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Firing Up Santa Barbara’s Desalination Plant

Santa Barbara View photo: Cachuma Lake, April 2014Santa Barbara’s desalination plant, the $40 million needed to reactivate it and the associated environmental costs made the front page of Fox News on Monday. Thursday, the City of Santa Barbara will hold a public information meeting to discuss the drought, desalination, and proposed water rates. The meeting starts at 6:00 p.m. and will be held in the City of Santa Barbara Council Chambers at 735 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, CA, 93101. According to the Agenda, “the meetings will start with a presentation providing information on the City’s water supplies, current drought conditions, the City’s Water Shortage Plan, desalination timeline, proposed water rates, and conservation opportunities. Following the presentation, there will be a facilitated question and answer period. For more information, please call (805) 564-5460, or click here. First presentation video below.
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This Date in History: Ellwood Beach Shelled

goletaThe last time that the U.S. mainland had been attacked by a foreign power was during the War of 1812. But on the evening of February 23, 1942 — just two months after Pearl Harbor — a Japanese submarine shelled oil fields off the coast of Santa Barbara’s Ellwood Beach. Although no one was injured and damage was minimal, the attack would serve as a catalyst in the internment of more than 100,000 Japanese Americans.

“No event in Santa Barbara history, with the possible exception of the 1925 earthquake, created more excitement at the time, or evoked more discussion in its wake, than the abortive shelling of Ellwood on February 23, 1942,” wrote Walker A. Tompkins. “According to Japanese military records seized after V-J Day, Captain Nishino went down with his sub when it was destroyed by Allied planes off New Caledonia on August 19, 1943. He took to his watery grave the details of why he chose to attack Ellwood or what actually took place on the evening in 1942.”


Is East Beach California’s Best? Vote!

The USA Today is asking readers to vote on their favorite California beach, and East Beach in Santa Barbara is a finalist. According to the overview, California’s coast stretches for 1,264 miles and is dotted with over 100 beach towns. The combination of sun, sand and sea make these 20 nominees for Best California Beach, chosen by our panel of California travel experts, some of the most appealing vacation destinations in the state. Help your favorite California beach take home the crown by voting once per day until Monday, MARCH 16 at NOON ET.

As for their description of East Beach…  it “appears like a vision in downtown Santa Barbara — a beach bordered by palm trees that seems to spring up from the town. It’s a beach to tote morning coffee to, or take a contemplative walk. Rarely crowded, it’s prime for swimming, kayaking or snacks on Stern’s Wharf. Deciding to embrace this beach for life is a dream that could be dashed by average Santa Barbara home price of $2.2 million.”
East-Beach_54_990x660

The other nominated beaches are:
Black’s Beach/Torrey Pines – La Jolla
Capitola Beach – Santa Cruz
Coronado Beach – San Diego
Crystal Cove State Park – Laguna Beach
East Beach – Santa Barbara
Hermosa Beach – Los Angeles
Huntington Beach – Huntington Beach
La Jolla Cove – La Jolla
Main Beach – Laguna Beach
Manhattan Beach – Manhattan Beach
Mission Beach – San Diego
Moonlight State Beach – Encinitas
Moonstone Beach – Cambria
Ocean Beach – San Francisco
Old Man’s Beach – San Onofre
Pfeiffer Beach – Big Sur
Santa Monica Beach – Santa Monica
Sunset State Beach – Santa Cruz
Thousand Steps Beach – Laguna Beach
Venice Beach – Venice Beach


Evening Blanket

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Evening Blanket
Some evenings the fog is so thick in Santa Barbara it seems you would never get a good view of anything. But sometimes it only takes a small change of perspective to see what once blocked your view is actually something to behold itself. I love to watch for the evenings, more common this time of year, when the beautiful thick fog hugs the surface rolling in just at sunset leaving a clear view out above it’s fluffy beauty. As the stars start to glow from above the city lights light the fog from below and the effect is something quite amazing that you would never expect from the surface. -Bill Heller


EcoFacts: MENA, Water & Energy

Weekly Column by Barbara Hirsch

The Middle East – MENA (Middle East North Africa) is a unique region in the world’s energy and water nexus. It is loaded with fossil fuel, holding nearly 60% of the world’s oil reserves, and nearly 45% of its natural gas reserves. Fuel rich and water poor, it is home to 6.3% of the world’s population and has access to only 1.4% of the globe’s fresh water supply. 14 of the world’s 20 most water scarce countries are in this region.

mit_solar_powered_desalination_system_jbq98How, you might wonder, could they be interested in renewable energy, even if it is really sunny there? In fact they are developing solar potential rapidly. Most of their electricity is from petroleum and some of their cities are the most polluted in the world. And then there is the water – these countries generate over half of the desal water on the planet and that water is costly, using more than ten times more energy (and their precious export resource, fossil fuels) than needed for pumping well water, and their aquifers are running dry.

The World Bank has produced a 200 page report on Renewable Energy Desalination in MENA that emphasizes the necessity of this work for future stability of the region. A Spanish energy company is developing the world’s largest solar operated desal plant in Saudi Arabia. This news comes from “b green”, a business publication in the Middle East. Practically all of the renewable energy powered desalination is already in this part of the world, but is currently a very small percentage.

