For two years we have carefully listened to those voices opposing the proposed Surfliner Inn. Some have repeatedly expressed opposition to the private use of public property (a portion of Parking Lot #3) for the Surfliner Inn’s lease. These same people also assert the biological value of the parcel south of the railroad track.
Recently we were disturbed to discover that some of the opposition leaders (and loudest voices) enjoy a private exclusive lease of this city property. They have fenced off the so-called “open space corridor” for their private use for “hobby gardening…raising dogs, cats, and chickens” (see Ground Lease by and Between the City of Carpinteria and UPPO’s Garden, LLC).
Does this mean they may use public lands privately, but others may not? That they may even profit by subleasing a portion of their lease while paying a below market rate to the city? They believe replacing the space with a public trail is environmentally damaging, while their personal, restricted use of the same space is appropriate.
When the city purchased the property, it envisioned a possible public parking lot and trail system. Accordingly, the lease states that UPPO’s Garden’s use is “…on an interim basis while [the City] determines a long-term use for the Property”. Many of us fully support leasing public property when appropriate. There are several examples of this practice throughout our County; for example, the Santa Barbara County Bowl, Paseo Nuevo and the various restaurants and businesses at the Santa Barbara Harbor, Stearns Warf, Goleta Beach, Hendry’s Beach and Jalama Beach.
I believe the proposed Surfliner Inn is a wise use of public lands. I believe it’s disingenuous for opponents to argue against leasing a portion of Parking Lot #3 for the Surfliner Inn while their leaders benefit from private lease of public property.