Countdown to Old Spanish Days Fiesta

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The official opening to Old Spanish Days Fiesta is but a few days away! As always, Santa Barbara View will provide coverage of the region’s most historic and celebrated eventespecially on Facebook and Twitter. Below is the upcoming Calendar of Events.
Viva la Fiesta!

PDF Calendar provided by the Santa Barbara Sentinel, text listings below.

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Downloadable PDF Guide to Old Spanish Days Fiesta by the Santa Barbara Sentinel.

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Drought: You Won’t Believe This

Dan Seibert

Lawn1About two weeks ago I sent Santa Barbara View this photo of the contrast between the lawn at Chase Palm park and Fess Parker’s resort. Shortly thereafter I saw similar reports on KEYT news and Noozhawk. I also watched the city council meeting and Mayor Schneider brought up this very issue.

So it was very surprising to see a different scene last week. Instead of the lawn at Fess Parker looking dryer, the lawn at Chase Palm park is now green.

I did a little test of the hotel lawn. Notice the height of the grass above the curb across the street. The grass is kikuya, considered a noxious weed in some areas of the country. It is on both sides of Cabrillo and in most parks in the city. Kikuya gets thick and spongy after a few years, as is the lawn in front of the hotel. I made a hole to check the soil, through two inches of matted grass I could feel wet soil. In some places the grass is more like four inches thick. They must be putting a lot of water on it in order to penetrate the thick mat.

Drought, what drought?

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Deserving Dogs Rescue & Rehabilitation, Santa Barbara

Ali Azarvan volunteered for 25 local non profits in May and shares his chronicles:

Have you ever had the feeling that you’ve just met someone that is going to do great things? I had that feeling when I spent the day at DAWG – an amazing no-kill shelter in Santa Barbara. I met Angela Adan there and she let me tag along with her as she wore her many hats at the shelter. I also spent a lot of time talking to her about her own nonprofit that she started herself a little over 2 years ago. Oh, did I mention that she’s only 25 years old? That’s right – this EXTREMELY ambitious lady started her own 501(c)(3) organization when she was 23 years old. Makes me feel like a total loser. There. I said it.

Ever since I met her I was hoping to spend a day at Deserving Dogs but it just didn’t seem to be in the cards- my month was extremely booked for my May Days project. Luckily for me, Memorial Day became available and she graciously allowed me to spend the day with her on moving day! You see, she houses and trains these dogs at her home – and the home she was renting was recently sold. In other words, she had to find a new home to rent that would allow her and her 11 dogs to live and flourish. Oh, did I mention that all of these dogs have medical or behavioral issues? Yeah – Angela only takes on the most difficult of challenges (again, I’m really feeling like a loser). Luckily she has found a temporary solution in Solvang – but we’re hoping to find her a better long-term setting here in Santa Barbara (more on this later).

In just the last 2 years, she has rescued over 230 “problem” dogs – and each one of these dogs has been through her home, lived with her, trained with her, and been rehabilated by her. I’m not talking about a situation where Fido just barks a little too much. I’m talking about dogs that have been abused their entire lives, dogs infested with cancer, dogs about to get euthanized by the county – the most troubled of the lot.

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We’ve all heard about Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer. I can honestly say that Angela is as close to him as anyone I’ve ever seen or heard of. She is extremely cerebral when it comes to this process and she absolutely has a gameplan when dealing with each and every dog. She even has a couple of permanent helpers, Buddha (a former bait dog with battle scars over his entire body) and Baloo (a dog with a rare form of cancer that has affected his entire body, inside and out), who serve very distinct purposes. For example, they both protect her in case things get a little dicey with a new member of the family.

