Monday, March 20, 2023     Volume: 24, Issue: 3

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on January 31st, 2023, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 23, Issue 49 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 23, Issue 49

Better than nothing


Do you know how to put your political career at risk in Santa Maria?

All you have to do is support a homeless housing program, apparently. At least, that’s according to the two members of Santa Barbara County’s Board of Supervisors who spoke at a recent community meeting about a new project slated for an open spot of land near the Betteravia Government Center

“It’s not often you have two politicians up here, pinning their political careers on the line for a project,” 4th District Supervisor Bob Nelson told attendees. “It’s because we believe we can’t do nothing anymore.”

First of all, Bob—Can I call you Bob?—someone has to actually run against you in order for you to lose the next election. And the track record for having two candidates in a Board of Supervisors race seems to favor you not actually getting challenged. 

There was a time when 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino’s stance on cannabis put him on shaky ground, sort of, but look at him now! No one ran against him in his last election either. So do what you want. Even if it is indeed nothing. 

Santa Maria seems to love the status quo, which includes doing nothing and blaming the state for city issues.

And Mayor Alice Patino hit that point right on cue: “Sacramento is doing nothing; they’re just making it worse,” Patino lamented at the meeting. “How long do we go in our lives accommodating people who don’t want to obey the rules, made bad decisions for years, and will continue to make bad decisions?” 

I’m not sure we’re really accommodating them, Alice. What we’re trying to do is accommodate the rest of society—you know, the parts of society that complain about loitering in parks, neighborhoods, and shopping centers. It’s not about humanity or doing the right thing: It’s about creating solutions for problems that extremely loud taxpayers take issue with. 

And if it happens to help people on the lowest rung of society in the process, then so be it. 

Clearly, if we’re going to appease the masses, we need to be different in the future than we’ve been in the past. Status quo ain’t working, sis. So they want to erect a bunch of she-sheds on county government-owned property, put people who need help in them, and wrap services around them with the goal of getting them into permanent housing. Sounds like something we should have done years ago.

“It’s an experiment, but the reason we’re doing the experiment is we don’t think you should be living with [homelessness] in your front yard right now,” Lavagnino said

You know what they say: No one likes a shelter. And no one likes other people in their front yard either. And the community meeting proved as much. 

“We’re expected to believe the government is going to successfully run a homeless facility?” resident Steve Wagner said. “An ongoing project with some of the hardest folks to work [with], and we’re supposed to have confidence that that’s going to work?”

Well, we won’t know unless we try, Steve. You know what they say about creating your own destiny. You have to take the first step. You have to try. And that’s exactly what the county’s doing.

The Canary is ready for something. Send nothing to

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