What Will Measure P Actually Do?

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I spent a lot of time recently trying to understand what measure P will actually do. The conclusion I’ve come to is that it will essentially preserve the status quo and prevent a local oil boom that might result in 10,000 or more new wells. Here’s how I arrived at this conclusion: First, here’s a look at the concerns of both sides. The concern of the oil industry seem to be two: 1) existing wells will be shut down and, 2) they will not be able to drill thousands of new wells using the more intense methods now needed to get the oil out. The concern of the proponents of P are three: 1) that too much water will be used, 2) concern about aquifer pollution and 3) climate and air pollution concerns.

Opponents call it the oil shutdown initiative. In order to understand how the county might enforce this, I looked at statements made by the County Counsel’s office. Opponents of Measure P are saying 100% of existing wells could be affected. What does affected mean? Does that mean they’d be shut down or something else, like they’d have to get a permit? Listening carefully to recordings of the Board of Supervisors meetings and the Planning Commission meetings addressing this issue, I found that Santa Barbara County Council Mike Ghizzoni was asked about this. He cited the landmark California Supreme Court case, Avco Community Developers vs. South Coast Regional Commission. He applied the Avco standard to the Measure P and concluded current production will be allowed to continue.

Near the end of a later meeting, Sept 3 of the Planning Commission, Bill Dillon of the County Counsel’s office said that existing wells do not even have to come in and apply for an exemption if they already have a permit. “if they have a vested right and they are sure of it, they do not have to come in” (for an exemption). They do have the option of applying for an exemption just to have that determination if they want to, or have some doubt.

It seems that the shutdown concern of the industry is unfounded, but their second concern is real. They may not be able to drill their 10,000+ new wells. At the Planning Commission meeting Santa Maria Energy (one of the 16 companies operating here) states that they have approval for 136 wells on 32 acres but what about their other 4000 acres and the 7,700 well locations they have planned? This is just one of the companies indicating they plan to ramp up oil production, most of which do to propose to use high-intensity oil extraction.   Continue Reading →

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Clock Tower View Closed Soon for Renovation

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Clock Tower View, Closed soon for Renovations

I’m often surprised at how many locals have never been to the observation deck at the Santa Barbara Courthouse Clocktower. It’s a wonderful experience, even for those of us who may be used to looking at the beauty of Santa Barbara all the time. A wonderful experience that is, if you can easily navigate the tight metal stairways winding up the last story from the top of the elevator.

But that is all about to change for the better. Thanks to the caretakers of the courthouse a new project is underway to extend the elevator the last story all the way to the observation deck. But unlike some of the accessibility stories you hear where someone sued or complained to get action, the story behind the project is very positive. The courthouse has had ADA accessibility plans in the works for some time, but this particular project was accellerated by the people who forged ahead, rather than let it stop them. Even though the climb to the top was tough there are many who make the trek apparently even in the face of extreme difficulty. Inspired by the people who felt the experience was worth the effort, the Courthouse Docents urged the powers that be to fast track the project. Led by a guy who’s love of the history and heritage in his care is quite apparent when you talk to him, the County Architect Robert Ooley, the project got the green light this week.

Of course, extending the elevator another floor is no easy task. Starting January the Clock Gallery and the observation deck will be closed to the public to allow for construction, which is slated to run through July 2015. So if you’ve never been to the top because you’ve just never got around to it, now is a great time to go before construction starts! Of course if you’ve stayed away because of the climb, your wait is almost over. Either way, during the construction I’ll do my best to bring the wonderful views right to you.

You can find out more about this project and others in the works at http://www.santabarbaracourthouse.org/

-Bill Heller

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Saturdays with Seibert: Full Moonrise

Local Views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

Tuesday evening a full moon rose over the harbor teeming with activity.  Surfers caught waves at Sand Spit, SUP’s and kayakers enjoyed the very warm weather & waves rolling into the harbor.  One guy even went for a paddle and took his dog.

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EcoFacts: Lighting the Way

Weekly Column by Barbara Hirsch

blauwe_ledNobel prizes were awarded this week to the inventors of blue LEDs, including Shuji Nakamura, a professor here at UCSB. You may ask what the significance is. Red and green LEDs were invented in the 60s. It took until the 90s for these fellows to create higher energy blue light from a light emitting diode, which, when combined with red and green form white, enabling multi colored and white lighting. Then came the screen technology we use daily in our phones, computers, tvs, etc.. and, those LED lightbulbs, which are even more efficient than CFL bulbs, don’t have any mercury in them, and can last for decades.

The costs of these bulbs, like the screens that proceeded them, have been dropping, making them more economically viable for us, but also for those who have been previously without any form of electric light. Using so much less power, they can easily be powered by solar.

