Home>Articles>As Downtown Santa Barbara Degrades and Homeless Invade, Biz Owners Get No Help From Elected Officials

As Downtown Santa Barbara Degrades and Homeless Invade, Biz Owners Get No Help From Elected Officials

‘SB Mayor is presiding over the complete and utter degradation of one of the most beautiful small cities in the country’

By Katy Grimes, August 15, 2021 2:18 am

Santa Barbara homeless dude camping on sidewalk. (Photo: Santa Barbara business owner for the Globe)

Throughout Governor Gavin Newsom’s 19-month COVID lockdowns of “non-essential” businesses, a 40-year business owner in Santa Barbara has kept in touch with the California Globe. He has shared the untold hardships he and his employees suffered, as well as the economic and emotional pains of being allowed to partially re-open, then shut down again, open again but with mandatory masks and social distancing, only to be shut down again, and finally reopened once more. And we’re back to masks…

Most recently, he has shared photos and stories of the bold, drug-addicted, mentally ill homeless population, allowed to live on the beautiful streets of Santa Barbara, using planter boxes and doorways as their toilets, blocking entrances to businesses, spanning sidewalks… only the streets aren’t as beautiful as they once were.

This is his most recent story, which he has allowed the Globe to publish. He also sent this to Santa Barbara City Council and County Supervisors. He is known to the Globe but asked that his name not be used in the article out of concerns of retribution:

Last night, Friday, I was coming in to work and crossed State St. at Figueroa.  I saw a vagrant who has parked himself there every Friday for the past few weeks.  He sits in a folding chair and takes up a lot of space with a condo’s worth of belongings in a cart.  Every Friday I call the Santa Barbara Street Ambassadors and ask them to have the guy moved along.

Two SB Ambassadors were standing on the corner talking, in plain view of the vagrant.  I stopped my car and got out and told them to do their jobs and move the guy. One was a heavy set Latina woman, maybe around 30, and a young Latino male with glasses who I believe was younger and less senior. She told me to get back in my car and move along. I told her to do her job.

I parked in Lot 4 and immediately called the Street Ambassador line and made a complaint about the vagrant, and about the Ambassadors, to the dispatcher. She said she would have the Ambassadors speak to the vagrant.

A few minutes later I walked up the block and took pictures of the vagrant and his belongings. The 2 Ambassadors were still on the corner so I asked them if they had asked the vagrant to move. They both told me that they said Hi to him. I said “you said Hi? Hi?—why don’t you do your job?”

I walked back to my business and when I looked back the Ambassadors were both following me and the female was using her phone to take videos of me.  I turned and asked her if she was taping me and she said “Yes. Is that your business?  Can you stand there?  I want to get a good video of you with your sign so I can post it on Yelp and show what a great downtown businessman you are.”

I said “you’re taping me?” She said “yeah, it’ll look great on Yelp, it’ll be great for your business when people see the kind of person you are.”

I said “You won’t do your job, so you tape me and threaten me?” She said, “I’m doing it right now.”

Homeless vagrant, Santa Barbara. (Photo: Santa Barbara business owner for the Globe)

I’m like, “how about you do your job.”  The male Ambassador said they could do nothing for me.  They were not authorized to do anything to move the street people along. They could not call for services because it was Friday night. He was also very combative and ready to get In my face.

I was on the phone with someone and describing the situation. The male Ambassador asked me to identify who I was talking to. He actually asked me to identify the person I was speaking with. What the hell?

I said “ if you post that, you and the City are going to have some real trouble.”

They walked up the alley towards Lot 4 and she said “Oh, I’m posting it.” She was defiant, confrontational, entitled,  and incredibly unprofessional. She is a disgrace to the City.  The younger male was obviously following her lead.

Why do we have the Street Ambassador program? Why do City employees think they can threaten local business people with bad reviews and postings on the internet?

When is the City of Santa Barbara going to get serious about cleaning up downtown? When are they going to help business and property owners defend the City from the filth and degradation of unchecked vagrancy?

