Water Always Wins

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

As much a natural feature in Santa Barbara as the Santa Ynez Mountains on one edge and the Pacific Ocean on the other, like an unseen river, groundwater flows beneath the city. It absorbs, contains and records as it ebbs and flows.

No one thinks about the groundwater unless it unexpectedly makes its presence known or it reveals irrefutable truths about the past and present, forcing humans to change their plans. When they don’t think about underground water, they suffer the consequences.

h20When a building intrudes into groundwater, it better be engineered and inspected to make certain that the groundwater doesn’t intrude into the building even if the water is clean. If contaminated, the environmental and financial consequences of a failure to plan and to execute the plan just keep expanding.

For one unchangeable truth is that water always wins.

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On December 3, 2008 the Mental Health Association celebrated the Grand Opening (PDF) of a new 113,000 square foot facility dubbed Building Hope. This video taken on March 11, 2011 shows the relatively new building under siege by water – leaking through the elevator, the side walls and even the roof.

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Ignoring Santa Barbara’s Environmental Legacy: The Timeline

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

In 2001, Environmental Assessment Specialists released a report for a proposed housing development at 617 Garden Street by J/L Ventures, L.L.C. The study cited concerns about the next door property, and concluded the “potential for subsurface contamination of the property at concentrations that may require statutory cleanup is moderate. This is based on the close proximity and upgradient location of the Santa Barbara Recycling Center leaking underground storage tank (LUST) site (200 feet northwest of the subject property).”

In 2002, in the pre-application process addressed concerns about the Hazardous Materials, the shallow depth of groundwater and the remediation of contaminants in the vicinity. It noted, “The plume of groundwater contamination may underlie the project site.”
It also recommended that recycling center’s environmental health records be reviewed, “in order to confirm whether any contamination arising from this nearby site has migrated toward the subject property.”

In 2003, the County Hazardous waste specialist, Ron Gutier, warned, “The groundwater contamination for 631 Garden Street may extend onto the northwestern portion of the subject site. Therefore, water generated from dewatering during construction at 617 Garden Street may require treatment prior to discharge into the sewer system.”

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Art Critics: Celebrate with Cascarones

Last night the art for the 2011 Old Spanish Days Fiesta poster was selected by La Presidenta Joanne Funari. From 37 submission by local artists, Funari chose a piece by Laura Jespersen called Celebrate with Cascarones, below.

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Contaminated Soil and Water in Santa Barbara: The Historical Record

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

The history of contaminated soil and groundwater in low-lying, high water-table areas of downtown Santa Barbara is well-documented. A large portion of land was dedicated to industrial businesses—like dry cleaners, a print shop, a furniture refinishing plant among others—and a number of automobile service stations that had one thing in common: the regular and routine use of highly toxic chemicals.

Chemicals associated with those long-ago businesses remain in the environment to this day. Like an alphabet soup of contamination they include:
TPH—Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons like gasoline
MEK—Methyl ethyl ketone

and a variety of other substances that the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, the State Water Resources Control Board, the County Fire Department and the City Creeks Department monitor to keep away from human contact—or from polluting other parts of the environment.

And 617 Garden Street is smack in the middle of it.

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KEYT Sets the Story on Garden Street

In March 2009, KEYT exposed how the Santa Barbara Mental Health Association was in such a hurry to beat a Federal deadline, and how one of the contractors allegedly cut corners to build the facility or lose millions.
Here’s the follow-up report aired by KEYT in June 2010.

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Help Keep Santa Barbara Santa Barbara

Participate in the Santa Barbara View‘s pledge drive and help us deliver on our promise to use investigative reporting, incisive commentary, and community debate to shed light on the most important issues facing Santa Barbara. Whether it’s the State Street bench relocation project or the City’s Employee Mortgage Loan Assistance Program, the Santa Barbara View is looking out for you. However, we need your help to support original investigations. Please join our pledge drive and help us Keep Santa Barbara Santa Barbara™.


