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Naples: A Tale of Two Cities

Naples?! First off, it ain’t in Italy, secondly and thirdly it’s not in Florida nor is it outside of Long Beach. It’s right here, a few miles west of Goleta. Over the past decades it’s been a hot potato bouncing from County Planning to the Board of Supervisors to the State Supreme Court and back again. ~ Neal Graffy

On topic this week, here is a special event to highlight: Historian Neal Graffy will host a lecture on Saturday, September 13, about what was happening back in 1887 when John and Alice Williams founded the town of Naples, an 872-acre “Exquisite Summer and Winter Resort.”

Come enjoy stories of the beautiful Gaviota Coast town along with rarely-seen maps and historic photos. The event takes place Sunday, September 13, 2015 from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM at the Goleta Valley Historical Society. Click here for information and registration.
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Gaviota Coast Trails

Editor’s Note: On Tuesday September 1, 2015 the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to deny the Las Varas Ranch Lot Line Adjustments, Subdivision, Conditional Use Permit, and Coastal Development Permits, underscoring the community’s interest in protecting the integrity and natural resources of a working Gaviota Coast ranch.

The length of California Coastal Trail crossing the Gaviota Coast is one of the most spectacular sections of the trail in Southern California.

Or would be if the public could access it, and a proper signed and designed coastal trail could be completed.

For more than a decade developers, conservationists and local government officials have wrestled about how much residential development (if any) should be permitted on the Gaviota Coast, the most pristine coastline remaining in Southern California. On Tuesday, September 1 the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors considered a controversial plan to subdivide the Las Varas Ranch and build homes, which opponents said would cramp the California Coastal Trail and inhibit access to trails to the beach. The supervisors voted to deny the contentious Las Varas Ranch Project.

That also means that trail access to the beach and the route of the California Coastal Trail remain on private property and that many of those hiking to the beach or along the bluffs are trespassing.

For a great overview of the California Coastal Trail on the Gaviota Coast watch the below video: Gaviota Coast: SoCal’s Celebrated Rural Shoreline.

The video, part of a series about the California Coastal Trail, features the well-spoken Phil McKenna of the Gaviota Coast Conservancy discussing the natural treasures of the region and Trailmaster John McKinney speaking about the path he helped pioneer and has promoted for more than twenty years.

Gaviota-coast-2-npsThis summer KCET, the nation’s largest independent public television station, has been presenting several episodes a week of CALIFORNIA COASTAL TRAIL, described as a digital field guide with the intention of raising awareness about the 1,200-mile long California Coastal Trail, its past, its present, and future through a series of videos, online guides, and historical narratives.

Partially funded by The California Coastal Conservancy, “California Coastal Trail” is produced by Thomas Rigler; his Rigler Creative team brought the acclaimed “City Walk” to television.

As the producers describe this episode: The Gaviota Coast features one of the most coveted shorelines in the state. It is Southern California’s largest stretch of undeveloped coastline, containing approximately 50 percent of its remaining rural shores. Located in Santa Barbara County, this 76-mile swath of pristine beaches and idyllic landscapes passes through National Forest lands and five state and county parks. Recreational opportunities abound on the Gaviota Coast, which is why the California Coastal Trail plays such an integral role in the region’s future. “The California Coastal Trail has been a complete success as a planning tool to increase coastal access,” remarks environmental advocate and author John McKinney.

With plans to expand the trail, it is hoped that the Gaviota Coast will become more accessible to the public, contributing to a greater experience of this tranquil strand.

As John McKinney, The Trailmaster declares on camera: “I’m very happy whenever I see the California Coastal Trail logo and the footprints and everything else going down to the beach because I know someone has planted the seed for hikers at the trailhead. You’re on the California Coastal Trail, you’re part of the dream. You’re part of something special. You’re part of the 1,600-mile system of interconnecting beach and bluff trails that explore the glorious California coast.”


Mission Canyon Issue Heating Up

Column by Lanny Ebenstein, courtesy of the Santa Barbara Sentinel

Whether the Santa Barbara Mission/Mission Canyon neighborhood is preserved in fundamentally its existing form–or is transformed–may be decided in the coming months.

Advocates of a new entrance to Mission Canyon have been remarkably candid about their plans for alteration of this area. Essentially, the existing entrance to Mission Canyon would be obliterated beyond recognition. Mission Canyon Road’s western edge would be moved five to ten feet to the east, and the eastern edge of asphalt, including bike lanes, would be moved about fifteen to twenty feet to the east from Mission Creek Bridge to Puesta del Sol. The total asphalt area would be widened close to half and straightened. Traffic speeds would increase. Raised curbing would be installed in front of the stegosaurus wall on Mission Canyon Road, and the stegosaurus wall would be punctured and (depending on design) perhaps in part moved.