I’ve been doing business in Santa Barbara for over 40 years. I have never seen things this bad. I’ve had issues over the years with City Employees and Staff, but I have never had City Employees threaten me with public defamation.

Below are photos of the vagrant I asked to move. He sits smugly picking his scabs as if he were sunning himself at the beach. He, like many, knows the City has no intention of defending its public spaces. They know they have carte blanche to commandeer the sidewalks and storefronts. They know they can piss and defecate wherever they want. They know that pretty much all of our elected officials actually believe they have a legal right to do so. They know that those same elected officials will defend, in legalese, that right.

An adult, serious Mayor and City Council would have long ago enacted a Downtown wide “Sit, Lie Ordinance” prohibiting this behavior. A serious City Council would empower the Police and their assistance partners to enforce such an ordinance.

Our current incompetent Mayor, unable to suggest or support any serious response to the rampant vagrancy on State St., said a while ago that the only thing we could do was to call the SB Street Ambassadors or the City non-emergency “nuisance” number when we needed assistance. She is presiding over the complete and utter degradation of one of the most beautiful small cities in the country.

So I do call. All the time. For vagrancy. For camping on private or public property. For public defecation and urination. For open methamphetamine and fentanyl use. For graffiti. For violent or threatening behavior. For open prostitution.

Nothing works. Nothing helps. We’re on our own out here on the streets of Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara homeless dude camping on sidewalk. (Photo: Santa Barbara business owner for the Globe)

UPDATE sent to Santa Barbara City Council and County Supervisors:

Saturday, 1:15pm, homeless dude is back. He is brazen. He knows you are impotent and will do nothing to move him. Disgusting.

Here’s the thing. If he is still at this location at 5 pm when I come back down to my business I will personally find a way to move his huge pile of belongings out into the middle of the State Street Promenade. He may not like that, but tough %@$!.

You have 3.5 hours to make it happen yourselves. Then I, and maybe others, will do what you won’t.

This business owner asks a fair question: “When is the City of Santa Barbara going to get serious about cleaning up downtown? When are they going to help business and property owners defend the City from the filth and degradation of unchecked vagrancy?”

This is typical of most cities in California – unchecked vagrancy, filth, degradation, open drug use, and violence, with feckless city council members pretending that it is their job to make the homeless vagrants welcome and comfortable on the streets, or with tiny homes, motel rooms, and newly renovated apartments. Business owners and taxpayers not only pay to clean up around these businesses and the streets, we all are paying the bill for tiny homes, motel rooms, and newly renovated apartments for the drug addicted, mentally ill homeless vagrants.

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30 thoughts on “As Downtown Santa Barbara Degrades and Homeless Invade, Biz Owners Get No Help From Elected Officials

  1. you have been abandoned. civility is over. in case you haven’t noticed. our leaders from the top down have been providing us with countless examples of lawlessness. its just a matter of time before the peasants figure it out. best to evacuate to low impact zone and try to surround yourself with a civil people.

  2. Unfortunately this is happening everywhere in California, not just in Santa Barbara.
    Californians – change your outrage to action and vote YES to recall Newsom.
    Nothing will change in California unless we vote to change out the government from the top all the way down to the street enforcement – or lack thereof – as illustrated by this article.
    Remember, if it’s not close, they can’t cheat.

  3. Cheer up brothers, you asked for it.
    Welcome to the TDS land of Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lopez, Steven Spielberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Kevin Costner, Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Oprah’s Progressiville.

  4. I have lived in Santa Barbara since 1986, yes a beautiful city. Sadly the city has always had horrible
    city management! everything this business owner says is true. The only good Mayor we ever had was
    Hal Conklin who recently passed. The current mayor Cathy Marillo is a complete waste of space! The problem here like most everywhere else are these liberal idiots that somehow get elected? every says Calif. & here in Santa Barbara that it’s a blue state, yet pretty much everyone I talk with is a Republican. Agreed start at the top and shed these losers but voter fraud is a huge fraud.

