Santa Barbara’s Area of Contamination


Dear Santa Barbara View:


Heal the Ocean has been working on this problem for years.

The attached (below) Google map shows an outline of contaminated properties in SB waterfront area, made by Heal the Ocean, piecing together reports of contaminated soils and groundwater. This is only a start, because since we started this research we have the findings of Cheri Rae re: 617 Garden Street, we know about Artisan Court on Cota Street, and since we made this map we have discovered the locations of old burn dumps beneath Ortega Park and Santa Barbara Junior High School. The actual landfill operated by the City on the lower east side is 132 Garden Street, at the corner of Garden Street and 101 south onramp. The landfill materials were discovered by a City-hired engineering firm, whose report HTO has.
Hillary Hauser, executive director

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Adding up the Costs: 617 Garden Street

Special Investigative Series: “A Building on Garden Street”
By Cheri Rae

It’s a building scheme that began with a plan that the public hears a lot these days: redevelop an old area of town with a brand-new project to provide affordable housing for the needy or for downtown workers, along with office space and parking.

Financing for such projects typically comes from a combination of (mostly governmental) sources, including Redevelopment Agency funds.

And so it was with the 113,000 square-foot, 51-unit publicly funded, mixed-use building at 617 Garden Street in Santa Barbara, designed as a “healthy, healing community” to house individuals with mental illness and downtown workers, as well as to provide offices and parking for city workers. Monies for the project came from several individuals and non-profits plus federal, state and city coffers.

The project’s developer, the Mental Health Association, is itself mostly government funded. According to IRS reports from 2008, some 96.8 percent of the organization’s budget came from public funds.

By 2008, the project had already cost $27.15 million. The City of Santa Barbara’s Redevelopment Agency contributed $6.3 million. It also donated a parking lot (in order to utilize new parking spaces at the new building) and purchased a condominium in the building for $1,164,145.00. (The condo is designated as office space for the Water Division; as yet, it is unoccupied and construction work continues to this day.)

A source close to City Hall revealed that substantial development fees were waived for the developer.

“With all those waterproofing repairs, including the ones still on-going, the cost to taxpayers of that building must be well north of $30 million,” calculated one Santa Barbara real estate expert familiar with the financing of the City’s subsidized housing developments.

water in basement

By way of comparison, the purchase price of the huge St. Francis Hospital, complete with a large parking lot and 7 acres on Santa Barbara’s Riviera, was only $18 million, the local expert pointed out.

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Why I Believe in the Santa Barbara View

PNava_smSanta Barbara View is the first place I go to get fair, unbiased information about what’s going on in Santa Barbara. Take the recent story by Cheri Rae, a City public financed construction project hauling contaminated material to an unknowing residential project in Oxnard. This is a scandal with serious repercussions and it took the Santa Barbara View to break the story. Congratulations on a job well done.”
- Pedro Nava

You can help keep investigative reporting alive in Santa Barbara, California.

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No Texting While… Bicycling?

Nothing stirs the pot in Santa Barbara like protocols for bicyclists and a bill  just passed the California State Senate, by a vote of 24-12, that fines bicyclists who text while riding. Under the current proposal, bicyclists would:

  • Face a $20 fine for the first offense
  • Face a $50 for each additional offense

This bill also makes it illegal for bicyclists to talk on a hand-held cell phone while riding. Not everyone is pleased… “Bicyclists are a marginalized group that needs more rights, not less,” said the owner of a bike shop. “Everything about how our streets and sidewalks are set up favor cars. This is only going to be one more obstacle for someone who uses their bicycle for transportation.”

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Payroll Woes: Study of the Santa Barbara School Districts Released

We’ll have to forgive the glaring misspelling on the front page of the School District’s website—the word “extentions” rather than “extensions”—because there are more important matters at hand.


Namely, the release of yet-another study commissioned to determine what’s going wrong in a school district department. The Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team (FCMAT) report this time is a “Payroll Management Review.

The report, dated March 31, 2011, is scheduled to be delivered at tonight’s School Board meeting at 9:00.

The Executive Summary notes, “The work flow, the integrity of the payroll data and reporting, meeting of payroll deadlines, and communication with other departments and employees has been lacking.”

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On the Docket: Transient-Related Crimes

homeless2Today, per a request from Councilmembers Frank Hotchkiss And Randy Rowse, the Santa Babara City Council will hold a discussion regarding the enforcement of existing State laws and the City’s municipal ordinances concerning transient related street crimes. Specifically, panhandling.

Also on the docket:

  • The Council will likely approve the leasing of the affordable rental property at 2904 State Street by the Housing Authority to WillBridge for use as transitional housing for formerly homeless persons. The site is a very close to Peabody school.
  • The Council will likely authorize the City Clerk to conduct the November 2011 General Municipal Election as a Vote-By-Mail (VBM) Election.
  • The Council will likely spend $12,000 from Appropriated Reserves to purchase a signature verification system for the VBM Election.

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Can’t Forget Your Bag!

For the first time in Santa Barbara County, a major grocery store will be “bagless.” On Wednesday, the Albertsons in Carpinteria will no longer offer paper or plastic bags. Instead, customers will be required to use reusable bags or no bags at all.

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Question of the Week: Single Use Bags

[poll id="19"]

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Poppies and Daisies Playing in the Sprinklers

Santa Barbara Photo of the Week by renown local photographer Bill Heller.

