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Halloween on Milpas

milpasAs Sharon Byrne has pointed out, Milpas is the place to be for Halloween.

The Milpas Halloween Trick or Treat: 2-5 PM on Halloween. Send your trick-or-treaters, because we do it up on Milpas! The merchants love giving out candy, Alpha Thrift puts up great decorations, and the crew from the Don’s Riders at Santa Barbara High School love taking over the lot next to Super Rica to greet the little Halloweeners on the route. We need volunteers to blow up balloons and place them along the route, and also to help families across the crosswalks, so if you’re interested, email

The Milpas Halloween Trick or Treat festivities run from 2-5 p.m. tomorrow. The merchants will be giving out candy and the crew from the Don’s Riders at Santa Barbara High School will be taking over the lot next to Super Rica to greet the little Halloweeners on the route. Also tomorrow, the  East Beach Batting Cages are offering unlimited swings for $5 all day. Live music, unlimited batting, arts & crafts, games and more. All for $5! So get on down to Milpas tomorrow.

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Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

An anti bullying event will take place tonight, 5 p.m. at San Marcos High school. Mayor Schneider and a number of local organizations have organized a series of events and actions for the month of October with the Santa Barbara City Council proclaiming October as Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.

We have a real opportunity to make changes in our community and throughout the nation,” said Mayor Schneider. “I am thrilled to be working with others, especially our youth leaders, to help coordinate this event. I hope everyone comes out to view the movie and hear the discussion.”

The movie Bully, trailer below, will be shown tonight followed by a discussion.

Bully Trailer #1 from The Bully Project on Vimeo.

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Rob Lowe Commercials Cross the Line

To the Editor:

I’ve seen more than enough of the new Rob Lowe ads running ad nauseam during the World Series and football games where they make fun of others who are not as attractive or self-assured as he is.

At first I thought this whole campaign might be kind of fun, since he appears as his suave, wealthy and sophisticated self, in contrast to others who are not as wonderful as he. The super-creepy voyeur and the less attractive guy with a pot belly, a comb-over and no friends are jarring, but the depiction of a painfully shy and awkward version of himself crosses the line.

What are these advertisers thinking? Worse yet, what is Rob Lowe thinking? There are plenty of people who are painfully shy, who have real feelings, and who aren’t of any less value than he is.

Guess what??? Not everyone is rich and handsome, nor do they end up that way. From Rob Lowe’s portrayal, they’re just losers to laugh at.

This good-looking guy no longer looks quite so handsome in my eyes. And no way will I ever purchase whatever he is hawking. But I guess when you live in the rarified world of Rob Lowe, imperfect people are just misfits, just objects of ridicule that line his pockets.

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LA Times Features Santa Barbara’s Homeless

photoYet again, the Los Angeles Times features Santa Barbara’s homeless and urban yoaches. Here are a couple excerpts and a quote from the story:

“In Santa Barbara, leaders are particularly concerned about aggressive panhandlers who demand money or food from pedestrians and outdoor cafe patrons — and curse and intimidate those who don’t oblige. The City Council on Tuesday voted to hire community service officers to patrol State Street, its main tourist thoroughfare, on foot and intervene when they see aggressive or nuisance behavior.”

“In Santa Barbara, officials say they’ve received enough complaints — and enough attention on travel blogs and social media sites — that they want to take action against aggressive panhandling before it spirals.”

There are times when people choose to engage in inappropriate behavior that can be intimidating to some,” says Mayor Schneider. “That’s why we’re addressing this now… We’re not waiting for someone to say,’I don’t want to come to State Street because it’s unwelcoming and they have problems…’”

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A Follow Up Discussion on Sidewalk Behavior & Panhandling Ordinances

At their weekly meeting yesterday, the Santa Barbara City Council followed up on the proposed sidewalk and behavior panhandling ordinances (State Street Sitting and Lying Down Ordinance and the Abusive Panhandling Ordinance) designed to “maintain the aesthetic attractiveness of Santa Barbara which depends heavily on its tourism-based economy for its financial vitality.”

