A recent Solvang Planning Commission meeting gave us proof that artificial intelligence will take over human jobs. 

Instead of drawing names out of hat, the city relied on ChatGPT to tell it the commissioner who would remain on the dais to decide on whether to recommend rezoning city land for housing purposes. Three commissioners lived too close to the land in question, but the governing body needed at least three to vote. 

So, the commission was in quite the conundrum! 

Thanks to AI—the conundrum solution—the commission still didn’t manage to get the three votes it needed to make a recommendation to the City Council. Whew!

\ChatGPT pulled Williams back into the voting block, but commissioners voted 2-1 to recommend approving rezoning, thanks to Commissioner Kief Adler’s protest vote against the state requiring the city to meet housing needs. 

“What really annoys the hell out of me … is the fact that the state is mandating this,” Adler said. “I feel like we are a rubber stamp for the Planning Department. … Whatever the three of us decide tonight is really meaningless.”

The 2-1 vote was truly meaningless, because it meant the commission couldn’t supply the needed votes to recommend a damn thing. City planners did recommend to rezone two parcels in the city to make way for denser development to comply with the state’s requirements, namely that the city make space for more lower income units—but the state didn’t mandate where that should happen. 

That was the city’s choice. 

Can AI live within 1,000 feet of city parcels and still vote? Would it be weird if ChatGPT weighed in?

You know what’s weird? The fact that Indiana fire departments have been conducting annual physicals for firefighters for decades to check for ailments and illnesses such as cancer, which are more prevalent in firefighters than the general population, and California fire departments haven’t. 

While the Golden State does mandate municipalities to take care of health care expenses for firefighters with cancer, it doesn’t require those same government entities to provide preventative care that would catch cancer sooner. 

Does that even make sense? 

Santa Maria was finally able to implement an annual physicals program for firefighters with the help of post-pandemic federal dollars, but that money ran out. In order to keep things going, the Santa Maria Fire Department will be asking the city for $60,000 annually. 

While the city may have the only fire department in Santa Barbara County that doesn’t have a secure program, it’s not the only one around that hasn’t provided the preventative care its employees need. 

The Ventura City Fire Department just secured the funding it needs to have an annual physicals program last year.

“It is at a cost, but it’s a needed cost,” said Ventura EMS Administrator Heather Ellis, who was firefighter in Indiana before moving to California. She said annuals there were the norm and had been the norm for decades. “It didn’t matter where I worked in Indiana. … The process here was somewhat foreign and unexpected.”

The Canary thinks California isn’t always progressive. Send hope to [email protected].

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