I Am Voting for Measure P for the Following Eleven Reasons:

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I am voting for Measure P for the following reasons:

1. Measure P is about protecting our groundwater from oil industry contamination by banning Fracking and Acidification processes that mix massive amounts of clean water with hydrofluoric acid and other Fracking chemicals, injecting them into the ground under tremendous pressure creating huge amounts of toxic wastewater also disposed of by injection underground.

2. In July, 2014 California’s Oil & Gas regulators shut down 11 oil field wastewater injection wells because of suspected groundwater contamination. There are over 2,500 toxic wastewater injection wells throughout California, including one just off the Santa Barbara coast.

3. A September 15, 2014 letter from the State Water Board to the EPA confirmed toxic wastewater from oil and gas operations has been illegally injected into aquifers that supply drinking and irrigation water in the central valley. That water source is now polluted and forever unusable.

4. This is the tip of the iceberg with investigations into groundwater contamination just beginning. If Fracking & Acidification practices expand as envisioned by the Oil Industry, there will need to be thousands more wastewater disposal wells. Regulators have allowed disposal of toxic wastewater underground without monitoring fostering Industry claims that these technologies are non-polluting; claims now proven false.

5. In August, 2014, after years of denial under Gas Industry pressure, the State of Pennsylvania finally acknowledged that hundreds of private drinking water wells have been contaminated by Extreme oil and gas operations.

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Ballot Initiatives This Election: Surprisingly (Or Not) Unpalatable

By Sharon Byrne

ballot-measureCalifornia offers ballot initiatives as a route to direct democracy, and it is one of the things I both love and hate about this state. I love it because it gives voters a chance to enact legislation should their legislators prove too squeamish or self-interested to do their jobs. I am thinking of 2010’s Prop 20 to redraw state and congressional district lines using a non-partisan citizens’ commission, as that exercise was counter to sitting elected officials’ interest in being able to pick their voters and thus stay elected.

On the flip side, ballot initiatives can be complicated, heavy-handed, and deceptive. Prop 63 in 2004 promised acute care for the most severely mentally ill. Billions of dollars later, it’s funding conferences and glossy brochures, while mentally ill homeless individuals roam the streets. The Compassionate Use Act fooled many Californians into thinking they were allowing dying cancer patients to use marijuana for pain relief. They had no idea they were passing a toe-hold to drug legalization.

So I hesitate with ballot initiatives. I want to know who’s funding them, who wrote them, where they came from and what they really do. Succinct information is surprisingly hard to come by. We get deluged with hyperbole by the “yes” and “no” camps, but it is a hard sell to the average voter to make a careful, thoughtful analysis that takes in all the nuances on a given initiative. If facing multiple ballot initiatives…well, it might be easier mentally to just throw in the towel.

This election, we have a couple of initiatives that sound great, but give pause – S and P. Let’s deal with S first.

Full disclosure: I am the parent of a child that attends SBCC as a dual-enrollment student through the Santa Barbara High School. My daughter has taken classes at SBCC since the 8th grade. I am a huge fan of that program. I live next door to an SBCC student, and another lives behind me. These 3 kids grew up here.

Over the past 4 years, longtime Latino families have moved out of this neighborhood as rents have risen. Those homes now host SBCC kids, and I’ve met several of them over time. Late-nite parties have necessitated those meetings. These kids are all Euros or Brazilians. I often hear German, French, Portuguese and Swedish spoken on a street that used to host mostly Spanish speakers.

Someone posted photos on the Santa Barbara View recently of all the foreign co-eds now living in the lower Westside, another neighborhood that used to be dominated by Latino families.

I’ve heard the official numbers for foreign enrollment at SBCC, but it doesn’t jive with what I see in the community. And the rental squeeze is definitely on. These kids are living 8-10 to a house that formerly housed 8-10 Spanish-speakers, but I guess the college kids pay much higher dollar.

When SBCC proposed Measure S, I internally balked before I’d even heard much about it. The fallout from Deltopia, the takeover of parts of downtown causing the rental squeeze, the partying, trashing and dumping in neighborhoods by SBCC students – things are seriously out of balance between SBCC and the community. Forcing homeowners to pay the school more money to serve an increasingly foreign population – no. I particularly don’t like the college’s answer for the problems of poor student treatment of neighborhoods:

“Once they’re off campus, they’re not our responsibility.”

