Saturday, February 27, 2021     Volume: 21, Issue: 52

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on June 27th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 17 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 17

Embrace the change

And then, there were two.

Is anyone else excited to see another young, Hispanic professional stepping up to the plate to run for Santa Maria City Council? Local nonprofit manager Gloria Soto is running to fill Jack Boysen's soon-to-be-vacated District 3 seat, and I must admit, I'm all aflutter!

It's not just that she's young and progressive, like District 4 challenger Rafael Gutierrez, that's got my heart racing. Soto actually mentioned affordable housing in her announcement speech, saints be praised!

I don't know if you've noticed, but it sure seems like most of the residential projects that are going up around town lately are luxury apartments. What the hell! Santa Maria needs affordable housing, and fast. Just ask anybody trying to find a place to live in the city, it ain't easy, and rents just keep climbing.

Our business-as-usual City Council has had its collective fingers in its ears on this issue for too long. They hemmed and hawed before deciding to finally allow accessory dwelling units (a nicer way of saying "granny units") in the city at the end of last year, but they only did that at the behest of the state.

Our City Council doesn't like being forced to do anything ol' Moonbeam, Gov. Jerry Brown, rubber stamps. But maybe, just maybe, it's the right thing to do! They've got to do something to help Santa Maria's housing situation. 

As it stands now, fewer and fewer residents are owning their homes and more and more are renting. This is true across the state, in Santa Barbara County, and in Santa Maria proper. Granny units are a Band-Aid on the issue, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

Santa Marians need more than a new Costco and a massive corporate stripmall (Hooray, more minimum wage jobs!) for economic stability. They need to know the roofs over their heads aren't going to cost them an arm and a leg. And some still wonder why there are so many homeless people in town.

Santa Maria hasn't stopped growing, but the housing market hasn't kept up with the pace. People's incomes haven't kept up either, which is compounded by the fact that Santa Maria leads the county in unemployment.

We've got real issues here, people. Santa Maria is changing, and the City Council needs to do more to deal with it. They need to adapt, and be willing to change, or at least see things from a different point of view.

You can see it in the way City Council members snubbed the city's first Pride event last year. They were all invited beforehand by House of Pride and Equality (HOPE), but not a one showed up. 

Well, I personally challenge all of them–Mayor Alice Patino, Etta Waterfield, Mike Cordero, Michael Moats, and Boysen–to actually embrace the city's LGBTQ population and participate in Pride on June 30 this year. These folks have been a part of Santa Maria all along its colorful history, and they're just finally standing up unafraid and celebrating who they are (see page 12).

Guess who did make it to Pride last year? Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara), who celebrated the milestone in Santa Maria's history. 

I know, some in Santa Maria might wish they didn't have to see or hear about it. That might be how they feel about the humanitarian crisis at the border right now, as well, another issue Carbajal isn't afraid to address and cast a spotlight on (see page 4). These things are real, and they're not going away.

Last week I issued a call to local conservatives and Republicans, that if they were shocked and appalled by President Donald Trump and his administration's decision to rip children from parents at the border, to speak up. So far, I've only heard from Michael Smith (see commentary on page 15), who pointed out that Trump is far from typical for the GOP, but it's crickets from the rest of you.

We can't pretend these problems don't exist, whether it's lack of housing or the immigration crisis, and we do need to speak out about them. Name-calling and dehumanizing each other isn't going to solve anything, but coming together over common values, you know, like liberty and justice for all, just might do the trick.

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