Streamline Permits & Stay Safe Against Scofflaw Builders
A group of concerned Santa Barbara citizens continue to raise awareness of the unpredictable inefficient and arbitrary permitting process here in our community. Our efforts are now being highlighted by the Kosmont report, Novak memo and Grand Jury report. In preforming a lot of research and interviews we also see that scofflaw builders not only bypass these hurdles in front of law abiding applicants her is zero penalties for blatant law breakers of this process in order for them to have immense personal gain. This awareness campaign asks the City to take swift action against egregious scofflaw builders in order to establish a fast-track consistent reliable process with the highest integrity for retail and residential permits for law-abiding businesses & homeowners.
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Members of the Santa Barbara community are tired of a building department not listening to growing concerns for years. Just listen to their responses to questions posed by council at the June 9th special budget meeting. Budget Meeting Comments. If the Community and Development leaders have not shown they can initiate process improvements over the past many years the risk becomes that those same leaders will simply be defensive roadblocks for the changes that our community desperately needs.
In clearing the way for a streamlined permit process we contend that scofflaw must have penalties for the worst of the worst. We have identified two projects that are have several criminal matters before the court. Astonishingly all of these laws that have been broken and court cases will not result in any permit status changes. The majority of builders are honest but for those willing to break laws and risk human safety we need penalties that will prevent these bad actors from these continued behaviors.
Let us know if you ARE READY TO HELP WITH COMMUNITY OUTREACH?
WHAT WE WANT
We want a transparent, consistent & streamlined Permit process
Reduced counter visits
Consistent interactions at both the counter and at inspections
Service oriented personnel that go above and beyond for every applicant
We want applicants that manipulate and commit fraud to risk revocation and be asked to start the process over lawfully.
You have the power to impact our city’s future. Let’s support a streamlined permit process and draw the line for scofflaw builders who attempt to put personal gain over community safety. If these are not addressed together, illicit builders will continue to take more advantage at the expense of our city’s safety and integrity. We are handing the city an open and shut case for revocation that can finally draw the line and shut the backdoor on ilicit building that threatens law abiding citizens and our safety.
This Petition: Enact the following Changes at the Santa Barbara City Building Department:
- A process and willingness to revoke permits when illegal and or fraudulent activities or patterns are found, requiring applicants to start over and file new applications through a lawful process.
- Ensure our city building department protects our important firefighting lines and high fire hillside districts from illicit permit activities.
- A streamlined building process to improve affordability for law-abiding businesses and homeowners to quickly complete renovations and projects in order to re-ignite our economy.
Santa Barbara City Building Department: These three requests go hand-in-hand to assure protections are in place against scofflaw builders before a streamlined permitting process is allowed. Santa Barbara citizens know that the building process is tough for small businesses and homeowners. Navigating George Buell’s building department at 630 Garden Street has been notorious for years. Most changes and builds are a multiyear endeavor due to the City’s policies and processes, although some builders bend the rules and submit inaccurate applications to simplify their effort at the expense of citizen safety and the City’s integrity. Some city employees at the building counters have conducted themselves in a less than a professional manner and act defensively. A citizen witnessed city employees yell at individuals from across the room who are at the counter for help. When asked if this was normal behavior, the reply mentioned filing a complaint, and the citizen felt this could risk his own permit out of retaliation. This type of behavior could suggest why many citizens do not believe that the building department is providing adequate service for our community. Scofflaw builders do not have issues with our City’s process because they follow illicit practices that give them competitive advantage. When talking to the building community, many honest builders feel pressured to either forgo the permit process altogether, or use the well-known practice of providing less than accurate or missing information to minimize the challenges and the cost of permitting in Santa Barbara, or lose projects to scofflaw builders. The Building Department is actually creating more scofflaw builders by upholding the status quo.
In addition, citizens have specifically uncovered permits that were granted based on fraudulent, missing and incorrect information where the projects result in higher risk to our community. At present there are two precedent-setting cases pending. Permits for two projects on Arriba Way, one of the most dangerous undersized non-conforming cul-de-sacs within the high fire hillside district. This street acts as one of our last lines of defense against wildfire spreading to down-slope communities like San Roque and the Upper East. There are currently several lawsuits including 14 criminal counts against this builder due to the fraudulent manipulation of our city ordinances.
