SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Have you notice people getting around the laws and getting away with it more and more?
Ignoring basic common sense, zoning and vehicle code rules seems to be happening more and more in neighborhoods and on our highways.
Eastside resident Darren Wass is seeing it often, especially with liter. "Nobody really seems to care in general period. No rules apply to anyone around here."
NewsChannel Three spoke with many people for weeks about this issue, and there were some outspoken comments.
Drivers with cell phones are among the top offenders than just irk others.
Samatha Journey said she sees cars swerving on roadways and sometimes pulls up to check on the driver. “And sure enough you go up and they are texting and driving," she says. “If I were to do it. I would get a ticket."
A bike rider has been cut off by distracted drivers many times. “Totally all the time,” said Eddie Pineda. He confronts some drivers saying 'what are you doing there. you almost killed me ! Watch out guy!'"
We went around with our cameras and found issues at every turn.
Commonly we see piles of debris and discarded items in front of homes that may not even be connected with the trash. It could be refrigerators, furniture or just boxes of unusable items.
It's blight. It's ugly. It's depressing.
It's become the norm.
Wass said, "it's a very common thing between the college students and the locals.”
We talked to Santa Barbara Planning Commissioner Deborah Schwartz who can't stand it either. She wants to clean up the problems with the residents actively helping out. "Where we help the community understand the kind of pick ups they can get for free, and then beyond create a program of pride."
Police are often called to find out who is ultimately responsible.
Sgt. Riley Harwood says, “in this town we have a lot of absentee landlords so you have property owners in Los Angeles and elsewhere and they are not aware of what is happening on their property."
A frustrated resident said, he's tried to get help, but nothing has happened.
Luis Rodriguez says when trash is dumped near his home he is hoping the city can help "And I see the truck and they don't come to pick it up. So I don't know what to do."
Then you have people who park in a place for two vehicles, but they take their spot from the middle. It can often upstet side by side neighbors.
Wass says there are other problems. “They save parking spots with cones and claim the street to be theirs."
In parking lots, some drivers give themselves all the room they need and have no consideration for vehicles around them. We see it often. In some cases the space between one door and another is under 10 inches. Certainly not enough room to open a door and get in, or put a child in a car seat.
In many instances those parking, have their tires “over the line" into the next parking space.
One yard sale on Canon Perdido Street is a problem site. It happens on a regular basis, and goes beyond the curb and into the street.
Schwartz says, "You’re right John, there is a safety issue. There is a commercial enterprise issue using the public right away."
A late night food truck parks on Milpas and turns on glowing lights.
Then uses the parking lot of a car repair place for its dining room.
Other street sales can also be seen. Wass points out, “you can actually see here on Indio Muerto and on this corner too once a week that take up the sidewalks. And they're not even in front of their houses."
Taxi drivers often ignore designated areas for pickups and drop offs. "Somebody will be hurt. It’s just a matter of time," said driver Mata Metze.
They stop almost anywhere, such as crosswalks, red zones, or by taking up half of a lane.
"Bicycles are threatened by it. Other cars whether they are coming my direction or the other direction. It makes thing really quite dangerous and they don't seem to care. The only way they understand if you give them a ticket."
And on rainy days when streets are swamped, we often see speeding vehicles trying to hit the water for a big splash. It's dangerous driving and can impact on coming cars or nearby pedestrians.
One car went by our news cameras as the safety railroad arms came down. The driver barely got the vehicle through on wet streets during a rain storm.
Signs in the walkway downtown, such as sandwich boards, seem to be common
But they aren't approved in many cases and can be a trip and fall hazard to pedestrians.
There’s even been a city development sign on a decorative State Street light pole for weeks, which raises some new questions about that location.
In front of a downtown bar smokers are using a tree base as their ash tray and a red vines bucket as their trash can.
Gas powered leaf blowers have been banned in Santa Barbara for years. You still see and hear them frequently. Electric machines are preferred by the city.
On late nights, two musicians take over the doorway of a closed business on State Street and blast amplified music that can be heard for more than a block.
It comes at a time when the city is talking tough about noise, but it certainly is NOT striking a threatening chord here.
The city says it is short on enforcement officers and reacts to complaints as the primary source of addressing some of these issues.
There will also be a review leading to changes in the zoning ordinance coming up in March. Commissioner Schwartz says she hopes those who are developing or remodeling in Santa Barbara will feel less intimidated, and know more about the process, when the new rules are written.
If you have concerns over issues ranging from potholes, to dumping, to noise, this guide may help you contact the city for some help: