Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cameron Benson New Creeks Manager

Short leash but six-figure salary? Perhaps it's a good trade-off...this in from the City of Santa Barbara (via a citizen stringer -- thanks!):


*SANTA BARBARA, CA – 5/29/2007 – *

The City of Santa Barbara is pleased to announce that, after a statewide search, Cameron Benson will be appointed as the new Creeks Restoration/Clean Water Manager in the Parks and Recreation Department. The Creeks Manager oversees a broad range of creek and ocean water quality, riparian and wetland habitat restoration, and public education and outreach programs.

Mr. Benson brings many skills and strengths to the position. As a Santa Barbara resident for nearly 25 years, Mr. Benson has contributed to the protection and enhancement of the region’s natural resources and public open spaces. From his role as Executive Director of the Environmental Defense Center as well as District Director for Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson, Mr. Benson has an established background in organizational management as well as extensive experience working with
diverse stakeholders to address complex environmental policy concerns.

Mr. Benson begins his position with the City on Monday July 9.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like an environmental roundabout director. Give the people what you think they want, like it or not!

5/29/2007 8:52 PM  
Anonymous London Britches said...

Let's have a Blogabarbara pool about how many days it will take McCaw/Armstrong to viciously attack Cameron in print?

Working for EDC and H-B are tipoffs.

My guess: Cameron gets it before his first day of work.

Pip! Pip! for now.

5/29/2007 9:52 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Cameron is a great guy but that doesn't matter over at the DLG SBNP -- 10 to 1 Vegas odds that he gets a mention before his first day....TKA might wait though now that I have put my hard earned BlogaBarbara salary down :)

5/30/2007 12:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another question is whether Benson and his new staff will keep acting like the Newspress is still a legitimate newspaper after continually not covering or incorrectly covering creek and city news.

5/30/2007 7:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When is he going to stop the homeless from polutting the creeks downstream after the city spends big bucks cleaning it upstream?

What a joke position. More waste of city money on "environmental" window-dressing.

Typical Das pictures himself "upstream" when he announces his re-election bid (to serve more than two years before he cuts and runs again?) Das, the creek problems are downstream - picture yourself there if you are serious about cleaning up this city.

5/30/2007 7:06 AM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

A little embarassing that Arryo Burro Beach made the list as one of the worst. Didn't get much from the report as to the cause...maybe I just missed it.

Glad my beloved Goleta Beach didn't. FWIW I would'nt mind a little mini Stearns warf built there. That kind of developement would serve the whole community and the type I'm in favor of.

5/30/2007 11:55 AM  
Anonymous David Pritchett said...

Only at Blogabarbara comments does the news of the new City Creeks Czar (as Nick Welsh would entitle him) morph into a jab at Das Williams and his future political ambitions.

A new State law likely will be enacted to extend the term limits for State Assemblymembers, up to 6 terms for total of 12 years. Blog that.

Also, Das yesterday announced his re-election candidacy at Arroyo Burro Lagoon, the lowest point in the seemingly most polluted watershed during the past year. Such a setting cannot be any more DOWNSTREAM than that. See fur yurself in the video:

Also, I deeply hope that the new "Czar" indeed enjoys a long leash (using the metaphor started here) and can reinvigorate the cash-flush City Creeks program. He and I both served on the Creeks Committee appointed by City Council, and know the reality from that side of the conference table.

I have argued many times that simple outhouses --installed where people without them congregate-- would be one of the most effective and cost-efficient water quality improvements possible, specifically eliminating direct deposits into the creek channels. Bob Hansen was right on that one, but he got shut down by the City even though he paid for the rental outhouses with his own money.

With the City Creeks funds, public outhouses where they are needed still can be a fast, cheap, and effective project. The budget also could even afford to smear white stucco on the outhouse walls and install some fake cardboard tiles on the roofs.

Sometimes the best answers are the most simple ones....

5/30/2007 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

David Pritchett: I am a little behind on the creek clean-up knowledge base as it has developed, but I remember reading recently that pollution alerts and levels were as high as ever. I know we've spent money on consciousness raising and exhibits at Arroyo Burro i.e. Hendrey's but haven't we by now actually mapped where the pollution is coming from? How can that be so mysterious?

I check out Mission Creek from time to time and don't understand why the Army Corps of Engineer canal concrete justs keeps on existing? There must be lawyers at play in all this.

Here on blogabarbara thanks to Sara's posting I got an eyeful of what was going on with flood control at the airport.

Since you were on the commitee of wise community leaders who were leading us through this morass of invisible changes, can you inform us here what we might hope for in the future.

A Bob Hanson easy fix with an outhouse is certainly one idea but I was hoping for more.

