Atmosphere of Old Spanish Days Fiesta in 1924

As the official opening open of Old Spanish Days Fiesta closes in, here’s a look back: Excerpted from the WPA American Guide Series to Santa Barbara, 1941.

A latent longing for the less prosaic was found everywhere under the surface of the casual, and it soon found expression in the task of re-creating the romantic yesterday. In every home there were preparation and anticipation. All-but-forgotten melodies and dances were revived. Charming ladies had learned them in their long-gone youth and, though their years bordered on the century mark, they graciously and skillfully taught them to eager new generations.

The city was draped in scarlet and gold, the old royal colors of once mighty Spain. Precious heirlooms, unearthed from family chests, again graced proud forms—quaint ruffled frocks, gay shawls, and high, gracefully carved combs. Silver braid, bright sashes, and broad sombreros emboldened the most retiring citizens as they embarked on the synthetic adventures of other days and other ways.

This was the atmosphere of the first old Spanish Days Fiesta in 1924, and the same spirit has characterized every subsequent renewal.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 1 }

30 Years Ago Today: Santa Barbara the Soap Opera Debuted on NBC

30 years ago today, the soap opera Santa Barbara originally aired. The day-time drama, which revolved around the fascinating and tumultuous life of the wealthy Capwell family of Santa Barbara, California, debuted on NBC on July 30, 1984, and last aired on January 15, 1993. Santa Barbara aired in over 40 countries, won 24 Daytime Emmy Awards, and was even watched y the Reagans in the White House.

Comments { 3 }

Get Fiesta Ready at Victorian Vogue

last min fiesta 001Old Spanish Days are here and it’s not too late to get Fiesta ready at Victorian Vogue. Santa Barbara View caught up with Sonia Hayward who had this to say, “Fiesta brings us an infusion of different groups of the community — all ages and socio economic backgrounds. We love the energy these celebrants bring to both the store and our staff. Generally we dress in Fiesta wear all week and offer nibbles to our customers. It’s a time to remember Santa Barbara’s roots.”

The store on upper State Street rents and sells everything from formal authentic Spanish attire to Zorro costumes to Mexican sombreros and ponchos and everything in between. “We believe the party begins with the preparation!”, said Sonia. “Time and again old friends reunite here and strangers become friends in the process of renting their outfits for the various events. Once we even had a man ask a young woman to accompany him to a private fiesta party!

When you dress in the appropriate garb, you are treated like a part of the festivities instead of a detached audience. Our consultants are able to dress you head to toe.”

dancerSo get down to Victorian Vogue 4289 State St and get Fiesta ready for this 90th year celebration. Viva la Fiesta!

Comments { 1 }

Drought, Smought, What’s it all About?

Column by Sharon Byrne

I’m trying to follow this issue diligently, really I am, but it’s very hard to figure out what’s really going on. Are we in a terrible drought… or not? Reading news stories…it’s all a bit confusing.

Santa Barbara View photo: Cachuma Lake, April 2014

Santa Barbara View photo: Cachuma Lake

The city of Santa Barbara has declared a Stage 2 drought. This sounds pretty dire, but Stage 2 is not that severe. There are restrictions on landscape watering. You should only wash your car at a commercial facility that recycles the water. Water is to be served on request only at dining establishments, gyms should limit shower times, etc. Not the end of the world, clearly. The city is letting its park lawns go brown. Stage 2 restricts golf course watering to nights, so the municipal golf course can stay green a little longer.

Though the city hasn’t declared a water emergency to the point where we need to exhale into plastic bags (banned) to recapture water vapor expended through our breathing, some of us are becoming drought-hawks, and maybe we should. A bit of chastening been circulating locally on the (still) emerald qualities of the lawns of the Fess Parker and Oprah’s estate. Fess’s lawn is actually browning at the edges, and they were quick to implement water-saving procedures early in the year, so leave off with chastising them. Peabody Charter installed a brand new lawn, raising eyebrows. City fountains have gone dry. Others, not so dry. But that’s allowed in Stage 2 – you can have a fountain. You just can’t replenish it with fresh water.