Let’s hope this type of investment in the future spreads to other parched coastal areas, like oh… California, perhaps?


Pain Management: A Fast Track to Prescription Drug Addiction

Sharon’s Take: As Featured in the Santa Barbara Sentinel
By Sharon Byrne

Years ago, when I had the first signs of sniffles and sneezing, my then future ex-husband would exhort me to get to the doctor. I would grudgingly go, and often be written a prescription for antibiotics. I wondered why, when antibiotics kill bacteria, and what I usually had was a typical flu or cold virus. When I questioned this, my doctor shrugged his shoulders and said people wanted to leave with a prescription in their hands, so he wrote them.

I quit going to the doc for colds after that.

I last had surgery in 1997, when I got my daughter via C-Section. My doctor then was quite conservative with pain meds, which was fine with me since I wasn’t in too much pain after. So it’s been some years since I’d been in hospital, but 2014 saw me check in twice for surgeries. Everything went fine, but something had radically changed since the last time I was in a hospital bed:

Pain management.

This had become a big deal, and everyone was very fast to push pain meds. Need more morphine? How is your pain, on a scale of 1-10? Do you need something stronger? Would you like a Xanax before your procedure to help relax you?

I have a fairly decent threshold for pain and a terrible fear of opiate addiction that I can’t rationally explain. Addiction runs very strong in my family, so perhaps opiates will take me down the addiction drain, and I just sense it somehow. Thus, I tend to avoid pain meds, or any meds, on principle. I just can’t shake the feeling that some of the medications pushed on me have less to do with my wellbeing than they do with golf weekends for prescribing doctors and massive profits for Big Pharma. I did some consulting work for a medical firm in the early 2000’s, and it seemed to me like we spent a lot of time arranging rather lavish doctor getaways so as to make hard-sell product pitches. A decade later, I’ve seen sensible, reasonable, professional people struggle mightily with addiction to Vicodin and Oxycontin, so I am put off in advance from taking them. Thankfully, I have been blessed with great health and no chronic conditions that entail tremendous pain, so I haven’t had to face the need for prescription pain meds, except coming out of surgery.

But wow, the emphasis nowadays on pain management is not just a little upsetting. Right before I disconnected cable, now 2 years ago, I recall thinking, ‘gosh there sure are a lot of ads for pills these days.’ If you’re depressed, anxious, not anxious enough, or whatever, they want you to take pills.

Lots of them.

For all kinds of things.

In the hospital, I felt like I was letting the staff down in refusing pain medications, like I was not living up to some expectation. I was handed a prescription for 80 Vicodin on discharge. That seemed like a massive quantity of pills for some discomfort easily handled with Advil. I tossed the prescription.

The death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman drove it home once more. Addicts of prescription opiates have turned to heroin use, and died from overdose. Michael Jackson died from prescription drug overdose. Dr. Diaz, the Candy Man of Milpas St., caused eleven Emergency Room overdose deaths. Just because the doc prescribes it doesn’t make it safe to take. The rush to aggressively manage pain by medical professionals, probably an evolution of my old doc’s tendency to write prescriptions for antibiotics, stem from the same place: patient-as-customer, and the customer wants to leave with something in hand so as to have a satisfactory customer experience. Big Pharma is all too ready with samples and aggressive sales pitches to help provide that experience.

I am normally a fan of the American ingenuity to spot a need, and create a product or service to fill that need. In the case of over-prescription of pain medications, though, I think we’re pushing immediate gratification too far in the wrong direction.


Results of Infrastructure Priorities

As detailed on Santa Barbara View, the City of Santa Barbara has held public workshops and conducted online surveys to get your input on the current condition of our streets, sidewalks, parks, recreation facilities, libraries, community centers, and police and fire stations. With the elimination of the Redevelopment Agency, the City wanted to know your funding priorities for maintaining basic infrastructure in Santa Barbara… and below are your results (click to enlarge).
Chart_of_Priority_Funding_Survey_Findings
Survey respondents ranked facilities in order of priority for upgrades, modernization, or replacement.


False Claims in PODER Press Release

On Sunday, from 12-3 PM, 12-15 protesters descended on El Bajio restaurant at 129 N Milpas. PODER claimed responsibility for the protest with a press release here.
sbview_lettertotheeditorHi Kathy and Gabby,

I enjoyed your press release today. It’s good that PODER has confirmed that it staged the protest at El Bajio so that no one will have any doubt about that (assuming they had any doubt to begin with). Since you specifically talked about me and a project I worked on a few years back on Milpas, I thought I should provide you with some information that you may find enlightening.

The project I worked on at the corner of De La Guerra and Milpas was fully approved by the City back in March of 2010. It’s case number MST2006-00510… here’s a link where you can check the status:

The City approval is final and non-appealable and all time periods to litigate against the project have long passed. The owners (yes, in fact I am not an “owner” as you claim I am) do not need any assistance from the City, a new EBID, or anyone in order to carry out this project. They have simply decided to hold off on it due to economic reasons.
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