Santa Barbara Breakwater Twilight

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

Santa Barbara Breakwater Twilight

Walking along the Santa Barbara Harbor breakwater at sunset, the perfect end to a warm day. -Bill Heller

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EcoFacts; What We Drink, Part 1‏

Weekly Column by Barbara Hirsch

Okay, to state the obvious: Every living thing needs water to survive, every drink that touches our lips, every bite that enters our mouths, every thing we encounter and use, every day. Our current drought is forcing us to rethink how we use it – how much fresh water goes down the drain, for example. And this drought won’t be the last one, so things will have to change. Our daily use, yes, but those farmers, city planners and manufacturers, will they be able to implement new and better ways of doing old things?

A town in Orange County has the largest water recycling facility in the world, turning residential waste water into potable water – “toilet to tap” as they say. It costs less than importing water and half of what desalination costs. More of this to come, for sure.

A recent statewide analysis coauthored by a UCSB professor shows how tremendous water savings could be employed in California amounting to 14 million acre feet* per year “improved efficiency in agricultural and urban water use, water reuse and recycling, and increased capturing of local rainwater.” California has the world’s 9th largest agricultural economy. 80% of our water is used in agriculture. The state water deficit is at least 6 million acre feet, and according to this report, about that same amount could be saved with different irrigation practices, such as drip. Not something that will happen overnight.

The below infographic says it all, a glimpse at our possible water future.(click to enlarge)
PS: And here is an interview with the woman who was responsible for
hydrating Las Vegas for years.
* An acre foot is a third of a million gallons, or 436 hcfs, the household unit we are billed by, a hundred cubic feet = 748 gallons.

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Saturdays with Seibert

Local Views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

The Floss Silk trees are raining down pink petals this time of year.  This block is in west beach. – Dan

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Sal’s Pizza: An American Story on the Eastside

Milpas on the Move by Sharon Byrne, featured in the Santa Barbara Sentinel

salIf you’re looking to try some authentic Italian pizza with terrific ingredients, stop in and see Sal. Across from the iconic cow on Milpas, Sal’s is celebrating 10 years in business. “It’s been a roller coaster at times, but you have to roll with the changes,” Sal grins. As the only Italian eatery on Milpas’ Eat Street, he is sitting quite comfortably in his own niche.

Sal arrived in Santa Barbara 28 years ago from Mexico. He’s a Salvador, but acts more like a Salvatore. Various cooking jobs brought him into contact with an Italian chef in Montecito, where Sal discovered a love of Italian food, and found his inner genius. Mexican guy becomes American and cooks Italian – a truly American story.

One of the lures of Sal’s is the array of fresh ingredients at the disposal of the modern pizza constructionist: fresh basil, roasted red pepper, eggplant, artichoke hearts, and gorgonzola, to name a few. Crusts are thin, the Italian way. “Thick crusts tend to bland out the pizza,” says Sal. “You want to taste the full flavor of the pizza, so keep it thin.”

For those that have spent time in the Northeastern US, the Pizza Bianca will be a welcome treat. Known as White Pizza from Boston to New Jersey, it’s made with Alfredo sauce. Sal’s Alfredo recipe was recently featured in Pizza Today, a pizza industry magazine.

sal2An Italian exchange student came in with a Swede once. Sal sees quite a bit of the international student traffic. The Swede asked the Italian, ‘what are you doing? You’re from Italy! Why eat here?’ The Italian said wistfully, “I am far from home. I just want to taste something like it.” He told Sal afterward that it was the best Italian pizza he’d had in Santa Barbara, and was quite close to what he ate in his small Italian hometown. Sal also sees a lot of English tourists (!). Apparently they tell each other where to go and what to eat when visiting Santa Barbara, and Sal’s is clearly on their hot list.

Popular dishes may raise some eyebrows, like the Cajun Chicken Fettuccini. Who doesn’t like a little Nawlin’s in your Italian, and more of that unique American penchant for mixing it all up in one big melting pot?

Sal has a reputation for being one of the nicest guys on Milpas. He’s long been involved in our community activities, and iss a strong supporter of efforts to revitalize the area. Like most of the Milpas merchants, he loves kids. Munching on one of his fabulous pies one day, I asked him about it. He’s got three wonderful kids and a wife helping in the business – it’s a true family enterprise. But why step up so much for the neighborhood?

He smiled as his eyes twinkled. “We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain in coming together as a community. How could I resist?”