However, not everyone moved so rapidly into drought-hawk mode. Goleta made the local news for not imposing any water restrictions, with no plans to do so until September. And they just approved a big housing project. Hmmm… did they not get the drought memo?

Palm Springs plans to put some restrictions in place by August 1st. The Coachella Valley Water District hopes to have something in place by August 12th.

Aren’t they in the desert? Shouldn’t the drought have hit them long ago?

These planned restrictions are in response to the State Water Resources Control Board’s announcement July 15th that it will enforce state conservation rules with limits on washing cars, watering lawns and golf courses only overnight, and serving water at restaurants only on request.

Wait, that sounds like the Stage 2 drought the city of Santa Barbara already declared.

Ahhh, so some communities just haven’t declared drought restrictions yet for themselves, depending on their particular water situation. The state thinks things are pretty bad, though, on the water front, no matter how flush with water resources a particular community may be at present. That’s why the State Water Resources Control Board is moving to impose $500 fines on water wasters. Our city just beat everyone to the punch because the State Water Project refused to deliver any water this year, and Cachuma shrunk to pond size, inducing panic, appropriately. Communities with more ample water resources are making their own calls, and some are late to the drought table here, even those in the desert. Got it.

Given that each community water agency seems to have its own rules for when to kick into panic mode, as a whole, we’re not moving as a state to respond very aggressively to drought conditions. Didn’t Governor Brown declare a drought State of Emergency in January? How long does it take for that to take effect? Heck, the state hired Lady Gaga to do public service announcements to encourage Californians to take extraordinary measures to conserve water. You can see the PSA at
Gaga stumbles through a teleprompter to send you to, which re-directs you right back to Not the best marketing strategy ever. There you can find handy tips on saving water, including the clever tag line “brown is the new green.” It doesn’t seem to be subliminal plugging for Governor Brown…

I listen to commercial radio in the car, watch a little cable TV, and read a lot of California news stories. However, I have yet to be hit with that particular PSA.

Summing up: the state has declared a drought state of emergency and rolled out a PSA campaign probably only seen at this point by those who crafted it. The state is setting water restrictions at stage 2, and declared intent to issue fines for those not in compliance. Water districts are figuring it out one-at-a-time, with disparate rules regarding drought declaration and water restrictions, depending on their local water resources. Santa Barbara is willingly parching itself, while the desert seems amply supplied via aquifers, with time to spare in declaring a drought.

Maybe everyone doing their own thing is why we struggle so hard as a state every time a drought rolls around.

Comments { 22 }

Drought: You Won’t Believe This

Dan Seibert

Lawn1About two weeks ago I sent Santa Barbara View this photo of the contrast between the lawn at Chase Palm park and Fess Parker’s resort. Shortly thereafter I saw similar reports on KEYT news and Noozhawk. I also watched the city council meeting and Mayor Schneider brought up this very issue.

So it was very surprising to see a different scene last week. Instead of the lawn at Fess Parker looking dryer, the lawn at Chase Palm park is now green.

I did a little test of the hotel lawn. Notice the height of the grass above the curb across the street. The grass is kikuya, considered a noxious weed in some areas of the country. It is on both sides of Cabrillo and in most parks in the city. Kikuya gets thick and spongy after a few years, as is the lawn in front of the hotel. I made a hole to check the soil, through two inches of matted grass I could feel wet soil. In some places the grass is more like four inches thick. They must be putting a lot of water on it in order to penetrate the thick mat.

Drought, what drought?

Comments { 11 }

Countdown to Old Spanish Days Fiesta

The official opening to Old Spanish Days Fiesta is but a few days away! As always, Santa Barbara View will provide coverage of the region’s most historic and celebrated eventespecially on Facebook and Twitter. Below is the upcoming Calendar of Events.
Viva la Fiesta!

PDF Calendar provided by the Santa Barbara Sentinel, text listings below.


