By the Numbers: Fast Updates on Key Stories
For those still emerging from holiday-related Tryptophan Stupor Syndrome, here is the latest Newsmakers Index of all you need to know about what you may have missed about S.B. politics while overdosing on T-day Pigskin Couch Surfing:
2. Number of options the City Council will confront on Dec. 5 over how to fill the upcoming vacancy of mayor-elect Cathy Murillo’s District 3 seat.
Once upon a time, picking Cathy's successor would have been a no-brainer because, as every school child knows, the Charter sets forth a clear and simple process for filling a council vacancy, should a member be elected mayor. Big problem: the charter was written to fit the old citywide election system, not the still-new district scheme.
Ariel Calonne, our ever vigilant City Attorney, raised a red flag about this way back in March.
In a memo describing the legal thicket the council member-to-mayor scenario presents (those with a taste for sizzling reading can find it here), his bottom line recommendation was: council has the authority to appoint the successor if one of their own goes and gets elected to the top job. But wait! Now comes Jacqueline Inda, a key plaintiff in the legal action that brought us district elections, with a letter asserting that Murillo's replacement "must be elected" by District 3 voters, rather than appointed by council. Lock up the kids! Rights in conflict! More work for lawyers! More on this coming later in the week.
5. Number of retail marijuana shops the council sanctioned for operation when pot becomes legal next year.
The must-read on this one comes from Kelsey Brugger, Santa Barbara’s Boswell of weed licensing: Amid the facts in her characteristically conscientious yarn lurk a couple of political implications worth noting in your look ahead to the politics of 2018, when the first all-district council mounts the dais at City Hall:
a) Jason Dominguez tried and failed to get retail outlets banned on Milpas Street, an early case study of how pettifogging, what-about-my-district concerns could expand in importance over citywide considerations with a council cast of members elected with about 12 votes apiece: b) moderate incumbent Randy Rowse found himself all alone in saying no, no, no on a batch of issues related to the new legislation, which is exactly where we predict he’ll be standing more and more often once the new crowd, slightly to the right of the Havana City Council, takes over.
7. Number of meetings the city’s landlord-tenant task force needed to draft a “meh” set of recommendations that won't settle polarizing City Hall issues for renters in SB.
Don’t miss Nick Welsh's in-depth, blow-by-blow account of the brief but consequential history of this ad hoc outfit. The tally of meetings is significant because the group only was slated to convene five times after the council organized it early this year, a kick-the-can effort to get past the election, following an epic City Hall showdown between apartment owners and tenant advocates.
The extra sessions came after landlords started to realize that the new council would be substantially more liberal than the incumbents, and finally surrendered, oh, about an inch, for fear of getting a major hair cut come the New Year. That said, landlords still didn’t compromise much – they consented to a proposed requirement to offer a one-year lease to new tenants – and yielded not a whit on what tenant leader Frank Rodriguez and his troops really want – support for a “just case” eviction law to create substantial new protections for renters. This one ain’t over yet.
56. Percentage of voters in final count of the Nov, 7 election who voted in favor of Measure C, raising the local sales tax by one cent on the dollar.
Noozhawk’s Giana Magnoli reported on the final numbers, and what's worth noting is that the council, which sponsored this tax increase, would have fallen well short of the two-thirds vote necessary to pass it, had they made it a special tax earmarked specifically for street repairs and other infrastructure needs.
Those purposes, along with starting work on a new police headquarters, are what the council promised the new money – about $22 million a year – would finance. As conservative opponents warned throughout the campaign - shout-out Hollywood Hotchkiss! - Measure C legally was crafted as a general tax, however; this meant that, not only that it only needed a mere majority, not a two-thirds, vote, but also that, post-passage, the cash can be used for whatever a future council might decide; sure, out of the gate, there will be pressure to stick with infrastructure, but down the road, who knows?
790. Number of homeless people the city claims are resident in Santa Barbara.
Josh Molina surfaced that number in an excellent takeout on homelessness that is part of Noozhawk’s fine "Reimagine: Santa Barbara" project (Melinda Johnson and Bill Macfayden in the house!), and its context in Josh's story would be hilarious if it wasn’t so damn sad:
In March, Cristian Sagastume, owner of Wolf’s Head Trading Co., videotaped a man urinating on a bench in front of his store at 432 State St.
He sent the video to the police chief and to the City Council.
A couple of weeks later, Sagastume received a letter from the city informing him that homelessness has declined in Santa Barbara.
According to a point-in-time count, there had been 1,040 homeless people in Santa Barbara, but the official count in 2017 is now 790.
Oh...in that case, just forget the whole thing.