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Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

An anti bullying event will take place tonight, 5 p.m. at San Marcos High school. Mayor Schneider and a number of local organizations have organized a series of events and actions for the month of October with the Santa Barbara City Council proclaiming October as Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.

We have a real opportunity to make changes in our community and throughout the nation,” said Mayor Schneider. “I am thrilled to be working with others, especially our youth leaders, to help coordinate this event. I hope everyone comes out to view the movie and hear the discussion.”

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LA Times Features Santa Barbara’s Homeless

photoYet again, the Los Angeles Times features Santa Barbara’s homeless and urban yoaches. Here are a couple excerpts and a quote from the story:

“In Santa Barbara, leaders are particularly concerned about aggressive panhandlers who demand money or food from pedestrians and outdoor cafe patrons — and curse and intimidate those who don’t oblige. The City Council on Tuesday voted to hire community service officers to patrol State Street, its main tourist thoroughfare, on foot and intervene when they see aggressive or nuisance behavior.”

“In Santa Barbara, officials say they’ve received enough complaints — and enough attention on travel blogs and social media sites — that they want to take action against aggressive panhandling before it spirals.”

There are times when people choose to engage in inappropriate behavior that can be intimidating to some,” says Mayor Schneider. “That’s why we’re addressing this now… We’re not waiting for someone to say,’I don’t want to come to State Street because it’s unwelcoming and they have problems…’”

A Follow Up Discussion on Sidewalk Behavior & Panhandling Ordinances

At their weekly meeting yesterday, the Santa Barbara City Council followed up on the proposed sidewalk and behavior panhandling ordinances (State Street Sitting and Lying Down Ordinance and the Abusive Panhandling Ordinance) designed to “maintain the aesthetic attractiveness of Santa Barbara which depends heavily on its tourism-based economy for its financial vitality.”

According to the Agenda, the  six proposed municipal code amendments are:

1) A prohibition against urinating or defecating in public
2) A prohibition on using public street furniture for the display of goods for sale or donation
3) Adding expanded safety zones around sensitive locations where captive audiences feel threatened by active panhandling. These areas include:

  • Within 25 feet of an outdoor dining area
  • Within 80 feet of ATMs
  • Within 25 feet of admission lines, such as movie queues
  • Within 25 feet of public benches or seating areas
  • On buses or other public transportation

4) Extending the existing “sit/lie” prohibition on State Street from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. of the following day, rather than 9:00 p.m.
5) Revising the prohibition on pedestrians blocking sidewalks to include congregated groups of people
6) Delegating the Library Director the authority to promulgate regulations for the use of the libraries, including the Central Library and its outdoor plaza

Each of these amendments have legal issues, including free speech and cruel and unusual punishment, that will now have to be worked out before they are enacted.


Gas Prices Falling in Santa Barbara, California

gasThe price for a gallon of gas has fallen to it’s lowest level in nearly four years across the United States, according to reports.

In March of 2014 here in Santa Barbara, a regular gallon of gas was pictured at the $4.29 mark. Today, the Mobile station on Mission listed a price of $3.47.

With crude oil prices falling, gas could get even cheaper in coming months.


By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150When you saw first read this headline, did it rhyme? Or did it sound like Reed/Dred?

How well would you do in the classroom—where reading is everything—if you couldn’t figure out the sounds that letters make?

“Just try harder.” “Just concentrate.” “Just care more.” That’s what struggling readers are told often told.

Or even better, “Just sound it out.” Right. In fact, sound out the word right, tight, might. If you can’t remember that gh is silent, it’s not much help.

Then if you do remember that gh is silent, it’s not much help when you encounter words like rough or tough or cough (oh, and by the way, rough and tough sound the same but cough doesn’t). Because in those words, the gh sounds like F.

Remember that, too.

‘F’ like in the Feeling of Failure that surrounds so many students in school today. ‘F’ as in the grade too many of them receive. Kids who are smart, motivated and curious. Kids who have a neurological difference in their brains that can make the typical classroom tasks, like remembering all the rules of spelling, silent letters, and sight words, reasons for no end of their misery.

Compounding their difficulty is that they may be able to tell you a richly detailed story, but writing it is problematic—so their assessments rarely reflect their knowledge or their intelligence.

