Dealing with Drought: Laguna Blanca Going Dry

One group is doing their part to deal with the drought—the La Cumbre Country Club has turned off the water even if it means that the scenic Laguna Blanca Lake goes dry.
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Are We Really in a Drought?

Local Views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

Monday morning driving up Mission street at 7:30 I saw sprinklers on a park strip watering the street, sidewalk and drought tolerant lavender plants.  Monday evening on KEYT they reported the Hearst Castle visitor center has closed their bathrooms and now has portable toilets outside. Are we really in a drought?

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The Verdict on Jim Armstrong’s Tenure?

Jim ArmstrongJim Armstrong is stepping down as Santa Barbara City Administrator after 14 years of service. The likeable and well compensated Armstrong kept the City afloat during very tough times, but a lot of development took place on his watch as well. Is Santa Barbara better off than we were 14 years ago? You decide—the Santa Barbara View poll question of the week…

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More Info: the $288 Million City College Bond

By Ernie Salomon

sbccI have received several communications from people who did not know about the huge enrollment of students in Santa Barbara City College that do not live in our district. They have trouble believing the numbers.

It has been reported that less than 1%, (500 out of 45,000) of students who attended SBCC enrolled in the University of California system last year.

The huge enrollment of students from outside our district, from outside the state and from outside of the country, has hampered local students from getting into classes that are overbooked with outsiders and thus they cannot graduate SBCC in two years.

Many students at SBCC are perpetual students who stay enrolled in classes for several years. Attending SBCC is their vocation! This is another reason that local students have to wait for class seats to open up in order to complete their required courses.

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$5 for a Gallon of Gas in Santa Barbara

photo (9)Get ready to pay more at the pump… as the holiday weekend ushered in the highest prices for a gallon of gas on the Fourth of July since 2008.

One station in Goleta, pictured left, had Super+ priced just under $5 per gallon! Compared to last year, gas prices are up about 20 cents a gallon and are expected to rise throughout the summer months.

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A View of Santa Barbara’s Braille Institute

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

The Braille Institute
For the last 5 years, I’ve driven by The Braille Institute EVERY SINGLE DAY. I live about 200 yards away from their Santa Barbara offices and I thought I knew exactly what took place in that beautiful building – they only teach the blind how to read braille, right? WRONG. They do so much more than I could have ever imagined.

I first met with Barbara Hoffman, their volunteer services manager, in February and she was literally the first person I met with to discuss my May Days concept – and she loved it! She honestly gave me the confidence that I was on to something special.

Barbara spent some quality time with me that day and let me know all of the special things that they accomplish every day. They do everything from teaching the blind (or those with severe sight loss) how to read braille to teaching them how to cook a meal without getting hurt to teaching them how to do laundry and keeping their matching clothes together. There are so many things that those of us who are not visually impaired cannot even comprehend. I never once thought “yeah, how do the blind person cook a meal without burning themselves?” or “how do the blind ensure that they are wearing matching socks when they walk out the door?”.

Barbara planned a great day for me – actually, she planned the perfect day for me. I first spent time with some amazing visually impaired men and women at Zodo’s – our local bowling alley. That’s right. We went bowling. AUTHOR’S NOTE – I was in a bowling league at Zodo’s for 2 years. I have my own ball. I have my own shoes. I also got my ass kicked by Betty, a legally blind woman that is an awesome person and an amazing bowler!

Losing aside, I had a great time with James (the volunteer who spearheads these outings – a GREAT dude) and the rest of the crew. Everyone was having a great time and I can honestly say that this may become a common outing for me moving forward. Everyone has their own story as to how they have lost his/her vision – from brain tumors to other various diseases, the end result is the same. Each person is losing (or has lost) something that the rest of us take for granted every single day of our lives.

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Advice for the Soul of Body and Mind: Date Night

IT’S YOUR LIFE. Advice for the Soul of Body and Mind
with Dr. Kathleen Boisen

We have two young children, my husband and I have very little quality time together, alone. Our therapist suggested we create a date night, and have dinner somewhere special just the two of us. Unfortunately we have found it difficult to have a decent conversation amongst the noisy music and over stimulating restaurant atmosphere. Our last date we actually left with our desert and ate it in our car so that we could have a meaningful conversation. We’re almost ready to give up, but do you have any suggestions??

