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EcoFacts: The Bioeconomy, Part 1

Weekly column by Barbara Hirsch

The Bioeconomy – the fruits of this economy will move us away from synthetic goods whose production and disposal continue to pose risks for us, and will also decrease our need for fossil fuels. This realm encompasses the production of renewable biological resources and their conversion into food (obviously), bio-based products and bioenergy. This goes far beyond the now ridiculous seeming idea of growing food crops to power our vehicles.

Last week’s mention of Yulex, the new natural rubber, is a perfect example of this unseen world of research and development that is beginning to blossom. Here is potential for a model for 21st century manufacturing – resource efficient, bio-based and circular in its nature.

Guayule grows easily in arid and semi-arid regions on marginal land that would otherwise be difficult to grow on. It requires little water …Yulex has identified strains that maximizes yield with minimal or no soil additives. The crop is perennial, and is harvested every 12-24 months, thus helping in dust and topsoil erosion control. Besides being a replacement for latex and synthetic rubbers, a goal of Yulex’s zero waste manufacturing is to derive its own energy from the biomass residues of its own production. Finally, recycle the no longer useable product (most rubber is not recycled) and voila! – you have a perfect cradle to cradle system, regenerative as in nature. Well, big picture anyway, as perfection is by definition, pretty hard to achieve. But some strive for it, thankfully.
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Cold Springs Canyon Arch Bridge and Suicide Barrier… Three Years Later

bridge2Three years ago today, Caltrans announced the completion of a controversial suicide barrier for the historic Cold Springs Arch Bridge. 54 people tragically jumped to their death from the time the bridge opened in 1964 to completion of the suicide barrier in March 2012. The barrier was foiled twice immediately after completion but no suicides have been reported since July 2013.

 


Saturdays with Seibert

Local Views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

I saw the storm clouds move in and wanted to shoot the black sky. Since I was close to the beach I got to the Cromatic Gate asap. Got some nice shots and drove towards downtown. From Garden street and the 101 I saw the Mission illuminated like a jewel against the dark sky.

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A-Muraling We Will Go!

The Darth Vadar mural on the side of the Indigo Hotel was removed, but it looks like another, more colorful mural is in progress. Meanwhile, a new mural has popped up in the Funk Zone.
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Middle two pictures by Dan Seibert


Date in Santa Barbara History… De la Guerra Born

delaguerraJosé Antonio Julian de la Guerra y Noriega was born on March 6, 1779, at Novales in Santander, Spain. De la Guerra, commandante of the Royal Presidio, was considered the most influential Spanish-born resident of Santa Barbara at the time of the American take-over of California. He retained ownership of five of the choicest ranch grants in Southern California, and his home, Casa de la Guerra, is today the best known Spanish-era residence in Santa Barbara, California.


Milpas On The Move: Homeless Count Results Revealed

Column by Sharon Byrne

moveThe good news: 600 volunteers came out for the count, the Milpas Outreach Project got kudos for getting 9 chronically homeless individuals into stable living situations, and 74% of homeless individuals interviewed now have some form of health insurance, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

The not-so-good news: the count was relatively flat in terms of number of individuals counted, 1,455 in 2015 vs 1,466 in 2013. While some shifts in population were seen, with Santa Barbara now carrying 61.3% of the county’s homeless population this year vs 64.53% in 2013, Santa Maria’s tally picked up. They counted 324 individuals experiencing homelessness, vs 243 back in 2011, the first time the count was conducted countywide.

15% of those counted were veterans, yet they also racked up the longest time living on the street at 8.3 years.

Most individuals counted were found on the street (38%) or living in a car (16%). Those in transitional housing decreased from 10% to 3%, a stat that needs examination.

Interestingly, when questioned about where they were before becoming homeless, the responses were:
North Santa Barbara County: 23.5%
South Santa Barbara County: 30%
Elsewhere in the state: 22.5%
Out of state: 0%
No answer: 24%

The out-of-state answer prompted questioning during the presentation on results. Something in the way the survey questions were constructed regarding origin data probably accounts for that result.

The oldest individual interviewed was 83. Average age was 43. Average length of time being homeless was 5.5 years.

There were 620 individuals identified as chronically homeless, and those are the most costly to society as they use a high level of crisis services, hospitals, and spend more time in jail.

