Construction is well underway on 8th Street for a new home. Sadly, an old craftsman style cottage was demolished to make way for our city’s new vision of how our downtown district will look in the future. The old house wasn’t really anything special but, it was our family home since 1943 and we loved that old house. We sold the property to a nice couple thinking they would replace it with a similar style home in the downtown tradition as many others have done. We were wrong. The design they chose was so out of character with the neighborhood that we were certain it would never pass our strict building codes. But it did; even passing a final City Council appeal by a 3-2 vote.
What the officials who voted to pass this project failed to understand was that this uncharacteristic design will greatly exacerbate the gentrification of our downtown community. Affluent others will come and demand to build their own McMansions. Property values will increase so that only the very wealthy will be able to afford to live there. Property values and rents will increase exponentially. All of this will lead to an economic departure of the blue-collar and migrant working-class people who have traditionally resided there. This is happening right now as Latinos are being pushed out in droves from Santa Barbara and moving to less expensive parts of the county as reported in the Santa Barbara Independent. It is not hard to believe that this is probably happening here too. The downtown 8th Street has historically been home to people coming here from all over the U.S. and other countries. This vital and essential diversity will sadly be gone forever because of the lack of foresight by some of our city officials.