I didn’t intentionally put the water drops on these flowers when I was taking care of a friend’s yard. But I did have my camera along for just such an occasion. I loved the way the light caught the huge drops of water. The beautiful curves of the drops complement the small ridges of the poppy petals nicely. And then the daisy decided he wanted to be in the picture and leaned in from the right and said CHEEEEESE. Ok, maybe I spend a little too much time in the garden, but I’m making up for a very busy year that left my plants too neglected. – Bill Heller

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Helping our Sister City: Toba, Japan

Like Santa Barbara, Toba is a coastal city that derives the majority of its livelihood from the ocean. The tsunami caused serious damage even though the city is south of the epicenter area. When fires burned our hills, Toba’s fund raising efforts were sent to Santa Barbara to help us recover. Read flier below (click to enlarge).
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Weekly Column by Barbara Hirsch

For this special day, I was going to tell you about my Starbucks experience, since they are offering free coffee today if you bring your own mug, I thought a cool way of celebrating Earth Day. I was going to tell you how virtually no one was cashing in on the offer, everyone was sitting around or walking out with their unrecyclable cups.  That in their Global Responsibility Report, Starbucks stated goal is to serve 25%(!!!) of their beverages in reusable cups by 2015, etc..

BUT, now that I’m happily speedy, I instead would rather offer you a bit of Grist’s Sin Gallery, in which people attempt to feel better by confessing:

“I use toilet paper from old growth forests, because it’s softer than recycled.”

“I dress my passenger seat in a jacket and hat and then use the carpool lane.”

“I take the long way home just to charge up my cell phone”

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Santa Barbara Garden Post

Weekly Column by Cerena Childress – Sustainability, Eating Fresh and Organic

Tickle Your Palate! Plant a Patch of Parsley!

The world’s most popular culinary herb, also known as “rock celery!”


Plant a Patch of Parsley for an abundant supply.
Rub your seeds between fine to medium sandpaper or place between pieces of paper and ‘massage’ them with a rolling pin!  Soak 24 hours for faster germination, 2 Cups H2O, ½ cup vinegar.  Parsley seed has a chemical in the seed coat that inhibits germination. Soaking the seeds, then discarding that water, removes enough of the inhibitor to get things going.  Put the seeds on a paper towel to drain so when your pick them up they don’t stick to your fingers in clumps.  Another way, if you have the courage, is to freeze then soak the seeds, plant, pour a teakettle of boiling water down the row!  I like the freezing part ok, but the boiling water would kill all the soil organisms, at least temporarily.

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A View of Renaud’s Patisserie

renaudscakeWalking into Renaud’s Patisserie and Bistro on State Street in Santa Barbara, this was not the first time I have had the opportunity to taste the amazing, fresh French baking that is exclusively Renaud’s. My first introduction to the transplanted Frenchmen’s creations was at a catered affair where his Quiche Lorraine and desserts of Chocolate Royal Cake and a Raspberry Almond Cream Tart all stole the culinary show.Deciding that next time I was in Santa Barbara I needed to try more of Renaud’s fantastic cuisine, a few friends and I had lunch at the bistro. Tri-tip and oven-roasted chicken sandwiches atop freshly baked bread, crisp, delicious salads and homemade chocolate almond bark for dessert were devoured and enjoyed by all of us.  Each of my dining companions had been to France before and we agreed that this rivaled any patisserie that we had visited on our trips abroad…with one exception:  the service. Our service at Renaud’s was fantastic!  Greeted by our knowledgeable server who tolerated our endless questions, we were served efficiently and pleasantly.

RenaudSmall1As recently as last weekend I was once again able to enjoy the buttery, flaky, delicate goodness of Renaud. Not able to decide on a brioche, a chocolate or almond croissant, we decided to order them all and split them.  We also left with a sampling of his world-class macarons, so delicate on the inside with a perfect crispness on the outside.  The salted caramel was my favorite with a flavor so rich and indulgent though I could make a strong argument for the pistachio and the chocolate too!

renauds-3It turns out that Renaud Gonthier is up and baking at his patisserie by 3:45 each morning.  It is this dedication to using only the finest and freshest ingredients and insistence on perfection that makes this Patisserie and Bistro a must-stop for breakfast, lunch, a latte, catering for a party or a special cake to bring to any event.  You can experience a top-notch French patisserie experience right in the heart of lovely downtown Santa Barbara, and La Vita Fresca highly recommends that you do!

Renaud’s Patisserie and Bistro – 3315 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA

Contributed to the Santa Barbara View by Jennifer Payne of

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Vintage Santa Barbara Photo


Photo Credit for Vintage Series: Early Santa Barbara Photos taken by J W Collinge and other Santa Barbara photographers. Solely for use on the Santa Barbara View.

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Do You Want Investigative Reporting in Santa Barbara, California?

According to the News Manual, “investigative journalism is finding, reporting and presenting news which other people try to hide. It is very similar to standard news reporting, except that the people at the center of the story will usually not help you and may even try to stop you doing your job.”

Investigative journalism was important to the people of Miami when a publication exposed a crooked election and the candidate who lost out originally was ultimately put into office. He said, “The Herald didn’t do this for me. The Herald did this for Miami.” Investigative journalism was important to the people of Bell when the LA Times uncovered that officials in the 37,000 person town were increasing property taxes and other fees in part to cover the huge salaries of some of Bell’s top officials.

Investigative reporting is important to one reader of Santa Barbara View who wrote, “I recently moved from Santa Barbara to the Riverpark Development thinking that I made a wise choice moving to this family-friendly development, but there is nothing family-friendly about soil that could have adverse affects on my family’s health.”

The word on the street is that Santa Barbara needs more investigative journalism; however, finding facts and telling them to readers requires time and money. If you’d like to see more investigative reports like Cheri’s series on “A Building on Garden Street”, please consider making a one-time donation to our pledge drive. Thank you.


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