The Man Who Planted Trees: Dr. Augustus Boyd Doremus

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150Recent focus on the dead, dying and dried-out Italian Stone Pines of Anapamu Street failed to provide much historic context for how they got here in the first place. Yet they still manage to hold on, 77 years after the death of Dr. Augustus Boyd Doremus, the man who planted them.

doremusDr. Doremus was born on the Fourth of July, a Civil War veteran and a dentist, with a passion for horticulture. He moved to Santa Barbara for his health and lived to be 95 years old. Doremus is known as the “Father of Santa Barbara’s Parks.”

When Dr. Doremus and his wife purchased a huge lot in the 600 block of Anapamu Street in 1891, the property was described as “a barren half-block.” But even before their house was completed, they set about creating a garden on the hillside that was, “filled with unusual flora planted with the thought of special groupings around an expansive view. The garden was much admired by the many visitors, including outstanding horticulturalists who came to Santa Barbara.”

Horticulture was all the rage back in those days, and Santa Barbara was a hot spot for the trading and securing of seeds and cuttings from around the world. Both Dr. Doremus and his friend Dr. Francesco Franceschi participated, and enjoyed raising the seedlings and small plants in their respective nurseries. They planted them in their own gardens, in city parks and in parkways.

In 1908, Dr. Doremus planted a double row of Italian Stone Pines seedlings on either side of the narrow dirt Anapamu Street between Milpas and Canal (now Olive) streets. In 1929, he extended the planting all the way to Garden Street using seeds sent from Europe by his brother. The trees grew strong in the Mediterranean climate.

The huge Doremus estate was a destination of garden-lovers from around the world, and a number of grand parties, weddings and other gala events were held at the large mansion and expansive gardens on the property. Standout specimen plants were regularly featured in the pages of “Santa Barbara Gardener,” edited by Lockwood and Elizabeth de Forest (parents of Kellam de Forest) and published by the Plans and Planting Committee of Santa Barbara.

After his wife passed away, Dr. Doremus moved in next door with his daughter in her equally expansive home and garden. Upon his death in 1937, he was remembered in Santa Barbara Gardener: “The spirit of gardening shone in Dr. Doremus as in few men—the spirit of zeal tempered by a sense of humor.At the age of ninety he chopped down some large trees in his garden and planted young ones for the joy of seeing them grow and he actually lived to see them good sized specimens.”

A 1981 article in Noticias noted, “Dr. Doremus was remembered by all who knew him—the bank tellers, the gardeners, the many intimate friends—as a tall, stately, kindly man, ‘a real gentleman,’ ‘a gallant and noble spirit.’ With fifty-five of his ninety-five years devoted to Santa Barbara, he is remembered as one of the city’s foremost benefactors through his work in behalf of the parks and street tree plantings. Those who know the story can scarcely go anywhere in Santa Barbara without being reminded of Dr. A. Boyd Doremus.

Widely respected in his day for bringing so much life and beauty to this city, he has largely been forgotten. Yes, there’s an old plaque in Alameda Park, but nothing near the tree-shaded street of Anapamu where he left his still-growing legacy.

The magnificent old Doremus mansions were demolished and the graceful gardens destroyed, replaced in the 1960s by two massive apartment complexes. Back then, the developer was required to preserve the historic sandstone walls and the buildings were situated around the specimen trees on the property to save as many of them as possible. Unfortunately, a few years ago, the developer who purchased the property destroyed one of the original sandstone walls, and chopped down a thriving urban forest.

The Stone Pines struggle on—as they have for decades. That 1981 article noted: “Today, the pavement reaches the bases of the trees and their roots fight the encroachment. Several of the pines have been lost, yet the remaining overarching branches are admired, and their cooling shade appreciated, by all who pass that way.”

According to a recent city report on the 79 Italian Stone Pines that remain standing, “Four are currently dead…12 are in poor health, 24 are in fair health, 26 are in good health, and 19 are in excellent health.”

It’s time we correct our long neglect of the arboreal legacy of Dr. Doremus and create some on-the-ground interpretation of this historic part of Santa Barbara, where the city’s first park superintendent once lived, worked, and extended his vision far beyond his earthly years. We may not be able to save all his trees, but we can educate and preserve his memory. Call it the A. Boyd Doremus Historic Walk. Have a ribbon-cutting, install plaques, invite residents and visitors to keep his memory green. It’s the least we owe him, this man who planted trees.

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Update on the Doremus Stone Pines on Anapamu

photoHere is an update on the Italian Stone Pines along Anapamu Street: 79 were originally planted from 1908 through 1921. According to City Arborist Tim Downey, based on the most recent inspection of the remaining 75 trees: 4 trees are dead and awaiting removal, 12 trees are in poor health, 24 are in fair health, 26 are in good health, and 19 are in excellent health. The City has begun watering the trees once a month and is considering the purchase of irrigation pods ($200 a piece) or Treegator bags, which are $20 a piece. For more information on how you can help the City of Santa Barbara help trees during the drought, specifically the Italian Stone Pines, call (805) 564-5433 or click here.

