Before putting tax measures on the ballot, most cities get the word out and gauge public sentiment. But that didn’t happen in Guadalupe

The City Council recently voted to put a bond measure on the ballot to raise funds that will help pay to revitalize Guadalupe’s historic theater. And while the city may have had a short discussion about the potential bond earlier this year, it doesn’t seem to have received any public input prior to the June 11 meeting.

“This scheduling puts the cart before the horse or [keeps] people in the dark before they know what’s going on. It’s disgraceful and disrespectful,” resident Jeannie Mello told the City Council. “I’m not saying we shouldn’t aim high, but hope is not a plan, and you seem to hope that the community will come through.”

I guess skidding into deadlines with your fingers crossed and eyes closed tight sometimes works. No peeking!

The Santa Barbara County election ballot deadline is June 27 and use-it-or-lose-it grant deadlines are looming for the Royal Theater project, which is now over budget thanks to inflation and construction hasn’t even started yet—according to City Attorney Phil Sinco.

The city’s consultant said that the council had to vote on it at the June 11 meeting to make the ballot but could change its mind on June 25 (the second reading), I guess if the public decided to put up a big stink at a special meeting on June 18. 

The city’s really cramming it all together, isn’t it? Shouldn’t the special meeting about the bond measure have come before the City Council’s vote?

“You have more opportunities to say no. You don’t have more opportunities to say yes,” consultant Steve Gordon said. 

Actually, you could have had all the opportunities to say yes and no if Guadalupe had talked about the issue more, held multiple public meetings, surveyed folks, educated them—all the normal things that other cities do before plopping taxes on the ballot.  

Didn’t the city know the grant deadlines were coming? And inflation isn’t new, is it? Project costs always rise. That should be built into the initial cost estimates, right? It’s weird that it never is. 

Meanwhile, even the mayor isn’t so sure about this whole bond thing. The nearly $3 million bond would add about $77 per year to property taxes, and Mayor Ariston Julian called it a “hard hill to climb.” Why? Voters passed bond measures in 2020 for public safety and 2022 for the school district. Will they do it for a theater when another local school district is also putting a bond measure on the ballot?

“I think we’ve heard individuals speak,” Julian said. “I know they’re not opposed to a theater; they are opposed to how we go about it.”

Yep. As in, everyone believes that renovating the historic Royal Theater will be good for the city. Not everyone believes they should be taxed more to do it. Arts and entertainment doesn’t quite rise to the same level as education and public safety. 

Duh! And maybe it should. But that’s not the reality we live in. 

Or maybe it is. Fingers crossed, Guadalupe, that voters aren’t feeling the need to penny pinch come November. And keep those eyes shut!

The Canary thinks peekers are cheaters. Send eye masks to [email protected].

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