Casa of Santa Barbara County

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

After recently becoming a father, my entire outlook on life has changed. I’ve become a hell of a lot more sensitive and aware of all the things wrong with the world. I’ve also been exposed to so much that I was not aware of during my May Days campaign. Recently, I spent an unbelievable day with some amazing women with Casa of Santa Barbara County who made me very aware of a serious problem – there are so many abused, abandoned and neglected children who have nobody fighting for them in the court system.

Casa’s goal is to assure a safe, permanent, nurturing home for every abused and/or neglected child by providing a highly trained volunteer to advocate for them in the court system. An amazing goal, right? Sure beats my “shed a few pounds of fat in the next 30 days” goal. . .


I spent the first-half of my day with Crystal Jensen-Moreno (Volunteer Manager) and Tara Gross (Outreach Coordinator) who gave me the ability to witness something that most people do not get a chance to see – juvenile court in session. It is extremely difficult for me to articulate the emotions that overwhelmed me throughout this morning.

I knew I was going to see some heavy stuff. . . I just didn’t know how intense it would be. I saw parents losing all parental rights to their children. fathers and mothers in shackles, and children getting verbally reprimanded for smiling at their incarcerated father (“it’s illegal to communicate with an incarcerated person in court”). This was the stuff you only see on TV shows. The most disturbing scene for me was a VERY pregnant woman losing all parental rights to her 3 year old – and she showed NO EMOTION whatsoever. She didn’t care. Oh, where was the father? Nobody knows. He has disappeared and has never shown up to any court date. They had to serve the father via publication (ie publish it in a newspaper) that his parental rights were terminated. That child has to overcome more obstacles right now than I have ever faced in 37 years.

After just a few hours, it became VERY clear to me that these children need help, they need support, they need someone to look after their best interest. Casa does exactly that. Continue Reading →

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Cypress Super Moon

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Cypress Super Moon
The view from last night above Butterfly Beach. At the time I did not realize this was a “supermoon”. A full moon that coincides with the moon’s perigee, the closest part of the moon’s orbit to Earth. But the crowds of people out along the beach watching seemed to suggest something was up. Of course the moon needs to be very close to the horizon to really notice a difference in size, but then every moonrise is beautiful here.

-Bill Heller

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EcoFacts: All Those Devices

Weekly column by Barbara Hirsch

home-electronics-13The state of electronics today – wow, it’s a big one, probably even a country’s worth! We are wed to them and the manufacturers must continue to produce and sell as many as they can, so one is never enough, or quickly needs replacing. And they are so cheap as to be disposable, fast fashion of a sort. We pay a thousand or two per year for the connectivity and a thousand or so to buy the things, but the hidden costs are a much bigger issue.

In 2012-2013, we in the U.S. (PDF) purchased close to:

  • 125 million computers, 150 million tablets and e-readers, 75 million TVs, 250 million cell phones
  • In 2010 (last count) in the U.S. we disposed of around:
    384 million assorted devices – computers peripherals, phones, etc. and 19% of them were recycled.

Continue Reading →

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Saturdays with Seibert: El Encanto Parking Update

Local Views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

pdf-logoThree months ago I posted about the neighbors of El Encanto objecting to employees parking on APS, in violation of agreements made in the planning process.

Two weeks ago I drove by Orpet Park on APS and noticed very few cars parked below the El Encanto. I counted 8 in the entire block. This is a huge reduction from earlier this year. My contact in the neighborhood sent me the PDF, click image left, letter sent by the City to the El Encanto.

Looks like the hotel worked things out. Good for them.


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Need Help From The City? Here’s Where To Get It!

Milpas on the Move by Sharon Byrne

In the process of working to improve Milpas, we’ve engaged with the city of Santa Barbara repeatedly. One of our first lessons we learned in urban renewal was to find all the services the city provides that can help you to help your community. We’re pretty fortunate around here that our city has several helpful numbers you can call for various concerns. To get the list, call (805) 897-2526.Call list f

Post it up on your fridge, and start dialing!

See an abandoned shopping cart? Call the Shopping Cart Hotline at 1 (800) 252-4613. They’ll come retrieve it and return it to the store of origin.

photo[3]FHow about dumping on the sidewalk? The first of the month always produces a plethora of mattresses, TVs and other urban flotsam on our sidewalks.

Yes, it’s irritating, but there is something you can do. First, there is a Junk On The Sidewalk hotline. Call (805) 564-5413 to report dumping, and they will come pick it up. Second, if you happen to catch someone in the act of dumping, Sue Sadler in Code Enforcement is your new best friend. For Sue to be able to prosecute an illegal dumper, she needs an eyewitness, a photo (whip out that cell phone), or other proof of the identity of the dumper. I once found a dump pile on the sidewalk with the dumper’s mail conveniently included, so I turned it in to Sue to pursue. She told me they catch a lot of folks that way! Sue is at (805) 564-5669.