    1. Santa Barbara like much of California is a company town – biggest employer is the government and government employee unions vote as a block for their own. That is why city employees are hugely rewarded and never missed a paycheck, while the elected leaders beholden to the government employee unions stuck a knife in the backs of everyone else in this town.

      And that is why “people” keep electing the same poor leaders over and over again – because “the people” are a critical mass directly gain from those who write their paychecks – mainly the elected few are good friends of SEIU and the teachers unions who are a lot. Police, fire and Asst DA’s do a good job chasing who writes their paychecks too.

      Big Government corrupts is so many ways besides a bad track record and corrupt management – make it big enough and you do control election outcomes too – when everyone is directly or indirectly dependent on some form of government handouts.

    2. Two words: Dominion domination…

      They may not do the fraudulent voting themselves, but they ENABLE IT by delivering exploits and internal control weaknesses that can be manipulated by those that control the vote count…

      If a system cannot pass a Sarbanes-Oxley COSO audit then it should not be “certified” which is what Texas did…

      Padilla was as corrupt as they come and now he’s Federales….

  5. Comrades
    Your life will change dramatically due to Afghanistan……in many small ways ….the usurping your liberties and nullification of civility you have known your whole life. Standard of living POOF.

  6. 40 years of being a contributing citizen to the once beautiful places on this planet and what does it amount to? Any gratitude to the businesses that bring tax revenue to the city coffers?NO, this business owner instead gets ignored, threatened and ridiculed for taking a stance!

    It is time for the business community and long time residents to form their own task force, patrol the streets and hire private clean up and security and demand the city FIRE their employees who just want to socialize and collect a paycheck. Years ago, downtown San Jose,
    Ca was in the same dire situation, unfortunately it is returning to that state but for a decade it was cleaned up and visitors returned because the business owners formed their own task force. I know it is an added expense but if shared it may get the ball rolling. I would contact the Downtown San Jose Business Association.
    Here is one example out of Minneapolis.

    The few cities near where I live, not mine(unfortunately) do not have these problems because their leaders allow their P.D. to move along the drug addled, chronic homeless!

    If laws are not consistently followed to the letter of the law at all levels of government, then we do not have peace and justice. Laws are on the books and they need to be enforced. That also means our judges including the Supreme Court need to up hold the Constitution. Get rid of activist judges.

    Coincidently, I was looking to book our Thanksgiving holiday in Santa Barbara, I now have changed my mind. If I want to to have the experience of bums and junkies on the streets, I have that literally in my neighborhood, no need to travel.

    God Bless you Santa Barbara Business Owner, stay strong and I hope you can rally fellow citizens to stand with you!

  7. I was last in Santa Barbara in the early 2000s. Such a beautiful city surrounded by stunning geography and weather. I thought it was a blessed place to live and romantically thought I would live my retirement years in this city. Liberalism has cursed this city. There is no other outcome to extreme tolerance. Extreme tolerance, fed by liberalism, it truly cruel. Cruel to those suffering in the streets. Cruel to those struggling to honestly and productively contribute to society. Civilization is dependent all to live within a social contract that will respect oneself and others. To live honestly and as productively as one can. A just society will not allow people to rot in the streets. No one has the right to weaponize these damaged individuals. Sooner or later some very bad things are going to happen. What’s my solution…1. Create homeless centers well outside city limits. These are lock down facilities with purpose of sorting out the needs of these damaged individuals. 2. Clear all public areas of street people. 3. Transfer these people for to the homeless centers for assessment and spiritual support. Those that are not dangerous, must choose treatment and counseling at the homeless center. These people must be re-taught how to live in a free society. 4. Those that do not want to treatment must be released with the understanding and expectation that society will not tolerate their imposition on civil society. All lives do have value, that value is determined by individual.

    1. @Owednothing
      I could not agree more.
      Your thoughtful post is one of the best I have read on this site!
      It is not humane treatment. Your suggestions should be embraced and enacted up and down this state!
      As @FullStop has suggested we must vote YES on the recall as a first step to bring back civility to our beloved California. Will a current candidate publicly state that they will do what you have stated?
      I am tired of the excuses and lip service, all candidates need to publish their mission statement to end this now!

