Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

BlogaBarbara Person(s) of the Year - 2008

Many thanks to all of you who put nominations in the hat for the BlogaBarbara person(s) of the Year. There were a good amount of nominations and given the events of the last year -- the result should be pretty obvious.

The BlogaBarbara Person(s) of the Year will yet again go to a group of people rather than an individual. In my mind, we would be fools not to name the many firefighters of the Gap and Tea Fire as the recipients for 2008. It is amazing to think how we went through two very serious fires this year and the work that went into fighting each of them. Our community is thankful and many of us were lucky not to have lost our home even though many of us did. We also saw an impressive display of interagency cooperation as local governments, the state, the feds and fire departments across the west worked to keep our community safe.

Runner Ups:
  • Gangs - a nomination that is worthy as their impact was far too great with an increase in violence that was noticeable everywhere.
  • Bill Mahan for organizing the height limitation ordinance. This nomination may have been a bit orchestrated but is well received for his efforts.

Other worthy nominations included:

  • Barack Obama -- who I did not consider as his achievements are more national in scope.
  • Wendy McCaw for further diminishing the quality of local news.
  • The City College Nine Plus One -- wasn't sure what this reference was about...I must have been sick that day.
  • City Bureaucrats -- for draining the life out of downtown. This might be up to interpretation in a recession but I saw the point.



Anonymous art said...

The City College Nine Plus one is a reference, of course, to those yet unnamed students who started the Tea fire that devastated so many lives and homes. That they remain anonymous in this community is probably why even you, Sara, have to wonder who they are and what they will ever do to compensate the victims for the horrific damages they inflicted on them.

12/30/2008 11:33 AM  
Anonymous irony detector said...

Wow. Praising the firefighters. How innovative!

Bill Mahan was nominated because of his short-term memory and hypocrisy for approving the Chapala St. monster building projects as a Planning Commissioner and then a few years later opposing those same projects he helped to design from the dais.

12/30/2008 12:05 PM  
Blogger Judge J said...

I respect and recognize the firefighters as the brave and gallant people they are but try as I might, I can only half-heartedly join in the kudos over their recent efforts - several hours after the fire began that night, our home burned to the ground without a single firefighter ever having appeared on our street to fight it or even to tell us to evacuate. The City had years to prepare for this very fire, after having experienced the Sycamore Canyon and Coyote fires (including the winds), but the equipment, strategies and firefighters were quickly and completely overwhelmed. I believe it is imperative that the city of Santa Barbara and its citizens take a long hard - and honest - look at the strategies, equipment and personnel this town uses to respond to these wildfires. There have now been three major wildfires in 15 months and clearly, there will soon be others, perhaps many, perhaps even more devastating. The most recent firefighting efforts were "successful" only insofar as they may have prevented an even larger disaster - which in no way do I mean to minimize - but the reality is that they failed to prevent over 200 homes from being destroyed. No one can or should take much comfort in a strategy that results in the loss of so many homes and displaces and damages the lives of so many people.

I have heard various stories about the reasons there was not a single firefighter on our street - we waited until the last possible moment to leave, more than an hour after the fire broke out, without ever having received an evacuation notice or order, no reverse 911 call, nor anything else - we left because the fire was less than 100 feet from our house and advancing and the air was filled with embers and becoming unbreathable.

I don't claim any fire-fighting expertise but I have heard that one of the reasons there were no fire-fighters present was that many of the trucks and firefighters which initially went to Mountain Drive quickly became trapped there and were unable to get over to the Riviera to defend homes and structures there until it was too late. (Late night water drops came hours too late to protect the many homes, including ours, that burned that night).

I don't know if that information is accurate or even whether it matters. The point is that it is imperative that this town give serious consideration to changing the way it responds to these fires. Whether the answer lies in the State of California having a small fleet of DC10s or other tankers at the ready somewhere in Southern CA, able to reach almost anywhere in the region relatively quickly, or the City of Santa Barbara maintaining one or more aircraft at the airport (by the water), I don't know - costly as such programs would be, surely they would be less expensive - and far more effective - than the millions and millions of dollars in property losses and firefighting costs incurred in battling the Zaca, Gap and Tea fires. Clearly, the present approach isn't adequate or "successful". Now is the time to address these issues - before an even bigger and more disastrous fire strikes.

12/30/2008 2:12 PM  
Anonymous Too tall Hal said...

Bill Mahan rocks! You got my vote, Mayor Mahan.

12/31/2008 9:20 AM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

News flash: The "firefighters" are not the only emergency responders during a wildfire. For example....the County Sheriff and SBPD were responsible for evacuating all the residents.

In other would be foolish to praise just ONE of MANY agencies that work to protect the community.

1/01/2009 12:46 PM  

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