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Keeping Santa Barbara Santa Barbara(™)

For the thousands of visitors who stopped by the Santa Barbara View booth over the weekend at Earth Day, we thought we’d take a second to introduce the site.

The Santa Barbara View, www.sbview.com, is an online magazine focused on the quality-of-life issues, people, places, events, and pastimes that affect our community mosaic. It’s a website for informed opinion writing and thoughtful analysis. It’s a place for civil, thought-provoking and high-quality public discussion, and a respectful airing of different points of view. With a full lineup of community contributors, our mission is to help keep Santa Barbara Santa Barbara(™).

Cheri Rae is the senior editor and columnist. Known for her civic activism and insightful chronicles of the local scene, Cheri has a hard-won reputation for writing about issues that other Santa Barbara-based writers are reluctant to tackle. In 2009, her work was recognized by the California Newspaper Publishers Association, which awarded her first-place honors in the Best Newspaper Column category.

The Santa Barbara View has a variety of sections from a comprehensive weather center and community calendar, to Food & Wine and Arts & Entertainment. You can browse photos of Santa Barbara, from historic collections to three-dimensional virtual tours of our beautiful city and county. And you can even search the MLS.

So make the Santa Barbara View your homepage - drag and drop this SBView onto the Home icon in your browser or toolbar – and become a part of Santa Barbara’s online community.
HomeSo make the Santa Barbara View your homepage – drag and drop this SBView link or the home icon (left) onto the matching home icon of your browser or toolbar – and become a part of Santa Barbara’s growing online community.

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Dinner at La Purisima

A View of Santa Barbara by renown local photographer Bill Heller.

Although our Santa Barbara Mission has a wonderful historic tour with some authentic artifacts, there is nothing quite like spending some time in a mission where they have painstakingly restored and recreated on a large scale what the day to day life must have been like when the missions were the full communities they were designed to be. La Purisima offers the space and flexibility to almost step into the past. It is a wonderful experience. – Bill Heller

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Vintage Santa Barbara Photo: Cottage Hospital Circa 1930

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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Visit the Santa Barbara View at Earth Day

Come to Alameda Park for day two of Earth Day Santa Barbara. The Santa Barbara View is proud to be a sponsor of Earth Day! Stop by booth #114 to meet Cheri Rae, say hello to site contributors and supporters, and win a Walk Santa Barbara  book.boothpalm
John Palminteri visits with Cheri Rae at Earth Day Santa Barbara 2011

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The Avocado Next Door

By Georgina Stassi – Food, Wine, & Travel

Avocado-Tree-300x157I love trees and I’ve never met one that I couldn’t find something beautiful about with one exception – the homely avocado tree.  It’s awkward –it’s huge –it’s blossoms are indiscernible and the fruit is unapproachable.  It seems like one has to wait months before you’ll ever get to taste it and it’s an inedible disaster if your timing is not just so.

AVOCADO-TREE_21-169x300Now, there’s another way to look at this tree: it is much like the girl next door.  You never really noticed her.  She was not particularly pretty or charming until one day your mouth dropped open and you  realized that she had matured into a succulent beauty.  She had shed her awkwardness and revealed her creamy rich flesh.  She doesn’t need anything to complete her loveliness.  She doesn’t need fancy clothes or a face full of makeup.  She is a natural beauty ready to be plucked from her mother and devoured by you.

avocado-gazpacho-You see, the avocado is quite often over-dressed and made-up like a Las Vegas showgirl. We have become so accustomed to eating this fruit laced-up tightly with onions, peppers, cilantro, and even processed with ground lettuce to make things like guacamole.  Sometimes, it is the only “avocado” that people have ever eaten.  You ask people, “do you like avocados?” and they respond “I love it.  You mean like guacamole, right?”

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EcoFacts: Earth Millenium

Column by Barbara Hirsch

Earth Day is on the 22nd, but in Santa Barbara, where the idea originated, it is this weekend, two days of booths, events, local food, music and all kinds of learning.

