Community Partners Help Keep Santa Barbara Santa Barbara ™ Partners

EcoFacts: The Price of Oil

Weekly column by Barbara Hirsch

gas_pricesAlthough we can count on gas prices rising again, in some parts of the country right now you can get a gallon for two bucks, much cheaper than store bought drinking water, and close to a quarter of its price in some other places, like Norway. So it is probably no surprise that truck and SUV sales are up. The top 3 best selling cars last month were not cars – the Ford F series (71,332), Chevrolet Silverado and Ram pickups. Hybrid and electric sales are down (46,643 in August), they make up 3% of the market, it was 3.5% last year. People also drove more miles in the first half of the year than ever before.

From an ecological perspective the one good thing about this, is that expensive energy intensive methods (shale oil or fracking) for sucking more oil out of the ground become economically less viable. Arctic drilling too maybe? The Saudis are hoping so apparently, although clearly not for environmental reasons.

In the last year 60% of drilling rigs in the U.S. have been shut down, and tens of thousands of workers laid off.

Maybe this volatility will eventually make an alternative energy based economy more attractive, but $2 gas will be hard to beat.

Residence of Noted Landscape Architect Lockwood de Forest for Sale

Lockwood de Forest, arguably the most renowned landscape architect in Santa Barbara, designed and built an estate at 2659 Todos Santos Lane in 1927 which is now for sale.

“Located on a private road just north of Mission Santa Barbara are the home and garden that landscape architect Lockwood de Forest III (known professionally as Lockwood de Forest, Jr.) designed in 1927 for himself and his wife Elizabeth Kellam de Forest, who was also a landscape architect. His and his wife’s parents paid for the house and land, respectively, as wedding gifts to the young couple, whose first home was damaged in an earthquake two years earlier. The two adjacent lots that de Forest chose offered a pleasant microclimate and views of the majestic Santa Ynez Mountains, the narrow east-west range that forms a natural scenic backdrop to downtown Santa Barbara. While the innate beauty of the setting lends much to the property, it is de Forest’s design of the house and garden that makes it historically and culturally significant.” Click here to read the rest of the write up from The Cultural Landscape Foundation.

santosThis enchanting property has unique features like five fireplaces, tiles from Damascus, teak wood tiles from India in the entry, and beautiful gardens with a central water feature that reflects the design expertise of Lockwood de Forest. The 4 bedroom, 4 bath estate can be yours for $3,695,000.

Should Junipero Serra Become a Saint?

In May, 40% of Santa Barbara Viewers didn’t think that Junipero Serra should be canonized, summary and on-going poll results below. Yesterday, Pope Francis elevated Father Serra to Saithood, the first canonization on U.S. soil. As co-founder of of the Santa Barbara Mission Fray Junípero Serra is an important local figure, so what is your opinion now?

Pope Francis is expected to formally declare Junipero Serra a saint later this year during the his first visit to the United States. Serra would be the first saint canonized on US soil. Many native Americans are opposed to his sainthood, including the Chumash. A rally to denounce Junipero Serra is planned in Santa Barbara later this month, which leads to the question of the week:


Sea Otter Awareness Week

The 13th Annual Sea Otter Awareness Week is here, running through Saturday, September 26. Every year, Defenders of Wildlife organizes and promotes Sea Otter Awareness Week to teach people about the integral role that sea otters play in the nearshore marine ecosystem and to promote research and conservation programs:

According to the group, sea otters play a critical role in the marine ecosystem as a keystone species. They promote a healthy kelp forest that, in turn, supports thousands of organisms. Sea otters are also an indicator or sentinel species. They are dying of diseases that have land-based connections. Since humans and sea otters eat many of the same seafood items, high rates of sea otter disease may be a warning for both human health and marine ecosystem health. So take a moment over the next couple of days to appreciate sea otters!

PS: In a related note this week, a federal judge rejected a legal challenge by fishing organizations of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) 2012 decision to terminate the ‘no-otter zone,’ allowing sea otters to reinhabit their historic range in southern California. The sea otters’ return will help restore depleted kelp forests and improve the overall health of our marine ecosystems. FWS’s 2012 decision was made following a 2010 legal agreement reached by Santa Barbara’s Environmental Defense Center and The Otter Project with the FWS after the groups sued to end the agency’s decades-long delay in making a required decision on whether or not to terminate the failed no-otter zone.


The Franceschi House, A Background

More about the drive to stop Santa Barbara’s Franceschi House from demolition. Sign the Petition Here. From The Capital, the newsletter of the Pearl Chase Society ONLINE HERE, PDF.

The story of Santa Barbara’s Franceschi House is one of American dreams: immigrant success, strong family ties, extreme wealth, respect for history, good intentions, poor execution, and benign neglect. All within four decades. The two major figures of the House saga – Francesco Franceschi and Alden Freeman – each contributed his own interesting personal history to the story. The involvement by the Pearl Chase Society began long after the house’s heyday and is well documented – and better told – by others. I’ve always been drawn to the brief period between 1926 and 1930, when wealthy, socialist, eccentric, easterner Alden Freeman bought the house, remodeled it with his own images, acquired the surrounding acreage and donated the whole lot to the city as a memorial park to Dr. Franceschi.