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How Are You Cutting Back During the Drought?

photoThe City of Santa Barbara is not watering lawns and even live public art installations have gone dry. Succulents are pretty hardy and will likely come back, but it begets the question—how are you cutting back water usage during the drought?

We have heard all kinds of conservation ideas like keeping a bucket in the shower and reusing it on plants. Some others are very granola-headed… so here is a chance to share your stories and tips:

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Coexisting with Bicyclists, Motorists and Pedestrians… and Skateboarders

A week ago, we published the California Vehicle Codes that pertain to crosswalks following a two-day sting. With a police crackdown on skateboarders taking place this week in Santa Barbara, below is the related City Ordinance, Chapter 10.06:


Sections: 10.06.010

(a), PROHIBITION. No person shall ride a skateboard, roller skate, in-line skate or similar device upon any public street, or upon the following City sidewalks, City walkways, City boardwalks, or public ways owned or maintained by the City:

(1)Within the area of the downtown bounded by the following streets (including the perimeter streets): Sola Street on the north, Chapala Street on the west, Santa Barbara Street on the east and Cabrillo Boulevard on the south.
(2) The south sidewalk of Cabrillo Boulevard from Santa Barbara Street to Milpas Street.
(3) The sidewalks on either side of and along the entire length of Coast Village Road.
(4) On and along the following sidewalks, adjacent to the Santa Barbara Harbor: i) the sidewalks directly adjacent to the Harbor seawall, beginning at a point adjacent to the public launching ramps and extending to Harbor Way, and ii) the sidewalk along the southerly side of the Harbor beginning at the intersection with the sidewalk described in i) and continuing southerly and easterly to the most easterly point of the Breakwater.
(5) On the docks, floats and ramps in the Santa Barbara Harbor.
(6) Public parking facilities, public parking lots, or other public areas the entrances to which are posted with signs prohibiting skateboarding and roller skating.
(b) The Department of Public Works shall post appropriate signs as necessary to advise the public of the requirements of this Chapter.
(c) This Section shall not apply to any person skateboarding, in-line skating or roller skating on a public street while participating in an event that has been issued a special event permit by the Chief of Police specifically allowing skateboarding, in-line skating or roller skating on public streets. (Ord. 5159, 2000; Ord. 4954, 1996; Ord. 4910, 1995; Ord. 4622, 1990; Ord. 4439, 1986; Ord. 4133, 1982; Ord. 4016 §1, 1979; Ord. 3991, 1979.)

Continue Reading →

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Out & About: The Santa Barbara Courthouse

Out and About with SBGirl – Santa Barbara Courthouse

I grew up in Texas but I now call the beautiful beach town of Santa Barbara home. I’m going to be a tourist in my own town and I invite you to come out and about with me. If you have requests or suggestions of other Santa Barbara Views I should check out, please add them to the comments. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy!
IMG_0140The Santa Barbara Courthouse is arguably the most beautiful working government building in the United States. Not only is it home to Civil, Family Law, Juvenile, Probate, Appeals, Small Claims and Superior Court Administration, it is also a bastion for civic pride and celebration.

Occupying an entire city block, the Spanish Colonial Revival structure was built after the original, smaller Greek-Revival courthouse was damaged in the 1925 earthquake. The grounds contain a collection of palms and specimen trees from more than 25 countries and features the lovely Sunken Garden, built on the site of the original 1872 courthouse, where hundreds of special events and weddings take place every year.

IMG_0142Visitors can climb the stairs or ride an elevator to the 85-foot “El Mirador” clock tower for extraordinary 360 degree views of the city, coast and mountains. The Clock Room was recently lovingly restored by clock enthusiasts and historians who rebuilt one of few remaining Seth Thomas mechanically driven tower clocks and brought it back to its original glory. Other highlights of this impressive courthouse include the stunning Mural Room, boasting floor-to-ceiling Groesbeck murals depicting California’s early history, a glided and hand stenciled ceiling and 1,000 pound chandeliers, the “Spirit of the Ocean” fountain that was painstakingly hand carved from sandstone and replaced the original fountain that had been badly damaged from years of exposure, and striking tile and iron work throughout the building.

Docent lead tours occur daily (except Sunday) at 2pm beginning in the Mural Room and are free. Additional tours occur at 10:30am Monday, Tuesday and Friday. Special tours dates and times can be accommodated by request.

It’s not every day that a local courthouse is on the “must-see” list for tourists and locals alike, but in Santa Barbara it is! What’s your favorite part or memory of the Santa Barbara Courthouse?

