By Montecito Journal   |   October 10, 2019

In Defense of New Sanitary District Building

The need for staff showers at the Montecito Sanitary District wastewater treatment plant should be obvious. Staff are working with pathogen-loaded water that also contains antibiotic resistant microbes and their genes. This is biologically loaded pathogenic material (liquid and solids) capable of transferring pathogens to staff, their homes, and family. Lots of data on contaminating off-site worker housing by wearing work clothing home. 

There is also a need for expanded training for staff and this is recognized by the U.S. EPA. See: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-announces-water-workforce-initiative-help-recruit-and-prepare-next-generation-clean.

WASHINGTON (September 24, 2019) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Water Workforce Initiative to help cities and communities across the country that are facing critical staffing shortages for the operation and maintenance of essential drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. The goal of this new initiative is to provide federal leadership, collaborate with partners and increase public awareness to bolster interest in water sector careers—a field that is charged with ensuring that all Americans have access to clean and safe water. 

Dr. Edo McGowan

Search For Answers

Bob Hazard’s recent editorial on the cost of a new building at the Montecito Water District raises questions that no one on the board wants to answer. But, we, the rate payers, should be entitled to answers. If the directors refuse to respond, why not publish another article and ask for all the board members to respond publicly to the questions being raised? I was in contact with one of the elected directors who voted against the building, but now I can get no response from him.

John Tilson

Water Woes Revisited

If you don’t use much Montecito Water District water, there’s a good chance that shortly your yearly water bills will increase by $500 to $1,000. On October 4, the Water District’s Finance Committee held a meeting and discussed its new expensive Rate Study. If you don’t want to see your monthly water bills go crazily high, you must start attending all water meetings where rates are discussed. You must listen, let your views be heard by the Board, and write letters. If you do nothing, the Board will decide alone, how much larger your bills will be. 

The Rate Study shows the current 2019/20 use of District funds at $19,442,809. The following year it increases to $24,055,466. By 2023/24 it is $25,829,841. And this does not include any charges for the $20 to $40 million cost for recycled sanitary district waste water the Board is working on. Historically Montecito has been in droughts about 25% of the time. Why not raise rates only during those times and buy extra water when needed? This big increase is necessary to pay the City of Santa Barbara, for 50 years, the 1/4 billion dollars for desal water. Is this necessary? Come to the meetings and make up your own minds

The Board’s rate allocation between fixed and variable may also massively drive up your water bills. Currently, 24% of your monthly unit water charge is for fixed costs. The Board has stated that the fixed charges are really 85%. But this depends on what’s included in fixed charges; and who should pay them. The rate study itself says the higher the fixed rate, the larger the bills for the small water users.

It further states the smaller the fixed rate, the lower the bills for small users. This Board seems to want the smaller water users to pay the larger bills. 

 The current rate study gives the Board options of fixed rates at 24%, 40%, 50%, 60% and 75%. The finance committee was talking about a range around 50%. If this happens, up go your bills for using the same amount of water. The Board also dreamed up charging you extra for fire protection water. Even though this water has always been included, they now want to consider making a separate monthly additional charge for it. Anything to help disguise the big rate increase.

Some of the new Board members campaigned on getting rid of the unpopular emergency rate surcharge. Even though the drought’s over, they’re not getting rid of it; all they’re doing in rolling it into their new higher rates (hoping you won’t see it).

At a recent Board meeting there was talk of how to disguise the big proposed rate increase from the customers. One idea was to try and have the fixed charges put on your property tax bill. Then all you’ll see monthly is the much smaller variable rate charges. But you’ll still be paying it. If it’s on your property tax bill; it’s not deductible.

 The cheapest water used by District customers comes from District wells, the water delivery tunnel and Jameson and Cachuma Lakes. 3/4 of the time, this water is sufficient for District’s needs. The most expensive water will come from desal. The rate study has 665 acre feet of this most expensive desal water charged to Tier 1 customers (that’s the majority of small water users), and 765 AFY to Tier 3 (the highest water users). Why should the small water users help pay for this expensive water that’s being acquired for the larger water users? It makes no sense. 

In order to raise rates, the Board is required to notify the District’s customers and have an open meeting. If enough of you object to the rates, they can’t raise them, or buy the 1/4 billion dollar 1430 acre feet of deal water from the City.

The next Finance Committee meeting is scheduled for October 15, and the Board meeting for the 22nd. Both start at 9:30 am. They’re important, please go.