At the turn of the century, I was editor of The Capital and, in an unabashed attempt to generate content for the Society’s newsletter, began researching the strange collection of decorations mounted on the house during Freeman’s remodel. That archive stands at 22 articles specifically about medallions and another 13 articles about the house and the project over five years. In the past decade my writing languished and my interests wandered but retirement has refocused my attention on former projects, including Montarioso’s medallions. I’ve begun researching again and will share my updates in upcoming editions of The Capital, along with more historical context.

But first, the most current news on the home: In an April letter, the Pearl Chase Society officially dissolved its 2001 partnership with the City to rehabilitate Franceschi House. Our Board realized that progress had stalled on the rehabilitation effort and the original agreement might confuse new action. At the June 23 meeting of the City Council, the Board’s letter was included as part of a recommendation by the Parks & Recreation Department that Franceschi House be demolished.

Astute readers will recognize that deciding to abandon rehabilitation is not the same as agreeing to demolition and that distinction was made clear to City Council at the meeting by President Barbara Lowenthal and other speakers during public comment. In its April letter, the Board stated the desire to seek alternative plans for the house structure and the park. A wide array of options exists between those two extremes. A 9-minute video of the City Council meeting focused on the Pearl Chase Society position is available online.

12002332_415520561992467_2700392180225129991_nAt its June meeting, the City Council accepted the Parks & Recreation Department report but refused to move forward on the demolition recommendation. While Franceschi House rehabilitation would cost millions of dollars, so would proper demolition and stabilization of the site. The least expensive current option is to do little more than is now being done. The Council also granted a 6-month extension to the Pearl Chase Society to develop new alternative plans and to rekindle funding efforts. At the end of that period, the Society will report back to Council about progress on those two fronts: new ideas (“Why didn’t we think of that before?”) and fundraising. Efforts have already begun.

We’re starting again, fresh, with a revised mission. Experience has shown that fully restoring or rehabilitating, i.e., “saving,” Franceschi House is not feasible. While there may be sizeable community sentiment – even will – for such an effort, public support was not matched by funding. Our focus this time will be to generate new ideas to memorialize Francesco Franceschi and Alden Freeman without the presence of the complete house. And, of course, to seek financial contributions to make that happen.

We start with a balance of monies previously donated. Contributions by Society members and others have been kept in an interest-bearing account and remain available. We’ve received a wide range of good new ideas for alternative projects as well but we need more. They include retaining important parts of the house in-place, creating a hardscape viewing area on the original footprint of the house with educational displays, distributing the Montarioso Medallions as markers throughout the park trails with interpretive signage, permanent acknowledgments for substantial donors at the house site or throughout the park, and new ideas for the park’s public uses.

The Board is discussing revision of our current website to make it more dynamic and able to serve as a community-wide access point for information about Franceschi House and the campaign, as well as the main portal for submitting ideas, comments and donating funds. This will be an exciting six months and it is hoped every member of the Society will become involved in some way. Some members may not like the architecture of the house but can support an alternate plan. Others may not be able to make a huge financial donation but can donate well-thought ideas for a new park. Please consider being a part of this major effort in every way you can. Help us preserve this wonderful park in honor of Franceschi’s and Freeman’s contributions to Santa Barbara.

By Rick Closson: Dr. Closson is a past president of the Society and the founding editor of The Capital.

Become a Volunteer Docent at Old Mission Santa Barbara

“Hey Santa Barbara locals: it is annual recruitment time for new docent training at the Old Mission. It is one of the most fun and rewarding things to be involved in. If you like to meet people from around the world, enjoy the pride and perks of belonging to the Old Mission and make great new friends who are already docents, call the phone number in this flyer below for details. It has truly been a memorable year participating as a docent at the Old Mission.”

Join a dedicated group of men and women who give their time to inform visitors to Old Mission Santa Barbara about early California history and mission days. The fall training program takes place from October 5 through November 16, 2015.

As a docent, you will:

  • Learn the past history and living story of Old Mission Santa Barbara
  • Welcome visitors from all over the world to the doors of this historical landmark
  • Conduct regularly scheduled public tours
  • Instruct school children on the place of the missions in California history
  • Guide guests through La Huerta Historic Garden, a living botanical museum of plants native to California and those introduced in early mission days Lead specialized tours on Mission art and architecture
  • Participate in annual events sponsored by the Mission including Fiesta Pequeña, the
  • Christmas Candlelight Vigil, art shows, and anniversary celebrations
  • Enjoy excursions to major exhibitions and places related to California history
  • Increase your knowledge through ongoing educational programs
  • Share in the camaraderie of talented volunteer docents
Click here for the Docent application, PDF.


Golden Reflection

Santa Barbara photo to start the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Golden Reflection
This was during a beach walk on Butterfly Beach. I love the sailboats anchored off the coast, they always make me ponder going down to the harbor and renting one for a day or two. This one was at the perfect location relative to the beautiful stretch of Butterfly Beach I found myself on to line up perfectly with the sun and cloud above.

-Bill Heller