Downloadable PDF Guide to Old Spanish Days Fiesta by the Santa Barbara Sentinel.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 3 }

Deserving Dogs Rescue & Rehabilitation, Santa Barbara

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

Have you ever had the feeling that you’ve just met someone that is going to do great things? I had that feeling when I spent the day at DAWG – an amazing no-kill shelter in Santa Barbara. I met Angela Adan there and she let me tag along with her as she wore her many hats at the shelter. I also spent a lot of time talking to her about her own nonprofit that she started herself a little over 2 years ago. Oh, did I mention that she’s only 25 years old? That’s right – this EXTREMELY ambitious lady started her own 501(c)(3) organization when she was 23 years old. Makes me feel like a total loser. There. I said it.

Ever since I met her I was hoping to spend a day at Deserving Dogs but it just didn’t seem to be in the cards- my month was extremely booked for my May Days project. Luckily for me, Memorial Day became available and she graciously allowed me to spend the day with her on moving day! You see, she houses and trains these dogs at her home – and the home she was renting was recently sold. In other words, she had to find a new home to rent that would allow her and her 11 dogs to live and flourish. Oh, did I mention that all of these dogs have medical or behavioral issues? Yeah – Angela only takes on the most difficult of challenges (again, I’m really feeling like a loser). Luckily she has found a temporary solution in Solvang – but we’re hoping to find her a better long-term setting here in Santa Barbara (more on this later).

In just the last 2 years, she has rescued over 230 “problem” dogs – and each one of these dogs has been through her home, lived with her, trained with her, and been rehabilated by her. I’m not talking about a situation where Fido just barks a little too much. I’m talking about dogs that have been abused their entire lives, dogs infested with cancer, dogs about to get euthanized by the county – the most troubled of the lot.


We’ve all heard about Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer. I can honestly say that Angela is as close to him as anyone I’ve ever seen or heard of. She is extremely cerebral when it comes to this process and she absolutely has a gameplan when dealing with each and every dog. She even has a couple of permanent helpers, Buddha (a former bait dog with battle scars over his entire body) and Baloo (a dog with a rare form of cancer that has affected his entire body, inside and out), who serve very distinct purposes. For example, they both protect her in case things get a little dicey with a new member of the family.

Keep in mind, the stories that each of these dogs bring with them are tragic. Granted, I’m a dog lover. But anyone with half a heart would struggle while listening to these tales. For example, one little pooch, Polly, and spent her entire life in a cage – only allowed to leave the cage to relieve herself. She was never touched by a human. When Angela got a hold of her she was a mess – she would literally pee if any human even made eye contact with her. Well, she’s now a totally “normal” pooch and is going to be adopted tomorrow! Just think about that. This is a dog that would have been guaranteed to be euthanized if it weren’t for Angela. She is now rehabilitated and moving into a loving home!

In our society, we often times talk about dedication – and, frankly, I believe that word gets thrown around too frequently. Not in this case. Angela is the single most dedicated person I’ve even met – as her mission statement says, she’s dedicated to saving the lives of dogs in need. For example, she hosts free weekly training sessions along with her friend and fellow-trainer, Brian Glen (who by the way, she thinks is the greatest trainer ever), for anyone who needs help with their pooch. She does it to get her name out there, right? It’s a total marketing ploy, right? WRONG. She doesn’t even hand out her own business cards (something I need to work with her on, ha!). She does it for the sole purpose of saving dogs. You see, if these people don’t get help with these dogs, many of them will take them to a shelter – and therefor many of these pooches will end up getting euthanized. She is literally saving lives.

This is a charity I feel very strongly about and I’m going to do my best to help her grow this thing into a huge life-saving nonprofit. She deserves it – the dogs deserve it. So, how can you help? Our first goal is to find her a permanent home for her and these amazing dogs. Ideally she is looking for a home in Santa Barbara or Montecito with lots of room for these pooches – a place where she doesn’t have to be paranoid about one of her dogs barking (note- I was blown away by how quiet her place was – these dogs are VERY well behaved). She is VERY responsible (for example, she just recently paid a $5,000 vet bill) and I can promise that this ambitious woman will do amazing things. So, if you know of a home that is a fit, or if you know of anyone who may have any ideas, please let her know by emailing her at

The second way you can help is by visiting her site and donating to this great cause. . . at minimum, please help get the word out about this awesome woman and her wonderful charity!