Not so. Many college towns in this country have successfully pushed campus administrations to significantly improve student behavior in the community. That’s responsible citizenship, and college administrations should be first in line to demonstrate that quality. After all, they’re educating our future citizenry.

As it stands, I don’t feel there’s enough ‘city’ focus at SBCC, so I won’t be voting for S.

Measure P has a similar hesitation factor for me. Fracking Ban? Sign me up. That was easy. There’s simply too much data now about fracking harms that you ought to be very wary when it turns up at your doorstep. But Measure P keeps getting undressed as a huge overreach. The county liability factor with vested rights and existing wells just keeps swirling. This seems to be a Get Oil Out Initiative, which is fine. Just say that’s what you’re up to. Don’t dress it up as one thing, when what you want to do is something else entirely. For many in the campaign industry, that’s good business. Say whatever you have to in order to get the win. Secure the toe-hold. Push for as much as you can. Initiatives are time-consuming and expensive for those wagering them. So initiatives like these ‘aim for the moon’.

For the voters, though, the feeling of being duped leaves a very sour taste, and diminishes our willingness to embrace future ballot initiatives, good and bad. Ultimately yesterday and today’s ballot initiative proponents are screwing future proponents by generating increasing voter scrutiny and distrust, so overreach and masking is really not smart long-term politics. It just makes it easier for voters to say no.

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(Cough) Déjà-vu All Over Again (Cough, Cough)

by Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150A decade ago, my healthy, strong second-grade son contracted pertussis, aka whooping cough. He had been fully immunized against this bacterial disease, but he got it anyway. Of all the childhood colds and flus, aches and pains, accidents and infections, the bout with whooping cough was by far the worst—and the after-effects went on forever.

In all the heated discussion about vaccines and anti-vaccines, here’s a little light: No one hears about the broken ribs, the weakened immune systems, the damaged bronchial tubes, the lost stamina, the time away from school. The amount of time it takes to fully heal.

Because his bronchial tubes were so damaged from the weeks that turned into months of coughing spasms, my son was left with “reactive airway disease,” and was under the care of our community’s asthma guru, Dr. Liebhaber. For four years he had an inhaler, one at home, one at school. He took Advair and Singulair, and sometimes, when his breathing was bad, he had to take doses of Prednisone. The humidifier was our best friend; dry, hot weather our worst enemy. During the ashy, particulate-filled days of the Tea, Zaca and Jesusita fires, he had to leave town.

There were ugly side effects to the powerful drugs, but he needed them to get better.

It was a long, tough journey back, and now that strapping high school senior is a picture of good health.

But here come the news reports that vaccine-preventable whooping cough is back in Santa Barbara. A disease that was nearly eradicated nationwide has taken hold across the state and far beyond—and there have been a few additional breakouts in town in the past 10 years.

I’ve been keeping track because it was such an unexpected and traumatic upheaval in our lives, that included a period when our family was quarantined in our home. I researched whooping cough. Wrote about it. Spoke out about it years ago on the “Today Show” and just last year I flew across the country to appear on a medical show on Public Television called “Second Opinion.” In short, I know more about whooping cough than any parent ought to.

In the past 10 years, a few things have changed: The FDA approved a booster shot for whooping cough, and it’s supposed to be given to every incoming high school student. But now, more parents have learned about “Personal Belief waivers” and have declined to immunize their children.

Despite widespread scientific evidence debunking the link between autism and vaccines the myth continues out of the mouths of politicians and celebrities and internet anti-vaxx “experts.” And we also know that the concept of herd immunity requires individuals to take responsibility for public health, and collectively vaccinate—to protect our own children and the community at large.

But still incidence of this awful disease keeps rising. And it is awful long after the 100 days of coughing finally subside.

These new cases of whooping cough will once again raise the voices of the organic, holistic, homeopathic-for-everything, believers in the notion that thinking positive thoughts and lots of fresh air and sunshine will keep the negative things in life away. They won’t want to listen to the fact that Bordetella pertussis is one highly communicable and very nasty germ that attacks anyway, no matter how pure your diet or your thoughts. And unless and until we change our thinking, and our actions, now that it’s taken hold again, it’s never going away.

Editor’s Note: A healthy herd immunity rate is around 95 percent. Waldorf is hardly the only school that has had an outbreak of whooping cough in recent years. Plenty of other public and private schools have had them as well. A Look up the immunization rate at your child’s school: http://www.shotsforschool.org/child-care/how-doing/

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Ban the Boom: Yes on P

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Editor,

This may only resonate for those of a certain age, but when you come right down to it, Measure P might rightly adopt the slogan, “Ban The Boom.”