I have been enjoying a small lightweight solar powered LED lamp for my work, and lights for my bike. I don’t need to buy batteries for them and the bulbs will last for thousands of hours. But think of what these devices can do for people who have been using kerosene lamps, buying the kerosene and breathing the fumes. A third of all people have either no or limited access to electricity. LED technology is a boon in these regions, as it is for everyone.

If all lighting in the U.S. was replaced with LED forms, electricity consumption would drop 20%, the amount produced by nuclear power plants, or by half of all coal used today.

The timing of this Nobel is pretty cool, too. This year, old fashioned incandescent bulbs of the 40 and 60 watt variety will no longer be manufactured, following the demise of the 100 and 75 watt varieties. I miss that light a bit, but its time has clearly passed. For beautiful warm light, we’ll just have to go outside.

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Save the Gator Boy

The unapproved mural on the side of Cajun Kitchen in downtown Santa Barbara has locals rallying to save the mural via a social media campaign, #savethegatorboy!

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Vintage Views of Santa Barbara, California

Can any Viewers recognize these old eateries, the location and/or date? Answers below

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Nite Owl at 530 State St. and the Rice Bowl Cafe at 532 State St. as seen in 1980.

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The Dodgers of Santa Barbara

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150It was already bad enough that loyal Dodgers fans could only watch a handful of games this season, due to the failure of Time Warner to negotiate acceptable prices with cable and satellite providers. Cox in Santa Barbara, it should be noticed, didn’t even carry the final six regular season games that were finally allowed the right to broadcast by an Orange County station.

Heck, we could hardly even hear the legendary Vin Scully call the games on radio, since the Ventura station has a tendency to drift once the sun goes down. And we die-hard fans were stunned, unable to watch two Dodgers’ no-hitters in a season that seemed to offer so much promise.

We consoled ourselves: At least we could watch the playoff games—except the exciting Dodger win on Saturday night, carried only on MLB Network. And the idea of making it all the way to the World Series this year almost made the long blackout worth it.

So it was particularly sad to see the Boys in Blue strike out in the first round of the National League Division Series, losing to the St. Louis Cardinals. Again.

That refrain of “wait until next year” is getting old. But Dodgers fans, especially those is Santa Barbara, have high hopes and long memories. For nearly three decades, from the 1940s through the 1960s, Santa Barbara was home to Dodgers’-affiliated minor league teams.

That classic old 6-acre, WPA-built major league-sized ballfield at Laguna Park was home to the Brooklyn Dodgers’ farm team, the Saints. Play was suspended during World War II, but began again in 1946, with the debut of the Santa Barbara Dodgers, a strong team in the California League.

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Laguna Ball Field Circa 1940

The relationship between Santa Barbara and the Dodgers continued after the team moved west, until 1967, when management announced that the Dodgers had lost $100,000 on the team that was drawing tiny crowds, so they moved to the always-more-affordable Bakersfield.

And as has been noted here before, the old ballpark didn’t last much longer. It was demolished in 1970 to make way for a parking lot for city buses. It was an unceremonious end to America’s game in Santa Barbara, by way of a historic team.

But baseball fans in this town are getting used to it. In fact, Santa Barbara was once home to Ernest Thayer, after he wrote “Casey At the Bat.” The classic American poem ends, much like the Dodgers’ season:

“Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,

And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;

But there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Casey has struck out.”

Wait until next year.

Santa Barbara Dodgers

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Two Years of the Santa Barbara Sentinel

sentinelThis week marks the two-year anniversary of the Santa Barbara Sentinel. The publication debuted October 5-12, 2012.

The “conversation paper” launched with 24 pages, including a spread provided by Santa Barbara View. Two years later, the Sentinel is a bi-weekly publication with twice the page count and a growing advertising base. You will also find multiple articles every issue by Cheri Rae and Sharon Byrne.

From all of us at Santa Barbara View, congratulations and happy anniversary!

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Re: El Encanto Parking Woes/ Progress

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I’m writing on behalf of Belmond El Encanto, as we’d like to offer a response to the article “Saturdays with Seibert: El Encanto Parking Woes/ Progress”

We’d like to start by graciously thanking Daniel for highlighting Belmond El Encanto’s recent improvements in managing our employee parking and rectifying a complaint that has existed for decades. The managerial team has implemented a very thorough transportation program for Belmond El Encanto associates and will continue comprehensive street monitoring and patrolling to ensure that employees remain compliant with our commitment to our neighbors and city.