Comments { 1 }

Evening Over Stearns Wharf

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Evening Over Stearns Wharf
A nice cool evening out on Stearns Wharf. This is one of my favorite times to be out on the wharf. Most of the shops have closed and the only people out are fishermen or the restaurant patrons heading back to their cars. Of course it’s a little harder to get ice cream and candy at this time… but the parking is free!

-Bill Heller

Comments { 2 }

EcoFacts: Kelp

Weekly column by Barbara Hirsch

Those of us who do ocean sports here and elsewhere are intimately familiar with kelp, the fly gathering mounds of it on the beach, becoming entangled in it in the water, but also its sheer graceful beauty. When the water is clear, looking down into a kelp forest is like glimpsing a fairytale world, evoking the magical experience of snorkeling.

KelpHarvester_MG35514I gratefully watched kelp harvesting one day while paddling, a ship with a giant rake pulling the kelp vines off the surface and to a conveyor belt leading to huge piles of it. This was an area that we paddlers usually avoid as it is so thick with the stuff. I had no idea then of the value kelp forest ecosystems held for the planet and us, though, or that what I saw was harvesting being done in an ecologically acceptable way. New growth happens quickly if the plants are skimmed from the surface, not yanked from the ocean floor.

Kelp has been harvested for ages, for use in gunpowder (!), fertilizer, food thickening agents and in the cosmetics industry, algin being a key ingredient extracted for some of these products. It has tremendous economic value to us, is also highly nutritional as a food, chock full of easily absorbed minerals, trace minerals and other nutrients, and as a plant food. Kelp powder is popular among organic farmers.

The environmental value of kelp forests is becoming more evident, their being home to all kinds of sea creatures, including shellfish which act as filters for our agricultural runoff that has been so damaging to ocean ecosystems.  Check out this cool video on one fisherman’s transformation, work and success in showing us the super vegetable status of this sea weed. We may be eating lots more of it, soon!

Comments { 3 }

Saturdays with Seibert

Local views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

News out of New York City this week was the American flag on top of the Brooklyn bridge being replaced by a bleached one. Meanwhile, on the front of the Balboa building the California flag looks almost as bad. – Dan

Comments { 1 }

Everybody Loves the Greek Festival!

“Kalos Orisate,” say the Greeks—Welcome!

The 41st Annual Santa Barbara Greek Festival at Oak Park: Saturday, July 26 and Sunday, July 27, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Santa Barbara is well known as a beautiful, Mediterranean-style community located on the scenic California coast. It’s less well known, but still significant, as home to a diverse population—including a thriving Greek community. The heart of this Greek community—indeed its very soul—resides within the congregation of Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church.

Members of the congregation have long shared their beloved Greek culture with all of Santa Barbara at the annual Santa Barbara Greek Festival. This year, the festival marks its 41st year. The annual event is a warm and wonderful celebration of every facet of Greek life.

Oia, Greece

Oia, Greece

It’s about the food—the delectable flavors that season festival favorites like moussaka, tyropitas, dolmathes and gyros. It’s about the pastries—the delicacies like baklava, kataifi, kourabiedes and melamacarona. The names may be nearly unpronounceable, but the pleasure is undeniable…the delicious flavors that festival-goers anticipate all year long. You’re sure to find a meal to satisfy your tastes in the many booths serving tempting Greek treats.

The Greek Festival is all about the fun—the joy of taking to the stage to participate in the same dances you would perform in the ancient villages of Greece. Admire the beauty of the intricate costumes worn by performers who share their carefully practiced steps, and often intricate dances with the admiring crowd. Enjoy the thrill of listening to the distinctive sounds of authentic Greek musicians who perform traditional songs with exotic instruments like the bouzouki.