Keep in mind, the stories that each of these dogs bring with them are tragic. Granted, I’m a dog lover. But anyone with half a heart would struggle while listening to these tales. For example, one little pooch, Polly, and spent her entire life in a cage – only allowed to leave the cage to relieve herself. She was never touched by a human. When Angela got a hold of her she was a mess – she would literally pee if any human even made eye contact with her. Well, she’s now a totally “normal” pooch and is going to be adopted tomorrow! Just think about that. This is a dog that would have been guaranteed to be euthanized if it weren’t for Angela. She is now rehabilitated and moving into a loving home!

In our society, we often times talk about dedication – and, frankly, I believe that word gets thrown around too frequently. Not in this case. Angela is the single most dedicated person I’ve even met – as her mission statement says, she’s dedicated to saving the lives of dogs in need. For example, she hosts free weekly training sessions along with her friend and fellow-trainer, Brian Glen (who by the way, she thinks is the greatest trainer ever), for anyone who needs help with their pooch. She does it to get her name out there, right? It’s a total marketing ploy, right? WRONG. She doesn’t even hand out her own business cards (something I need to work with her on, ha!). She does it for the sole purpose of saving dogs. You see, if these people don’t get help with these dogs, many of them will take them to a shelter – and therefor many of these pooches will end up getting euthanized. She is literally saving lives.

This is a charity I feel very strongly about and I’m going to do my best to help her grow this thing into a huge life-saving nonprofit. She deserves it – the dogs deserve it. So, how can you help? Our first goal is to find her a permanent home for her and these amazing dogs. Ideally she is looking for a home in Santa Barbara or Montecito with lots of room for these pooches – a place where she doesn’t have to be paranoid about one of her dogs barking (note- I was blown away by how quiet her place was – these dogs are VERY well behaved). She is VERY responsible (for example, she just recently paid a $5,000 vet bill) and I can promise that this ambitious woman will do amazing things. So, if you know of a home that is a fit, or if you know of anyone who may have any ideas, please let her know by emailing her at deservingdogs@gmail.com.

The second way you can help is by visiting her site and donating to this great cause. . . at minimum, please help get the word out about this awesome woman and her wonderful charity!

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Evening Over Stearns Wharf

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Evening Over Stearns Wharf
A nice cool evening out on Stearns Wharf. This is one of my favorite times to be out on the wharf. Most of the shops have closed and the only people out are fishermen or the restaurant patrons heading back to their cars. Of course it’s a little harder to get ice cream and candy at this time… but the parking is free!

-Bill Heller

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EcoFacts: Kelp

Weekly column by Barbara Hirsch

Those of us who do ocean sports here and elsewhere are intimately familiar with kelp, the fly gathering mounds of it on the beach, becoming entangled in it in the water, but also its sheer graceful beauty. When the water is clear, looking down into a kelp forest is like glimpsing a fairytale world, evoking the magical experience of snorkeling.

KelpHarvester_MG35514I gratefully watched kelp harvesting one day while paddling, a ship with a giant rake pulling the kelp vines off the surface and to a conveyor belt leading to huge piles of it. This was an area that we paddlers usually avoid as it is so thick with the stuff. I had no idea then of the value kelp forest ecosystems held for the planet and us, though, or that what I saw was harvesting being done in an ecologically acceptable way. New growth happens quickly if the plants are skimmed from the surface, not yanked from the ocean floor.

Kelp has been harvested for ages, for use in gunpowder (!), fertilizer, food thickening agents and in the cosmetics industry, algin being a key ingredient extracted for some of these products. It has tremendous economic value to us, is also highly nutritional as a food, chock full of easily absorbed minerals, trace minerals and other nutrients, and as a plant food. Kelp powder is popular among organic farmers.

The environmental value of kelp forests is becoming more evident, their being home to all kinds of sea creatures, including shellfish which act as filters for our agricultural runoff that has been so damaging to ocean ecosystems.  Check out this cool video on one fisherman’s transformation, work and success in showing us the super vegetable status of this sea weed. We may be eating lots more of it, soon!

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Saturdays with Seibert

Local views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

News out of New York City this week was the American flag on top of the Brooklyn bridge being replaced by a bleached one. Meanwhile, on the front of the Balboa building the California flag looks almost as bad. – Dan
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Everybody Loves the Greek Festival!