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Above all DON’T GIVE UP. This is a subject close to my heart since noisy environments are one of my hot buttons. I have excellent hearing and when I go to a restaurant with a friend, the conversation is just as important to me as the food. Otherwise I’ll just have the food to go. Modern standards of loud music and rushing make many places unpleasant for me. Good news, I know just the place that is an oasis for those who desire exquisite food and a meaningful evening out atmosphere.

Although there are many fine restaurants in Santa Barbara, I am most impressed by Downey’s Restaurant, just a few doors down from the Arlington. I have eaten there often enough to have discovered a hidden, unique treasure. It is table sixteen, often referred to by staff as the “sweet sixteen table”. It is a quiet table in the back, sheltered by swagged curtains, it is a private spot for two, uninterrupted and secluded, There have been many engagements and anniversaries celebrated there. Surprise, “here is your diamond ring, will you marry me…” events to remember.

The food is spectacular, award winning Chef John Downey is unique in his understanding and design of food. My favorite is the four course “feast of Santa Barbara” meal for just $55. My last meal included salmon and filet mignon, the deserts are something to dream about. But what I also appreciate is the calming atmosphere, if the music isn’t to your liking just ask and they will graciously change it. For some people this might seem too grown up; table cloths, beautiful art and a wait staff who are polite and charming. If this is too civilized then I must be too European, old fashioned.

If I want noise, kids yelling, a few TV’s blaring, food on a paper plate, a paper towel for a napkin, with food that is undefinable…I’ll stay home, I can have plenty of that there.

My home kitchen has a 0 on the Zagat rating, a system for distinguishing restaurants culinary stars. Downey’s has a consistent very high rating, and by the way, I never have to clean up or do the dishes..

It seems to me that we are losing sight of many special moments and memories that need to be created in our lives. Of course I’d like to have my private jet available and fly off for dinner in Paris, or a three week vacation in Bali. The reality for most of us is that those kinds of special times only have every so many years, if ever. We need to escape now, to be pampered and eat a brilliantly cooked meal with meaningful conversation without having to shout at each other or use sign language.

For the benefit of inspiring myself to continue to work hard, and increase my brain’s happy neurotransmitters, I must find meaningful ways to be rewarded. My personal goal is to have something special to look forward to every month, or if I’m really lucky every two weeks. Smell the roses, eat the chocolate tart and savor the wine. There is an expression in the technology of the Science of Happiness, if not now-When?

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The News-Press Meltdown: Eight Years Ago

Re-Posted with comments from Santa Barbara View’s Vintage Vault:

On Thursday, July 6, 2006… former Santa Barbara News-Press editor Jerry Roberts was escorted out of the News-Press building, escalating a saga which rocked the Santa Barbara community. Following Roberts out the door that fateful day were Metro Editor Jane Hulse, Business Editor Michael Todd, and Barney Brantingham.

In the following weeks, more than 70 Santa Barbara News-Press employees, one-third of the paper’s staff, either quit or were fired. Thousands canceled their subscriptions and the community turned to digital media for news and information.

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Santa Barbara City Lights

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Santa Barbara City Lights
A nice long exposure just after sunset from the end of the breakwater. The tide was pretty high when I took this last week, so I came back from a nice evening walk on the breakwater a little soggy. But it was well worth it. I was not the only one crazy enough to brave the beautiful waves either. There were more than a few people trying to enjoy the view while running from dry spot to dry spot on the breakwater. I actually had fun trying to capture the breaking waves, but they seemed to take on a life of their own. Taunting me only when I turned my back. When I came close to the wall ready to snap my shot quickly then duck, they seemed to know I was stalking them. I actually got all the way out and most of the way back before they caught me off totally off guard. I guess the score is waves 1 – photographer 0, but there will be plenty of warm evenings this summer to give me the opportunity to even up the score.

-Bill Heller

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Saturdays with Seibert

Local Views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

I was at Home Improvement Center this week to buy some algae cleaner for a flagstone patio.  The product had some specific mixing instructions and had an added tag.  I got to thinking this might be good on many more products.  Someone once told me,

“There’s never enough time to do the job right, but there’s always enough time to do the job over.”