5/30/2007 5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David P - Creek Guy, do you just think neighbhors didn't like homeless outhouses parked in their midst and wanted them taken out?

No sense sending an invitation it is okay to live in the bushes. It isn't and it ain't.

Time for the homeless to move on - there are plenty of opportunities for them all over this fair state. They are not even playing fair for not trying.

5/30/2007 10:02 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Cameron actually got front page above the fold today...didn't read the article since I saw it in a rack :)

Only during a city council race so many months out would this post become a review of the homeless -- let's get over this subject, Santa Barbara is a desireable place to live and the economy isn't condusive to renting, much less ownership. The homeless aren't the reason that our creeks need cleaning -- get real!

5/30/2007 10:29 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

Dave P: And sometimes the simple ones think they have the best answers.

5/30/2007 10:35 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

BC -- letting that one go as I know DP has a thick skin AND I don't think that was necessary....if you are going to do a hit and run, at least offer us some of your more cogent ideas as an alternative? KnowwhatImean?

5/30/2007 10:44 PM  
Anonymous donaldo de Santa Barbara said...

As usual it's anyones problem but the status quo. Apparently no one is cutting back on fuel why would anyone expect that the masses would be cutting back on fertilizer use. Upstream, Downstream and every inch inbetween is polluted with those stinky bags of chemical crap from The Depot or Costco. I suspect the homeless are the scapegoat , not that I wouldn't mind if the city installed porta pottys, strategically placed downwind and out of view from all those driving by in their eco-machines. Honestly, I don't know why the city even trys to fix anything with all the whinners out there complaining about their self generated impacts. This planet is so incredible its too bad it's human inhabitants don't appreciate it. The city is doing an excellent job considering there are just a few constiuents who will actually get it and participates.

5/30/2007 10:49 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

Sorry...but the thought of outhouses dotting the creek banks throughout our city is such a lame idea that I figured Davey P. deserved a "hit and run". Let's all hope and pray that Cameron is inspired by his six-figure salary to come up with more practical solutions to the issue of creek pollution.

5/30/2007 11:48 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

Not to put to fine a point on it, but it was DP who mentioned the portipotties as one mitigator. I would like to know what he feels the other causes are. I live very close to a downstream creek and wetland area that will soon enough have 400 new condo units nearby and I'm wondering if Coal Oil Point will join AB on the list of most polluted. I know it's not SB city but we could use all the expertise we can get. Maybe we can get Cameron and DP to tag team these issues right here on SBs favorite blog. :-)

5/31/2007 7:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Santa Barbara's large homeless population cause significant creek pollution. Particularly the human pathogens found most alarming for beach goers.

5/31/2007 7:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only during a city council race so many months out would this post become a review of the homeless -- let's get over this subject, Santa Barbara is a desireable place to live and the economy isn't condusive to renting, much less ownership. The homeless aren't the reason that our creeks need cleaning -- get real!

You, of all people, should not be telling people to get over a subject. The entire purpose of this blog is to trash the News-Press. You even trash Travis before he has written anything, like you did in a post on this blog.

5/31/2007 8:46 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Actually that was "london britches" above not me! I hope Travis supports Cameron in this important work...

BC -- thanks. I echo your sentiments about having it that everything will go well.

5/31/2007 9:49 AM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

"...become a review of the homeless -- let's get over this subject"

That was you Sara. We did indeed beat this subject to death a couple of months ago. Obviously a devisive subject in town just as the subject of (dare I say it?) illeagal immigrants have polarized the national debate.

Off topic but maybe a good thread for this blog...Ed-Hat has a link to a "Santa Barbara Syndrome" that also speaks to the blogasphere and it's percieved impacts on politics. A good read.

5/31/2007 11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

-- 10 to 1 Vegas odds that he gets a mention before his first day..

Did you not write that, Sara?

5/31/2007 11:56 AM  
Anonymous mike jordan said...

Can you quit patronizing "bill carson" for a minute?

Human waste is one of the key pollutant sources in the local watersheds, and it directly links to beach bacteria counts and probably to human illness. If BC has an issue about an absolute link to illnesses, he's welcome to volunteer as the test subject, if he can get past the (porta-potty) mantra of fix the problem, but don't inconvenience me.

David's suggestion is one of but many strategies and techniques that either are in place or being worked on as time, money, and PUBLIC PARTICIPATION / ACCEPTANCE allow. It's also one which would have a significant return relative to the dollars invested.

Someone ... SDLG?.... certainly allowed this topic to immediately wander into worthless commentary. As David said, Das could not have been any further downSTREAM, if BC gets by using "simple ones," can I call anon 7:06 a ignorant moron for unsubstantiated "environmental window dressing?" and what's Benson's appointment have to do with the NewsMess?