“Kalos Orisate,” say the Greeks—Welcome!

The 41st Annual Santa Barbara Greek Festival at Oak Park: Saturday, July 26 and Sunday, July 27, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Santa Barbara is well known as a beautiful, Mediterranean-style community located on the scenic California coast. It’s less well known, but still significant, as home to a diverse population—including a thriving Greek community. The heart of this Greek community—indeed its very soul—resides within the congregation of Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church.

Members of the congregation have long shared their beloved Greek culture with all of Santa Barbara at the annual Santa Barbara Greek Festival. This year, the festival marks its 41st year. The annual event is a warm and wonderful celebration of every facet of Greek life.

Oia, Greece

Oia, Greece

It’s about the food—the delectable flavors that season festival favorites like moussaka, tyropitas, dolmathes and gyros. It’s about the pastries—the delicacies like baklava, kataifi, kourabiedes and melamacarona. The names may be nearly unpronounceable, but the pleasure is undeniable…the delicious flavors that festival-goers anticipate all year long. You’re sure to find a meal to satisfy your tastes in the many booths serving tempting Greek treats.

The Greek Festival is all about the fun—the joy of taking to the stage to participate in the same dances you would perform in the ancient villages of Greece. Admire the beauty of the intricate costumes worn by performers who share their carefully practiced steps, and often intricate dances with the admiring crowd. Enjoy the thrill of listening to the distinctive sounds of authentic Greek musicians who perform traditional songs with exotic instruments like the bouzouki.

The Greek Festival is all about the spirit of community, the friends and family who flock to the festival and imbue it with a spirit the Greeks call “Keffee,” (which translates roughly to “possessed by the spirit of happiness”) You feel Keffee from the dozens of volunteers who enthusiastically staff their booths year after year, creating a convivial, welcoming atmosphere. And you feel it from the other festival-goers who experience that undefined, easy feeling of well-being as they stroll through beautiful Oak Park, enjoying the sights, aromas, the sounds and feeling of being transported to another time, another place.

The Greek Festival is all about the simple pleasures that make life worth living: take the day off and join your friends and family for a day in the park. Dance the afternoon away, eat a little (or a lot), shop in the Greek marketplace, relax and enjoy yourself under the oaks in the warm embrace of the best the Greek culture has to offer.

So maybe you can’t make it all the way to Athens this year; The Santa Barbara Greek Festival is the next best thing to being there—without the jet lag!

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Editor Defends Mission & State Experiment

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Letter to local media by Joe Donnelly, founding executive editor of Mission and State

msI was saddened by the announcement on Tuesday that Mission and State was coming to an end many months and hundreds of thousands of dollars before it should have. That the announcement came on the same day Judge Colleen Sterne denied the city’s proposed gang-injunction is a bittersweet irony I’ll get to.

I was the founding executive editor of Mission and State. It was an honor to have been selected to start up this noble enterprise and I was even more honored to work alongside the dedicated and passionate journalists I had the pleasure of working with during my tenure, which came to an abrupt end early last March.

I can assure you, everyone who worked with me approached his or her job with the utmost integrity. It is mostly for them, their work, and their legacy, that I feel compelled to address the onslaught of unchallenged misinformation regarding Mission and State, at least as I knew it.

The first thing I want to put to rest is the narrative of failure being foisted onto the community. Publicly circulated attempts to justify the missteps regarding the disposition of Mission and State and to spin its demise in recent news accounts have explicitly or implicitly trafficked in the notion that Mission and State wasn’t meeting its objectives, was “burning” through its budget, that “radical action” was need to save it from failure, that the Knight Foundation had pulled its funding, etc.

This narrative isn’t accurate or fair and belies the hard work and commitment of the journalists who strived to make a difference with Mission and State.