According to the Agenda, the  six proposed municipal code amendments are:

1) A prohibition against urinating or defecating in public
2) A prohibition on using public street furniture for the display of goods for sale or donation
3) Adding expanded safety zones around sensitive locations where captive audiences feel threatened by active panhandling. These areas include:

  • Within 25 feet of an outdoor dining area
  • Within 80 feet of ATMs
  • Within 25 feet of admission lines, such as movie queues
  • Within 25 feet of public benches or seating areas
  • On buses or other public transportation

4) Extending the existing “sit/lie” prohibition on State Street from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. of the following day, rather than 9:00 p.m.
5) Revising the prohibition on pedestrians blocking sidewalks to include congregated groups of people
6) Delegating the Library Director the authority to promulgate regulations for the use of the libraries, including the Central Library and its outdoor plaza

Each of these amendments have legal issues, including free speech and cruel and unusual punishment, that will now have to be worked out before they are enacted.


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Gas Prices Falling in Santa Barbara, California

gasThe price for a gallon of gas has fallen to it’s lowest level in nearly four years across the United States, according to reports.

In March of 2014 here in Santa Barbara, a regular gallon of gas was pictured at the $4.29 mark. Today, the Mobile station on Mission listed a price of $3.47.

With crude oil prices falling, gas could get even cheaper in coming months.

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By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150When you saw first read this headline, did it rhyme? Or did it sound like Reed/Dred?

How well would you do in the classroom—where reading is everything—if you couldn’t figure out the sounds that letters make?

“Just try harder.” “Just concentrate.” “Just care more.” That’s what struggling readers are told often told.

Or even better, “Just sound it out.” Right. In fact, sound out the word right, tight, might. If you can’t remember that gh is silent, it’s not much help.

Then if you do remember that gh is silent, it’s not much help when you encounter words like rough or tough or cough (oh, and by the way, rough and tough sound the same but cough doesn’t). Because in those words, the gh sounds like F.

Remember that, too.

‘F’ like in the Feeling of Failure that surrounds so many students in school today. ‘F’ as in the grade too many of them receive. Kids who are smart, motivated and curious. Kids who have a neurological difference in their brains that can make the typical classroom tasks, like remembering all the rules of spelling, silent letters, and sight words, reasons for no end of their misery.

Compounding their difficulty is that they may be able to tell you a richly detailed story, but writing it is problematic—so their assessments rarely reflect their knowledge or their intelligence.

That’s the dilemma faced by 1 in 5 students who must to be taught to read in a different way from the rest of the kids. The kids with dyslexia. And if they’re not taught with a multi-sensory, multi-modal, research-based reading program proven to work, their ability to read will plateau off at about a third-grade level and stay there.

Until some adult figures it out, and helps them get the specific help they need. But parents, teachers, administrators are often baffled by these kids who work hard and have the reputation as “slow readers” or kids who “don’t test well.”

Far too many of these kids manage to underachieve their way all the way through the school system, and show up at City College, where they finally get tested and learn the reason for their difficulties: an undiagnosed learning disability, with processing issues, often times dyslexia.

Too often, they don’t find out until they are adults working to help their own children who are struggling to read. Count the financial wizard Charles Schwab (and Santa Barbara High School graduate Class of 1955) and the brilliant director Steven Spielberg in that group.

Dyslexia Awareness Month displayOctober is National Dyslexia Awareness Month. Locally, it’s been so designated by our County Board of Supervisors and by our Mayor and City Council. Our Santa Barbara Unified School District is doing more to increase local awareness than ever before—including creating a display at La Cumbre Mall.

And this Thursday, at the Parent Resource Center at the school district office (720 Santa Barbara Street), I’ll be holding an Open House from 1p.m. to 5 p.m., and showing the acclaimed film, “The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia.” It’s the least we can do for our 1 in 5 kids who learn differently and depend on us to know how to teach them so they can learn to read, write, and do their best in school.