Dick Shaikewitz

Defending The FZ Mural

I don’t understand the objection by some (one) to the mural in the Funk Zone by Thomas Van Stein. It is by name the Funk Zone, shouldn’t it be funky and somewhat outside the norm of the Pearl Chase driven faux Spanish look that dominates downtown Santa Barbara? That’s what I think. Artists in FZ have been hanging their work on telephone poles and leaving it on sidewalks for years. I know this because I have picked it up. The more outdoor art in the FZ the better; just my opinion.

Which brings me to the question of this woman whom I will refer to as Mrs. Kravitz (the extremely nosy neighbor of Darren and Samantha Stephens in the TV show, Bewitched): Why would she be so bothered by the mural? I have never met Mrs. Kravitz or the artist Thomas Van Stein. A few weeks ago here in a letter, Thomas was honest in his explanation of his intent with the mural.

I believe him.

Which brings me back to Mrs. Kravitz. I did a Google search and she’s not listed as living in Santa Barbara or Montecito. It says last known address is Los Olivos.


This person is bringing alleged code violations by the property owners and artist in Santa Barbara and she doesn’t even live in town?


On further investigation, she might live in town, but so what? She could focus her protests on other more important issues, like tiny houses for the homeless, or affordable apartments for the poor. . . said with sarcasm.

Dan Seibert
Santa Barbara

More Education Thoughts

Thank you once again for running “New Schools of Thought” (MJ # 25/39). Also appreciated hearing how your home-schooled grandson exceeded his public-educated peers by two years in reading.

A common criticism I’ve heard of allowing parents to reclaim authority in educating their children is, to effect: “they (parents) lack judgment and are incapable of executing such an important task.” If that is true, such a claim speaks to the retardation of normal human development inflicted by state education: after 12 years of compulsory education, graduates can’t even properly command their own lives, much less that of their children. 

Now this thought:

Back in the day, before money and property, one’s best retirement and disability plan was to work and provide and to be good to one’s children and neighbors. It’s always been in one’s self-interest to be kind, loyal and honest throughout one’s lifetime, and to be productive for as long as possible. Slackers, invaders, liars and thieves were typically banished and left to die alone. 

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” – William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well.

Steve King

A Gloomy Bunch

Thousands of people are trying to get into our wonderful country. Hong Kong residents are waving the American flag as they protest Communist oppression, using it as a symbol of desired freedom and opportunity. However, listening to the Democratic presidential hopefuls at the recent debates, one might think we are living in the bowels of Hades. 

I’m conservative, but I have voted for Democrats in the past that presented sensible ideas for realistic solutions to existing problems without promoting total financial nonsense and fear. There were no such people on that debate stage. No one came close to a reasonable explanation as to how all the free stuff promised would be paid for. For instance, Elizabeth Warren’s “two cents from the rich” mantra is pure fantasyland math. Taxes come from yearly incomes. Warren proposes taking wealth that has already been taxed. 

As anticipated, many of the candidates pushed climate change fear. We’re doomed within 10 to 12 years if we don’t make drastic changes, including eliminating fossil fuels. 

Recall that in 2006, Al Gore (“An Inconvenient Truth”) predicted doom within ten years by spouting climate change fear. Consider the totally unrealistic Green New Deal demands on the U.S.: Are the Dems simply assuming that major polluters (China, India, Russia, Japan, European Union) will buy into this earth-saving rhetoric?

Beto O’Rourke’s hate-generating comment that the U.S. should use 1619 as its date of creation gets the prize for pure absurdity. Despite the constant use of the term “racist” by the Dems and the biased publicity the media provides for isolated events, race relations are now considerably better than what they were in my youth.

Hey, we’re fine. We’re far from perfect, but let’s appreciate and work with what we have. Everyone would benefit from sensible Democratic presidential candidates and a non-dysfunctional Congress.

Sanderson M. Smith, Ed.D.

Defending Das

I have personally known, and worked with Das Williams as a conscientious, responsive and dedicated representative of his constituents for well over 25 years. Even though we have not always agreed, I have valued and trusted his integrity and willingness to engage on issues that affect my community, making time to meet with anyone who wanted to do so. He is by far the most responsive elected official I have encountered in 60 years as a voter.

Whether as a City Council member, State Assembly member, or County Supervisor, Das’s sole agenda has always been and remains serving his community in the most positive and effective way possible. Has he ever made less than the best decision? Of course he has – he is human, like all of us. That he cannot claim a perfect record of decisions as a public servant should and cannot be a valid reason not to re-elect him as our 1st District Supervisor.

