By Cheri Rae
By Cheri Rae
By Cheri Rae
“Simplify, simplify,” wrote Henry David Thoreau in his classic meditation, “Walden.” Of course, he could have simplified the statement by reducing it to simply “Simplify.”
By Cheri Rae
What would Pearl Chase do? It’s the question that is asked often by members of the Pearl Chase Society, founded in 1995 to continue the work of its namesake who made the protection and preservation of Santa Barbara her life’s work.
So when the Italian Stone Pines that line Anapamu Street began to suffer from the combined effects of the drought, a beetle infestation and the intrusion of modern life into their living space the Society decided to move into action.
After all, Miss Chase is on record for standing up to Southern Pacific Railroad and Standard Oil to protect the Moreton Bay Fig Tree from being chopped down; for the designation of the Norfolk Island pine as the community Christmas tree at the corner of Carrillo and Chapala; and, in fact, these same Anapamu Street trees, according to accounts in the book, “Pearl Chase: First Lady of Santa Barbara.” If ever there was a time to honor Miss Chase’s legacy, this was it.
Alarmed that five of the City Historic Landmark trees on Anapamu died in the last year, and were recently removed for public safety, the Society turned concern into action. The Board voted to donate the sum of $14,560 to the City of Santa Barbara for the purchase of 56 slow-watering systems known as “irricades.”
Twenty-five of the light-green devices have already been put into service along Anapamu Street, and they’re already having an effect on the health and welfare of the trees: some of them are showing new growth high above the ground. An additional 31 will be delivered and installed in the next month.
“The Pearl Chase Society is pleased that we are able to assist the City in protecting the Italian Stone Pines along Anapamu Street,” said Board President Barbara Lowenthal. “These trees are important to our built environment as they are a visual testament to our City’s enduring history and beauty.”
Attached to each big water container is a slow-release soaker hose that brings much-needed water to each tree in a way that allows it to be most efficiently absorbed by the roots. Wood chips surrounding the area keep the moisture from evaporating.
Since the City will not plant any more new trees during this extended drought, it’s more important than ever that we save the ones we have, particularly these gentle giants that offer silent shelter on a busy street. Their presence brings a feeling of intimacy that slows traffic, muffles sound, and reminds passersby of life in a forest-just a few short blocks from downtown Santa Barbara’s bustling business district.
“The Italian Stone Pines provide a majestic presence in Santa Barbara and represent a key foundation of the city’s urban forest. The Parks and Recreation Department applauds the leadership and generosity of the Pearl Chase Society. Trees are a significant environmental, social and economic resource that takes many years to develop,” stated Jill Zachary, Assistant Parks and Recreation Director.
Thanks to the Pearl Chase Society, this urban oasis has been granted a reprieve. With any luck, our rains will continue and the irricades will be put into storage for the next time they’re needed.
Established in 1995, the Pearl Chase Society is an all volunteer, not-for-profit conservancy dedicated to preserving Santa Barbara’s historic architecture, landscapes and cultural heritage. The mission of the Pearl Chase Society is to preserve and celebrate Santa Barbara’s historic sites and structures. Individual memberships start at $30 a year. http://www.pearlchasesociety.org/
During a special service held on St Barbara day at Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church, for a few magical moments, light streams into the church and illuminates both Saint Barbara and Jesus on the Cross. http://www.saintbarbara.net/ (photo by John McKinney)
By Cheri Rae
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”—John Muir
By Cheri Rae
For more information about the Santa Barbara Unified School District:
From the View Vault: Originally published for Pearl Chase’s 125th Birthday in 2013
By Cheri Rae
One of the great Pearl Chase stories was published by Santa Barbara View in November 2010 and it is worth sharing again, with all the comments from over the years! Provided by Cheri Rae who has authored a must-have book, Miss Pearl Chase: First Lady of Santa Barbara.
Memories shared by Penny and Terry Davies, who owned the Earthling Bookshop and worked with Pearl Chase to defeat the El Mirasol condominium project.
In 1966 our family arrived in Santa Barbara and quickly we fell in love with the jewel on the Pacific. The first house we lived in was in a tract in Goleta. In 1967, we moved to the old Parsonage next to the downtown Unitarian Church. We loved living downtown. Our three children thought we had surely come to live in paradise.
One night there was a knock on our front door. A man who we did not recognize had a petition that he was circulating around our neighborhood. It was supporting two high-rise condominiums to be built on the old El Mirasol Hotel property across the street from the church. When we inquired who was behind this project, we couldn’t get an answer.
We knew this was a big mistake, having seen other towns that had been destroyed by high-rise buildings. We felt helpless and didn’t know what to do. Then, a friend mentioned Pearl Chase. We had no idea what we were in for.
We called up Pearl Chase, who lived in the neighborhood, and told her about the petition. “I’ll be right over,” she said. When she came to our door, we knew here was a greater presence than the small white-haired lady who stood before us. She immediately took charge. She confided to us that this project was “a kick in the stomach by her friends”. Her friends were Thomas Storke, (owner of the News-Press) and Louis Lancaster, (owner of the SB Bank and Trust).
Our association with Pearl was an eye-opener for us “newcomers”. She worked seven days a week for the beautification and preservation of Santa Barbara. She told us that when she graduated from Berkeley, she arrived home and stepped off the train full of disgust. She was ashamed of Santa Barbara’s dirt roads and vowed then and there to devote her life to the city she loved.
She had always gathered people around her who had similar goals, as she did when she formed a group called “Santa Barbara Plans and Planting.” She had a little office downtown where she sat at her desk like a queen.
But she had never had to face a battle like this one:
In our battle to keep Santa Barbara low rise, we attended endless council meetings under her direction, and tried to inform the public using her media savvy. Pearl and her small group founded SAVE OUR CITY (SOC) as a focal point for community support.
To see Pearl Chase in action with the City Council, very clearly making her viewpoint known was a lesson in power projection.
When we heard that the City Council was going to give a variance to the builders, we were shocked. We decided to advertise and ask for public financial support to take our case to the courts. We asked for money for our legal fees and the people of Santa Barbara responded enthusiastically.
One woman wrote to us that she was postponing her kitchen renovation, and sent the kitchen money to SOC. John Sink became SOC’s attorney. Two years from the day that the petitioner came to our front door, the courts decided that the so-called variance did not conform to the zoning laws, and found against the high-rise project. Pearl was a very happy woman and we and all the members of SOC were proud to have worked with her.
The site of the old El Mirasol Hotel is now a beautiful garden, thanks to the generous donation of Alice Keck Park, and the tireless efforts of Pearl Chase.