That’s the dilemma faced by 1 in 5 students who must to be taught to read in a different way from the rest of the kids. The kids with dyslexia. And if they’re not taught with a multi-sensory, multi-modal, research-based reading program proven to work, their ability to read will plateau off at about a third-grade level and stay there.

Until some adult figures it out, and helps them get the specific help they need. But parents, teachers, administrators are often baffled by these kids who work hard and have the reputation as “slow readers” or kids who “don’t test well.”

Far too many of these kids manage to underachieve their way all the way through the school system, and show up at City College, where they finally get tested and learn the reason for their difficulties: an undiagnosed learning disability, with processing issues, often times dyslexia.

Too often, they don’t find out until they are adults working to help their own children who are struggling to read. Count the financial wizard Charles Schwab (and Santa Barbara High School graduate Class of 1955) and the brilliant director Steven Spielberg in that group.

Dyslexia Awareness Month displayOctober is National Dyslexia Awareness Month. Locally, it’s been so designated by our County Board of Supervisors and by our Mayor and City Council. Our Santa Barbara Unified School District is doing more to increase local awareness than ever before—including creating a display at La Cumbre Mall.

And this Thursday, at the Parent Resource Center at the school district office (720 Santa Barbara Street), I’ll be holding an Open House from 1p.m. to 5 p.m., and showing the acclaimed film, “The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia.” It’s the least we can do for our 1 in 5 kids who learn differently and depend on us to know how to teach them so they can learn to read, write, and do their best in school.

For more information, contact Cheri Rae at

On the Docket: District Elections in Santa Barbara

Tomorrow at the Santa Barbara City Council meeting, a resolution will be made to prepare all necessary actions and documents needed to enable the City Council to place before the voters at the next regular City Council Election in November, 2015, the question of whether to establish district elections.

The proposed ballot measure by Mayor Helene Schneider and Councilmember Bendy White, would create hybrid at-large/district elections, a system under which four council members would be elected by-district and three members, including the Mayor, would be elected at large.

A neat District Map circa 1940 on the wall of the Cajun Kitchen at De la Vina and Mission.

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Vote By Mail Applications Due Tuesday

polls_vote_countsIf you are a registered voter who would like to vote by mail, you must register by tomorrow for a one-time ballot or to permanently vote by mail. Viewers interested in voting by mail should call (800) 722-8683 by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

After 5 p.m. Tuesday, those wishing to receive a vote-by-mail ballot may pick one up in person at the county elections building, 4440-A Calle Real. Voters have until 8 p.m. on election day, November 4,  to return the ballots by mail or drop them off at any elections office in Santa Barbara County.

Four Dead Italian Stone Pines on Anapamu to be Removed Today

pines79 Italian Stone Pines were originally planted along Anapamu Street from from 1908 through 1921. Today, four of the dead Stone Pines will by taken down by the City of Santa Barbara. According to City Arborist Tim Downey, 12 more of the trees are in poor health due to the drought and bark beetles, 24 are in fair health, 26 are in good health, and 19 are in excellent health. For more information on how you can help the City of Santa Barbara help trees during the drought, specifically the Italian Stone Pines, call (805) 564-5433.

The Pearl Chase Society has stepped up, donating over $14,000+ to purchase 56 irricades which will help water the remaining trees. The irricades, pictured below, will be installed next week. If you’d like to help Keep Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, please consider becoming a member of the Pearl Chase Societymemberships start at only $30 a year and your membership will help in preserving Santa Barbara’s historic architecture, landscapes and cultural heritage.


Andree Clark Sunset Reflections

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Andree Clark Sunset Reflections
The drought has been hard on all of the natives and visitors of California, the Andree Clark Bird Refuge and its visitors have been no exception. But standing there on a beautiful peaceful evening like this enjoying the sunset with the ducks offers a wonderful break from all the cares of the day.

-Bill Heller

EcoFacts: the Three

Weekly column by Barbara Hirsch

All of us living creatures are sustained by food, water and air. And we determine the quality of these, little us (really big 7 billion strong us) , in one way or another. We seem so small and insignificant, but as an engaged citizenry – no, we are not. Unengaged, we give the power to others to decide things for us.

UnclesamwantyouThe food writer, Mark Bittman, wrote recently: “To a large extent, you can fix the food system in your world today. Three entities are involved in creating our food choices: business (everything from farmers to PepsiCo), government (elected and appointed officials and their respective organizations) and the one with the greatest leverage, the one that you control: you.”

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