Parts of two other historic walls on and adjacent to East Los Olivos Street and the Mission Creek Bridge would also be moved or removed. A new single-span, prefabricated, steel pedestrian bridge would be placed immediately to the west of the existing stone Mission Creek Bridge which dates originally to the 1800s, and trusses of the new steel pedestrian bridge would extend several feet above the parapet (wall) of the existing stone bridge.

Eastern side pedestrian access would be lost. It no longer would be possible to walk from Rocky Nook Park to the Mission Rose Garden on the eastern side of Mission Canyon Road and Los Olivos.

But the advocates of Mission Canyon entrance alteration seek further radical changes in the upper eastside and Riviera neighborhoods. Though not a part of the current proposal, some transformation proponents seek to build a tunnel under Alameda Padre Serra within dozens of feet of multiple significant historic resources, would redirect Los Olivos Street into Mission Historical Park at Laguna Street, and would build a new pedestrian walk-through immediately in front of and between some of the oldest and most historic California construction–the old Mission reservoirs that date to 1806.

These plans must be stopped. Plan opponents support far milder changes to the Mission Canyon–upper eastside–Riviera neighborhoods that would improve safety, access, and aesthetics, at far less cost. The Coalition to Preserve Mission Canyon (of which this writer is a part) will present plans in the coming months for improving the existing corridor.

Many oppose the effort to transform the entrance to Mission Canyon–including former County Supervisor Frank Frost, naturalist and preservationist Paulina Conn, Randy Reetz, Neal Graffy, Fran Galt, Carol Le Gassick, Barbara Hoffman, Pam Boehr, Kevin Rivera, and many others.

Importantly, also to express strong doubts about the Mission Canyon reconfiguration plan are Santa Barbara City Historic Landmarks Commissioners Michael Drury and Fermina Murray. At a meeting earlier this year, Mr. Drury could not have been more clear that he thinks this Mission Canyon proposal would devastate historic resources. Ms. Murray did not see a single reason to adopt the plan. Also, Commissioner Craig Shallenberger raised the crucial question of whether impacts from the plan should be classified as Class I, which would essentially stop the proposal.

In the coming weeks, the historic landmarks report is projected to return to the City Historic Landmarks Commission for its consideration. These meetings will provide the opportunity to examine this radical proposal, that would so greatly diminish Santa Barbara, further.

Few people realize that, through the early 1800s, the leading center of population in the area was in the vicinity of the Santa Barbara Mission. More people (mostly the Chumash) lived here than in the immediate vicinity of the Presidio. The area now proposed for alteration and transformation truly is the most historic part of Santa Barbara.

In the past, the people of Santa Barbara have always risen up when proposals have been made that would mar the historic and natural beauty of our area. The Mission Canyon alteration and transformation plan–which would, again according to advocates, in time extend to the Riviera and upper eastside neighborhoods–is the most significant proposal for decades that would greatly lessen valuable and irreplaceable historic and environmental resources.

The Santa Barbara City Historic Landmarks Commission would do the community a great service–and would protect the historic resources that are the charge of the Commission to defend–by turning this proposal down. There is no reason to waste millions of taxpayer’s dollars on a plan that would only make things worse.
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Fall Cruise Ship Season in Santa Barbara

It’s September in Santa Barbara… which means the fall cruise ship season is upon us. Over the next three months, fourteen (14) cruise ships will come to town with passengers disembarking at Sea Landing and flowing into downtown shops and businesses from approximately 8 am to 4 pm. Here is the official fall season calendar, 2015:

09/11/15 Celebrity Infinity
09/23/15 Ruby Princess
09/25/15 Jewel of the Seas
09/27/15 Jewel of the Seas
10/04/15 Jewel of the Seas
10/07/15 Crown Princess
10/09/15 Star Princess
10/12/15 Grand Princess
10/14/15 Crown Princess
10/19/15 Grand Princess
11/03/15 Star Princess
11/05/15 Ruby Princess
11/10/15 Grand Princess
11/27/15 Star Princess

As always, volunteers are needed to help staff the hospitality tents set up as passengers get off the tenders at Sea Landing. Volunteers welcome passengers and offer information about Santa Barbara. Information will be available on what to do and see, where to shop and dine and how best to get to where they are going. The shifts are: 8 am – 11 am, 9:30 am-12:30 pm and 11 am – 2:30 pm. The early shift will help with unpacking literature and the last shift will help repack. To sign up to volunteer for cruise ships, click here.
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Santa Barbara City Council Takes a Break

group-siesta-swiss-wood-or-sleepers-171_34638For the third straight week, the Santa Barbara City Council has cancelled their meetings. “Please note that the regular City Council meetings scheduled for 2:00 P.M. on Tuesday, August 18, 2015, Tuesday, August 25, 2015, and Tuesday September 1, 2015, in the City Council Chamber have been cancelled.”


California Condor Cam

The Santa Barbara Zoo is using this live-stream to monitor a condor nest near Ventura County’s Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, click play.