Sunday, April 5, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 5

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on February 26th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 52 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 52

THE CANARY: Small town tiff


You can tell that Solvang City Council members are obviously frustrated with their whole push to make the city a better, more tourist-filled, business-centric kind of town. Their disdain for the residents who are fighting against the change just falls out of their mouths.


“Why doesn’t anyone understand us?” they whine from the dais.

Mayor Pro Tem Robert Clarke was shaking with anger during the Feb. 24 meeting. He said he was surprised about the level of “vitriol” aimed at council members over their desire to change up the Board of Architectural Review (BAR), complaining that the council had been called names like “chicken-s’s.” And Clarke had just got done calling the move to streamline the city’s permitting and review processes the “third rail of hell.” 

“It’s really pissing me off,” he said. “I’m done with BAR. I want this thing finished, and I want this thing done.” 

Oh, really? Those words are inspiring! Not a hint of vitriol in them at all. A truly great way to bring the community together. The best. 

Solvang residents show up at the beginning of every meeting to tell council members that what they’ve said in the past is wrong. Chris Nielsen from the Solvang Theaterfest, was there on Jan. 27 because Councilmember Chris Djernaes made a statement about how Theaterfest turned the city down for Julefest. In fact, Nielsen said, Theaterfest told the city that the venue was available for 25 of the days in December. 

“Theaterfest would have been happy to be able to support Julefest, but we never heard back after that,” Nielsen said. 


Community Resource Deputy Charlie Uhrig was upset by what he characterized as “misinformation” contained in a staff report from Acting City Manager Xenia Bradford. The position costs about $250,000 a year, according to the staff report, and council members referred to it as a position that doesn’t deal with much other than traffic control. Totally useless, amirite?

Mayor [Ryan] Toussaint said to take Charlie out of it and focus on the position only. That made me feel great,” Uhrig said during public comment on Feb. 24. 

Way to go mayor!

  Uhrig said that he deals with traffic, but also code enforcement, homelessness issues, panhandlers, and parking—among other things. Plus, because of grants, the position has cost the city a total of $27,000 for the last two fiscal years combined. Sounds like a lot less than $500,000, amirite?

Is it just me or are Bradford and City Attorney Chip Wullbrandt in way over their heads? What the hell is going on over there? Wullbrandt told the council during the Feb. 24 meeting that a planning expert would best be able to answer their questions about how to move forward with changing up BAR and the city’s design guidelines. 

So why is the city trying to push forward without a planning director? 

What idiot got elected and thought, “Making change will be easy!”

Umm, guys, it’s government. Not a business. Things move slowly. People get pissed. Vitriol stains everything. 

Better get used to it—and get your facts straight. 

The canary is in charge of vitriol-spewing! Send comments through

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