The Greek Festival is all about the spirit of community, the friends and family who flock to the festival and imbue it with a spirit the Greeks call “Keffee,” (which translates roughly to “possessed by the spirit of happiness”) You feel Keffee from the dozens of volunteers who enthusiastically staff their booths year after year, creating a convivial, welcoming atmosphere. And you feel it from the other festival-goers who experience that undefined, easy feeling of well-being as they stroll through beautiful Oak Park, enjoying the sights, aromas, the sounds and feeling of being transported to another time, another place.

The Greek Festival is all about the simple pleasures that make life worth living: take the day off and join your friends and family for a day in the park. Dance the afternoon away, eat a little (or a lot), shop in the Greek marketplace, relax and enjoy yourself under the oaks in the warm embrace of the best the Greek culture has to offer.

So maybe you can’t make it all the way to Athens this year; The Santa Barbara Greek Festival is the next best thing to being there—without the jet lag!

Comments { 3 }

Editor Defends Mission & State Experiment


Letter to local media by Joe Donnelly, founding executive editor of Mission and State

msI was saddened by the announcement on Tuesday that Mission and State was coming to an end many months and hundreds of thousands of dollars before it should have. That the announcement came on the same day Judge Colleen Sterne denied the city’s proposed gang-injunction is a bittersweet irony I’ll get to.

I was the founding executive editor of Mission and State. It was an honor to have been selected to start up this noble enterprise and I was even more honored to work alongside the dedicated and passionate journalists I had the pleasure of working with during my tenure, which came to an abrupt end early last March.

I can assure you, everyone who worked with me approached his or her job with the utmost integrity. It is mostly for them, their work, and their legacy, that I feel compelled to address the onslaught of unchallenged misinformation regarding Mission and State, at least as I knew it.

The first thing I want to put to rest is the narrative of failure being foisted onto the community. Publicly circulated attempts to justify the missteps regarding the disposition of Mission and State and to spin its demise in recent news accounts have explicitly or implicitly trafficked in the notion that Mission and State wasn’t meeting its objectives, was “burning” through its budget, that “radical action” was need to save it from failure, that the Knight Foundation had pulled its funding, etc.

This narrative isn’t accurate or fair and belies the hard work and commitment of the journalists who strived to make a difference with Mission and State.

Despite what you may have heard or read, the Knight Foundation had funded Mission and State for two years contingent upon local matching funds, a challenge that Santa Barbara commendably met. That funding wasn’t in question until the recent attempt by the Santa Barbara Foundation to offload the project. It’s also worth noting that the Knight Foundation, according to a report made at an advisory board meeting last fall, was extremely happy with Mission and State’s initial direction and progress. Peer associations such as The Investigative News Network also lauded Mission and State as a model for nonprofit, multimedia digital journalism.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 9 }

Wins and Setbacks: Solving Chronic Homelessness Is About As Hard As We Thought

Milpas on the Move by Sharon Byrne

I wrote about the Milpas Outreach Project back in January, when it was just cranking up. With the changes at Casa Esperanza, increased patrolling in the area, and removal of environmental cues that enabled loitering, the majority of transients left Milpas. Some long-term homeless remained in the area, and most don’t cause issues, though we would prefer to see them off the street, of course. But there are a few that create continual problems. When the street had a larger transient population, they blended in. Now they stick out, occupying the same bus stop or parking area daily, often intoxicated or passed out. They require repeat police and fire responses, and after carting them off in ambulances multiple times, we’d had enough.

We connected with Jeff Shaffer of the Central Coast Collaborative on Homelessness (C3H), the group responsible for reducing homelessness across the county. We crafted the Milpas Outreach Project to get our 5 highest flyers off Milpas into a sustainable living situation in 6 months or less. That’s a very ambitious goal, given some of these characters have been on the streets for decades.

We meet weekly at Casa Esperanza, and determine next steps with each individual. We’ve roped in Mental Health, outreach volunteers from Common Ground, Legal Aid, Restorative Police, the Veterans Administration (they drive up weekly from Los Angeles for this meeting, as some of our high flyers are vets), shelter staff, and the business community. Two formerly chronically homeless individuals round out the team. They know every hiding spot and excuse in the book.