StaySafeSB Volunteer speaks directly to City Council and Building department regarding these permits with ongoing litigation
A growing number of supporters see this as an opportunity to reorganize and implement improvements in our City’s Building policy. George Buell can revoke these permits knowing full well that the City Attorney’s office is already embattled with this builder and would be well equipped to support and successfully defend revocation. The current court cases will not result in revocation so it is up to you to take a stand. Let’s not let this opportunity pass by, sign the petition today and stay up-to-date with this very significant fight to improve our community for law abiding citizens who call Santa Barbara home and for those who come to enjoy its many benefits.
This petition is an effort to protect the safety of our community when the next fire blows through our town. We want to preserve safety and access for emergency services at this hilltop fire line. The Santa Barbara City Council sees it much like we do, as they have banned all ADU’s in high fire zones, and that includes the small street of Arriba Way. It does not, however, affect previously permitted applications.
The City Attorney’s office sees it much like we do as they have levied 14 criminal counts against the builder. But we were told that the criminal case is only punitive, and the builder is still free to continue processing his permits. As a community we need to say these permits must be revoked immediately. The builder can then re-apply and abide by the lawful process.
This fight, involving projects located on 2919 and 2924 Arriba Way, highlights unlawful abuse of our City’s building policies and local laws. The builder was granted two over-the-counter ADU permits after submitting incomplete, misleading and fraudulent information. This issue was brought to light by 40 concerned local neighbors, raising two main concerns with the Building Department and City Council. First, a 30 foot tall box-like structure is non-conforming to their neighborhood and they had real concerns about density on an already extremely undersized street and cul-de-sac. Both are insufficient reasons to revoke the permits in the Building Department’s eyes. Yet once the neighbors began to organize and make their voices heard through the City Council, City Attorney and the media, the City found fraudulent information and illegal grading and put stop work orders on both properties in Jan 2019. The owner is accused by City officials, the neighbors, and others of the following:
- 14 criminal counts levied against the builder by the City. Case number 19CR00510.
- Multiple Stop work orders placed on both properties.
- Multiple violations of stop work orders by continued work.
- Both applications failed to provide complete surveys, accurate topographical information, or engineered grading and drainage plans.
- Incomplete slope information and engineering details necessary to construct the projects in a manner which protects public health and safety. These omissions alone should constitute cause for revocation.
- Mislabeled driveways and parking as existing on the plans when they did not exist, and in some cases could never exist due to valid easements.
- Providing false and misleading information on legal covenants.
Revoking these permits will send a message to other scofflaw builders that the Building Department has a process to stop those who continue to falsify and omit important information that affects the safety and wellbeing of others. In fact, a revocation ordinance exists today and George Buell was quoted as saying that if illegal grading was found to occur in these cases, he would revoke the permits. When the City Attorney’s office was asked if George Buell has the evidence to substantiate their criminal case, they responded that Mr. Buell provided them with all their evidence. So why has he not revoked the permits? Who is he protecting? When the City can handle scofflaw builders it will be able to safely expedite the process for law-abiding citizens. Failing to implement penalties like permit revocation will encourage unethical builders in our community and continue to convert honest builders to shady practices to compete. Meanwhile law-abiding small businesses and homeowners will suffer and continue to be pushed out. We want to improve our community and economy by making development a simple path forward and by ensuring our firefighting lines are not risked at the expense of scofflaw builders. Our City Building Department must have and use tools to enforce penalties like permit revocation. Please spend a moment to sign this important petition. Stand with us, We need everyone’s help. Residents of Santa Barbara, those who visit friends and relatives, or vacation here should voice their concerns by signing this important petition.
The stand we take here can clear the path for simplified building processes. Allowing small businesses with who need permits to open quickly for our community.
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HELP FIGHT UNLAWFUL PERMITS
Your voice matters, help draw a line in the sand and let's fight unlawful building practices that threaten the safety and wellbeing of our community.