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This Date in History: Santa Barbara’s First Mass

crespiOn this date in local history, Santa Barbara’s first Christian religious service was held on the site now known as Campanil Crespi. The white bell tower, left, on a glorious Santa Barbara hilltop was built to commemorate Fr. Juan Crespi’s first Mass during the Portola Expedition on August 20, 1769.

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An Appreciation: Neighbors, Favors and Unexpected Rewards

By Cheri Rae

A pleasant-looking young man stood on the old front porch and knocked at the screen door. He introduced himself and I braced for the come-on. Typically, it’s someone from Los Angeles trying to sell magazine subscriptions; someone collecting money for an environmental cause playing the guilt card by showing me the pledges of support my neighbors have made; or even someone with one of those overly complicated, cockamamie stories claiming to need money for gas to get to some faraway destination.

This time it was different.

He began his story: “My name is Ben and I live a few blocks from here, where there is street cleaning. I need to park my car someplace where it won’t get towed while I visit my parents in Portland for a couple of weeks. You guys don’t have street cleaning here, so I was thinking it would work out.”

“Okay,” I replied, wondering what the gimmick was. “When do you leave?”

“My plane leaves in two hours,” he said sheepishly.

Before I could think, my critical parent voice responded: “And you just now thought about this?”

“Well, yes. It costs too much to leave the car at the airport, so I want to leave it here and I was just hoping that it would be okay with you if I put it here while I’m gone…” His voice trailed off, his eyes pleaded.

My heart softened; my nice mommy self jumped in and argued with my cynical self: He’s just a kid trying to be responsible and work things out. Why not help him? He could be one of your kids one day.

“You’re in luck,” I said, and showed him a place to park on the long parkway where it would have the least impact on the neighborhood. We would be the only residents affected, since there’s a vacation rental across the street with people coming and going all the time, and next door to that one, a neighbor who was off on vacation and never parks there anyway. This one car wouldn’t really make much difference, and no one would even notice, much less call it in for being there too long.

A few minutes later he parked the car; it sat there undisturbed, just getting dirtier day after day. And then one afternoon, I noticed it was gone. Ben must have returned home, I thought. Hoping he and his family had a nice visit, I pondered our own fast-approaching empty-nest syndrome and what it must be like for his parents to have him back home for awhile, and then to say good-bye again.

BENA couple days later, I opened the front door, and noticed a small envelope tucked in by the beveled glass. It was a Starbucks card with a handwritten note, “ Thank you for letting me park my car outside your house! Hope you enjoy Starbucks—Ben.”

I’ve always taught my kids to do more than is expected, and to express their appreciation. Obviously Ben’s parents taught him the same thing—a nice young man just making his way in life, in this Santa Barbara neighborhood, his home away from home, right where he belongs.

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Santa Barbara’s Chromatic Gate

First, thank you Loretta Redd! Loretta began writing columns for Santa Barbara View in October of 2011, and had produced some of the most informative, important and commented-on posts to date. More importantly, she is a wonderful person and a pillar of our Santa Barbara Community. The synchronicity among contributors at Santa Barbara View has always been unique and Loretta touches on a directional sway that is taking place—a renewed mission to find what’s good and right and wonderful in Santa Barbara. Moving forward, Santa Barbara View will focus on a positive approach to people, places and events around town that Santa Barbara should know about; hopefully making a positive difference by just by being positive.

One of the positive victories that Santa Barbara View is proud of is the restoration of Santa Barbara’s Chromatic Gate. Dan and others helped bring awareness to the once-dilapidated art installation by Herbert Bayer which pays tribute to art and artists who make the city unique. And what better image to use for SBView 3.0. “Sunday morning at the Chromatic Gate, the light was beautiful and the art had a bit of a glow,” writes Dan Seibert. “Some students making a short video added a few more colors.”


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So Many Monsters

Column by Loretta Redd

newswanThe swan has long been a symbol of tranquility and harmony, though ancient beliefs created the darker metaphorical phrase, “swan song,” about the Mute Swan, who is silent all of its life until moments before it dies, when it sings a beautiful melody.

I was listening to an old Annie Lennox song , “No More ‘I Love You’s,” and the lyrics on language and monsters seem to have taken up residence in my brain. Though she sings about broken hearts and broken dreams, I find there really ARE “sooo many monsters” these days. They reside nearby in Murrieta, California, or in Isla Vista, or Newtown, and in countries and on continents like Russia or Afghanistan, in Iraq, Israel, or across Africa.