We pride ourselves on being very walkable as a city, but some of our sidewalks are in need of repair. If you see uneven pavement, cracking, rupturing, or other sidewalk issues, call the Pothole and Sidewalk hotline at (805) 897-2630. They will take your sidewalk complaint, and put it into a queue of repairs, so don’t get miffed when a city truck doesn’t immediately pull up to start repair work. They will eventually get to it.

There’s also the ever-popular Graffiti Hotline. Caveat emptor here: the city removes graffiti from public property only. So if you find it on a bridge, city building, public trash can, park property, road sign, or other public place, call it in. If your property was vandalized, you should report it to SBPD so they can photograph it for their graffiti database. When they catch vandals, they search through their photo database for similar tags, and prosecute for all matches. So it’s worth reporting. And if they catch the vandals, the District Attorney’s office has a restitution program – very good reasons to report graffiti.

One number on the list reflects Santa Barbara’s rather unique set of problems – the Leaf Blower hotline. If someone fires up a noisy gas-powered blower nearby, call PD Dispatch at 897-2410.

Finally, if you want to be active in making our city a cleaner place, you can participate in the Giant Annual Community Clean Up Day! Looking Good Santa Barbara, run by Lorraine Cruz-Carpinter, puts this on with a huge assist from Marborg. Over 500 volunteers come out for 3 hours on a Saturday morning to scrub off graffiti, pick up trash, remove dumped items, corral shopping carts, plant trees, and more, all in service to a cleaner community. It’s a wonderful activity for families, and creates a great sense of ownership and pride in our city. The first 200 volunteers to sign up online will receive a $5 Starbucks gift card at the event. Sign up at


So quit whining, make some phone calls when you see problems, and come to the clean up! If we all do just a little, it can add up to making a huge difference!

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14 Years Ago, Wendy McCaw Bought the Santa Barbara News-Press

On July 10, 2000, billionaire Wendy P. McCaw beat out chains to buy the Santa Barbara News-Press, one of California’s oldest newspapers. The purchase bucked the trend of newspaper consolidations and corporate ownership. Here is how the 2000 story read:

Media analysts say a sale to a wealthy individual like McCaw could mean that the News-Press won’t have to face many of the financial pressures that come with being part of a large, publicly traded newspaper chain, but they also question whether McCaw will allow the paper to operate independently or use it as a sounding board for her social issues.

McCaw–who is worth about $1.5 billion, according to Forbes magazine–declined to be interviewed. But aides say she was motivated by a desire to bring local ownership to the newspaper she reads every day and save its historic downtown Santa Barbara office.

‘The News-Press has long had a central place in the community, and she thought it should be owned by a resident of the community,’ said Joseph Cole, general counsel at McCaw’s Ampersand Holdings. ‘She didn’t want to see the kinds of cutbacks that might come from a new owner.’”

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To Do List for Next Santa Barbara City Manager

Jim Armstrong, the City’s retiring Administrator, graded out pretty well on this week’s Santa Barbara View poll. Moving forward, Henry Dubroff, publisher of the Pacific Coast Business Times, offers up five things to do for Santa Barbara’s next City Administrator:

1. Complete the waterfront buildout
2. Revitalize the Downtown Organization
3. Keep an eye on the airport
4. Continue to innovate on the homeless issue
5. Finally, don’t ignore pensions

What would be on your list to help Keep Santa Barbara Santa Barbara?

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What Would Jesus Water?

Staying on theme, here’s another post from Dan Seibert

Over the Independence Day weekend I drove around the upper East side of SB and I noticed the lawns of the churches. Some were green, some were not so green. So I did an informal survey of the churches I know of. The city of SB has asked everyone to reduce water use by 20%, and I’m grading these church lawns.

It was obvious, Trinity Episcopal on State and Micheltorena was an A+. Not only is the grass dead, they even have bare earth visible. Next with an A-, is the SB Mission. Although some other churches might use less, the Mission has the highest visibility of any church in town and the lawn looks half dead, while still providing picture perfect photos.

Then we have a tie of three B’s. First Presbyterian on Alamar and State, half dead lawn and no lawn in the park strips, that’s good. Next is the Unity church on Arrellaga. And the Lady of Sorrows on Anacapa & Sola, all of these look half dead.

The Unitarians on Santa Barbara street and Arrellaga is looking a bit too green, but the kicker is the verdant park strips along Santa Barbara street. Sorry but that’s a D.

Finally, and regrettably is the biggest loser, or biggest user. That would be the Mormons on Santa Barbara street, from Padre to Los Olivos. Enormous green lawns and green park strips. And you know, I rarely ever seen people at this church. (not like the Mission)

Are we really in a drought? If so, what would Jesus water?


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Drought Discrepancies

Staying on the topic of drought, one of the provisions in stage two reads: “Use of water in ornamental water features and fountains is prohibited.” While the Dolphin Fountain at the bottom of State Street is turned off, others around town continue to flow.

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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.
image (1)
Continue Reading →

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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.

Continue Reading →

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