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$750,000 for a New Traffic Signal in Santa Barbara

New foundation for traffic signal pole on south east corner of Anacapa and Carrillo. Photo February 11, 2013.

According to this week’s Santa Barbara City Council Agenda packet, the Anacapa and Carrillo Intersection Improvement Project will be completed in the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2013. The cost for (PDF): the traffic signal pole foundation, conduit installation, mast arms, pedestrian signal indicators, control equipment, electrical connections, new curbs and gutters is a cool $756,446. $325,196 has been spent on the project to date, with completion is scheduled for March, 2013.

20 Capital Improvement Projects are currently under construction in the City of Santa Barbara, with an approximate value of $42,071,465.


Chick-fil-A Closed on Sundays

Traffic officials catch a break once a week, as the new Chick-fil-A restaurant in Santa Barbara, 3707 State Street, is closed on Sundays. Congestion has been so bad since the grand opening of the controversial restaurant, that the City has installed signs and provided traffic guards to keep cars from backing up along upper State Street. Chick-fil-A has one of the few drive-through windows in the City of Santa Barbara, but why are they closed on Sundays?
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Casa de la Guerra

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.

Perched high above Santa Barbara gives a different perspective. The beautiful red tile roofs giving way to the amazing mountains and Pacific in the distance. In the foreground I was fortunate enough catch an event at Casa de la Guerra. the colored lights and people having a great time were the perfect foreground for this amazing view.

I have to thank my friends over at Buynak, Fauver, Archbald & Spray for giving me access to the perch for this wonderful view.

-Bill Heller


Shot Dead in Santa Barbara, California

Gun violence, which has dominated the national news landscape, hits Santa Barbara as a 21-year old has been confirmed dead. The young man from Ventura was reportedly shot multiple times Tuesday evening near Santa Barbara High School and was pronounced dead at Cottage Hospital around 8 p.m. The crime is believed to be gang related; although, local law officials will not confirm that. The immediate reaction around town, including from City Councilman Frank Hotchkiss, has been a renewed call for a gang injunction. A gang injunction for the City Santa Barbara is currently stalled in court. On that front, here’s a powerful summary of gang injunctions from the View Vault, published in 2010…
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Safe Harbor in Santa Barbara, No More

There is a confluence of factors rapidly changing both the look of the Waterfront and that of the Funk Zone.   But two things they seem to have in common are (1)  the City’s desire to raise money for its coffers, and (2) the gradual determination to turn Santa Barbara’s coastline into Disneyland.

With the forthcoming arrival of twenty-three cruise ships, the City seems bent on supporting the gentrification and polishing of Santa Barbara’s pristine image.  Some of the changes are for the better, benefitting more than just the cruise ship shore-leave day traders, but other proposals and pressures impact the small but valued working class of our city.

In both the Funk Zone near Cabrillo Blvd and along the Haley-Gutierrez corridor, tasting rooms are replacing auto repair shops so fast, I’d say we’re lubricating more with Merlot than with motor oil.

There has always been a dynamic tension between landlords looking for higher rents and service industries just trying to find a space to do their trade in this tawny town.

Even accounting for smaller passenger cruise ships, the potential fiscal impact of 40,000 tourist shoppers is hard not to cater to.  But should temporary tourist dollars be what drives the policies of our city, especially if it makes life more difficult and expensive for its working-class residents?

Take the Waterfront for instance, described on the City’s website as “Santa Barbara’s #1 attraction.”  There’s a push from the City to have the Harbor Commissioners alter the long-term vehicle storage  regulations because of the “visual blight” and “public perception that camping and vehicle storage is allowed.”

This is where various issues get convoluted, and as with most things governmental, the isn’t a simple solution.  Besides the hourly parking, there are two types of parking permits at the Waterfront:  the $95 per year General permit, and the $70 per year Slipholder permit.   The Slipholder permit is also sold to waterfront business owners and those who are mooring.

