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Lost Views

Enjoy this view from Victoria and Chapala—it will be lost after the construction.  As noted in the business report, “the largest renovation project in the State Street corridor is the demolition of the old Von’s supermarket on Victoria and Chapala streets, which is destined to become a mixed-use commercial complex.”


Does Your Vote Count? In Clientele Politics, Probably Not…Unless, Of Course, You’re a Client…

By Sharon Byrne

Does my vote count?

That’s the question a friend asked me over happy hour one night. He was mad over my chiding him for not voting in the June primary. “Why should I?” he asked heatedly. “Does my vote really count?”

The idealist in me wanted to trot out Founding Father quotes on the duty of every citizen to vote, as this right to democracy was won only after serious bloodshed. I wanted to evoke images of intrepid American voters carrying their carefully marked ballots in the exercise of the right to self-government by electing representatives we feel will best serve the country.

But I paused. We no longer do that, do we? We don’t think of what’s best for the country, state, or city. We think about what’s best for us, and who will serve that. We do that even when doing so might be counter to the best interests of the public.

Enter the rise of clientele politics. In this messy churn of democracy, you can’t take a chance that someone might get elected that won’t do what you want. So people organize into groups, like the green movement, or corporate PACs, where they groom, fund and elect representatives who serve their interests, as one would a client. They micromanage their representatives, with lobbying and campaign contributions right before a key vote to ensure that vote goes their way. Maplight.org does a great job of unmasking contributions to Congress: http://maplight.org/us-congress/legislator Click on a legislator, you’ll get interesting stats like how much money came in from the district vs out of district, out of state, etc.

Continue reading…


Saving Santa Barbara: Volunteers Complete Historic Element of City’s General Plan

By Cheri Rae

Remember the General Plan? That City document that sucked up years of staff and consultant time and political debate—along with millions and millions of dollars? When it was finally adopted last year, it included only a cursory Historic Resources Element—not a comprehensive one. That was an affront to preservationists in a city that banks so heavily on the treasures of its long and colorful past.

Many of these stewards had insisted from the beginning of the General Plan process that the Historic Resources Element should have been the starting point for the gargantuan project—not an after-the-fact add-on grudgingly included in the document.

And at one point in the interminable General Plan effort, the political make up of City Council had enough votes to actually agree to with them. Council voted to allow knowledgeable citizens to work with City staffers to develop an appropriately researched and written Historic Resources Element for inclusion in the General Plan.

A distinguished group of preservation-minded stewards representing a range of expertise and organizations, volunteered to hammer out a Historic Resources Element worthy of Santa Barbara’s unique cultural and historical legacy.

They include Judith Orias and Fermina Murray (Historic Landmarks Commission; Stella Larson (Planning Commission); Mary Louise Days (Citizens Planning Association and Santa Barbara Conservancy); Kellam de Forest (Pearl Chase Society); Jeanne Kahre and Wanda Livernois (Allied Neighborhood Association); Susette Naylor and Anne Peterson (Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation).

Historic Resources Element

After 21 meetings and much discussion, the 39-page document they produced (replacing the earlier six-page one) is finally ready for official review, PDF left.

Of particular note, the Historic Resources Element identifies four primary goals:  1) Protection and Enhancement of Historical Resources 2) Increased Awareness and Appreciation 3) Governmental Cooperation 4) Neighborhood Historic Preservation.

And new policies recognize the importance of avoiding the demolition of historic resources; protection of neighborhood historic resources; streetscape and landscape historic resources; and surveying, documenting and designating historic resources. And it even includes a policy about public education—and one that encourages adaptive re-use. Continue reading…


Railroaded

Column by Loretta Redd

What happens to grown men when they put on one of those railroad conductor’s hats?  Roger Horton and Grant House, among others, got brain melt back in 2008 as they were shoved down the tracks by the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation into the station of commuter rail for Santa Barbara.

It appears now that “choo choo fever” has infected our Governor on an even more massive scale of political insanity.  The apparent malady preys on those eager to leave a legacy, or those who have derailed from reality.

Our once-suffering local representatives sincerely believed they could solve the traffic problems on the 101, cleanse the air of auto emissions, and actually co-opt the use of the existing Amtrak and freight rails so that a hundred or so Venturians could be transported to Santa Barbara each day…on schedule of course, and with their briefcases (or more likely, their weed whackers and garden rakes) in tow.

As certain as our COAST and Council members were that the freight cars would happily scooch over for the heavily subsidized, money losing commuter rail, Governor Brown seems equally determined to make Statewide zoom-zoom trains his reality.  Only this time, the Professional Politicians are in charge of the purse strings, and they’ve stacked the California High Speed Rail Board with plenty of cronies.

Clear the tracks if you think there is any hope of cost containment or planning based on logic, expertise or efficiency. Continue reading…


Useless Glass Jetways at the Santa Barbara Airport

The beautiful new terminal at the Santa Barbara airport appears to have a flaw… useless glass jetways. The $54 million terminal is just one of two in the U.S. with glass jetways; unfortunately they don’t hook up to airplanes, leaving passengers to walk the tarmac.


Petition for Safe Parking Reform



Please take a look at my petition regarding the safe parking program, Steve Reynalds

Safe Parking Petition
Sign Safe Parking Petition

The original purpose of the “Safe Parking” program was to be a tool to help the homeless transition from street life to more secure surroundings.  Over the past four years New Begininngs has neglected the program’s objective and began catering to those who plan to live permanently in large recreational vehicles.  Many safe parking participants feel they have the right to purchase second vehicles or larger motorhomes.  Some actually bragged about their “waterfront property”. (Cabrillio) Those new to the city are quickly indoctrinated to this mentality.  To restore the true purpose of the program, we (the petitioners) feel it’s the city and county’s responsibility to freeze New Beginnings funding until the following guidelines are met:

1)      Restrict the size of recreational vehicles being used for long term parking to an appropriate size for parking on the streets. (MAX  22’ x 9’ x 11’)  A  moratorium could be granted to those who already own a larger vehicle.  After which they must downsize or find a sponsor who will allow them to park on their property.  Any participants owning a recreation vehicle must find sponsorship and relinquish their safe parking space after a period of four years. Continue reading…


La Pacifica Ballroom Terrace

Santa Barbara Photo of the Week by Bill Heller in 3D/ Virtual Reality

La Pacifica Ballroom at the Coral Casino has one of the best views around. Overlooking butterfly beach, with a huge terrace under the stars. This shot was taken specifically to catch the reflection of the sunset in the glass doors.

Controls from left to right:
+ Zoom in;
– Zoom out;
change the way the view moves when you drag;
toggle full screen
-Bill Heller


McCaw Island

Got $75 million?
Craig and Susan McCaw – Craig is the ex-husband of News-Press owner Wendy McCaw – have listed their 780-acre private island off the coast of Vancouver, British Columbia, for $75 million. Known as James Island, the property is about a mile off the coast of Vancouver Island and has a private Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, sandy beaches, an airstrip and a marina. There is a four-bedroom, 5,000-square-foot main residence built from reclaimed cedar, a large warehouse that has been converted into an entertainment center, a gym, a store, staff accommodations and six guest cottages.
Continue reading…