County — just ask a farmer who wants to till an occasional wet spot or a homeowner who wants to plant a bush that might or might not interfere with somebody’s view.
Finally, more restrictive zoning for Santa Barbara delivers a big slap in the face to Santa Maria, Lompoc, Ventura and other communities, which for the past two decades have housed the South Coast workforce, provided education for the workers’ children and put up with the pressure of increased demand for services.
Santa Barbara must simply wake up to the fact that it can’t continue to export its housing, traffic, education and social problems to other cities and expect them to pay for them.
When combined with the architectural board of review, planning commission requirements and other barriers to building, current height limits of 60 feet are plenty restrictive enough. Moreover, the middle of the worst recession since the 1930s seems an awfully poor time to shut down building and construction in the South Coast’s largest city, perhaps for decades to come.
It’s time to get real and vote down Measure B.