Seems like they’re everywhere, and proliferating.

People have always done despicable things to one another. Evil, like kindness, remains a part of our nature, so I’m not sure what combination recently pushed me over the edge. It could be having our brains filled with the darkest of images, the most heinous of crimes, the most insane of conflicts and boldest of lies delivered on a constant feed of cable channels, web sites and headlines.

Civility has become an anomaly.

My nephew and family visited recently from North Carolina. Over the eight days, I came to truly appreciate two things: first, just how hard it is to be a good parent and secondly, how difficult it is to protect a child’s innocence. My nephew is relatively religious, though not an ‘in-your-face’ sort of extreme; they choose to home school their four and seven year old, and are pretty vigilant about what television or computer images they get to watch.

The kids were well-behaved and rarely aggressive toward each other, but on those occasions, their mother responded with a simple question: “Did you do that with love in your heart?”

No preaching, no shaming, no reference to the bible- just a question for reflection which was surprisingly effective on them, as well as on me. Although my intention as a columnist has always been to stir thought and find solutions, I began to wonder if maybe the “monsters” hadn’t invaded my psyche after a decade of opinion pieces which criticized, judged and sometimes mocked others.

I want to appreciate those of you who have read and responded, whether from the early days of News Press, or columns in the Daily Sound, or here at the Santa Barbara View and Sentinel. You have challenged, informed and educated me over the years. But I find the ‘dark side’ of commentary is coloring my world. Continue Reading →

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John Peck Stearns

This date in Santa Barbara history… John Peck Stearns was born on August 18, 1828.

John Peck Stearns

In 1867 Stearns came to Santa Barbara with his wife Martha and purchased a property at the foot of State Street, where he opened a lumber yard on the beach.  But Santa Barbara lacked a wharf, which meant lumber schooners had to float cargoes ashore, causing damage to the lumber stocks.

Frustrated with Samuel Brinkerhoff’s little Chapala Street pier, Stearns decided to build his own wharf . Stearns borrowed $41,000 from the town’s leading capitalist, Colonel W.W. Hollister, repayable at $500 a month. Stearns imported a pile driver and crew from Port Hueneme and erected a 2,000-foot wharf which opened for business on September 16, 1872.

Stearns’ contributions to Santa Barbara went well beyond building the wharf, which became an economic boom to Santa Barbara.  He led the campaign to bring a railroad terminus to Santa Barbara, he was a major stockholder in the Santa Barbara College project, and he bought the Morning Press in the fall of 1880.  At the time of his death, from a stroke at the age of 74 on March 4, 1902, Stearns enjoyed the status of being one of Santa Barbara’s leading citizens.

Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara, panorama 3D by Bill Heller.

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EcoFacts: Desalination

Weekly column by Barbara Hirsch

To be sure, desalination has been a hot topic in California and other drought stricken parts of the globe. Fresh water supplies are always limited to less than 1% of all water on the planet. Needs increase with the population while more droughts threaten existing resources. In the last 5 years, desalination capacity, globally, has increased 57%.

The Middle East could be a model for this, now and into the future. Home to 6.3% of humanity with only 1.4% of the water supply, they generate over half of the desal water available on the planet at the moment. But that water is costly, using more than ten times more energy (and their precious export resource, fossil fuels) than needed for pumping well water. A renewable energy company in Abu Dhabi is working on possible alternatives that could be a boon to a thirsty planet.

Closer to home, another model could be Santa Catalina Island, a popular tourist spot off the coast of LA, sort of a miniature California water wise, except they are not getting water diverted from other places. It all comes from their drying up reservoirs, wells and some desalination, 10%. All of their water is controlled by Edison. Residents and businesses pay more – 5 to 18 times more - than anywhere else in California. Few relaxed showers and little car washing goes on there. Their entire economy is severely threatened right now.

desalTo reactivate Santa Barbara’s decommissioned plant, completed at the end of the last serious drought in 1991 and used only briefly, would cost nearly $30 million, so no one is in a rush to do it. This coming rainy season will determine how quickly that goes forward. We are fortunate in that currently most of the area’s water supplies are gravity fed and so of low energy use. Desalination requires pumping the water from the ocean to the plant, high pressure pumping through reverse osmosis membranes and further processing.

Environmental challenges in the process are: a higher percentage of energy and associated emissions needed for water supplies; potential harm to sea life at the intake; treatment and disposal of the briney waste. Let’s hope that the plants of the future most certainly needed, will manage these well.

