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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.

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.

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.

EcoFacts: Trash Talk

Weekly column by Barbara Hirsch

RecyclePoster_City_2015Considerably more than half of all of our trash ends up in ever filling landfills. Besides the sheer transport of hundreds of thousands of tons per day to those landfills, they are the third largest emitter of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Certainly recycling is good, but far from good enough. So called “single stream”, recycling – all in one bin –  was to make it easier for consumers. The result is tremendous cost to municipalities and uneven results, including pollution.

Of our recyclables, more than half of them get shipped to China, mostly plastic and paper. (The only U.S. product we ship more of to them is soybeans.). A few years ago in an effort to clean up their environment, China began to reject much of the recycling (the Green Fence) coming into their ports. The great amount of contaminants was being burned and polluting. It is now diverted to other countries for further removal of contaminants, and associated pollution.

From a recent piece in the Guardian “by pushing to increase recycling rates with bigger and bigger bins – while demanding almost no sorting by consumers – the recycling stream has become increasingly polluted and less valuable, imperiling the economics of the whole system.”

For another side of the story, here is a rosy story of recycling, though definitely worth a viewing, from Santa Barbara.

Saturdays with Seibert: Equal Time

Local Views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

In the spirit of equal time for candidates I posted Cathy Murillo’s campaign sign, the editor posted Sharon Byrne’s, so here’s the other sign I have seen on the west side. Christina Cardoso is using both sides of her’s, one side in English, the other in Spanish.

Oil Hysteria‏

Local Views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

oillLately, anytime anyone sees a sheen or a glob of oil the entire local media goes into “Oil Watch.” It’s not really news, oil on the beach is the norm. Heavy this year, yes, but who knows why?

I was at the harbor on Friday and saw this sheen on the water, nothing to report, nobody freaking out. As the Talking Heads sang, “Same as it ever was.”