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Shaking up State Street: A Promenade

25 years ago this month, Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade, a pedestrian-only strip, was christened. By its 10th anniversary, the Promenade was drawing an estimated 4 million visitors a year, and its 150 establishments were generating about $160 million in gross taxable sales, a 440 percent rise. Today 14.6 million people —40,000 per day — visit the Promenade and neighboring streets. Commercial rents fetch around $16-per-square-foot, and as much as $25. The average office occupancy rate rivals those of San Francisco and Boston, while a housing boom has seen the number of residential units jump from several hundred in the 1990s to more than 3,000 today. So with State Street in view, we dug into the View Vault for this post from 2011:

From Barcelona to Santa Monica, pedestrian-friendly promenades have been a huge success. But did you know, a car-free drag in Santa Barbara was part of The General Plan, which was adopted by resolution of the Mayor and Santa Barbara Council on July 28, 1964? It was called The Paseo—An Escape from the Automobile.

“There is a growing awareness that the automobile is getting out of hand; that its influence on the urban scene is becoming dictatorial rather than beneficent. It is the instrument whereby free reign was given to urban sprawl and, now that we have sprawled all over the landscape, it has become the indispensable element essential to holding the whole loosely knit package together. With the increase in population and prosperity, the automobile is demanding more and more land use for its exclusive use. In places like Los Angeles, it is demanding a lion’s share of the very air—polluting it and rendering it unfit to breath. The quirk of nature that allows the automobile to steal the air in Los Angeles is called ‘temperature invasion’. Santa Barbara has its own temperature inversion. All we need is a few more cars to attain the unhappy distinction of becoming more like Los Angeles.”

What about the idea of closing off State Street to cars… making it a promenade?

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State Street in Santa Barbara, California Designated as One of 10 Great Streets in America by the American Planning Association

Regardless of aggressive panhandlers and unruly street people, the American Planning Association just announced that State Street in Santa Barbara, California has earned the designation as one of the 10 Great Streets for 2014. Here is what they had to say about our main avenue:

State Street has served as the social, economic and cultural center of Santa Barbara, California, and the southern coast for over 150 years. Its unique Hispanic architectural style and landscaping, pedestrian amenities, proximity to the Pacific Ocean, incredible views of the Santa Ynez Mountains and cultural sites provide 24-hour activities for residents and visitors. Since the 1960s, the city has invested in projects to re-energize the street, such as widening sidewalks, providing a strong retail core environment, increasing support for the arts, banning street parking, creating off-street parking and providing an electric shuttle bus program. More recently, the $8 million State Street Beautification Project completed in four phases replaced sidewalks, crosswalks and landscaping. This year, Old Spanish Days, a cultural parade with educational events along State Street, will celebrate its 90th anniversary. The Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which draws celebrities, fans, industry professionals and guests to the theatres of State Street for movie premieres each year, will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2015.

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Panhandling in Santa Barbara, California

The Los Angeles Times published a photo essay titled Panhandling in Santa Barbara.  One of the captions notes that Citycouncilman Randy Rowse is considering an initiative to hire private security guards on State Street to control aggressive panhandlers and unruly street people. Viewers… let’s vet the new idea via the question of the week:

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The Other View: No on Measure P

Editor’s Note: Measure P has generated more letters than any ballot measure in recent memory, so we’ll try and run some from each side leading up to election day.

By Jean Mollenkopf

We have an enviable way of life here in Santa Barbara County. Its physical beauty includes our beautiful coast and spectacular scenic interior. It is also a safe county, and that isn’t any accident. We have been blessed with well-trained public safety professionals who have been able to rely on having the resources to do their jobs: keeping us safe so we can enjoy what life here has to offer. Unfortunately, this is threatened by the misguided, deceptive Measure P.

Despite what its supporters think, the plain language of this bill will make it impossible for existing onshore oil and gas production to legally continue and will cause its gradual shutdown. When that production stops, so does the tax revenue it generates. Hundreds of jobs will be lost by multitudes of long time Santa Barbara County citizens. Local governments in Santa Barbara County, like their counterparts around the state, have been operating on tight budgets, and probably will be for the foreseeable future.

Loss of the revenue from onshore oil and gas production will blow a hole in the budgets of local government, which will be forced to cut back on public safety and other vital services. The cruel irony of Measure P is it really does nothing to achieve its stated goal. It will instead inflict very real damage on the capability of our public safety agencies to keep us safe. I urge you to Vote No on Measure P.