      1. Always love reading your posts, Owed Nothing, and this was no exception.
        If you want to know why things are the way they are in any given blue city in California where you see the existence and growth of this filth and destruction, just go to a City Council meeting and you will see why things are the way they are.

  8. Stepping firmly into non-PC territory here:

    At least part of the problem the narrator encountered is identical to that often found in the retail environment. Low class Latinos typically don’t want to interact with the customers and would seemingly prefer rather to stand around and chat with each other. Add to that the reconquista mindset that many younger ones have embraced thanks to media and educational indoctrination. Stir in the East of the Hajnal Line cultural norms that preclude helping strangers. Then finish it off with a minimum wage (more or less) and low status job that in turn inculcates a minimum wage McJob mindset. The result is these two city employees who are neither interested, motivated, nor legally empowered to fix the problem of a (probably crazy*) homeless person on the sidewalk.

    Let’s add that State Street and the surrounding areas in Santa Barbara has had homeless people for the past 50 years at least. An outgrowth of the Hippie Era, it’s been tolerated due to the partially liberal/leftest leanings of some of the population, aided by the easy-going cultural nature of Central California as well as the proximity of UCSB. The difference is that now it has become malignant. And the people who matter** are becoming less sanguine about it (and the non/semi-assimilated minorities) day by day.

    Look for a change in attitudes and actions about a lot of things, and not just the whole homeless thing and do-nothing minority hires.

    And when that happens, there will be hell to pay.

    Just a thought.


    *I’m surprised that nobody has discussed re-opening the State Hospitals, the ones stupidly closed by Reagan. There’s the solution to housing a good chunk of the homeless population right there.

    **I can assure you that Old Money Santa Barbara and Montecito is waaaay conservative. I mean, somebody is using all those gun ranges in the hills above the city. (Yes, they’re there, and they do get used.)

    1. ACLU closed the state care institutions. Reagan’s hand was forced by the court .Plus who grew the vagrant population from that time forward. Those who ACLU got released are now long gone. Yet, under the current Democrat super-majority these past 20 years, the vagrant population exploded .

      What point is there blaming a long gone governor – blame those who forced his hand and never once took responsibility for what they foisted on us – who are now living fat and happy sucking the MHSA funding dry keeping vagrants on the streets – Mental Health Services Act – has raised billions. Voters expected this would get vagrants off the streets and all it did was fund Homeless Inc. fat cats.

    2. There is very little “Old Conservative Money” left in Montecito or Hope Ranch. It is far more nouveau liberals with rescue complexes, who fund most of the one-party super-majority nonsense that has destroyed this state, while they do peer down from their gated mansions to make sure no one crosses their invisible lines.

      It is chic to be Democrat in this town, as long as one does not mingle with the public sector union DCC machine that drives it or heavy forbid let vagrants camp in their confines or panhandle on their byways..

      Liberal hypocrisy is now the local affliction that undermined what used to be a sleepy, quiet retreat for “Old Money”, who also did leave behind a tremendous legacy of Good Works. Old Money got engaged with the local community. New Money simply wants to get away from the local community. The difference shows.

  9. Reform the Lanterman-Pretris- Short Act (LPS) – audit the MHSA (Mental Health Services Act) – Voters agreed to fund getting mentally impaired persons off our streets decades and billions of tax dollars ago.

    What happened and why has 20 years of super-majority government only grown the state’s “vagrant” problem – not down on their luck – they are street addicts and we thought we were paying for their well-being. Instead Homeless Inc is now living fat and happy off those tax dollars, which has only grown the street people problem to the utter destruction of most downtown and public parks spaces in all of coastal California. Now Homeless Inc with its very high and unacceptable “administrative” overhead is heavily invested making sure we never see the end of the street vagrant problem.