Measure P is Santa Barbara County’s last best chance to prevent an oil industry boom unlike anything we have ever seen in this region, which would explain why Big Oil is funding the opposition campaign to the tune of 5 million dollars.

Today, there are around 1,200 operating wells in the County. Based on their statements in the business press, two companies alone are planning on nearly ten thousand more.

All of the thousands of new wells they hope to drill would use one or more of the high-intensity techniques that Measure P prohibits: Hydraulic Fracturing, Steam Injection and Acidization. What these all have in common is extravagant water consumption, polluted wastewater, high pressure injection, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and hazard to our water supplies from the inherent risk of spills and accidents.

Don’t let Santa Barbara County be bought by Big Oil. Keep our production of oil, and oil jobs, and oil property tax revenues, at the modest level they currently represent.

Measure P made the ballot because the people of Santa Barbara County don’t want hazardous chemicals injected into the ground below our feet. We don’t want toxic vapors wafting over our vegetables and school yards. We don’t want our groundwater supplies put in jeopardy, especially in a time of extreme drought. And, finally, we don’t want our beautiful Santa Barbara County to look like the oil fields of North Dakota.

Ban the Boom, and Vote Yes on P!

Jim Taylor
Carpinteria CA 93013

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Sign of the Times in Santa Barbara, California

An exaggerated, hand-carved sign for the Housing Authority building.
Housing Authority

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Last Day to Register to Vote: October 20

polls_vote_countsToday is the last day for Californians to register to vote in order to weigh in on November 4 General Election ballot. Mailed registration forms must be postmarked by Monday, October 20. A person must re-register to vote after moving, changing names or changing political party preference.

Eligible Californians can register online until 11:59 p.m. today. Paper applications are available at local libraries, post offices, California Department of Motor Vehicles offices, and other government offices.

Registering to vote is one of the easiest and most important things you can do in a democracy,” said Secretary Bowen, California’s chief elections official. “Don’t give up your voice by not voting. Register by October 20 so that you can weigh in on proposed changes to our laws and decide who leads our government.”

The Secretary of State offers Californians a convenient web portal for checking their own voter registration status at www.sos.ca.gov/elections/registration-status.

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Night Fishing at the Harbor

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
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On warm days I like to take a walk out the breakwater at the Santa Barbara Harbor. It’s always cooler out there and any time of day it’s a beautiful walk. At sunset, and just after, it’s absolutely magical. This evening I was enjoying the beautiful view of the last colors of the setting sun in the company of an amazing Great Blue Heron (in the center at the edge of the water). Of course I think he was more interested in the fishing than the sunset, but we were both happy to patently stand there and take in the wonderful evening.

-Bill Heller

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Saturdays with Seibert

Local Views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

I saw the news reports of the people getting hit by a train and thought it sad. I have been on that bridge many times in the past 25 years as it’s a beautiful location. Not just the railroad trestle but the abandoned 101 bridge, wonderful backdrops for photographers.

The first few photos are from 1988, and I’m in the middle with my back to the camera. The rest are from February 2010 when I took a friend up for the sunrise. Very cold and very beautiful.

I understand why those young people walked out on the trestle last week.

on dead bird beach
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Dead bird bridge 88
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EcoFacts: Frack Away?

Weekly column by Barbara Hirsch

No-fracking-logoSteadily increasing attention on fracking, and regulation thereof, can ONLY be a good thing. This “less conventional” method and associated ones for extracting oil and natural gas was employed for many years with little notice. In the last 15 years, the amount of gas obtained here in the U.S. from fracking has gone from 1% to 25%, much higher by some estimates. Of oil, the increase has been similarly astronomic. The coming election will see initiatives around the country to regulate these methods, including Measure P in Santa Barbara.

Arguments in favor of these methods are energy independence and jobs/economy. However, the funders of the campaigns for fracking are primarily oil/energy companies, not citizens. it is clear that profits are the first and foremost argument in favor, unless you believe these companies are working above all for the greater good.

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Milpas on the Move – Autumnal Happenings

Weekly column by Sharon Byrne

It’s cooling down from the desert-inferno temps of a couple of weeks ago. The days are getting shorter. The kids are back in school. Pumpkin is the new black. My mail-in ballot is sulking on my counter, awaiting my attention.

