Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Where It All Began...

Thought many of you would be interested in two videos of Santa Barbara in 1969, plus a time capsule of environmental reporting as it existed at the time-- this series predates PBS and much of the environmental movement...and was the first eco TV series in the US.

"This program examines the controversial 1969 off-shore oil leak near Santa Barbara and demonstrates how the blame belongs not only to the oil companies, but to government, scientific, and civic parties as well."

Video 1 | Video 2

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McCaw Continues to Amaze

Craig Smith reports that the Santa Barbara News-Press wants to hold the 3rd District election over again -- I guess she thinks students don't read newspapers.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Santa Maria Council Member Hilda Zacarias to Run for 33rd Assembly District?

Back in January, BlogaBarbara looked at whether council candidate David Pritchett had really announced his candidacy on Facebook.

It looks as though Harvard grad and Santa Maria Council Woman Hilda Zacarias has either announced or is getting ready for an announcement that she will be running for the 33rd State Assembly District seat currently held by Sam Blakesleee. Although there is no official news yet that I can see, her Facebook page has been created.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Is Santa Barbara ’s Riviera being treated like it’s a developers’ playground?

A Community Post from a concerned reader. --Sara

Chapala Street, Outer State Street , the Mesa, St. Francis neighborhood, Waterfront, Hidden Valley , and now the Riviera .
Virtually every part of the City has felt the crushing impact of the City’s practice of piecemeal planning and approving projects that violate the City’s zoning ordinance, through the granting of “modifications.” This “death by a thousand cuts” will eventually destroy the very character and charm of the community so many have worked so hard to maintain.

On Tuesday, April 28th, at 2:00 p.m. the City Council has the opportunity to uphold sound planning practices and preserve the historic qualities of the El Encanto Hotel by upholding the appeal filed by a group of concerned residents.

We all loved the El Encanto Hotel and want to see it restored, updated into a first class hotel that will continue to be a vital part of the historic Riviera neighborhood as it has for 96 years.

But, since the Orient Express purchased the El Encanto with a Master Plan just completed in 2004, the new owners have received permission by city staff to change the approved plan five different times, and a modification to the zoning code with virtually no public notice or review. This included tearing down the historic main building, and replacing it with one that is substantially larger and taller, all without any environmental review whatsoever!

Now they are asking to add an additional 17,000 square feet of new non-residential development on the site, including transferring 10,000 square feet of development rights from an industrial area of town to the residential Riviera . This far exceeds the voters intent to limit non-residential development by adopting Measure E, and again with no environmental review.

We support the restoration and modernization of the El Encanto Hotel, we recognize the importance of this hotel to the local community and our economy. Now that the Orient Express has told the community that they have halted construction because of the economy, there should be no rush to approve a plan that doesn’t fit our community character or that violates our zoning ordinances.

Help uphold Santa Barbara existing zoning ordinances.

Zoning for the El Encanto is R-H. This Resort-Residential Hotel Zone, was initiated in 1957, and updated in 1974 and clearly states the “Legislative Intent” as:

The purpose of the R-H Zone is to provide for the highly specialized uses that are associated with the development and operation of resort-residential hotels and to insure the least possible conflict with or disturbance of the amenities attached to and associated with adjoining residential areas.

The current proposal before the Council seeks 4 more modifications to the Zoning Ordinance! A “modification” is the City’s term for allowing projects to be approved that do not comply with the requirements of the City’s own Municipal Code. This is happening all over town, and must end.

One of our major concerns is the introduction of a huge, redesigned hotel operations and utility distribution complex combined with a 43 car valet parking lot proposed for the corner of Alvarado Place and Mission Ridge Road – one of the gateways to the Riviera .

Previous plans shared with the neighbors and the community, provided for subterranean parking spaces beneath tennis courts. Most in the neighborhood and community felt this was reasonable, and the immediate neighbors supported it. However, without communicating with any of the neighbors or those most effected, the out of town (actually out of country) developers attempted an end run and revised the plans in a manner that will destroy the neighborhood character as we know and love it. This is inconsistent with sound community planning, and we need your help to make our voices heard.

The newly revised plan includes a 43 space, above ground, tandem valet parking lot and the relocation, from the main building, all of the ‘back of house’ operations, administration, laundry, dry cleaning, employee rooms as well as the installation of a centralized industrial plant for heating and cooling for all 96 rooms, hot water boilers, back up generators and electrical transfer stations. In other words, all operational equipment and personnel would be moved out of the main building and away from the guest rooms and placed directly adjacent to the residential neighborhood.