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EcoFacts: State of Winds

Column by Barbara Hirsch

Windmills_at_Infersa_Salt_Pans_Marsala_Sicily_ItalyWindmills have been doing work for us for two millennia. The Danes began using them to produce electricity at the dawn of the previous century, and are now leading the pack with wind power per capita. In fact, on a Sunday evening eight months ago their turbines produced more power than the country used, over 100%. The next month, wind averaged 55% of their consumption.

The world’s largest offshore wind farm is to be built in the Netherlands by a Canadian company – Northland Power – with Siemens providing the turbines. It will produce 1.5 million folks worth of electricity.

A Northern German state now generates 120% of its own needs with renewables – mostly wind and solar – exporting the excess.

For a few days last month, wind energy supplied two thirds of electricity needs in a southern state in Australia.

Spain relied more on wind than any other power source, in 2013.

How about here in the U.S.? Over 4% of our power came from wind in 2013, and Texas, land of the big, uses the most electricity but also generated 10% of it with wind last year. Check out this state of the states in wind power production, keeping in mind that 1 MW of rated electricity capacity is enough to power around a thousand relatively conserving homes, or half as many in the south, like in Texas.

And for the bird lovers:

Windmills aren’t the biggest serial killer, but are instead the smallest threat to birds worthy of mention, on par with airplanes.”

Buildings (and windows) kill the most birds by far, followed by high tension power lines, cats, vehicles and pesticides. And, as the same author states of humans: “Roughly 20,000 of these moderately-intelligent animals die prematurely each year from air pollution from coal and oil, according to a study ordered by Congress.”

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The Moreton Bay Fig: Planted on July 4, 1876

This date in Santa Barbara history… the famous Moreton Bay Fig was planted!

Legend would have it, that on the 4th of July in 1876, a young girl living on State Street received a mysterious seedling from a sailor down at Stearns Wharf, who was returning from an Australian voyage. The sailor told the young girl to plant it and see what happens. What happened was the Moreton Bay Fig. A year later, because the young girl had to move back East, never to see Santa Barbara again, she gave the young tree to a neighboring friend, and the seedling was transplanted from 201 State Street to the same block on Chapala. Needless to say, the tree grew and grew.

Now, the famous tree’s root system encompasses an acre of ground near the train tracks and highway. The tree – dubbed the Moreton Bay Fig because it was native to Moreton Bay, Australia – really isn’t a fig tree. It has since been identified as a “ficus Macrophylla”, a cousin of the rubber tree family; however, it is believed to be the largest of its species in the world. So, plant a seed today and see what happens.

Happy Fourth of July Santa Barbara!

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Milpas on the Move, Part II

Column by Sharon Byrne

World Cup Extravaganza at Pro Garden Supply

pgs sharonThanks to John Palminteri, I discovered Nat “Nathalio” Waller intended to provide 4,000 tacos for the Brazil V Mexico game at Pro Garden Supply on Milpas.

No, you don’t need to get your eyes checked. You read that right. 4,000 free tacos.

I immediately hustled over to find out if Nat was open to inviting the neighborhood? He enthusiastically said yes, because he’s just an all-around great guy. I sent out the invite immediately to the Milpaserenos. Turnout was huge. The tacos were amazing! The setting was awesome because Pro Garden Supply is loaded with gorgeous plants, flowers, and trees. The match was electrifying. Milpas is THE perfect place for World Cup action. Mental note to self: make Milpas into World Cup HQ Santa Barbara in 2018, if I’m still kicking.

Thank you Nat!


We’re Moving On Milpas!
We’re three months into the Milpas 1000 Challenge to drop 1000 pounds collectively, and get fitter around here. This month’s Milpas Moves! – our free community workout – came from Esteban Ortiz, who teaches a butt-kicker of a Zumba class at Casa De La Raza at 6:00 PM Mondays and Wednesdays for the bargain price of $5.

If you’ve never tried Zumba, it’s a blast. Think Salsa dance meets aerobics. A cardio workout that’s sexy. You actually feel good while burning massive amounts of calories. About 10 minutes in, you’re convinced you’re at least part Latino, as this is clearly in your blood. Plus you can’t stop smiling even though you’re sweating. In public.

Pushy Shovels grows incredible organic produce in the Eastside Community Garden, just a few blocks off Milpas. Marcos Olivarez turned up to give away free organic, locally grown goodies to the community! Maybe organic produce costs more, but we can all afford FREE.

Yes We Can!
Big win this week: we scored grants and a nod of enthusiastic approval from the Visual Art in Public Places Committee for a project near and dear to our hearts on Milpas: Yes We Can! turn our public trashcans into art.