And all of that can only mean one thing:

It’s Autumn, my favorite time of year, and a time of fun family-friendly events. Coming up first is the McTeacher Night at the Milpas McDonald’s. On October 20th, starting at 5 PM, Franklin Elementary will be hosting families as a fundraiser. The following day, on October 21st, Notre Dame School families will take it over. This is a cool fundraiser concept: the teachers work as restaurant ‘staff’, the families all come out for dinner, and a portion of the night’s proceeds go to the school. Franklin has had a long, warm relationship with the Milpas McDonald’s, thanks primarily to an amazing principal in Casie Kilgore. The parent-level participation at Franklin has grown in spades under her leadership. Franklin’s McTeacher night tends to be the biggest in the city, according to McDonald’s managers, a testament to the support for this school in the neighborhood.

The Eastside Gets A “Y”: A new YMCA is opening in the home of the old Primo Boxing at Haley and Quarantina. The grand opening is October 20th from 1-6 PM. Memberships are expected to be very affordable, as the facility is catering to the immediate area. They’ll have fitness classes and equipment onsite. The YMCA is also looking to coordinate youth sports leagues at the nearby Ortega Park. As we learned from the Milpas Healthy Community Initiative this summer, families in the area are hungry for health and fitness resources, so the timing of the arrival of the “Y” is perfect!
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And now for some OUTDOOR fun and exercise for the whole family: Open Streets returns October 25th 10 AM to 4 PM. Get your bike, skateboard, roller blades and walking shoes and come out to have fun while you exercise. This year features a 5k “Run Wild” from the zoo, and more activities and vendors.

The 2.2 mile route runs along Cabrillo from the Bird Refuge to Anacapa St, and is closed to traffic so as to make maximum use of the open street for fitness and fun. They’re looking for additional volunteers, so if you’re interested go here.  Incentive: they have a post-party after the event to celebrate! The event is produced by COAST – the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation.

SBOS_volunteer_trio[1]The Milpas Halloween Trick or Treat: 2-5 PM on Halloween. Send your trick-or-treaters, because we do it up on Milpas! The merchants love giving out candy, Alpha Thrift puts up great decorations, and the great crew from the Don’s Riders at Santa Barbara High School love taking over the lot next to Super Rica to greet the little Halloweeners on the route. We need volunteers to blow up balloons and place them along the route, and also to help families across the crosswalks, so if you’re interested, email info@mcasb.org.

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City of Santa Barbara Launches an Online Financial Transparency Tool

toolThe City of Santa Barbara has released an interactive, web-based financial transparency tool, here. Powered by OpenGov,this tool provides user-friendly access to the City’s financial data. The Viewer who sent this over adds, “I don’t know how the budget was presented before this neat-o cool-o graphic, but I think it used to contain line item expenditures, not just pretty bars.”

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Could the Drought Save Santa Barbara, California from Development?

overdIncluded in the most recent Plan Santa Barbara report were growth assumptions of approximately 2,800 new residential units and 2 million square feet of nonresidential development within City limits over the 20-year period. This additional growth was estimated to increase long-term citywide water demand by 5.5% by the year 2030. However, due to the drought, the City Council was forced to discuss suspension of projects that would add any new demand to the system.

On Tuesday, the City Council was torn on the recommended drought-related development restrictions which read… “during severe drought, extraordinary conservation is required of existing users, and demand from new development is a concern when existing customers are required to significantly cut back on water usage. This can also be a public perception issue with regard to the seriousness of the water shortage because all new demand adds to the problem, regardless of the amount. It is also important to balance the need for water conservation through possible restrictions on new development with a desire to not unduly impact an important sector of the local economy that have already been struggling for the past five years.”

City staff concluded that “the drought, while currently severe, is likely a temporary situation, and looking at the City’s water supplies long term, there is enough water to serve the new development anticipated by the General Plan. Suspending new development has economic ramifications that vary based on when in the process the project must be halted.” Mayor Helene Schneider asked the staff to present a list of alternative options before bringing back the discussion of restricting development.

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Water Waste/Water Wise

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150The drought is never far from our minds, and certainly not out of sight, here in parched Santa Barbara. Our lawns are long-gone, native plants are drying out, specimen trees are giving up, and even succulents are drooping. It’s been a long time since the dolphins in the landmark fountain have been splashed with water.