HomelessMilpasThis is the first time businesses have been at this table, and it creates quite a tension of opposites. The outreach team wants to establish relationships with the homeless. They’re interested in case history, what facilities the person has been in, medical and mental health issues. Their priority is compassion and treatment. The business community tends to be on the opposite end of the spectrum. The litmus test for us is whether reality on the street corner has changed. If he’s still there, day after day, it’s not a success. So we tend to provide a ‘shove’ and organizing framework to drive for progress. The team also has the grueling job of working through the maze of bureaucracy entailed in getting someone off the street. There are tons of forms to be filled out, mental health assessments, and other seemingly infinite minutiae required to queue someone for housing. Turns out you have to apply at each housing facility in the city, something I didn’t know before attempting this project.

We’ve also stumbled into an old problem for this town: Santa Barbara is non-profit rich, and coordination-poor. It’s hard to get everyone pulling in the same direction at the same time – they’re used to being in their silo, serving what they feel is the need, and partnerships are few, scattered and not coordinated. We’ve made some big strides in that area.

Of course, setbacks happen…often. These individuals are chronically homeless for a reason. A business paid for detox for an individual, who then went back to drinking, suspicious that we were carrying out some vast conspiracy against him. You get one into shelter…. and they check themselves out to return to their old haunt on the street days later. It can be very disheartening, so the wins are very sweet. One of our worst repeat offenders is now housed, sober, and doing well. Another is employed by a Milpas business, getting help with his veterans benefits, and applying for housing.

One is on the fence. We got him into detox through the VA. He checked himself out and came back. He’s in shelter now, but we’ve caught him panhandling and drinking – both no-no’s. It could go either way with this one.

One is stonewalling the outreach team. He’s quite amenable, willing to go to appointments…and then balks on taking any big steps that would change his life.

Our final case is determined to stay intoxicated and raise hell on Milpas. The path forward here is incarceration or Housing First… a tough sell. How can we justify giving housing to someone like this? It’s like we’re rewarding them for wreaking havoc. Yet evidence shows Housing First does work in these cases. You house them first, and then provide services to help them get their lives together. They tend to stay housed, and off the street. It also turns out to be cheaper than the repeat police / fire / jail / hospital circuit. But philosophically, it’s hard to digest.

At the conclusion of the six months, we decided to keep going, because it’s the only thing that’s worked. It’s also as hard as we thought it would be. It truly takes the community to solve this problem. But every success saves a lot of taxpayer dollars currently spent on emergency services. Once we thoroughly nail this process, it can be replicated to other neighborhoods. That would be a win for our city.

Comments { 8 }

Santa Barbara’s Gang Injunction Denied


Gang Injunction Ruling

Colleen Stern, a Santa Barbara Superior Court judge, denied Santa Barbara’s gang injunction. The PDF left contains her 32-page decision.

“Wherever you stand on the gang injunction, you must acknowledge the damage gang activity does to a neighborhood, its families, and its children.” Sharon Byrne

Comments { 5 }

The End of Mission and State

Last Tuesday’s appeal by local media outlets objecting to the partnership arrangement made between Noozhawk and Mission & State made an impact on Santa Barbara Foundation President and CEO Ron Gallo.

In a letter posted on Noozhawk, Mr. Gallo announced the end of Mission & State…

the Santa Barbara Foundation has decided, with the understanding of the principals of Noozhawk — who have acted honorably and with good intentions throughout — that the current management arrangement must be brought to an end. It is effective immediately.”

Ron added, “a third iteration of Mission & State not be attempted at this time… In terms of next steps, we will be working with the Knight Foundation, local donors and Noozhawk to settle existing obligations, return (on a pro-rata basis) unused monies, and most important, commission a white paper on our nearly-three-year experience… With all that said, it is time, I hope you agree, to move on.”

So sadly, there it ends. A $1 million dollar investment in Santa Barbara journalism gone, with very little to show. Imagine the possibilities…

Comments { 33 }