With regards to the perimeter of the property, we were very disappointed to see Daniel’s critical commentary. He is correct that Belmond El Encanto is being very mindful of water conservation, thus allocating our precious resources judiciously. With that said, most guests continue to praise our 7-acres of garden landscaping, from the drought resistant plantings to the lush pathways and arbor and lily pond. The team is disappointed that his view is that our landscaping is “sad” and that “it’s obvious nobody seems to care,” this which is simply is not the case. Belmond El Encanto is compliant with city water usage mandates and is doing the very best we can to maintain the integrity of our grounds during this severe drought.

If you could please publish this response on our behalf, we would be most appreciative.

Sincerely,
Ty Bentsen
Managing Director | THE BRANDMAN AGENCY
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Under The Overbearing City

By Sharon Byrne

City_SealI’ve spent a lot of time with the city lately. There were a few bright moments, like SBPD / Public Works/ Caltrans hyper-fast response on an encampment, and the bust of the RV meth and prostitution ring near the Nopalitos Way Post Office – great work from SBPD. The Architectural Board of Review went for the Yes We Can! Project, so we’re about to start turning our trash cans into art projects.

But other experiences… rankle. Sometimes, the city and its advisory boards can take on Dark Overlord tendencies. Like the way an irritated TSA agent can hold you from making your flight, sometimes government over-reach becomes over-bearing. Anyone who has ever tried to get anything through the city’s planning process can relate.

Attempting to navigate the city’s process for getting special event banners on Milpas:

“Banners are illegal. Not allowed. Besides, we don’t feel this artwork represents the newly emerging identity of the Milpas area.”

-       Sign Committee to the team responsible for the newly emerging identity of the Milpas area.

At the same hearing:

“Why don’t you do flags on poles, like they do on State St?”

Because the city doesn’t invest money on Milpas like they do on State St? Someone has to pay for those flagpoles and flags.

Oh, guess that would be us.

We suspect that drivers attempting to read small flags posted under a large tree canopy on the far side of a 5-lane road while driving 30 mph in traffic will generate accidents. Lots of them.

Sign Committee retort:

Well overhead signs (banners) would cause way more accidents…

Apparently Caltrans is just a bunch of fools then because they post highway signs overhead, rather than on cute little flags with inscrutable art by the side of the freeway.

The Taste of Milpas

“Wow. You did all this with just businesses and non-profits? That’s amazing! What did your city do to help you?”

-Neighborhoods USA judges, during the Neighborhood of the Year competition in Eugene, OR. We competed against several city neighborhood departments that have implemented amazing programs in their communities.

What did our city do to help make the Taste of Milpas a success?

Cue the crickets.

Wait…. The city hung our Taste banner last year, and that was a big shot in the arm for the community. This year, we can’t get through the city’s planning process to do same. Though the city allows banners for some of its parks and rec programs.

And the beat cops came through. They made darned sure Milpas was clear of problems during the Taste, and they brought hordes of wonderful PAL and Explorers teens with them to volunteer.

What happened those community beat cops? Gone. This is how it unfolded:

  1. “I’ve been reassigned. Wojo is now your beat officer until the end of the year.” Officer Gutierrez
  2. “I am actually the director for PAL right now…” Officer Wojo
  3. “Officer Reyes will be filling in on the Eastside.” Sgt. Harwood. Officer Reyes is the Westside Beat Officer. So now he’s covering an area formerly covered by 3 officers? Hope he’s taking his vitamins!
  4. Chief Sanchez to City Council: “We’re working on making some new hires, one of whom will help fill the coordinator space. We’re getting there, and we hope to get back to the four (beat coordinators).”

Cue Judy Garland singing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. Doncha’ love how the community is the last one to find out their community police are gone? Well, technically, the City Council was the last to know.

Curious: Why is State St getting $150,000 of taxpayer money for rent-a-cops while we lose community-based policing?

Permits for the Taste of Milpas:

CA Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC):

The area needs to be enclosed and fenced with ID checks for alcohol sales. Hire security guards.

SBPD:

Everything ABC said, and put out trash bins. Your stage might need a building permit. (be very afraid)

SBFD:

“Required: a fire lane 20 ft wide to be able to close off the Ortega dead-end.

That dead-end is about 30 ft wide. Losing 20 ft would make it quite the skinny venue. No one over 1 ft wide admitted? Fire backed off this requirement as long as we could meet this one:

A gate at the back needs to be opened, and manned during the event in case people need to get out during emergency.

Conflicting direction from that given by SBPD and ABC.

Public Works:

Pay $155 for temporary no-parking signs you post. Rent and set up your own traffic control equipment.

SBFD: You also need to post 2A10BC (size) fire extinguishers every 75 feet on the block.

