By Dorothy James, Daily Nexus, February 14, 1977
Facing a possible overturn of the city’s present zoning law and general plan with the election of a new city council March 8, the Committee for Responsible Growth is pushing for a “yes” vote by the outgoing council on Proposition A, a straw ballot measure which endorses the current general plan to limit Santa Barbara’s population growth.
According to Committee members, Prop A would give the new city council the message, “Don’t let Santa Barbara get Big.” The group endorses the current city plan adopted in 1975 to put an 85,000 limit on city population, but allowing an additional increase of 13,000.
The Committee fears that the 1975 zoning limit on population density could be overturned by only a 4-3 vote of the new city council. Prop. A would not be binding on the new council, but would serve as a mandate.
The Committee has a membership of 21, including city council candidate Sheila Lodge, Catherine McCammon, President of the League of Women Voters, and Claudia Madsen, the League’s coordinator.
Madsen said that Prop A acts as, “a public opinion poll.” But she added, “The Committee for Responsible Growth does not endorse any candidates for city council.”
“The impact on our land, air, and water resources would be disastrous,” Committee members said. “We need Prop A to advise the city council on Santa Barbara’s future growth.”
The two parts of Prop A ask if voters support the current growth plan and whether any future changes in zoning should let Santa Barbara grow beyond 85,000.
Opposing the committee is the Good Government League, which has endorsed City Council candidates Francis Lopez, Patricia Fillipini and Jeff Cain.
Fillipini said she opposes Prop A because, “I think it’s misleading to the public. It’s a method of down zoning rather than limiting population growth per se.”
Prop A, “doesn’t stop people from doubling up in houses,” said Fillipini. “It will increase prices of housing and lead to an elitist society in Santa Barbara,” she added.
Fillipini favors instead, “well-planned control at one percent a year.”
The Committee for Responsible Growth feels, “Growth costs the taxpayers money. As population increases, the per capita cost of public services rises rapidly. The bigger a city gets, the harder it is to hold down the budget and taxes.”
“Prop. A,” said the Committee, “encourages adequate housing within the limits of our resources. Higher density won’t cure the city’s housing problem.”
“Santa Barbara is a special place because the people before us fought to keep it beautiful and unique…” said the Committee. “As the city gets bigger, your neighborhood changes;…noise increases and so does smog. You stand a much better chance of getting robbed, raped, or shot, but you pay more for police protection. Bigger isn’t better or cheaper.”