For more information, contact Cheri Rae at

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On the Docket: District Elections in Santa Barbara

Tomorrow at the Santa Barbara City Council meeting, a resolution will be made to prepare all necessary actions and documents needed to enable the City Council to place before the voters at the next regular City Council Election in November, 2015, the question of whether to establish district elections.

The proposed ballot measure by Mayor Helene Schneider and Councilmember Bendy White, would create hybrid at-large/district elections, a system under which four council members would be elected by-district and three members, including the Mayor, would be elected at large.


A neat District Map circa 1940 on the wall of the Cajun Kitchen at De la Vina and Mission.

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Vote By Mail Applications Due Tuesday

polls_vote_countsIf you are a registered voter who would like to vote by mail, you must register by tomorrow for a one-time ballot or to permanently vote by mail. Viewers interested in voting by mail should call (800) 722-8683 by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

After 5 p.m. Tuesday, those wishing to receive a vote-by-mail ballot may pick one up in person at the county elections building, 4440-A Calle Real. Voters have until 8 p.m. on election day, November 4,  to return the ballots by mail or drop them off at any elections office in Santa Barbara County.

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Four Dead Italian Stone Pines on Anapamu to be Removed Today

pines79 Italian Stone Pines were originally planted along Anapamu Street from from 1908 through 1921. Today, four of the dead Stone Pines will by taken down by the City of Santa Barbara. According to City Arborist Tim Downey, 12 more of the trees are in poor health due to the drought and bark beetles, 24 are in fair health, 26 are in good health, and 19 are in excellent health. 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.

The Pearl Chase Society has stepped up, donating over $14,000+ to purchase 56 irricades which will help water the remaining trees. The irricades, pictured below, will be installed next week. If you’d like to help Keep Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, please consider becoming a member of the Pearl Chase Societymemberships start at only $30 a year and your membership will help in preserving Santa Barbara’s historic architecture, landscapes and cultural heritage.


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EcoFacts: the Three

Weekly column by Barbara Hirsch

All of us living creatures are sustained by food, water and air. And we determine the quality of these, little us (really big 7 billion strong us) , in one way or another. We seem so small and insignificant, but as an engaged citizenry – no, we are not. Unengaged, we give the power to others to decide things for us.

UnclesamwantyouThe food writer, Mark Bittman, wrote recently: “To a large extent, you can fix the food system in your world today. Three entities are involved in creating our food choices: business (everything from farmers to PepsiCo), government (elected and appointed officials and their respective organizations) and the one with the greatest leverage, the one that you control: you.”

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Saturdays with Seibert

Local Views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

Last Saturday I joined 35 other paddlers from Santa Barbara Outrigger for a Rig Run. A three hour round trip paddle out to the oil platforms off of Santa Barbara. The platforms are about six miles out, and from GPS devices we paddled a total of 13.8 miles.

It was a beautiful day and the water was really blue. Bluer than I have ever seen it in the past twenty years. It’s the best time of the year to be on the water. – Dan


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Hike the Santa Ynez Valley

Column by Outdoor Editor John McKinney, aka The Trailmaster, (site and store here)

Hike the Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country and enjoy a couple of short trails that lead from tasting room to tasting room. Located near the little town of Los Olivos, the “Foxen Canyon Wine Trail” offers a tour from winery to winery along Foxen Canyon Road. The tour is for motorists (and some cyclists) but I’m happy to report there’s also a hiking trail to take in Foxen Canyon.

Unwind, uncork, and take a hike in the Santa Barbara wine country.

Unwind, uncork, and take a hike in the Santa Barbara wine country.

Perched atop a commanding mesa overlooking Zaca Canyon, the Santa Ynez Valley and the wilderness beyond, Firestone Vineyard is the oldest (established in 1972) estate winery in Santa Barbara County. The large (by valley standards) winery produces acclaimed Merlots, Chardonnays and Rieslings. And it boasts the first and only hiking trail, too,

During the 1990s, winery founder Brooks Firestone represented the county in the State Assembly for a few terms, before returning to expand the family business. From the earliest days of wine touring in the Santa Ynez Valley, Firestone Vineyard has been a major player and must-stop.

