Re: Bicycles Over Cars Which Do You Prefer?

In his recent article, Councilmember Frank Hotchkiss proposed that a poll be taken to really gauge the type of transportation infrastructure Santa Barbarans want. But as is so often the case in these matters, how a question is phrased both reveals the biases of the questioner and influences the answers likely to be received.

The premise of Mr. Hotchkiss’ proposed poll is that our transportation infrastructure is a direct consequence of our desire: we desire to drive, therefore we should build roads for cars. By backward inference, the roads that have already been built are an indication of our collective preference for driving.

bikegreenBut it is equally true to say that what we desire is a consequence of what has been built. My desire to drive my car is greatly influenced by the existence of wide, fast streets, low-cost gas available every couple miles, freeways, free parking, and all the other affordances that make driving remarkably painless and guilt-free in our culture. (Can you imagine driving without all those things?) Conversely, the lack of equivalent bicycling infrastructure kills my desire to ride my bike. Ride where there is no bike lane? No thanks, I just don’t want to.

Additionally, Mr. Hotchkiss presumes that one transportation mode must necessarily come at the expense of any others. But, as the recent examples of the restriping of Cliff Drive and Haley Street have shown (in which there has been no impact on car traffic that I have observed), some of our streets are over-provisioned for cars, and our civil engineers have proven their skill at designing multi-modal solutions. In any case, my garage, like many others, contains both cars and bicycles. Why not support both?

Lastly, if Mr. Hotchkiss is permitted to stereotype bicyclists as showing up “en masse to promote any expanded biking plans” (emphasis original), may I be permitted to call out the car-only advocates who predict gridlock and catastrophe whenever pedestrian or bicyling improvements are proposed? Their dire prophesies invariably fail to materialize.

The question is not as simple as, Do you want to drive or bike? Our desires and our built infrastructure influence each other in complicated and subtle ways. I propose that a better question is: What infrastructure will foster the transportation choices that will in turn create the kind of community we want to live in? For me, that community includes being able to drive, and equally to walk and bike.

Greg Janée
SB 93111

Comments { 24 }

Getting Schooled: Students and Parents

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150When you have kids in school, those first few glorious weeks of summer vacation seem to stretch on forever. But those last few weeks seem to speed up and pass way too fast in anticipation of the next school year.

And here we are, poised and waiting for the school bells to signify the start of 2014-2015. The local economy has experienced a boom in purchases of back-to-school clothes and shoes, notebooks and backpacks, essential electronics and all those extras like locker decorations, water bottles and reusable lunch containers.

As the First Day of School approaches, parents and kids of all ages anticipate, speculate and calculate the days ahead.

And so do their teachers, administrators and a whole host of volunteers who want to start the school year off in the most positive way possible.

Early in the week, along with scores of other parents, students and school staff, I worked a few shifts at the annual Dons Derby at Santa Barbara High School, where the entire student body shows up to turn in their paperwork, pick up their schedules, and face the reality of back to school.

As I processed their newly issued student ID cards in the timeworn building known as the “little gym,” I had the chance to interact with a lot of teens.

It was a reminder that despite all the technological advances—Digital, instantaneous photography! Smart phones! Texting!—the basics of high school society really haven’t changed that much in the many years since I was a high school student. Seniors still acted like they own the place; Juniors seemed a little stressed; Sophomores seem as through they have just about got their bearings, and the new little Freshmen just seem dazed and confused.

Passing through were student government kids; jocks and the surfers; giggly girls and drama queens; the determined individualists—all mostly cooperative, polite and conscientious about accomplishing their tasks and figuring out the system. There was a small amount of sullenness among those who worked hard to be too cool for school, and only a handful who really seemed like they didn’t want to be there at all.

Most of all, a couple of mornings of work on that historic campus made me proud of these kids growing into young adults staying on path and doing their best to accomplish their high school goals in challenging times—just as more than 100 classes before them.
sbhs
At the end of this school year, graduates, including my own son, will be heading out into the “real world” to pursue their dreams and chart their course to achieve their full potential to the best of their ability. They will be grounded in the values taught by their parents, the example shown by their community and the lessons they’ve learned in school—year after year, on that long pathway from pre-school to high school graduation.

May we be worthy of fulfilling that awesome responsibility to the next generation in our midst—wherever they are on that pathway—just headed back to school in a few short days.

Part II:  teachers get schooled

Comments { 3 }

A Message to the Coastal Commission

sbview_lettertotheeditor
Dale Francisco, Santa Barbara City Councilmember

I read with interest an editorial in the San Diego Union Tribute on Aug. 12, titled “For Coastal Commission, a little history is in order,” especially the warning with which it closed: “No end to the drought in sight.” The editorial calls for expedited assistance from the Coastal Commission for California communities developing desalination plants. This message is pertinent for Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara is in the process of reactivating its desalination plant in the midst of a severe, prolonged drought. Not only was 2013 California’s driest year on record, dating back to 1895, state officials are predicting that 2014 may be even drier. Tree-ring studies have shown that in the last two millennia, California has experienced decade- and even century-long droughts. California’s extremely brief history as a state may have occurred during a relatively wet period, and we may now be returning to a much drier “normal.”