IMG_4322Our trashcans are… well, eclectic, as we have multiple styles, and they’re not always in the best shape.

They’re expensive to repair and ridiculous to replace: like $2000+ per can. So rather than pester the city to spend a bunch of taxpayer dollars, we wondered if WE could take ownership of them by turning them into public art pieces?

We need to clear the Architectural Board of Review, but things are progressing. We’ll create some prototypes, with the Casa De La Raza youth arts team preparing the art. They’ll work up colorful pieces depicting a clean, healthy Milpas community. We’ll capture the art with a high res camera, print it to outdoor vinyl banner, and ‘wrap’ the cans. It gives Milpas an instant facelift, provides a public gallery for our youth to display their artwork, and gives kids (our most prolific litterers) a vehicle to educate each other on creating a better place for us all.

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The Saga of ‘Sambo’s,’ The ‘Racist’ Restaurant Chain America Once Loved

The Daily Beast offers another view of Santa Barbara’s Sambos, which turned 57.

Not too long ago, right here in America, there was a restaurant called Sambo’s. That’s Sambo: as in, the racist slur for a loyal and contented black servant. Or Sambo: as in, The Story of Little Black Sambo—the controversial 1899 children’s book by Helen Bannerman about a dark-skinned South Indian boy that eventually came to be seen as emblematic of black “pickaninny” stereotypes.

And far from playing down the connection to Bannerman’s book, Sambo’s played it up. The restaurant’s original mascot was—you guessed it—a dark-skinned South Indian boy. Oh, and did I mention that there wasn’t just one Sambo’s? There were 1,117 of them, actually. In 47 states. And there’s one still left today. Read full article…

If you are not one of the 10,500 people following Santa Barbara View on Facebook, you should be! Click Continue Reading for a local Sambo’s story left in the comments…
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Don’t Mess with Milpas, Part I

Milpas on the Move by Sharon Byrne

Don’t Mess With Milpas!
In April, several buildings on Milpas received a thorough dousing in some lousy graffiti. I say lousy because it wasn’t anything artistic. Nothing original. Just scrawls. If you’re going to risk getting seriously busted doing graffiti, at least aspire to be Banksy-esque. There’s no achievement in juvenile scrawls. 3 year-olds can do that…

One of our merchants called me the next day – he’d caught the guy on video. The merchant asked me to connect him to the police, and I did. He turned over the tape, and the Nixle alerts went out. This merchant has a high volume of consumer traffic, and asked some of his regulars if they knew the vandal. Turns out several did. Santa Barbara, is, after all, a fairly small community. So the merchant gave the id to the police, and pushed for an arrest.

Wish granted:

This particular merchant doesn’t want a bunch of accolades or acknowledgements, so we’ll leave it quietly at this note of gratitude. We’re happy for Milpas to acquire a reputation of busting graffiti vandals. Don’t mess with Milpas!

Vandalized property owners can get restitution for vandalism damage. It’s handled by the District Attorney’s office. You can find out more here:

Milpas Outreach Project Aims High, and Scores.
Problem: What do we do about the chronically homeless remaining on Milpas, or anywhere in the city for that matter? Add the following constraints:

-They’re banned from all local homeless facilities for repeat poor behavior.

-Life on the street has become a way of life. Change is frightening, and difficult.

-Multiple contacts with Police and Fire create continued detrimental behavior effects on the community hosting them.

The Mission:

Move them out of homelessness in six months or less.

The Team:

Milpas Businesses, Restorative Police, Mental Health, Common Ground outreach volunteers, formerly chronically homeless, Legal Aid, Casa Esperanza, Veterans Administration (from LA), C3H, and more.

The Results:

We’re batting about .400, which is astonishing, given the fact that some have been homeless for decades. The business community on Milpas has stepped up: we’ve paid for detox, and for driver’s licenses at the DMV so they could have ID to get on housing lists. We’ve written a grant for one, and are advising him how to create a micro-enterprise. We’ve hired another at a Milpas business to provide income and a sense of purpose. Bureaucratic hurdles in accessing programs have been cleared. People formerly at odds are working together. Progress is being made.

I will write about this more in-depth in July, as the project closes in June. Honestly, it’s giving me hope that a community can solve this problem for itself.

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