Good, ‘cause we sure need more of that.  So earth is celebrated in our culture for one day or so in the year, but my guess is that this will be - EARTH MILENIUM – since in this one, we’ll all figure out how to live on it, or not. Whether it simply continues to serve us, or the agreement becomes mutual.

But clearly, human consciousness is changing.  We have been such anthropocentric creatures, it’s all been there for our taking: the oceans as fisheries, forests as timberlands, all of it, as our natural resources. Do other species have any inherent value other than for use by us? Can our population continue to grow while Earth’s resources do not?

Meanwhile if you want to tip your hat to the earth quietly, here are a few possibilities:

  • Some day this week have a people powered day  -  choose not to drive,  turn off the electronics and go for a walk, take a bike ride,
  • plant something or tend a garden.  Read some Rachel Carson. Choose not to buy something. Tend a garden, or plant some seeds.
  • Bring out the nature side of your nature.

This year’s Earth Day theme is a People Powered campaign for a Billion Acts of Green.

Since there are over 6 billion of us, that should be easy.

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The Santa Barbara Garden Post

Weekly Column by Cerena Childress – Sustainability, Eating Fresh and Organic
foodFood Not Lawns is all about raising veggies not grass. Studies show they both take about the same amount of water, but veggies pay back sustainably with fresh highly nutritious food on your table and no-food-miles or pollution. Plus they make seeds for their next generation, adapting to your microclimate niche!

I will be at the Food Not Lawns table at the Earth Day Celebration, Alameda Park, this weekend, 1 to 3 PM both days! Stop by, I would love to meet you, exchange gardening secrets!


  • · Do I have to rip up my lawn? You can do lasagna gardening/sheet composting right on top, start with cardboard/newspaper.
  • · Do I have to do a major portion of my lawn? You can do any part you want, big or small, your call!
  • · But I don’t want to do my front lawn You don’t have to! It’s yours, do what makes you happy! You only need 6 to 8 hours of sun to grow veggies, any space, pocket area, corridor that has that, works.
  • · Is it really hard work? Using the lasagna/sheet composting method is no harder than gathering the materials to do it! There is NO DIGGING! And you don’t have to build raised beds. Building soil on top of your lawn can make a lovely undulating landscape. Frameless raised beds have plantable sloped sides!
  • · Is it ugly? Could be, but how you do it is up to you! It can be integrated along/among border landscaping plants, you don’t have to have raised beds at all. If you want to though, you can make really attractive raised beds with beautiful materials, ie a lovely rock wall, terracing. You can cover an unsightly area like the edge under a south facing deck. There are so many lovely options!
  • · I don’t want to wait months before I can plant! You can plant the same day! Just pull back a planting hole, throw in compost, bought or made by you, plus any amendments you want, just like usual, and plant NOW! No waiting at all!

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Margerum Open House April 17: The Wine Event To Attend

By Georgina Stassi – Food, Wine, & Travel

IMG_2516One thing that the Margerum Wine Company knows how to do very well, is lavish upon their guests great food and impossibly beautiful wines. At their Open House Events, it is guaranteed that everybody will be having a great time hanging out and soaking up the culture of the vine. Winemaker Doug Margerum will be there to fill up your glass and answer all of your wine and food questions as well as the Margerum Wine Company crew; so come and meet Hugh, Michael, Brooks, Daniela and all of the people that make bringing these great wines to you possible. Moreover, all your fellow oenophiles will be there to reach wine-loving zen with you.

So to forever keep you guessing, to it keep it fresh and to keep you perpetually entertained, Sunday’s event will take place on April 17 from 1pm to 4pm at the Wine Cask Restaurant and Margerum Tasting Room located at 813 Anacapa Street in downtown Santa Barbara — not at their Los Olivos location.

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Downtown Living in Santa Barbara, CA

granadaGranada Tower at 1216 State Street sits atop the historical Granada Theatre. Newly created as a mixed-use project, this 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo covering the entire 7th floor  is being offered ”designer ready” for a cool $4 million.

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