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Measure P Will Protect County Funds




Scott Barnett

The claims being made by the oil industry in regard to Measure P resulting in cuts to County funding are completely false and unfounded.

They quote a June 13 county report out of context, which actually says that Measure P will have, “no immediate loss in tax revenue,” and that current oil wells can continue to, “produce all their available oil.”

The reality is that we may already by losing money on having the oil industry in our County.

The public has to pay for road maintenance from heavy truck traffic as well as for environmental contamination and other impacts. In the last decade and a half, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department has responded to over 400 waste leaks and spills from oil production. We can’t afford to increase this further.

Other places have an oil extraction tax to compensate for the high costs of this industry, but we do not. The only money Santa Barbara County gets from oil companies is what they pay in property taxes. And those taxes account for only 0.6% of our total County Budget. Continue Reading →

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Santa Barbara Democratic Party Endorsements

There is another election on the horizon with vote-by-mail ballots currently arriving. Voter turnout is expected to be very low; so to whet your whistle, here the are the Official Santa Barbara County Democratic Party endorsements for November 4, 2014:

US Congressional Representative, 24th District: Lois Capps

CA State Assemblymember, 37th District: Das Williams

CA State Assemblymember, 35th District: Heidi Harmon

Vote YES on Measure P
Ban fracking and extreme oil extraction techniques in Santa Barbara County

Hope School District: Nels Henderson and Tony Winterbauer
Goleta Sanitary District: Beverly Herbert
Carpinteria School District: Michelle Robertson
Goleta Water District: Meg West
Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District: Paola De La Cruz and Jacob Lebell
Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees: Jonathan Abboud
Lompoc City Council: Darrell Tullis and Robert Cuthbert
Santa Maria City Council: Tony Coles
Santa Maria Joint Union High School District: Diana Perez

Statewide Endorsed Candidates
Continue Reading →

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Santa Ynez Grapes

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Grapes on the Vine

Wandering through the vineyards of the Sant Ynez valley. Thanks to our extreme weather this year, it’s been an early grape harvest throughout California. I love to watch the grapes develop for photo opportunities like this and just because I’ve always loved plants in general. This year I noticed early in the summer the grapes looked unusually advanced for the time of the season and with a bit of research online I found that vineyards were expecting a particularly early year. Early, but no less impressive and beautiful from the looks of things.

-Bill Heller

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EcoFacts: Climate CHANGE Climate

Weekly Column by Barbara Hirsch

A globally coordinated day of action last weekend mobilized thousands in Paris, Berlin, Istanbul, Melbourne, Jakarta – in 162 or more countries – with the People’s Climate March in New York City being the centerpiece. An estimated 300,000 – 400,000 people showed up. This was planned to be shortly before the U.N. Climate Summit, where the need for action was evident in the meeting of government leaders and 200 CEOs. The UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon stated “climate change is the defining issue of our times.” The World Bank also announced that more than 1,000 businesses — along with 73 countries and 22 states, provinces and cities — have expressed their support for carbon pricing. Not to mention the announcement of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund selling $50 billion US worth of fossil fuel assets in an effort to fight global warming.

In London an estimated 40,000 people marched, and the news from there as reported on the Islam Channel offers a thoughtful and refreshing perspective. Besides CO2 emissions, the report begins to explore the massive change needed economically, and even more fundamentally in our way of life, if the necessary work to avoid climate catastrophe is to happen. “The earth has a fever… shall we treat it with antibiotics or try to understand the sources of its illness?”

Here, from one of the marchers in London- “We are the first generation to feel the impacts of climate change and the last that can do anything about it.” Aye, there’s the rub. Massive change does not happen quickly. Is the tipping point near?

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Saturdays with Seibert: Now You See It

Wednesday morning’s fog bank accomplished what some in town wanted.  Made the cruise ship Crown Princess disappear. – Dan Seibert

Editor’s Note: The 3rd of 11 cruise ships this fall season is in the harbor today.


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Planned Parenthood Annual Book Sale

booksaAttention Readers: There are still treasures to be found between the covers of a book.

It’s 40 years and counting: The Mary Jane McCord Planned Parenthood Annual Book Sale continues through Sunday at Earl Warren Showgrounds.

Friday 9/26: 12-8
Saturday 9/27: 10-8
Sunday 9/28: 10-6

Donate books year-round at 721 E. Gutierrez Street (805) 963-2445 x 4;

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Vintage Views of Santa Barbara, California

Here is a photo of the Boeseke & Dawe Co. building as seen after the June 29, 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake. Does anyone know where this was/is? Answer below
Continue Reading →

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Busted on a Bike

By Cheri Rae

cheriIn all the recent back-and forth about bikes or cars in Santa Barbara, it seems like we’re missing something. It’s bikes and cars, and there are rules to help everyone share the road safely.