Despite what you may have heard or read, the Knight Foundation had funded Mission and State for two years contingent upon local matching funds, a challenge that Santa Barbara commendably met. That funding wasn’t in question until the recent attempt by the Santa Barbara Foundation to offload the project. It’s also worth noting that the Knight Foundation, according to a report made at an advisory board meeting last fall, was extremely happy with Mission and State’s initial direction and progress. Peer associations such as The Investigative News Network also lauded Mission and State as a model for nonprofit, multimedia digital journalism.

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Wins and Setbacks: Solving Chronic Homelessness Is About As Hard As We Thought

Milpas on the Move by Sharon Byrne

I wrote about the Milpas Outreach Project back in January, when it was just cranking up. With the changes at Casa Esperanza, increased patrolling in the area, and removal of environmental cues that enabled loitering, the majority of transients left Milpas. Some long-term homeless remained in the area, and most don’t cause issues, though we would prefer to see them off the street, of course. But there are a few that create continual problems. When the street had a larger transient population, they blended in. Now they stick out, occupying the same bus stop or parking area daily, often intoxicated or passed out. They require repeat police and fire responses, and after carting them off in ambulances multiple times, we’d had enough.

We connected with Jeff Shaffer of the Central Coast Collaborative on Homelessness (C3H), the group responsible for reducing homelessness across the county. We crafted the Milpas Outreach Project to get our 5 highest flyers off Milpas into a sustainable living situation in 6 months or less. That’s a very ambitious goal, given some of these characters have been on the streets for decades.

We meet weekly at Casa Esperanza, and determine next steps with each individual. We’ve roped in Mental Health, outreach volunteers from Common Ground, Legal Aid, Restorative Police, the Veterans Administration (they drive up weekly from Los Angeles for this meeting, as some of our high flyers are vets), shelter staff, and the business community. Two formerly chronically homeless individuals round out the team. They know every hiding spot and excuse in the book.

HomelessMilpasThis is the first time businesses have been at this table, and it creates quite a tension of opposites. The outreach team wants to establish relationships with the homeless. They’re interested in case history, what facilities the person has been in, medical and mental health issues. Their priority is compassion and treatment. The business community tends to be on the opposite end of the spectrum. The litmus test for us is whether reality on the street corner has changed. If he’s still there, day after day, it’s not a success. So we tend to provide a ‘shove’ and organizing framework to drive for progress. The team also has the grueling job of working through the maze of bureaucracy entailed in getting someone off the street. There are tons of forms to be filled out, mental health assessments, and other seemingly infinite minutiae required to queue someone for housing. Turns out you have to apply at each housing facility in the city, something I didn’t know before attempting this project.

We’ve also stumbled into an old problem for this town: Santa Barbara is non-profit rich, and coordination-poor. It’s hard to get everyone pulling in the same direction at the same time – they’re used to being in their silo, serving what they feel is the need, and partnerships are few, scattered and not coordinated. We’ve made some big strides in that area.

Of course, setbacks happen…often. These individuals are chronically homeless for a reason. A business paid for detox for an individual, who then went back to drinking, suspicious that we were carrying out some vast conspiracy against him. You get one into shelter…. and they check themselves out to return to their old haunt on the street days later. It can be very disheartening, so the wins are very sweet. One of our worst repeat offenders is now housed, sober, and doing well. Another is employed by a Milpas business, getting help with his veterans benefits, and applying for housing.

One is on the fence. We got him into detox through the VA. He checked himself out and came back. He’s in shelter now, but we’ve caught him panhandling and drinking – both no-no’s. It could go either way with this one.

One is stonewalling the outreach team. He’s quite amenable, willing to go to appointments…and then balks on taking any big steps that would change his life.

Our final case is determined to stay intoxicated and raise hell on Milpas. The path forward here is incarceration or Housing First… a tough sell. How can we justify giving housing to someone like this? It’s like we’re rewarding them for wreaking havoc. Yet evidence shows Housing First does work in these cases. You house them first, and then provide services to help them get their lives together. They tend to stay housed, and off the street. It also turns out to be cheaper than the repeat police / fire / jail / hospital circuit. But philosophically, it’s hard to digest.