We know there are other ways to design this project so it can be in conformance with existing City codes and ordinances.

Next Tuesday, the project is finally going before officials we elected, and who have indicated in the past that they support Santa Barbara ’s historic fabric and maintaining our quality of life. We are hopeful that they will stand up to the developers make a positive decision to uphold the intent of the zoning code and protect the residential ambiance of this area, by upholding the appeal, and require Orient Express to change their plans to fit the community character.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bridge Barrier Question Remains

Received this from an avid reader -- does this change anyone's mind? Could tragedy have been avoided? -- Sara

The latest Cold Spring Bridge suicide--on April 4 of lifelong Santa Barbara resident Lynne Martyniuk has reverberated throughout the Santa Barbara community.  So many people throughout the community knew Lynne, who was also a nurse at Cottage Hospital, and had three young children.  Where is the bridge barrier? See below links for a glimpse of the grief and outrage this latest preventable tragedy has caused.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Intimidation and the Assembly Race

There's some talk around Jerry Robert's article last week and what Council Member Das WIlliams said about "feeling intimidated" in his possible race for the Assembly against Susan Jordan in the primary. Much do about nothing? It seems the Jordan people think it says something....

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mayor Pro Tem Francisco Proclamation

I ran across this proclamation the other day and had to wonder whether the Mayor would have done has to do with Port Hueneme but was heavily covered in the News-Press because of the Navy League. She was out of town....hmmm. Not sure if this is that relevant to Santa Barbara. Is this similar to an Iraq War resolution?

PR: Home Buying Incentives at Willow Creek Goleta

Got this press release and thought the incentives were rather creative. --Sara


Willow Creek Townhomes Offers Extra $15,000 in Credits
On Top of 2009 Federal and State Government Homebuyer Tax Credits

GOLETA, CALIF. (Apr. 1, 2009) – Bargain prices, deals and credits are all the rage for first-time homebuyers. But in Santa Barbara County, it’s not just the government luring buyers with extra incentives. Willow Creek, a private enclave of charming Craftsman-style two- and three-bedroom townhomes, is adding $15,000 in purchase credits, a one-of-a-kind incentive program in the city, for first-time home buyers of new homes for a limited time. Willow Creek’s $15,000 credit would give first-time buyers up to $33,000 in purchase credits because it works in tandem with the recent federal and state economic-stimulus package:

As part of the federal program, first-time homebuyers who purchase a home between Jan. 1 and Dec. 1, 2009, are eligible for a tax credit of 10 percent of the value of their home, up to $8,000.
The California state tax credit, on the other hand, is not limited to first-time home buyers and offers either five percent of the purchase price or $10,000 in state assistance taken over the period of three years for new home purchases only.

Four buyers have taken part in the Willow Creek incentive program. One of the recent buyers is Joseph Crosby, 32, born and raised in Santa Barbara. He works for the Santa Barbara Roasting Company as a sales manager. A first-time buyer, Crosby and his wife spent the last two years house hunting in the area. When Crosby learned that he qualified for the federal, state and extra Willow Creek incentives, he made the decision to buy within two days.

“We were on the fence with buying a house and the credits, especially the added boost of $15,000 from Willow Creek really got us off the fence to buy the home of our dreams,” said Crosby. “My two-year-old daughter can live in a new home within a beautiful and safe community and the property value is expected to go up in the next five years, especially in this area—it’s a win-win situation for all.”

The incentive is geared toward single taxpayers with incomes up to $75,000 and married couples with incomes up to $150,000. For the state tax credit, there are no maximum income limitations so any buyer purchasing a previously unoccupied home can qualify.

“We introduced our incentive program to give home buyers much needed relief especially in this economy. In the last month, we have seen more people interested in buying at Willow Creek because of our $15,000 credit incentive,” said Kim Crawford, Willow Creek Sales Agent. “And it helps that we’re located next to UC Santa Barbara and other colleges and businesses close by. Students and their parents, recent graduates and faculty want to live in new homes in the Santa Barbara area and they can finally do so at a much affordable price by purchasing a townhome in Willow Creek.”