For several years, I made my living writing articles and editing magazines about the sport and utility of bicycling, and I’ve learned a lot about the right way to ride. But years before that, I learned one important lesson that seems to be lost on far too many bike riders: Stop at the STOP sign.

Every time I see a bike rider roll right through an intersection without heeding the sign, I’m reminded of the time I did the same thing. It didn’t turn out too well.


When I was growing up, my strict father was a stickler for punctuality. The surefire way to get in trouble at home when we were teenagers was arriving late—even just five minutes late. My sister and I knew it, and were usually conscientious about staying on the right side of time.

But there was this one long summer day at the local swim club where we regularly hung out; we just couldn’t seem to break away from the enticing pleasures of adolescent fun under the sun. When we could finally stay not a moment longer without risking restriction, we pulled on our Levi cut-offs and hopped on our 10-speeds. Since we were already late, we didn’t even take an extra minute to cover up our bikini tops before we headed home.

In high gear, we pedaled as fast as we could through the familiar neighborhood route on the 4-mile ride. Paying no attention to the typical rules of the road, we blasted through the wide, clear suburban intersections to beat the clock. We had made up enough time that we were on track to avoid Getting in Trouble.

We would have, too, if it hadn’t been for the cop parked down the block who caught us zooming past a stop sign just before the entrance to our subdivision. He turned on his lights and pulled us over. On our bikes. Wearing our skimpy bikini tops.

He looked, lectured and took his time. As the clock ticked past zero hour, we were out of time and officially In Big Trouble. He wrote us up and handed us our tickets for running the stop sign. He told us we were lucky and that he was doing us a favor; that maybe because he had done his job he had saved our lives.

That seemed unlikely. By then, a good 20 minutes late, the prospect of showing up so late with tickets in our hands seemed like life as we knew it was pretty much over anyway.

We faced our father: Busted, grounded, and humiliated with no plausible excuses.

We had to explain ourselves: our bad decision-making and poor judgments in choosing fun-in-the sun while we ignored the time; failing to cover up; riding recklessly through the intersections. And our run-in with the law.

Then, when the summons came in the mail, we had to go to court.

Dressed in our Sunday best, we appeared tearfully before the judge and accepted responsibility for our transgression as he sternly admonished us about the dangers of running a stop sign on a bicycle. Since the whole family showed up and we obviously showed remorse, he dismissed the charges. The judge was more lenient than our dad: We finally worked our way back into our parents’ good graces, but it took a good part of the summer before we were allowed back in the pool or on the bikes.


These days, I regularly notice cyclists ignore the rules of the road and get away with it. And it always reminds me of that hot summer afternoon, a million years ago, when my sister and I didn’t. Maybe that cop was right, that he did us a favor by teaching us a lesson we never forgot. What I know for sure is that neither of us ever again tempted fate by running a stop sign—and we’re still here to tell the story.

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Senior Development at 251 S. Hope Avenue

In a related note to Sharon’s column, the Santa Barbara Housing Authority is proposing a new development for low-income seniors at 251 South Hope Avenue, called “The Gardens on Hope”. The Gardens on Hope will be situated on a 1.75 acre lot located at 251 S. Hope Avenue, which is adjacent to Graham Chevrolet and is adjacent to a channelized section of Arroyo Burro Creek. The development will consist of 90 to 100 studio units serving low income, frail seniors, modeled after Garden Court.

Friends of affordable housing say… “the need for affordable senior housing is growing significantly nationwide. Today, just over 34 percent of the US population is aged 50 and over, and their numbers are rising rapidly with the aging of the baby-boom generation.The populations among 65-74 year olds is set to soar from 21.7 million in 2010 to 32.8 million in 2020 and 38.6 million in 2030. Unfortunately with this growth, the number of seniors living in poverty and in need of affordable housing also continues to grow, and Santa Barbara is no exception. Within the City of Santa Barbara proper:”

  • 1 in every 14 seniors live in poverty
  • Seniors make up 13.1% of the people living in poverty in the City of Santa Barbara – the highest percentage of any area of the County
  • The trend of seniors living in poverty has continued to grow within the City of Santa Barbara
  • There are 805 senior, single person residents on the Housing Authority’s Section 8 wait list, of which 70% have annual incomes less than $15,900 (less than the annual cost of an average 1 bedroom apartment in Santa Barbara)
  • 31% of the seniors on the Section 8 wait list have a disability
  • The percentage of seniors on these wait lists has grown much faster over the past 5 years than any other segment of the Housing Authority’s wait list population

A planning Commission meeting will take place on Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 1:00PM at the City Hall Council Chambers to discuss this development, pictured below.

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