Novemember 2009 – Common Sense Prevails with Terrain Victory

Measure B, Santa Barbara’s controversial initiative to lower building heights, was rejected by voters Tuesday, losing by 1,666 votes after falling into a dead heat earlier in the evening.

Bill Mahan, a proponent of Measure B and chairman of Save El Pueblo Viejo, said both sides of the debate should work together in the future.

The initiative garnered 12,009 no votes to 10,343 yes votes.

Many opponents of the measure have said it left out too much, and Mahan said some voters may have found it “simplistic.”
He said the nearly even support for each side proves that the problem of building size needs to be talked about.

The election of pro-Measure B candidates Frank Hotchkiss, Michael Self and Bendy White to the City Council and Dale Francisco’s continued presence will help further discussion of the issue, he said.

“We’ve got four votes to do all of the other things to control the size of buildings like setbacks, open space and smaller units,” Mahan said.

The reconstruction of damaged structures had been a hot topic among both sides, since current city ordinances limit reconstruction of nonresidential structures to current ordinances. If more than 75 percent of a building taller than the 40- to 45-foot limit is destroyed, it would have to be rebuilt to the shorter, current standards.

Voters approved the other three measures on the ballot, which received less attention in the past few months. Measure C will combine the Board of Park Commissioners with the Recreation Commission to form a new Parks and Recreation Commission. Measure D will increase the Harbor Commission from five to seven members. Measure E will reduce the Architectural Board of Review from nine to seven members.