CCC_bluewave2Given this reality, permit-granting authorities such as the Coastal Commission need to approach approvals in the light of a pending emergency — a lack of fresh water for communities around the state. Santa Barbara’s water supplies are dwindling rapidly. If water levels continue to drop, our main fresh water supply, Lake Cachuma, will not be able to deliver water to the city by 2017. While conservation and water recycling are critical — and we are pursuing both — they are not sufficient to sustain us. The city needs other sources of water. Desalination is a reliable, local supply source and should be fast-tracked into production.

Up and down the California coast, cities are turning to desalination as a method of ensuring adequate supplies of water in the face of extended drought. As noted in the State’s Water Action Plan, desalination can be a tool to improve reliability and self-reliance at the regional and local levels. Jurisdictions seeking to include this source of new water in their portfolios should be encouraged and assisted by the Coastal Commission, and other agencies, with the understanding that the drought has in fact created an urgent need for water.

Comments { 1 }

Santa Barbara Non Profits: Portraits for Causes

Ali Azarvan volunteered for 25 local non profits in May and shares his chronicles:

As any of my Facebook friends will tell you, I LOVE pictures. I especially love taking pics of my family. They are fun reminders of great times. Well, once my wife, Nicole, and I had our baby about 10 months ago, I reached out on Facebook and asked for input regarding the best local photographer. Many mentioned Kacie Jean Fowle and after seeing some of her work, we had to give her a call.

Needless to say, she did an amazing job and took some awesome shots. More importantly, we had an absolute blast with her. She had a killer sense of humor and we immediately became buddies. Over the past few months as I’ve been growing Just a Little Push, Kacie has been arguably my most supportive friend – she has a huge heart and she just “gets it”. She had reached out to me to discuss a brilliant idea she had to donate photo sessions to those who are terminally ill or to other local non-profits. You see, Kacie had been donating photo sessions for those in need for over 6 years – but to make a bigger impact and help more families in need (she is, after all, only 1 person), she wanted to scale this concept quickly.

portraits

I couldn’t have been more excited or more proud of her. . . I immediately understood the value and need for a charity like this. Imagine that your wife is battling stage 4 breast cancer – the doctors are giving her a timetable of weeks, not months, to live. Your financial situation is a mess thanks to 3 years of outrageous hospital bills. You want to capture one last moment with your entire family – something that you will cherish for the rest of your life. Portraits for Causes is here for this exact situation. Not only does she provide the images to the family, but, she also creates a gorgeous album for them to hold onto. I’m convinced that the most brilliant ideas are those that elicit the “why didn’t I think of that?” reaction. This is one of those ideas.

Kacie asked me to be on her board of directors and I gladly accepted. I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this awesome nonprofit and hopefully help her grow it quickly. The sad truth is that there are a lot of people who can use her services. I was clueless before May Days – but now my eyes are open. . . there are so many people suffering with life threatening illnesses who can use a nonprofit like this. In fact, Kacie is teaming up with some locally-based charities like The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation and Dream Foundation in order to find deserving families!

I wouldn’t normally just cut and paste testimonials – but I think these quotes do a much better job of summarizing this beautiful charity than my mediocre writing can:

The Strong Family (http://thegsf.org)- “when I realized we didn’t have a family photo of all four of us yet, I lost it — unsure if we’d ever have the chance to take some. But… Now we have these and they mean the world. I cherish photos of Gwendolyn and professional photos are extra special. I remember each shoot, what Gwendolyn was wearing, how I felt that day, where we were on our journey with SMA at that exact moment. Maybe it is silly that photos mean so much to me. Trivial. But they feel tangible and help me hold onto so much that can feel so fleeting”.

Breast Cancer Survivor- “Going through cancer shreds your life into pieces. Kacie’s pictures though reminded me how alive I still was, despite what I was going through. It reminded me that my family was still intact, strong and beautiful. This gave me some added strength at one of the lowest times in my life. Thank you for your gift of photography.”

Last week I was lucky enough to help her with a photoshoot for a beautiful young girl named Eliana – at 4 months old she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and she recently got some bad news. But she is a fighter- and she could NOT be any cuter. I can honestly say that had to be one of the easiest shoots Kacie has ever done – she may be the most photogenic little girl ever! Eliana’s mother, Samantha, has become a friend and is now focused on finding a cure for children’s cancer – in fact she is very active in the CureSearch walk here in Santa Barbara.

In addition to Kacie’s award-winning photography business, she has been spending countless hours over the last 6 years donating her amazing work to these beautiful families. Every donated photo session costs her approximately $1,000 in total production costs. Her biggest need as she awaits her 501(c)(3) approval (hopefully any day now) is money – the more money she has, the more families she can help. Please help her in her quest to create lasting memories for those in need by visiting her page here. Trust me when I say that you will feel a certain pride years down the road when you can look back and know that you helped a huge charity get off the ground!

Comments { 2 }

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

Comments { 5 }

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)
WaterSavings_R15_FINAL
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.

Comments { 3 }

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
ds1

Comments { 3 }

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?”

Comments { 6 }

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:

Comments { 13 }

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:

SKATEBOARDING, ROLLER SKATING AND IN-LINE SKATING

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 →

Comments { 5 }

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_0147
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?
IMG_0144

Comments { 5 }

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.

Comments { 2 }

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.

Comments { 7 }

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.”

ra1
ra2
ra3
ra4
ra5
ra6

Comments { 4 }

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 →

Comments { 7 }