After an online push in January, with nearly 3,000 people signing a petition to save the old Elwood gas station, Ty Warner moved the project forward yesterday by donating the local landmark to the City of Goleta!
“The station should be preserved not only for it’s architectural significance, but as a monument to the historic Ellwood oil fields and the overwhelming impact of that industry on our area,” wrote Tom Modugno at the time of the petition. “Every day that passes, this beautiful structure falls further into disrepair and if our city leaders don’t act soon, it will be too far gone to save. Goleta is growing and changing faster than ever before, and the few reminders of our history we have left should be preserved for future generations.”
June gloom and May grey are more than a myth in Santa Barbara. The below graph from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography shows that May and June were are the months with the lowest percentages (59% and 58%) of sunshine respectively.
Over the next few week Dan Seibert chronicles his time in Washington DC some 30 years ago this month. With election season around the corner, we thought it might be an interesting series.
Thirty years ago last week I boarded a Boeing 727 and flew to Washington National airport for a summer job with Congressman John McCain. Over the next two months I’ll be posting photos and entries from my journal.
“Landed after a bumpy plane ride, I never knew my hands could sweat so much. Bob Priest (my dad’s high school friend) picked me up and took me to the dorm on the G. W. U. campus. Fifth floor looking south towards the mall. Walked over to the Watergate building, they have a Safeway market, bought some food. Back to the dorm and joined other interns on the roof. That’s the common room with an outdoor patio. When we drove in I couldn’t believe how big the Washington Monument is. Now I know why they call him the “father of our nation.”
“Started work in the annex to the McCain office with Tom Brooke, legislative aide, and Torie Clarke, press secretary. In a space about the size of my current apartment I joined four other interns. Great times, Tina Turner was on top of her comeback, with Mad Max Thunderdome being released. Spent more time on the roof of the GWU dorm I was living in. Tiny view of the Mall. Oh the Mall, I was a few blocks from the Vietnam Vetran’s memorial and Lincoln Memorial. Started to soak up history.”
I Googled Tom Brooke’s name yesterday and found him in the first result. I expected him to be governor of Virginia by now, but he’s still in the state working as an attorney. Torie Clarke’s name might be familiar to some. After working for McCain for several years she went on to work for Reagan and the first Bush administration. On 9-11 she was the press secretary for the Pentagon. I remember seeing her in a Vanity Fair photo of the second Bush advisors in the run up to the Iraq invasion.
The more we learn about this mess is that it was an accident waiting to happen, and that the company charged with monitoring itself had every reason not to bother.
It’s interesting to watch the local outrage expressed against this Texas company that has shown so little regard for the local environment—and gotten a free pass while doing so.
But it’s hardly the first time this lack of oversight has occurred around here. Some years back, when I still believed in the power of the media to make a difference, I investigated a leaking underground storage tank, circa 1920 and contaminated soil found during the excavation work for the condos under construction on the site of the former St. Francis Hospital.
Although established protocol called for the Project Environmental Coordinator (PEC) to immediately notify the City and the County about the discovery, the findings were not reported in required daily and weekly records. In fact, the existence of the tank and the contamination were hidden for weeks—while the construction company brought in its own out-of-town experts to take a look at the situation and deal with it on its own.
You see, the City allowed the same corporation that was managing the project to be responsible for its environmental oversight. It happens all the time. When questions were raised about the environmental records that failed to mention the existence of the tank and its contamination, and brought to the attention to city officials, the inaccurate reports were glossed over, ignored and allowed.
The city planner on the project even acknowledged that the PEC did not properly report or monitor environmental conditions on the site, yet the City had no intention of investigating what went wrong or changing monitoring personnel or policies.
So excuse me if I’m a little cynical about local officials expressing their indignation about the actions of oil-rich Texans when they tolerate the same kind of skirting of the rules, and look the other way and allow local companies to conduct their own “oversight,” public and the environment be damned. It goes on all the time.
It’s been five years since I researched and reported about this stomach-turning behavior. It made no difference then, and it makes no difference now. The interests of Big Oil, Big Business and Big Government are just too powerful for we the people and our Little Media. Not much independent oversight actually protects our interests or our environment. By the time it all comes to the surface, it’s just too late.
Photo Credits: Environmental Defense Center and The Trailmaster
“It is the intent of the City of Santa Barbara to limit the size, type and location of signs in order to minimize their distracting effect on drivers and thereby improve traffic safety. As identification devices, signs must not subject the citizens of the City to excessive competition for their visual attention. As appropriate identification devices, signs must harmonize with the building, the neighborhood and other signs in the area.”
Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Evening view from the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Clock Tower where construction continues to make the tower more accessible. In the very near future everyone will be able to easily enjoy the view from the top. In the mean time, however, the trek to the top for this shot was even more of a walk than normal. With no elevator at all you start to appreciate really how tall the clock tower is. Currently the tower is still closed to the public, but the major elevator work is nearing an end with the opening at the top already complete.
Column by Barbara Hirsch
My journey to find drinking water that I can really enjoy:
If it isn’t obvious, I cannot buy water in plastic bottles unless forced to, not liking plastic or BPA or the business of it. I do not like the taste of Santa Barbara tap water, nor do I like its chlorine. I admit to buying water from the corner market water dispensers in my 3 gallon glass bottles. But I live in droughtland and have learned a few things, way too late, about that water. Having had some good tasting filtered tap water at a super eco friend’s place, I decided to make the change, but how best? The research began.
Concerns in water are these: mineral content, pH, pathogens, chlorine, fluoride, pesticides, arsenic, lead, mercury, chemicals and more.
Municipal water systems generally produce safe drinking water, usually with the help of chlorine, as does ours here in SB. But we don’t have heavy industry and crop spraying affecting our rain, lake and groundwater as some areas do.
The simpler carbon filter systems – faucet or pitcher, like Brita – improve the water, but the filters must be replaced frequently and unless you want to send them in for recycling, think about the number of them in the landfill!
I recently decided that I had to go the filtered tap route – without RO. I’ve purchased a Berkey gravity fed system that is so effective at purification, it can actually purify pond water, but leaves the minerals in. The filters can be used for thousands of gallons of water. So if our city water system gives out for some catastrophic reason or other, you can all come on over, just bring your pond.