The new credit does not have to be repaid. For more information on the federal tax credit, visit

The difference between the state and federal credit is that qualified buyers must purchase a qualified principal residence that has never been occupied. For more information on the state tax credit, visit

About Willow Creek
Willow Creek is a 37-unit development of Craftsman-style townhomes located in the heart of Old Town Goleta. With construction completed in September 2007, the two and three-bedroom homes feature spacious living areas, vaulted master bedroom ceilings, sleek granite kitchen countertops and soothing limestone-style tile flooring. Prices start in the mid-$400,000’s. Four layouts are available ranging from 905 to 1,413 square-feet. Willow Creek is owned by Hollister Development Company, LLC.

Just a 10-minute drive from Santa Barbara, the lush, natural property is conveniently close to UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara City College, excellent public and private schools, Glen Annie and Sandpiper Golf Clubs, premiere vineyards, and pristine beaches. The address is 345 Kellogg Way, Goleta, 93117. For more information, visit or call (805) 284-6699.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

JMike doth protest too much, methinks.

Under the byline, Justin "JMIKE" Michael -- this is part of an opinion piece that was printed in The Daily Nexus on Tuesday:
Do you think I’d run for mayor if I’d strangled, punched or choked a woman? I plead guilty to a misdemeanor domestic charge, which I plan to expunge this June. The girl in question brought charges against three other prominent men. It’s a “Fatal Attraction” or “Swimfan” type saga.

Why all the kvetching about getting the help he needs and received at Zona Seca if he didn't "strangle, punch or choke" a woman? Like Queen Gertrude in Hamlet uncovering her own intentions -- JMike doth protest too much, methinks. Next, why would a mayoral candidate choose the Daily Nexus to submit an opinion piece? Yes, there are student voters that live in Santa Barbara but Nexus readership is certainly more Isla Vista-based.

He goes on, rather full of himself, to tell us about speaking on Oprah and how therapy helps. Day-by-day, he says, he is getting the helps he needs. Now some great advocate for women's rights, JMIke wants to be your Mayor -- all I see is a big ego and an even bigger risk for voters in Santa Barbara.

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Pappas Legal Challenge to Return? Wha!?! Redux

Former President Ronald Reagan might have said -- 'There you go again'. Steve Pappas, even after losing fair and square in a previous case related to the last 3rd District Supervisorial election, has filed an appeal -- presumably again under the tutelage of Nancy Crawford Hall. Supervisor Farr's lawyer says this action may be insanity under Einstein's definition....I agree. Is Pappas working -- or is this his job now?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Locals Only? Haskell's Beach Scope Hearing

The Haskell's Beach condo project that The Bacara had tried to ram through the General Plan last year with 13 amendments is finally beginning to hear input from the public (Noozhawk). A scoping hearing last Thursday brought this interesting comment from Michael Lunsford from the Gaviota Coast Conservancy on The Bacara's request for changes to the General Plan:

“The question is, ‘Would this kind of treatment be given to me or any other homeowner in the city of Goleta?’” he asked. “It’s been my experience that you don’t get past the planning desk until you’re consistent. And yet, in this case, we have a massive change.

“I’m afraid that what you’re doing is setting yourself up for a constitutional issue of equal treatment,” he said. “The rooms that are being anticipated are larger than my remodeled house. I suspect that is consistent with most people who live in Goleta.”

Interesting argument as there has been some question in the past as to the more typical beach public access approach (taken by others in the hearing I am sure). Now that the massive changes The Bacara proposed are public -- at least the plan can take public input. Members of the public who missed the scope hearing may submit written comments to Goleta City Hall until 5:30 p.m. April 16.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

April Madness? Adam from KJEE Plays Tries to School Tony Strickland in B-Ball

State Senator Tony Strickland played Adam the sports guy from 92.9 KJEE in one-on-one basketball yesterday and the result, in Adam's words, was "a destruction". State Senator Tony Strickland won 7-0. There was a definite height disadvantage in this game. Adam might have done better Hannah-Beth Jackson as they look to be the same height -- but with Judge Eskin doing the play-by-play, she would have had the advantage.

Photos courtesy of Locals Night.

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Of Interest: Dalai Lama Broadcast

KCSB 91.9 FM to Air Exclusive Live Radio Broadcasts of Dalai Lama’s UC Santa Barbara Speeches

SANTA BARBARA—On Friday, April 24th, KCSB 91.9 FM, Santa Barbara’s only non-commercial community radio station, will air exclusive live broadcasts of two speeches by the Dalai Lama from the Events Center at the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara. The 14th Dalai Lama’s public lectures have been sold out for months, but listeners can tune into KCSB 91.9 FM or to KCSB’s live webstream ( to hear his lecture, “The Nature of Mind,” from 9:30-11:30am, PDT, and his follow-up talk, “Ethics for Our Time,” from 2-4pm.