This should have been an opportunity to look forward to the continued growth and improvement in this program. It also speaks to the recruitment process that an environmental litigator (just one part of his role, I'm sure) and the city can both agree that he's the person for the job.

5/31/2007 12:55 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

I am soooooo disappointed that no posting yet has explained to me why nothing significant has happened to improve the situation of the creeks. Isn't there a Measure B (or something) that eternally kicks in moolah to make creeks go native? Please, someone post something, that allows me to feel that more than exhibits, flyers, and nifty backgrounds for aspiring politicians making announcements, is the final result of these new taxes. Is the salary of the new fellow on the city payroll, paid out of Measure B funds? Where does the money for clean-up come from, and what does it really do? Please. Anyone.

I am suspicious that a District Director for an Assemblyman[woman]--so politicized as Hannah-Beth Jackson, would just focus on cleaning creeks.

Am I wrong? Is something else up?

5/31/2007 2:23 PM  
Anonymous titlan said...

I hope Cameron studies the creeks in the Goleta Slough watershed, where they under City jurisdiction.

The Airport has done a nice job to the west of the Airport... Tecolote Creek, I think.

But on the East side of the Airport they've not done so well. Las Vegas/San Pedro.

5/31/2007 3:32 PM  
Anonymous David Pritchett said...

Well, well, well...

I am glad to know I have so many fans. At least I commend Billy Carson for posting a comment under his real name.

I specifically brought up the clean water potential project of outhouses targeted for residentially-challenged people because it is such a hot radioactive and contentious issue. Outhouses for homeless people and whomever else needs to use them is a water quality project, because when anyone gots to go, they gots to go, and the likely only other place to go is under cover of the shrubbery or other structures around low ground that drains directly and quickly into a nearby creek.

Outhouses especially seem critical for use at night, when the public restrooms in parks are closed. I have done my own field research and participated in several tours that reveal clearly that people gotta go whether we like it or not. Homeless people are going to be here even though we do not like it, regardless of an outhouse available for use.

I believe that outhouses installed for a clean water purpose would be a highly effective project for the money spent versus the infective bacteria prevented from entering the creeks and ocean. Through the City Creeks Committee and afterward, I have advocated for this several times during the past few years, but no project has ensued nor has a plan been completed that might identify outhouses as a water quality project.

I suspect that City staff and Administration recognize how radioactive, inflammatory, and controversial a clean water project may be if it has the appearance of enabling or encouraging the greater problem of homeless people simply existing where most people do not want them to be.

The purpose of commenting here at Blogabarbara was to highlight how the new Creeks Division Czar may be able to advance such a project and deal with this political radioactivity. I do not have all the answers to where exactly such outhouses may need to go and how to make them look like neo-Spanish colonial architecture, but that is not my job but that of the very well-paid City staff to work out those details.

The City now has lots of data about where the bacterial "hot spots" are, but I still see a big gap and timidity to go the next step in confronting the direct link between homelessness and water quality. I encourage the new Creeks Division Manager, Cameron Benson, to fix that gap and confront the radioactivity.

I do know, though, that no one has considered "dotting" the creek channels with outhouses. The point is to analyze where the pollution is deposited, where the people are who make the deposits, and how effectively to encourage such deposits elsewhere. One might conclude that this is a water quality issue and an appropriate project for the City Creeks Division to pursue.

Also, I really doubt homeless people will decide where to sleep or whatever regardless of whether a portable outhouse is present or not, per the gotta-go principle.

Water quality and homelessness are linked far more than the City seems to want to recognize, or the greater political desire not to admit that homeless people need outhouses is somehow trumping the water quality goals of the City. That is the perception, and I welcome counterpoints argued otherwise, although I am done debating here.

As the saying goes, shit happens, whether an outhouse is present or not.

Also, to correct some comments here by this blog host Sara De la Guerra, I saw the article yesterday about the City hiring Cameron Benson in The Newspaper on page 2 Wednesday, not the front page. In addition, who, if anyone cares, is this Travis person anyway?

Just do not call me "Davey" unless you are my aunt from 20 years ago.

5/31/2007 5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a fantasy to think that people who are inclined to "go" wherever are going to make an effort to hit an outhouse. ain't gonna happen. they will continue to pollute creeks, waterways, sidewalks, alcoves---and we can thank our homeless-loving-city council for multiplying the numbers of homeless who flock here.

5/31/2007 9:03 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

11:56 AM -- I satnd corrected -- I was looking at my original post at first and not understanding what you meant...still, I don't think he's had his first day yet :)

Point is -- the Creeks Czar has been in TKA's line of fire before why wouldn't he be now?