Governor Brown might have declared a water emergency for all the state, but from what I’ve seen lately, not everyone is paying much attention at all.

I often visit relatives in Orange County, and as far as I can tell, no one notices there’s a drought there, where sprinklers flow and gardens grow lush and green just miles from the Happiest Place on Earth.

WESTLAKEThis past weekend, I had lunch with friends who live in LA at our halfway point, Westlake Village. We met at a restaurant where, apparently there is no worries about the drought there, either. At this faux Tuscan villa, complete with a well-tended vineyard, the fountains are flowing, the misters are misting, even on just a day that didn’t get past the 80s.

While the drought is certainly statewide issue, it’s obviously a matter of politics and community awareness in the ways it’s approached. Some, apparently unconcerned about the drought, hold onto the unforgettable words uttered by William Mullholland when he opened the California Aqueduct in 1913, “There it is. Take it.”

And they just keep on taking with little thought of where it comes from. Or who else might be affected.

Here on the Central Coast, we don’t exactly have the luxury of ignoring water worries, as my friend pointed out. She is a professor of California History at a state university—someone who understands well the history of Water Wars in the Golden State. As she and her husband contemplate retirement some years from now, access to water is one of their main considerations. Last time we talked, they were still thinking about relocating to the Santa Barbara area as a retirement destination, but not anymore.

“Let’s face it,” she reminded me, “The Central Coast is one of the most vulnerable spots in all of California when it comes to water.” All we have to do is look at Lake Cachuma, and it becomes pretty obvious—there isn’t much left around here. And re-furbishing the long-mothballed and virtually unused desal plant raises all kinds of environmental and economic questions for residents and potential ones.

During our ladies’ lunch we also touched on drought-emergency craziness of growing alfalfa and cotton in our state; a huge corporation like Nestle’s pumping aquifers in the desert to sell bottled water; and losing our cool over the wet misters spraying right above our heads.

Which got me to thinking, on the drive home, about the number of visitors who travel from those water-wasting communities to Santa Barbara, where our local residents scrimp and sacrifice to cut our water usage. I hope they’re not bringing that Mulholland philosophy of “There it is. Take it,” right here with them.

But I bet they are. They come here on vacation, after all. And there’s a certain feeling of entitlement that comes with that.

At this point, it’s not about the cost; it’s about our collective ability to adapt to the reality of a (very) limited and rapidly dwindling essential resource. Once again, we’re reminded of the dubious notion of packing people into Santa Barbara with a limited carrying capacity and rainfall nowhere in sight.

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Santa Barbara View Poll Question of the Week

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On the Docket… Cajun Kitchen’s Gator Boy Mural

Today, the Santa Barbara City Council will discuss and consider the mural installation on the side of Cajun Kitchen in downtown Santa Barbara (Chapala and West Canon Perdido Streets) which is known locally at Gator Boy. The Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC) voted 5/1 to approve the mural but conditioned it for only one year after it was found to be unacceptable as permanent art for the location. The City Council will hear the appeal filed by restaurant business owner, Juan Jimenez.

The Santa Barbara City Council is expected to side with the HLC. According to the Agenda… “In granting a one-year time limit, the Commission compared the art mural to the most recent mural approved on lower State Street as a temporary mural installed on the south elevation of the Hotel Indigo. In contrast, that State Street art mural was sponsored by the Museum of Contemporary Art as a temporary exhibit, by a nationally renowned artist, does not serve as advertisement for a business, and was reviewed by the Visual Art in Public Places Committee (VAPP).”
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“The HLC was opposed to allowing the as-built mural to permanently remain in its current design and cited several reasons why the mural could not be approved as painted. It was noted that, while it is appreciated as an expression of art, it is not an appropriate permanent improvement located within El Pueblo Viejo (EPV). The Commission indicated that one method to gather support and get a mural installation approved is to go through the public art review process.”

“Staff is of the opinion that the painted “gatorboy” mural can be considered a logo sign advertisement that speaks more to the type of business that is being conducted within the building. The HLC does not typically accept or allow after-the-fact exterior alterations to buildings, especially if they believe the alterations are inconsistent with their EPV Design Guidelines. The HLC prefers to have some initial input on location, size and type of art exhibit that is proposed for permanent placement within EPV, especially if the art has not been vetted or reviewed by (VAPP).”

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