Das Williams’ long-term, consistent record as an outstanding elected official, leading on the environment, education, and public safety, provides compelling evidence that he has served our community with extraordinary devotion and integrity. The 1st District, and Santa Barbara County, needs and deserves his continued service.

Bob Ornstein

Unity Needs Help

Unity Shoppe, Inc. had to temporarily close its doors on Monday, September 16, 2019, causing thousands of local residents in need – who count on its many services – to go without. Fifteen full-time Unity employees have been laid off, effective immediately, and the management team is volunteering to support its diabetic and emergency clients only as well as undergo the massive capital appeal to raise the funds necessary to reopen its doors to the community as soon as possible. A mid-November re-opening, in time for the holiday season is anticipated, even with volunteers if needed. 

The current economic crisis is the result of three concurrent realities the organization faced in 2018: critical support and goods donated by Unity for more than 1,500 disaster victim visits due to the Thomas Fire and Debris Flow with no local residents turned away, creating an enormous strain on supply levels and a cash flow shortfall; the non-profit faced cutbacks in funding from donors and grant providers who directed their fundraising dollars toward the natural disaster; and in late 2017, Unity purchased a building to complete the relocation of its eight support programs. Unfortunately, the timing of the natural disasters of December 2017 and early 2018, could not have been anticipated and taxed the organization in innumerable ways.

On the plus side, the purchase of our newest building virtually eliminated the costs associated with rental fees, property taxes, landlords’ insurance, and maintenance as well as potential increases in rents or associated moving costs, all of which weigh heavily for an organization of our size and complexity.

The average of 20,000 clients that Unity serves each year are referred by over 300 other non-profits throughout Santa Barbara County to one of its eight different support programs. Unity estimates that it would cost upwards of 20 million dollars to replicate its operational footprint and programming, which is available to clients in need from every agency, church, school, medical facility and counseling center throughout the County.

The Unity Grocery Store and Clothing center is relied upon by 10,000 households annually. Low-income families shop for food and clothing to help them make ends meet, diminishing the burden on the community’s public welfare agencies. More than 1,800 volunteers work alongside Unity staff, including hundreds of seniors who help a range of residents with their handiwork; 5,000 essential care packages are distributed locally by volunteers to homebound seniors and the disabled. Santa Barbara youth turn to Unity to help their community as well as learn transferable job skills. For over a century, members of this Community have counted on us for support when they’ve needed it most; we’re incredibly optimistic that now they will answer the call and come to our aid in return.

To make a donation, go to www.unityshoppe.org; or for more information, contact Tom Reed, 805-965-9051 or Pat Hitchcock, 805-979-9511.

Tom Reed

Justice For All

Finally, there are consequences for using the hateful words “illegal alien.” What department or city is insane enough to lead the parade for such an idea? 

Thanks to a 29-page “directive” by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) of New York City, anyone using the term “illegal alien” or threatening to report someone to US Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) will be subject to a $250,000 fine. This noble experiment in social engineering to “…protect both immigrants and non-immigrants from hate speech…” was spawned in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. 

The details for enforcing this law will take some time to figure out, so I thought it would be helpful to offer Commissar de Blasio some suggestions.

With the right incentives ($) this project could turn NYC into a whistleblower’s paradise. Armed with only a smart phone or tape recorder, homeless individuals could document neighboring crack-heads talking to invisible friends and cursing at “illegal aliens”. 

These clips of video/audio evidence could be turned into the HRC for prosecution. Generous rewards should be given to these ambitious, and perhaps disoriented, whistleblowers. By creating a secret “tattle-tale” industry, providing street people with cameras and free cell phones, everyone could become involved in gathering evidence of “hate speech”. A handful of these aspiring paparazzi would become famous, earn enough money for luxury apartments, sign book deals, collect movie residuals and, based upon their real-life street credentials, eventually run for Mayor of NYC, completing the cycle of liberal solutions.

There’s no reason a whistleblower’s reward should be limited to exposing “hate speech.” Someone caught adding extra sugar to their coffee, sipping from an ancient plastic straw, bribing a waiter to serve more than one cheesecake, smoking without permission, expelling methane or CO2 within 1000 yards of an elementary school, wearing t-shirts with hateful images or phrases or questioning the validity of man-made climate change, should be reported and prosecuted for disrupting the sanctity of NYC bureaucracy and group-think.

Even if this innovative, brilliant, NYC HRC Anti-Hate Speech program costs five billion dollars or more, if it tosses just one racist/hater in jail, saves two lives (especially women and children) or makes one homeless person a millionaire, it’s worth it. 

Or not.

Dale Lowdermilk
Santa Barbara


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