For the veterans, the news is pretty dire. They have spent the longest time on the streets, and 66.4% have some sort of mental health diagnosis, with 51.8% reporting PTSD. They were found more often in the street than in shelters. The Veteran’s Administration has been under quite a bit of fire in the national media for poor treatment of veterans, though our experience of them in the Milpas Outreach Project is strong responsiveness to serving homeless veterans we’re working with.

Housing placements (countywide) are as follows since May of 2013:
284 Chronically Homeless individuals
256 Children
133 Veterans

Mayor Schneider has signed up for two aggressive challenges: one to end veteran homelessness in the US by the end of this year, and another to end chronic homelessness by the end of 2016. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there, as the saying goes. Achieving these will take some major chutzpah, though.

Enter the Big Frickin’ Wall: Housing. Santa Barbara is now in the grips of perhaps the tightest rental market in the city’s history. With less than ½% vacancy in residential rental units, rents have shot up markedly. People are paying top dollar for rock-bottom units. The market has priced many rentals out of reach for Section 8 and VASH (Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing). Low-income, working class, students, and even professional service sector individuals are chasing some of the same units sought for placement of homeless individuals. Clearly, Santa Barbara is not going to build our way out of this problem, so something has to shift on this landscape.

Enter Social Venture Partners, who presented a solution they’re exploring here locally. They’ve examined best practices for housing placements across the nation, and are modeling their project on Seattle’s program. Seattle too had a low-vacancy, high-density downtown, and a large homeless population. Their solution was to get creative with existing housing, and look at home-shares, master-leasing and different parts of the city for placements. They have a Landlord-Liaison program that works with landlords to place individuals ready to succeed in housing. Assistance with deposits, mediation, and ongoing case management reduces the financial risk to landlords significantly. Seattle housed over 400 people in 4 years this way, without building anything new. 94% of the people Seattle housed using this model are still housed a year later. The plan is to roll it out here second quarter of this year.

It’s aggressive, ambitious, and then some. The flat count, especially given the Herculean efforts of Common Ground, the Restorative Police, the Milpas Outreach Project, and many others…is disappointing. Without them, perhaps the count would have been far higher.

You can read the results for yourself: CLICK HERE.


Keeping Santa Barbara Santa Barbara

gateLast week, readers of Santa Barbara View stepped up to pay for and initiate a Replacement Request Application for the Gilda Radner plaque which had been vandalized and defaced—making a positive response to a negative act. A lot of good feedback was received and Viewers also weighed in on better ways to run a community campaign, ie: a crowd-funding engine to fundraise online like Indiegogo. A couple years back it was an awareness campaign to restore Herbert Bayer’s Chromatic Gate and this concept fits our mission to Help Keep Santa Barbara Santa. So let’s toss it back to Viewers and ask for any other ideas and projects around town that you’d like to see improved, restored, implemented or funded? (this will be placed in Local Links side bar for permanent feedback.)


Take Me out to the Ball Game

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150It’s Spring Training in the MLB, and here in Santa Barbara, our PONY, Little League and high school baseball teams are ready to hear those two simple words that mean so much: “Play Ball!”

On the high school baseball field, as play begins, some prayers are answered, others cruelly ignored. It’s the place where hope stays alive, year after year as the individual players change jerseys and move on, but the team continues to play the game and carry on the rituals of the wonderful sport of baseball.

It’s the continuity, the tradition, the character instilled that really matters for the boys who arrive as untested freshman and who grow into disciplined young men by their senior year under the tutelage of a group of coaches who are solid as they come.

Year after year, our baseball players represent the values of teamwork, hard work, and good work—on the field and in the classroom. As the old saying goes, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” This is their time, their year to put it all together for their moment to shine brightly, to play for pride, for tradition, for the love of the game.

Play Ball!
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Above Photo: The 1915 Santa Barbara Dons baseball team. Their team motto: “Good Sportsmanship and Team Ball.”


Build Your District Santa Barbara

mappingFor the next ten (10) days, Santa Barbara residents will have the opportunity to help build redistricting plans for the November 15 ballot:

CLICK HERE to: create and share district plans, view draft plans, submit plans for review, and view submitted plans. You will need to create an account, but you will be able to offer your view of appropriate district boundaries.

CLICK HERE if you’d prefer the paper-and-pen option, which must submitted to the City Clerk’s Office by Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.