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Remembering Julia Child on her Birthday

Julia Child was born on this day in 1912, and although she passed in 2004 just two days shy of her 92nd birthday, her legacy lives, especially in her adopted home town of Santa Barbara. Here’s how the chef, author, and television personality described the last few years of her life here. The article originally appeared in the April 2002 issue of Traveler:

I remember well my very first impression of Santa Barbara. I was awfully young–maybe three or four years old. My family would vacation in Santa Barbara in the summer from my hometown of Pasadena, about two hours away. I remember we were at the old Miramar Hotel, which is right on the beach, looking down at the water. I’d never seen the ocean before, and I was sure the sea would come up and engulf us, and I screamed and screamed. My family finally had to take me home, which must have been enraging for them, and confusing: Why is she screaming?

The city sits right on the coast, a narrow strip of land backed by beautiful mountains, about 2,000 feet high. Lots of eucalyptus and oak and flowers make the place verdant and lush. In addition to all the green, I love the warm, cream color of the Spanish-style houses and the red of their tile roofs, and the brightness of round oranges set against the dark-green, shiny leaves of citrus trees.

The climate and the atmosphere recall the French Riviera between Marseille and Nice, except that area of France has now become terribly touristy. Very often, being there on the Riviera, where we used to have a little house, I’d look at all the tourists and say, “Well, I’d just as soon be in Santa Barbara.”

When my husband and I were in the diplomatic service, we’d come to Santa Barbara during home leaves. So it was natural to end up here. I now live in a little pad in a lovely retirement community, having recently moved out of an enormous house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which I’d lived in for 40 years. Even though I resided near Boston all that time, I never became a New Englander, though I loved being there. I’m a true Californian: I don’t miss the change in seasons.

I always get up early, at six, and do all my exercises. Then I walk over to the dining room, where a group of friends and I have what we call “the octogenarian breakfast”–lots of bacon, every kind of egg you can think of, pancakes, waffles, you name it.

All kinds of people gather there, but the market can only sell things that are grown in California, and most items are from Santa Barbara County. Smaller versions of the market take place on different days and in different locales.

When I have visitors, I take them on my personal, quirky tour. We might start with breakfast on the pier, right out on the water. Or we’ll have lunch on the pier, because there’s a wonderful restaurant there where you can get fresh steamed crab or local lobster, and you can eat them outdoors with the pelicans and seagulls.

Or I might take them to lunch up in the hills at the El Encanto Hotel, which has been operating since the early 1900s. The hotel has an outdoor dining terrace overlooking the bay–one of the best vistas of the city I know.

Then we’ll go and view the “Big Tree”: the astounding and famous Moreton Bay fig, planted at the junction of Highway 101 and Chapala Street in 1877. It’s claimed to be the largest tree of its kind in the country.

Later, we’ll head up to the Old Mission Santa Barbara. In season, a splendid array of roses greets visitors. Then we might take a driving tour along the hills.

Dinner? Santa Barbara’s not a renowned restaurant town, but we have some perfectly nice ones. The Wine Cask is downtown. San Ysidro Ranch has a good, if rather noisy, dining room. Lucky’s, founded by the fellow behind Lucky Jeans, is very jolly. There’s Downey’s, where the atmosphere is somewhat subdued, but the food is delicious. And La Super-Rica Taqueria on North Milpas Street is one of the most authentic Mexican home-cooking restaurants around.

People just seem friendly and happy here. Who wouldn’t be, when it’s so beautiful and the climate is so nice? Just this morning I looked out on another sparkling day, and I said to my breakfast group, “Why live anywhere else?”

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Santa Barbara History: The Arlington Hotel Burns

On this date in Santa Barbara history… the palatial old Arlington Hotel was destroyed.

“From 1875 until 1909, the Arlington Hotel was the hub of Santa Barbara’s elite tourist society. The three-story, 90-room hotel was located on State Street between Victoria and Sola streets,” according to local historian Walker A. Tompkins.

The First Arlington Hotel: Photo Credit: J W Collinge. Solely for use on the Santa Barbara View.

At sundown, on August 15th, 1909 flames were seen sprouting from the Arlington’s triple-decked square tower. While guests frantically escaped the building, local Fire Chief, John Dugan, and his crew began striping the hotel of the vintage draperies, tapestries, chandeliers, silverware, and other valuables. The lift operator, Robert Klein, kept the elevator running up and down until he collapsed of a heart attack. The fire burned all night… and by daybreak, only a skeleton of towering chimneys remained!

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