Community Partners Help Keep Santa Barbara Santa Barbara ™ Partners

Mandatory Helmets for Adult Bike Riders?

A law, Senate Bill 192, would make California the first state in the country to require that adult bike riders wear helmets. The newly-proposed law would impose a $25 base fine on adults who bike without headgear. Bicycling safety has been a long-simmering debate here in Santa Barbara, so let’s make it the question of the week and see what Viewers have to say:

Your New District Election Map Santa Barbara

After months of surveys and forums, draft 3 was chosen as the new district election map for Santa Barbara. Six regions, with about 14,500 people in each district. In all likelihood, Districts one and three will be on the ballot this fall… now let the candidates declare! (click to enlarge)

PODER Receives Cease and Desist Letter

poder_1Santa Barbara View published a controversial  flyer which was purportedly used as PODER’s Facebook cover art. According to their page, “PODER represents a constituency of oppressed and marginalized people the dominant Santa Barbara establishment has grown used to bullying and intimidating.” In response to the Facebook artwork, the Santa Barbara News-Press has reportedly sent a “cease and desist all copyright and trademark infringement” email to the group. The cover artwork has been replaced but the image still shows in the group photos.

Safe Passage and Historic Preservation in Mission Canyon

Last month, the Santa Barbara City Council approved a resolution to make the Mission Park to Mission Canyon Improvements Plan a project in the City’s Capital Improvement Program. For the few critics who complained that even after multiple walkabouts and public workshops, not enough community input was given; a “Mission Park to Mission Canyon Community Plan Meeting” will be held on Wednesday, April 8 at 7 p.m. at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Safe Passage is a combined plan to celebrate the historic resources in the lower Mission Canyon area and to ensure a safe walking route from the Mission to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and all the way up to Foothill Road. Some 10,000 trips per day travel thorough the bottleneck area—with nearly a million visitors to the Mission each year.

The Plan is a grant-funded community process and joint effort of the County and City to prepare concept level plans for pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle circulation improvements in the historic Mission Canyon corridor. The Plan area extends from the intersection of Laguna Street and East Los Olivos Street to the intersection of Mission Canyon Road and Foothill Road. No continuous pedestrian or bicycle connection exists through this narrow corridor. Although a few facilities exist at various points, they are not continuous, nor do they comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The lack of continuous facilities makes walking and biking in the area difficult and hazardous for residents and visitors.

This third public workshop, directed by the City Staff, is an attempt to increase public awareness. The purpose of the meeting is to present the conceptual plan (available online here) and allow the public to ask questions about the project and understand the public process that led to this innovative plan about safe passage and historic preservation.

View from the Top of Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
View From the Top of Santa Barbara

A beautiful view over Santa Barbara. This is one of the most amazing spots in Santa Barbara. The top of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Clock Tower. From here you can see from one end of the city to the other, The Mission to the Ocean. This particular angle is overlooking the sunken gardens of the courtyard with the Pacific Ocean on the right.

But before you grab your camera and head over there, you should know that currently the tower is closed for construction work. In a few months however, you’ll be able to take the elevator all the way to the top. Which will be a great help for many people who found the tight climb up the last story above where the elevator dropped them off too much of a barrier to enjoy this amazing spot.

In the mean time I will do my best to bring the beautiful views to you.

-Bill Heller

EcoFacts: Toilet to Tap

Weekly column by Barbara Hirsch

Eco FactsWe spend so much of our time thinking about, and doing our personal acts of consumption – eating and drinking, and with the water we use, washing.

Then there’s the outgo. We are relieved to wash, to pee and poo, but generally choose not to think much about that part, who wants to? But think for one minute and you realize how essential a well designed and maintained infrastructure is for sewage, as much as for drinking water. And with our drought and little to waste, even moreso!

I was privileged recently to have a tour with our Mayor of the El Estero Wastewater Treatment Plant. It is where everything that goes through our plumbing – dishwater, garbage disposal sludge, utility sink drainage, shower water, and sewage – ends up, our average 5 bathtubs full per person – 8 million gallons per day!

Here is the process, in short. Wastewater is managed in primary and secondary tanks and systems, solids are filtered and settled out, “digestion” is helped along with aeration and biological processes, accelerating the decomposition that would naturally occur. Final solids get trucked to composting facilities. The wastewater then goes either out to the ocean, or to a tertiary system which further removes contaminants and pollutants for the water to be recylced/reclaimed, and used to water public grounds,. Currently that system is offline while a bigger and better one is being built, expected to begin operation in the early summer.

Toilet-tapI was only able to experience the large open secondary tanks, and probably should be grateful for that, but it was not at all unpleasant. And the tertiary system being built, which will handle more than half of that 8 million gallons per day, is truly impressive looking. I wondered, is toilet to tap in our future, with an even more advanced tertiary (or quaternary) system? Appealing, eh? Would probably cost less than desal. We’ll check in again in 5 years.