Hikers were pleased when Firestone constructed “Brooks’ Trail” around the vineyard. The pleasant pathway connects Firestone Vineyard with the former Curtis Winery tasting room, recently taken over by Andrew Murray Vineyards.

Andrew Murray wines are much admired, particularly for fine Rhône varieties, and it’s probably a safe bet that The Trailmaster is the one and only person who associates Andrew Murray wines with hiking. Let me explain:


Mountain and (Santa Ynez) Valley vistas are highlights of Brooks’ Trail.

A decade ago, when I was leading hiking tours of Santa Barbara for an upscale walking vacation company, Andrew Murray Vineyards was quite hospitable to our hiking groups. Andrew’s Mom (Fran Murray) was active with a wonderful group, the Santa Ynez Valley Women Hikers, and she and Andrew gave us permission to walk their property and then arranged a post-hike wine tasting. A couple times, Andrew himself did the pour and proudly explained where he wanted to go with the family business. For some of the hikers on my tour, it was the highlight of the week!

So here’s a toast to the Murrays, winemakers and hikers.

If you have a designated driver (always a good idea if you’re on a tasting tour), you can make this an even easier 1.2 mile one-way hike (mostly downhill) from Firestone to Curtis.

Plan your hike for a time when Firestone Vineyard’s tasting room is open, usually 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. daily. The main gain is open a little before and after these hours.

For a little more wine country hiking, pay a visit to Zaca Mesa Winery, which occupies a scenic plateau overlooking Foxen Canyon. The winery offers tastings and two short trails, which look a bit neglected these days. Windmill Trail (0.25 mile) climbs to a picnic area then up to a little overlook. Z Trail (0.25 mile) also climbs to an overlook (a popular promontory for exchanging wedding vows). The path winds among the region’s two kinds of oaks—coastal live and valley—helpfully identified by signs en route.

It’s uphill back to Firestone Winery but it’s an easy ascent, even after a bit of wine-tasting.

It’s uphill back to Firestone Winery but it’s an easy ascent, even after a bit of wine-tasting.

If you’re fantasizing about hiking across the valley from winery to winery and stopping at each tasting room along the trail, you’re going to be disappointed. Sauntering through vineyards in the valley is just not possible or encouraged like it is in Provence and Tuscany. We hikers are grateful to Firestone and Andrew Murray for this small sampling of Santa Ynez Valley wine-country trails, but the valley is so beautiful and enticing, we’re left thirsting for more.

The signed path begins by the picnic area, located just below the Firestone tasting room. Valley vistas are superb from the start of the trail. The trail descends to the vineyard, skirts rows and rows of grapes, and soon crosses the vineyard’s paved entry road.

Brooks Trail climbs a bit, then contours along oak-dotted slopes. Enjoy grand views of Foxen Canyon and the greater wine country. The sights and sounds of cars traveling Foxen Canyon and the rise and dip of active oil rigs amidst the rows of grape are also part of the valley scene. The path descends to Andrew Murray Winery and Visitor Center, where there are grassy picnic grounds under the shade of ancient oaks.

Directions: From Highway 101, some 45 miles north of Santa Barbara, exit on State Highway 154 (San Marcos Pass Rd.) and head east 2.5 miles to Foxen Canyon Road. Turn left and follow the winding road 4.4 miles to a junction with Zaca Station Road. Firestone Vineyard is located 0.7 mile south on Zaca Station Road. Curtis Winery is just west on the continuation of Foxen Canyon Road.

The most direct route to Firestone Vineyard is to exit Highway 101 on Zaca Station Road and proceed 2.5 miles northeast.

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Santa Barbara Community Should Shoulder Student Housing Burden

The Channels editorial that was posted in the comments on Santa Barbara View.

MKcja8dTqCity College’s push to pass Measure S has brought up many skeletons in the community’s closet about student housing.

The City College’s fact page cites the 36 percent of students who attended City College last year were from out of the county and were left with the tricky task of finding affordable housing in this picturesque town of Santa Barbara.

The accusations for lack of attention on the matter have been directed at City College, but landlords of Santa Barbara residents have been noticeably absent from the conversations.