Everyone except the Slipholders are held to a maximum stay of 72 hours at a time.

Granted, some of the vehicles in the harbor lot are decrepit (although they seem to be disappearing quickly), but some belong to guys who work to repair the boats or fish the seas.  I don’t know if you’ve ever owned a boat, but it’s similar to owning an automobile; they require pretty constant maintenance.

Many of these repair guys and hull cleaning divers keep their tools and equipment in their vehicles in order to have their ‘shop’ close to the water.  Can you imagine if the mechanics at the Santa Barbara Auto Group had to keep their tools at La Cumbre Plaza?  And much like the businesses in the Funk Zone and Haley corridor, none of the vessel repair guys are exactly rolling in the dough…but they do provide a service, and they are residents of our city.

Waterfront parking is a cash-cow for the City, no doubt.  According to a slide presentation, the number of days at “full capacity” for Harbor parking has increased by 300% since 2008.  In part, this is due to the popularity of the restaurants, retailers, Museum, Yacht Club and breakwater walkway.  The increase in parking demand is also from City College students who have figured out that occasional, short term parking just across the street from their campus costs less than semester-long passes.

Key West Impact

There are issues beyond the tidal waves of cars to park or cruise line tourists to accommodate.  It is past time for the City to have a public conversation about the Waterfront, similar to one done for a similar community back in 2005, titled “The Impact of Cruise Ship Industry on Life in Key West.”  This report looked at all aspects from charter and commercial fishing and pollution and turbidity to  retail sales, taxes and the effect on affordable housing.

As for Santa Barbara, I couldn’t find a more recent Harbor Master Plan than 1996, so this could be a good time to rewrite one.  For instance citing page 64, under Fiscal Considerations,  “In 1984, the City Council adopted policies relating to Harbor leases.  These policies have the underlying goal of having the Waterfront be self-supporting.  The State Tidelands Grant requires that all the money raised in the tidelands be spent in that area….”

Now if that is still true, and the City wants to ‘pretty up’ our working Harbor,  I would suggest they provide free or low cost storage lockers for those small and independent businesses who take care of the real needs of the ocean going vessels.  Anyone who lives on their vessel doesn’t have the luxury of a home or garage in which to store their belongings.

Recently, the Harbor Patrol has been coming down on the liveaboards for any minor infraction of having ‘unpermitted’ belongings sitting on the docks.  I understand wanting to keep the new docks clean and neat, but I’m told by some that the warnings feel suddenly “arbitrary and unjustified…like they’re trying to get rid of us.”  Can you imagine if the City declared  that all residents had to park their car inside their garages?
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Zero Bedroom, 1 Bath Condo for Only $855,000

For those who don’t want to shell out $1.35 million for a 1 bedroom, 1 bath condominium in Alma Del Pueblo, a zero bedroom, 1 bath condo is also available, unit 109… and for only $855,000. “Alma Del Pueblo features 37 Units, with 29,000 square feet of commercial space, adjacent to world-class entertainment and shopping housed in some of Southern California’s best examples of Spanish Colonial architecture.”


EcoFacts: Sweet!

Sweetness. On the surface, all good associations. Kind of like, it tastes so good, but then gives you cavities and can lead to weight gain.

The refined white granulated stuff – sucrose – comes from sugarcane and sugar beets. Sugar cane is grown in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and Hawaii, sugar beets in many more states.  It has no nutritional value. Over 8 million tons of it is produced here. Sugar cane is responsible for mass deforestation and pollution in Brazil, the world’s largest producer, but more for ethanol than eating.

High Fructose Corn Syrup, from corn obviously, is highly processed and also has no nutritional value. Corn sweeteners account for about half of the U.S. sweetener market, used in the production of beverages, processed foods, bakery and cereal products. Over 9 million tons is produced here.

American consumption estimates vary from 70 to 130 pounds per person in the U.S. of refined sugar and HFCS.
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