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  • Writer's pictureNewsmakers with JR

Ask the Mayor: Randy Dissects Housing/Hotels Clash, Decodes Parklet Mess, Decries State St. Quagmire

On Friday, Mayor Randy Rowse noted two pertinent Actual Facts about Santa Barbara’s supply and demand of rental housing:

1) Fervent fulminations about a “housing crisis” in Santa Barbara first surfaced in the city at least as far back as the 1930s;

2) Furious philippics fired around City Hall these days about the issue, nearly a century later, gainsay evidence that the “crisis” is being tackled to the greatest extent in memory.

“We’re building more (rental housing) than ever,” Mayor Rowse said this week, on an “Ask the Mayor” episode of Newsmakers TV.

Randy’s comment served as essential context for a discussion of Josh Molina’s recent hiding-in-plain-sight scoop, which showed how developers seeking to build new hotels – lawfully, openly, by the book – are being villainized among the pandering politicians, housing non-profit careerists and lefty-prog activists of the build-baby-build crowd.

“We simply don’t need more hotels and resorts — and definitely not bougie ones,” one housing advocate told Josh.

All righty then, comrade.

The Laws of Arithmetic. In our conversation, the mayor acknowledged the need for housing, and ticked off a half-dozen significant such projects proposed, in the pipeline or under construction. Wielding the kind of mainstream common sense that arises from being the only city official elected, um, citywide, however, he also highlighted the community’s reliance on the tourist industry and the crucial importance of the city’s Transient Occupancy tax.

Not to mention those stubborn Laws of Arithmetic, which in some cases simply advantage a hotel over housing.

On other issues, Mayor Randy also:

  • Broke down the multiple moving parts of the endless, maddening debate over outdoor dining structures, which will be before city council yet again next week.

  • Updated city government’s efforts to crack down on vacation rentals, another bugaboo of the crisis caucus, saying it represents “one little part” of the housing puzzle.

  • Vented ongoing exasperation with the city council majority's insistence on keeping in place the pandemic-era closure of nine full blocks of State Street, a sad stretch of urban tribulation laughably referred to as a "promenade."

  • Expressed support for the principles behind the so-called “Our Neighborhood Voices” initiative, aimed at the 2024 state ballot, which seeks to restore local control over land use planning issues that has been usurped by state government in recent years, while adding that he has not yet studied the measure closely enough to decide whether to endorse it.

  • Offered his theory of the case for a possible second term, portraying himself as a non-partisan pragmatic problem-solver in contrast to the “political” maneuvering of council colleagues who may be eyeing his job.

Plus: The genial host, a ground floor fan of state Senator Moique Limon, unburdens himself about his recent disappointment in her. Spoiler alert: We don’t need a Scott Wiener clone.


You can see our conversation with Mayor Randy Rowse via YouTube below or by clicking through this link. Or listen to the podcast version here. TVSB, Cox Cable Channel 17, broadcasts our show every weeknight at 8 p.m. and at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. KCSB, 91.9 FM, airs the program at 5:30 p.m. on Monday,.


New Yorker cartoon by Christopher Weyant; Lead image:

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