Don Jose -- Cameron has been with the EDC for a few years now and done a great job, his prior work was largely environmental too -- there's no reason to doubt his intentions for a job that cannot be partisan. I'm not an expert on the Measure B funding issue but I am sure someone can help.

David -- I saw him on the front page left column on Friday...didn't know the story had already run prior. Thanks for the above too.

5/31/2007 9:24 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

8:30 PM -- did not publish your comment as it tried to identify an anonymous commenter. See our blog guidelines...

5/31/2007 9:26 PM  
Anonymous David Pritchett said...

Sara, The Newspaper had the profile article of Benson on page 2 for the issue last Wednesday, 30th May. The upper left side that day was the surf report and a teaser on the wayward whale at an inside article.

What trash are you reading?

And funny to read Mike Jordan here losing his blog commenting virginity. I am shocked that he is shocked that the topics of comments would drift off subject to Das Williams and the NewsMess. He and Don Jose should connect and learn from each other. Mark Lee could treat you all to lunch.

5/31/2007 11:03 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

The level pollution (and any other pollution for that matter) in our local creeks is directly proportional to the level of human population (yes, density) in the urban areas surrounding those creeks. The ever-present high-density housing, pro-development activists are more responsible for creek pollution than the entire homeless community could ever be (this ought to keep this post going).

Keep in mind, our homeless population is but a small fraction of the total. Their contribution to the problem is nothing more than a drop in the bucket (pun intended). You could let David P. personally supervise the placement of, say, 1,000 Andy Gumps along every drainage in our city. The extreme financial and aesthetic porta-potty cost would most likely result in a zero measurable change in creek pollution.

We can certainly make improvements by increasing our educational and regulatory efforts to reduce point source pollution, but the non-point sources are mostly a fact of high-density life. Yes folks, all this development comes with a price.

5/31/2007 11:30 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

"I have done my own field research and participated in several tours that reveal clearly that people gotta go whether we like it or not."

Really? Did you really have to research that? What was that like? LOL

I agree that it is a political third rail in this town. Enable the homeless or put up with pollution.

Maybe a test run of keeping the park restrooms open at night? I'm sure there'd be vandalism but maybe an outreach to the homeless community to at least not destroy them could help. Maybe we could build some permanent brick low maintenance facilities in inconspicous places solely for "their" use, with a sign reminding that outside relief activities bring bad karma and possibly broken elbows.

5/31/2007 11:48 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Well, I learned there are plenty of hotspots (just LOVE this radioactive terminology) but I don't know where they're are and what is the source of the hot spot. What about an online map? And I didn't here any comment about how we're making progress with our taxes.

Sorry Sarah, but former aides to politicians, like Das and plenty of others, require extra surveillance. I feel this way about lawyers too.

I think the homeless conversation is a bit of a red herring. Clearly one of the biggest problems in this town (besides cars) is dogs. (Wendy is not going to like this!) I think we should implement a Chinese population policy and allow only one dog per family max. That would wipe out several hundred thousand hots spots (and quite a bit of pedestrian terror).

11:03 Anonymous. I am ready to talk to anyone, anytime, in the interest of a better Santa Barbara.

6/01/2007 6:38 AM  
Anonymous mike jordan said...

aahhhh David....
you mean I'd have to treat your comments with the same skepticism as the rest of the anon's? I fear Don Jose + me would still equal less than a David, at least by the pound anyhow. At least we are both shocked together.

6/01/2007 8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Point is -- the Creeks Czar has been in TKA's line of fire before why wouldn't he be now?

Because some of believe that Travis goes after people when its warranted, not because he is evil. He is not going to go after some creek manager eho hasn't been in office. But you're just trying to paint a picture of Travis...because you have a specific goal for this blog.

6/01/2007 9:26 AM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

Maybe we could put cameras around the downstream and hotspot areas. That way law enforcement can track down the offenders and have them clean up as part of their penance.

From The Daily Mail:
"Police say the average Briton is on as many as 300 cameras every day, usually unaware..."There is no boot stamping on a face: just an ever more insistent foot in the door."

6/01/2007 9:33 AM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

"I hope Cameron studies the creeks in the Goleta Slough watershed, where they under City jurisdiction."

He better do it quick, the GV City Council is taking comments on San Jose Creek rework this coming Monday. Something about no EIR needed and no efforts to mitigate the quality of the water that flows to the channel...Of course we don't have homeless in Goleta which makes us slightly more perfect than SB.

(Dam, my rose colored glasses are dirty again)

6/01/2007 12:41 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

"...but the non-point sources are mostly a fact of high-density life. Yes folks, all this development comes with a price."

Say it ain't so Bill, I thought both SB and GV councils said that high density was the path to enviromental sustainability and a further step towards egalitarian utopia...

6/01/2007 12:52 PM  

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