Aaaarrrghhhh!!!!!

I know the city has to protect itself, and make sure we don’t do crazy stuff like put on pyrotechnic festivals in drought-parched shrubbery fields. I get it. Some city employees are quite helpful, while rolling their eyes over the increasingly onerous regulations. I wish the city put more thought into their value-add, but ultimately, the city has every businessperson’s fantasy: an absolute, ironclad monopoly.

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Bicycling Basics: Rules of the Road

Video submission by a loyal Viewer wit the note: “On your web site, I read a lot about drivers complaining about bicyclists and vice versa. As a daily bike rider, a frequently complain about both. I thought this video was well done, informative and pretty much aligns with my bike riding strategy. Santa Barbara is a great town, and it would be even greater if we all could get along and show each other some courtesy.”

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Community Conversation on Streets, Parks & Facilities

City_SealReminder: Today at the Santa Barbara Central Library, Faulkner Gallery at 5:30 PM, the Santa Barbara City Council is hosting public workshop to talk about out street, parks and facilities. The workshop will include a 25-minute presentation that covers the current condition of our streets, sidewalks, parks, recreation facilities, libraries, community centers, and police and fire stations.You will then have the opportunity to share ideas with the City Council on upgrading and modernizing our community facilities.

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Butterfly Beach Wedding

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

Butterfly Beach Wedding
Not long ago I was out at one of my favorite spots trying out a new lens. This beautiful Cypress tree watches over all the weddings and dog walks, and people just enjoying this beautiful stretch of the California Coast called Butterfly Beach. And on this particular day, he just happened to be watching over a newlywed couple enjoying the first moments of their marrage down below on the beach. One of countless amazing moments this wonderful tree has witnessed I’m sure.

As for the lens, if you’re interested. A while ago Canon replaced the 15mm fish-eye that I love with a zoom lens. An 8mm-15mm fish-eye. This circular picture is what results from the 8mm end on a full frame camera, which when used sparingly in the right situation can give a beautiful and unique point of view. -Bill Heller

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EcoFacts: Musings…

Weekly column by Barbara Hirsch

It is not a facts day. I’ve been thinking about “connection”, and how the uses of this word have evolved in recent history, and in my own….

I ride my bike and walk quite a bit and so very often I connect with people on the street whom I know, but frequently also with strangers. A hello and smile from a stranger always gives me a big lift, and it happens quite often, this warmth and very real connection in the human community and in my own. I also connect with people’s pets, yards, flowers (yes, their scents) trees, fleeting bits of conversations as people walk by. I feel the weather, changes in the light and breeze, clouds passing. I am closer to the community or “the land” even if it is the suburban or urban version of the romantic ideal.

This rarely happens when one is driving a car, at least in an urban environment. It is one reason I think, why drivers so often have little patience with bikes and pedestrians. There is little empathy there, as they are in an entirely different world, their own encapsulated world, windows rolled up, radio playing, and that possibly not-felt-enough tremendous power and heft of the vehicle that one is controlling is hopefully the main focus. And so easy it is to lose sight of the scope of the awesome responsibility that is ours in driving them. I realize that drivers do connect with other drivers in order to negotiate the roads – the vehicular community.

My sister once suggested that as buildings grew taller, people lost more connection with the environment. Imagine the difference between living in an apartment on the 3rd (or 23rd) floor and living in a small house with a large patio or lanai. Same with cars. As they got bigger and faster and fuel cheaper, they enveloped us, further isolating us from subtle sounds and smells, the pleasures of observation that require slowness in our experience.

People are connecting with an addictive fervor via social media Facebook, twitter, etc and by texting. Some are talking on their cell phones, but even that audio is so poor, it means much less of a real connection is had between the two talking than landline phones afford. Inflections and tone – at least – are lost, words or phrases even.

I wonder when this pendulum will change direction. In the U.S. there seems to be more of an interest in pedestrian infrastructures, farmer’s markets, community happenings, local economies. How is that connected to further exploration of virtual realities and cyber connections in the human experience? Will kids ever being playing outdoors more than with their screens again? Will the outdoors be a fit place for them?

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Saturdays with Seibert: El Encanto Parking Woes/ Progress

Local views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

I saw something this week that I have not seen before.  In the decades that I have lived here, including the one I when I worked at El Encanto I have never seen these three parking spots empty.  The location is upper Orpet park at the intersection of Lasuen & Alvarado streets.  Being right across the street from the hotel is was used by hotel employees starting at sunrise everyday.  The signs say, “No Parking from 10pm to Sunrise.” The issues were reported by Joshua Molina recently on Noozhawk.
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