This visit will mark the Dalai Lama’s fourth appearance in Santa Barbara. The special broadcasts are the result of collaboration between KCSB-FM, UCSB’s Department of Religious Studies, the Buddhist Studies program, and UCSB Arts & Lectures. KCSB General Manager Erin Fleming says, “We at KCSB are very excited to make this historic occasion accessible to a wider audience.”

In anticipation of the event, KCSB 91.9 FM is also participating (for the third year) in the UCSB Reads common reading experience: each weekday at noon through April 23rd, KCSB will air live half-hour readings from the Dalai Lama’s book, “Ethics for a New Millennium.”

On a related note for KCSB, today, Wednesday, April 8th, Religious Studies instructor Dr. Gregory Hillis (host of “Aqui Se Puede,” a Latin music show on KCSB), will be presenting the free public lecture, “An Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism,” 7:30pm at the Unity Church of Santa Barbara (227 E. Arrellaga St.). Broadcast information for this talk will be announced at a later date.

KCSB Broadcast of Two Dalai Lama Speeches
Friday, April 24, 2009: “The Nature of Mind,” 930am, and “Ethics for Our Time,” 2pm
Live from UCSB’s Event Center on KCSB 91.9 FM (; Rebroadcast Days/Times To Be Announced.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Community Post: Lifeguards at Sands Beach?

Eckermann had a good idea for a post -- talk amongst yourselves. -- Sara

Sara, let's talk about something important. Recently, a teenage girl died in a surfing accident at Sands Beach in Goleta, a tragedy beyond endurance for any who loved her.

My question, when such things happen, is could they have been prevented? It is a little known fact that the most common form of death in the California State Park system is drowning. When the data is disaggregated, it is interesting to note that drownings in "guarded water," that is water at which a State Park Lifeguard is stationed, are very rare, and in most years, nil.

Such data suggests to me that we, as a community, should consider finding a way to put trained lifeguards at Sands Beach. Of course nothing we can do would reverse this tragedy. However, I have always subscribed to the theory of learning from one's mistakes and making every effort to avoid repeating them.

Of course it may cost up to $50,000 to $60,000 a year in salaries and equipment to staff a lifeguard tower at Sands Beach. What is the worth of a single life? What say you bloggers?

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Justin Michael Update: Facebook Profile Photo Change?!?

Since our post a week ago, "JHef has become "JMike" and has changed his profile photo. Hmmm.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

It Didn't Take Long -- Strickland Fail on Renewable Energy

Marie Lakin at the Ventura County Star pointed out that it didn't take long for State Senator Tony Strickland to not be so green after all. The erstwhile "renewable energy businessman" failed to vote on renewable energy legislation last Tuesday. I guess it wasn't that important unless he's running for office. Worse yet, as Lakin points out, it wasn't so important for his "green" business.


Saturday, April 04, 2009

Show Must Go On: Fiesta Still Scheduled for August

El Presidente Anthony Borgatello told the press the other day that Old Spanish Days will certainly live to see another day. I don't think anyone thought otherwise but this is after The Big Dog Parade and the Black and Blue Ball have been cancelled recently due to the recession. Cut backs? Definitely, but the show will go on.

At the press conference, Erin Graffy de Garcia went to great pains to show the good economic effect of Fiesta on local business saying it's the local Mom and Pops that seem to do best. I hope she's right as it is hard to believe considering the preponderance of chain stores and restaurants that inhabit Santa Barbara and the many business that have shuttered their doors this year. The cost benefit analyses of Fiesta seem relative to what is spent but what is interesting is the assumption that there is a psychic benefit of having a citywide party in August. It's like we need some kind of good news in these times and I guess we do.


Thursday, April 02, 2009

Facebook Profiles of Candidates: Justin Michael

My mother told me never to trust anyone with two first names or wears a fedora in front of Stearns Wharf to announce their candidacy. Here's mayoral candidate Justin Michael née Slatkin's -- Facebook info. Thanks to a loyal reader for sending it in with the simple admonition to "discuss". Faces are blurred by me to protect the innocent -- although the picture and info is rather public to anyone using Facebook. What's the "JHef" and Visionary! thing about? This is how he chooses to present himself to voters. More on other candidates on Facebook during the course of the campaign.

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