At the conclusion of the six months, we decided to keep going, because it’s the only thing that’s worked. It’s also as hard as we thought it would be. It truly takes the community to solve this problem. But every success saves a lot of taxpayer dollars currently spent on emergency services. Once we thoroughly nail this process, it can be replicated to other neighborhoods. That would be a win for our city.

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Santa Barbara’s Gang Injunction Denied

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Gang Injunction Ruling

Colleen Stern, a Santa Barbara Superior Court judge, denied Santa Barbara’s gang injunction. The PDF left contains her 32-page decision.

“Wherever you stand on the gang injunction, you must acknowledge the damage gang activity does to a neighborhood, its families, and its children.” Sharon Byrne

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The End of Mission and State

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Last Tuesday’s appeal by local media outlets objecting to the partnership arrangement made between Noozhawk and Mission & State made an impact on Santa Barbara Foundation President and CEO Ron Gallo.

In a letter posted on Noozhawk, Mr. Gallo announced the end of Mission & State…

the Santa Barbara Foundation has decided, with the understanding of the principals of Noozhawk — who have acted honorably and with good intentions throughout — that the current management arrangement must be brought to an end. It is effective immediately.”

Ron added, “a third iteration of Mission & State not be attempted at this time… In terms of next steps, we will be working with the Knight Foundation, local donors and Noozhawk to settle existing obligations, return (on a pro-rata basis) unused monies, and most important, commission a white paper on our nearly-three-year experience… With all that said, it is time, I hope you agree, to move on.”

So sadly, there it ends. A $1 million dollar investment in Santa Barbara journalism gone, with very little to show. Imagine the possibilities…

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Crosswalk Sting Enforcement in Santa Barbara

crosswalkOver the next two days, watch out for decoy pedestrians who are standing in crosswalks! The Santa Barbara Police Department, the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department, and California Highway Patrol are conducting a crosswalk sting throughout the Santa Barbara and Goleta areas. According to officials, “this detail is being conducted due to continued complaints of vehicles not yielding to pedestrians who are in crosswalks and high pedestrian involved collision rates. Locations utilized will consist of both marked and unmarked crosswalks.” The last sting netted 70 drivers with a ticket cost of around $200.

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Jailhouse Blues

Weekly column by Loretta Redd

By anyone’s definition, a person who commits a crime significant enough to put them in prison may be (at least for the moment,) mentally impaired. Not sufficiently deranged to meet the legal definition of insanity, but likely suffering from a severe personality or thought disorder, or significant substance abuse.

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Proposal for SANTA BARBARA COUNTY JAIL NORTHERN BRANCH

There’s been a lot of press lately about Sheriff Bill Brown’s jail in North County. Even though much of the construction cost is covered by the State under AB 900, the annual administration of the facility remains unfunded.

It isn’t the cost than infuriates me…it is the shortsightedness of the planning.

Of the 376 beds in the proposed Northern Jail facility, 32 of them are “reserved” for either medical or mental health treatment. In Sherriff Brown’s own proposal for his jail, he makes this statement: “A snapshot view revealed that we presently have 39 inmates in AdSeg or single cell housing units….”

So before a shovel of dirt is turned on the 50 acre site off Betteravia Road, the man who has tirelessly promoted the need and wisdom of this correctional facility is already admitting it will under-serve the incarcerated mental health population on the day they move in.

Not that the non-incarcerated people in need of a psychiatric bed in Santa Barbara County fare any better. If I do the math, for a county with an adult population of 431,250, there are a total of 16 acute care mental health beds, or a .000063 availability.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote that taxpayers spend as much as $300-400 per day supporting patients with psychiatric disorders while in jail, and that, “Fiscally, this is the stupidest thing government can do.”