Saturdays with Seibert: Orange Crush

Local Views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

Friday morning, just before the sun came up I was stopped on State street at Anapamu. Looking up the street I saw something orange in the bike lane. Some kind of custom recumbent bike, or maybe electric vehicle.

Later I saw a post by Steven on Edhat, he saw the same thing and took two photos. My red truck is visible in one photo. Although this vehicle is orange it’s also very low. In the same photo as my small Toyota truck there are three full sized contractor type trucks. This driver is very brave, no flags or banners to alert drivers. Knowing how people drive in this town I wonder how long it will be until we hear about, “Orange Crush.”

(And yes I fear for this guy having been hit by an inattentive driver on the 405. I was a passenger in a big red truck towing a 40 foot trailer with outrigger canoes and we were hit, then bounced off of three other cars. So yes, bad things happen. . .)

A Call For Good Governance

By Sharon Byrne

It’s always a critical time in government. No matter what year, election, or issues, it’s critical. Ever notice that?

ggThis week’s column isn’t to advance the interest of any candidates, party, or cause. The only concern expressed is a call for good governance… on every front. We’re not in some kind of “Bell” state of affairs, i.e., rampant corruption. In the news as of late, there are some struggles looming large within our city and county government, and I just hope our elected officials and staff can navigate through them to a good end for all of us.

The recent Point-in-Time Count is disappointing: the homeless count is flat since 2013. As someone who’s worked on that problem, people are getting help, including housing. But are we drinking a storm with a teacup, so to speak? Are we putting adequate resources in play to address homelessness? Are there enough Restorative Police here in Santa Barbara? Two cops work darned hard with chronically homeless individuals. With 893 homeless counted in the city of Santa Barbara this year, and 600+ deemed chronically homeless, is 2 cops even remotely realistic to tackle this problem? On the Milpas Outreach Project, we’ve learned 10 chronically homeless individuals can keep 10 of us volunteers pretty darned busy, and take months to finally house. Santa Monica, with a 2015 count of 738 (also flat), has 10 Homeless Liaison Police. Given that State St is adopting the Milpas model and had to push for Community Service Officers, where is the horsepower and leadership from SBPD to seriously address this problem?

The county funds alcohol, drug, and mental health services. That county department, ADMHS, itself the subject of heavy criticism, offers annual training sessions for law enforcement on dealing with mental health crises. It stands to reason that SBPD is probably called out to deal with individuals experiencing mental health crises on the streets pretty regularly. So why not flood these training sessions with officers to better equip them?

ADMHS has tens of millions of dollars available through the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). Those funds can be used for increased outreach to mentally ill individuals on our streets, supportive housing for them, and other crisis services we clearly need. Can our county supervisors direct ADMHS to prioritize MHSA funds to help reduce the number of severely mentally ill individuals on our streets? Are our city leaders aggressively lobbying the county supervisors in this direction?

ADMHS also has a number of job openings on the mental health side, with a hiring backlog approaching 100 for some time. There is a fairly new emphasis in hiring for cultural competency, but it’s resulting in turning away good people that are not bilingual. Are there not options for translators or bilingual contract staff to close the gap?

At the same time the flat homeless count was released, the County Supervisors’ pay hikes made the news. Pay raises for government officials and staff are always controversial. Taxpayers resent paying increased salaries, and it’s a somewhat poor argument to use salaries in other jurisdictions as the basis for increases, rather than performance, as multiple op-ed writers have noted. The problem is gaming the system. The first county to increase their pay paves the way for other counties to follow suit, whether warranted or not. Our county supervisors make less than some of their staff. They’re not rolling in the dough. But the optics, as they say in DC, aren’t good.

Infrastructure is a huge city and county challenge across the United States. How is it that at one time we could build all these bridges, roads, and buildings, but can no longer afford to maintain them? I am not a civil engineer, so am admittedly not expert, but it seems to me it’s probably more difficult to maintain a 50 year-old Ferrari in perfect condition than it is to buy a new one. Trying to find parts alone would be an ordeal. Edison, though not a government entity, is wrestling with 100 year-old infrastructure in our downtown, built when the area was not nearly so densely commercial. That aging infrastructure can’t handle today’s load; witness the blackouts. Edison would likely find it far less onerous to wire up a new downtown yet-to-be-built versus upgrading 100 year-old infrastructure buried underground. Sometimes, maintenance is just harder than demolish / build new. We’ve built an awful lot of stuff through the industrial era, and I guess we’ve hit critical mass in what it now takes to keep it all up.

Throw in district elections, rental market squeezes, IV, public pensions, and so on, and… well, it’s a critical time, as always. Consider this a plea for good governance, whatever times we’re in.