    Re-open lockdown state care institutions – apply MHSA only in in-house, regulated and audited settings. Expand the grounds, now restricted by LPS Act, to get these people into these lock down setting and getting the daily care they need. They don’t need five Homeless Inc employees holding one vagrant’s hands 24/7.

    Audit MHSA and get LPS Act reform the very first day of our new governors term of office. Re-open and build lockdown state care institutions. Come to California – this will be your new home. Take it or leave.

  10. Leftists are deconstructing society with their armies; the homeless, antifa and BLM. Even leftist business owners should realize that marxism makes them the enemy. Maybe it will take them losing everything before they wake up to reality.

    1. Unfortunately too many liberals thought One Flew Over the CooCoo’s Nest was a documentary and responded accordingly. Big Pharm played their hand too – they claimed they had MagicWand Normal drugs and that would end the institutional needs as well. There is another story to follow – how much of the MHSA has gone to Big Pharm. An audit please – but who amongst our current Democrat super-majority would ever order one.

      First Five is also paying out huge administrative salaries and now has full cohorts over the past 20 years to see if the government taking over pre-K has paid off in any tangible ways, other than free babysitting and paying the First Five Inc staffers well beyond minimum wage baby sitting wages. First Five promised at lot – now let’s see what it delivered for its billions of dollars of tax “investments”.

      Who can forget the big media spreads when Rob Reiner was director of First Five – lots of promises – track the data – did First Five live up to its very expensive media campaign to keep this layer of public taxation going too?

  11. With all of the excellent, specific, instructive commentary here I will be putting this article aside and keeping it for future reference. We can only hope that the recommendations here are read and followed by our future governor, should we be so lucky as to have a new one.

    1. @ShowandTell,
      Agree, the commentary has been fascinating and informative.
      Big Pharma seems to have played a big role in the lead up to the homeless crisis and now we are seeing it with the suppression of early treatments for SARS-COV2 to push an unproven mRNA gene therapy disguised as an excepted vaccine. Big Pharma owns our media by buying ad space, they donate heavily to politicians and our public health institutions such as the NAID and NiH.
      Money to be made! We are just cogs in their machine.

  12. This is funny AF. Santa Barbara, once a pristine jewel, is now a common dirt clod. But, they’re LIBERALS there, solidly Democrat, and that’s why I howl with glee! “We said ‘Hi’ to him, and he automatically got moving, and fast!” Oh, wait, that’s not how the story went. LIBERALS — Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!! Enjoy the free “fertilizer” in your street planter boxes. When it gets hot and wet, well, you’ll know you’ve received your money’s worth! Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!

  13. If you dont stfu with these lies, I will track down and kill the author of this hit piece on destitute people who are at risk of death!

  14. I would take that threat as serious. If this man is who he says he is, his posts on other news sites are disturbing and irrational.

  15. Dear “business owner”: You asked a tourist guide to do a policeman’s job and you were a huge jerk about it. Then you did a Karen and called their supervisor. Then you contacted the city and threatened vigilante action. Obviously none of those tactics will work. Learn how the services in your city work, be respectful and courteous to people, and take responsibility for your own behavior and its consequences. Or to put it bluntly: Grow up.

    1. I read that he saw the downtown Ambassadors were not even close to carrying out their duties the taxpayers are paying them to do – which is exactly what I see too – chatting among themselves and totally useless.

      I don’t blame him for seeing that one too many times and having a close by business that is impacted by this city neglect .That does create anger and the city does need to get feedback how badly this window dressing new program is failing, except the cronies they preferentially hired because they were “bi-lingual”.

      Hire people who understand their job description, who will do their job being extra eyes and ears on the streets – and not use company time to socialize with their new BFF. His experience is not unusual – his reaction was over the top only because of his growing frustration with this do-nothing, but make it look like we did something, crowd now on city council. This city Ambassador program is a total fail.

      But once hired, never fired is the current city work ethic. Which is why we need to fire them. Good choices this coming election – can we beat out the city employee union vote – more energy to do that than any election in the past.

  16. Start arresting people for drug use and possession, and the entire homeless problem is solved. It really is that easy.

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