The prison system has become our default psychiatric facilities ever since Ronald Reagan emptied the hospitals, while communities spent the funding for programs to house, treat or supervise these “freed” patients on other projects. To have this opportunity in Santa Barbara to build a joint facility for both incarceration and also for psychiatric care and not search for sources of funding through national and state dollars set-aside for mental health is well, almost criminal.

I am not advocating that we “lock up” anyone with a psychiatric diagnosis. Admittedly, the conditions at many of the One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest type facilities were horrific; but mental health care has come out of the shadows and oversight and medical management is far better than decades ago.

A Complex Case: Public Mental Health Delivery and Financing in California

Just as there is segregation of the prison population, there could be a multi-step psychiatric facility, also dedicated to safe management of those incompetent to stand trial, those addicted to substances and in need of detox and recovery, and those few determined to be “criminally insane” and having to be monitored closely.

Unlike those in state or Federal prisons, jail populations tend to have a higher turnover. If the Sheriff is going to create an educational and job training opportunity at his complex to reduce the likelihood of recidivism for ‘regular’ prisoners, doesn’t it make sense to also have an facility adequate enough to address and treat the psychiatric and substance abuse population?

Cottage Hospital has pretty much abdicated its psychiatric responsibilities, and the construction of new facilities is a prohibitive expense, so why not retrofit the current 254-bed medium security jail into a mixed use facility for both incarcerated and acute care patients, with a sole focus on psychiatric management, mental health training and outpatient treatment.

AB 900 provided $7 billion for prison construction and renovation projects, but it doesn’t require a set percentage of psychiatric beds. The $33 million project at Vacaville has 64 mental health beds, the $34 million Chino State prison only has 45 beds for acute-intermediate treatment.

Between UCSB, Westmont, Pacifica, Antioch, SB City College, Fielding, Channel Islands, Allan Hancock, Cal Poly and Cuesta College, might we not find a sufficient pool of mental health talent to work at this proposed facility?

Various Commissions and Grand Juries have long cited the poor standard of care and capacity for psychiatric treatment in Santa Barbara County. Rep. Lois Capps, Assemblyman Das Williams and District Attorney Joyce Dudley are eager to “discuss mental illness and violence prevention” following the recent campus slayings.

Let’s do more than “discuss.” Let’s do more than pass knee-jerk legislation that is sure to be challenged by the ACLU. Our elected officials and their staff should find the federal, state, and local funding to create a state-of-the-art mental health facility that provides segregation for the psychiatric prison population, hospitalization for those needing acute (5150) care, and treatment for those who have not yet joined either of those groups…but will, without it.

Recently re-elected Sheriff Brown has worked determinedly to make his Northern Branch jail a reality. Let’s build something that serves the purpose of prevention and treatment in addition to punishment. You don’t have to be crazy to break the law, but it’s nuts not to have a treatment facility when you do.

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Cup Holder Commentary on Bicyclists

This inappropriate cup-holder commentary video about bicyclists comes from nearby Santa Paula (a reserve police office who has since resigned) and should resonate in Santa Barbara where bicyclist/ motorist relations are often strained, KEYT story credit.
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Pearl Chase Newsletter: July, 2014

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Pearl Chase Society Newsletter

Santa Barbara View is proud to publish The Capital, a monthly newsletter of the Pearl Chase Society. You can read the full July newsletter by clicking on the PDF icon, left.

In this issue is a wrap-up of the Historic Homes Tour which was attended by 700 people! Kellam de Forest offers updates on the Juarez-Hosmer Adobe, Irene and Frances Rich Beach Cabana, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s plans for upgrades due to seismic reasons. And Hattie Beresford presents her new book, “My Santa Barbara Scrapbook - A Portrait of the Artist, Elizbeth Eaton Burton“.

PS: please help keep Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, and consider becoming a member of the Pearl Chase Society. You can also like the Pearl Chase Society on Facebook.

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