Though the community is hyper critical of City College because of the restricted housing situation, The Channels Editorial Board, which is comprised of students who have dealt with almost every type of housing situation, feel it is also the community’s burden to bear.

According to the City College’s website, not one of the 30,687 students enrolled last year lived in a residence owned or operated by City College.

The perception of our school is one of a four-year university. But City College is just that, a city college. Even if the college attempted to solve the issue, it would be nearly impossible because of the horrendously high prices local properties are being sold at. The average one-bedroom in Santa Barbara rents for $1,378.

Harbor Heights, a 97-unit complex nestled between East and West Campus on Cliff Drive, was just sold to an unknown buyer for over $33 million dollars outbidding the City College Foundation after escrow closed in January, setting the record for price per square foot in the city.

If Measure S passes, Santa Barbara homeowners will be taxed $16.65 per $100,000 assessed worth of their property. But the likely situation is that many residents who are also landlords will be passing this tax directly onto their tenants. That means a rent hike for us, the student renters.

With private companies and buyers owning the homes in Santa Barbara, the student housing market is chalk-full of students making landlords dirty rich.

Though the community may focus the attention on City College to mend this suffering part of the system, the Ed Board believes the landlords of Santa Barbara should be making the extra push to accommodate the students that fill their very pockets with cash.

The Editorial Board has encountered almost every type of housing circumstance. From cockroaches to almost unavoidable fees and required expenses, there’s been an overwhelmingly negative review of the local landlords.

With 68 percent of the housing in Santa Barbara being built before 1970, according to the Santa Barbara Independent, many of the rental properties are in need of some serious overhaul. There are homes and apartments that have been functioning simply on temporary fixes while their tenants struggle to pay obscene amounts.

Not all landlords are unpleasant to their tenants. We urge these few to lead by example, or step in and try to spark a change. Students appreciate how you run your residences, which means we take care of them better. When a landlord doesn’t care about their tenants, the tenants in exchange don’t take care of their living space.

While City College is taking the heat for an issue that is not solely theirs in the first place, the Editorial Board is turning the issue onto the community.

If homeowners want to see the college make a change, landlords have to make it possible for it to do so. That means stabilizing the ridiculously off balance rental prices, modernizing and updating, and putting a hold on the hoarding of properties so that a solution could be attempted.

Homeowners and landlords alike will be affected by the tax brought if Measure S passes, but those who believe the students should feel the brunt of the measure have things backwards.

If there is an issue with City College’s student’s need for housing, we should be questioning those who already make the process of renting in this town so difficult.

The views and opinions in this Editorial are those of The Channels Editorial Board and not of the whole City College student body.

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I Am Voting for Measure P for the Following Eleven Reasons:


I am voting for Measure P for the following reasons:

1. Measure P is about protecting our groundwater from oil industry contamination by banning Fracking and Acidification processes that mix massive amounts of clean water with hydrofluoric acid and other Fracking chemicals, injecting them into the ground under tremendous pressure creating huge amounts of toxic wastewater also disposed of by injection underground.

2. In July, 2014 California’s Oil & Gas regulators shut down 11 oil field wastewater injection wells because of suspected groundwater contamination. There are over 2,500 toxic wastewater injection wells throughout California, including one just off the Santa Barbara coast.

3. A September 15, 2014 letter from the State Water Board to the EPA confirmed toxic wastewater from oil and gas operations has been illegally injected into aquifers that supply drinking and irrigation water in the central valley. That water source is now polluted and forever unusable.

4. This is the tip of the iceberg with investigations into groundwater contamination just beginning. If Fracking & Acidification practices expand as envisioned by the Oil Industry, there will need to be thousands more wastewater disposal wells. Regulators have allowed disposal of toxic wastewater underground without monitoring fostering Industry claims that these technologies are non-polluting; claims now proven false.

5. In August, 2014, after years of denial under Gas Industry pressure, the State of Pennsylvania finally acknowledged that hundreds of private drinking water wells have been contaminated by Extreme oil and gas operations.

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