Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   February 27, 2020

Not Sorry

Thank you for your questions and observations regarding the power of apology in the February 20-27 editorial. Among other things, the editorial points to a number of principles of concern, the value of the press and ethics and honesty in politics. After the next election these issues will persist. We count on the MJ for important coverage at all levels of the political discourse to highlight accountability.

As for Das Williams not apologizing for the cannabis mess, it is not that he is unwilling to apologize for the ordinance; it is simply that he likes the ordinance and this ordinance helps his supporters. After all, he assisted in writing it with input from the cannabis lobby. From the beginning, while it was being considered, citizens objected because it clearly favored cannabis operators. Residents continue to object to the near-unrestrained growth of the cannabis industry in our community.

Williams has said more than once he will not change anything in Carpinteria. “If I move cannabis operations to be 1,000 feet from schools as mandated by federal guidelines, those around the High School will be put out of business.” “I’d rather have the students smell cannabis (it’s been three years now) than… lose a teacher.” Teachers are not funded by county tax money by the way… The record reflects that at nearly every Planning Commission and Supervisor’s meeting citizens plead for carbon filtration to be required to safely filter out the odors of cannabis. The cannabis industry refuses and Das Williams refuses to support the citizens on this issue.

The fact is Williams could have voted to change cannabis guidelines in Carpinteria as he did for Santa Ynez, but chose not to. Why? Because his cannabis industry supporters do not want him to.

Could it be he really is beholden to the cannabis operators? While saying he would not take more money from them, a PAC was formed and cannabis money is flowing into it. Did he give back the earlier donation of $8,000 given to him by Barry Brand, who was just arrested for illegal growing, volatile manufacturing and selling on the black market? This is why he won’t apologize.

Das Williams is not sorry about the students, residents or avocado growers affected by the allowable 186 acres of cannabis in Carpinteria’s four-mile-long valley. Santa Barbara’s over abundance of cannabis and poor ordinance has been written about in many major newspapers, including The New York Times and three times in the Los Angeles Times, twice on the front page, and just recently in Politico. Residents are pitted against operators just wanting clean air, not cannabis odor or industrial vapor misting into the valley 24/7. Why apologize when you are not sorry? He has the backing of the Santa Barbara Democrats and the Sierra Club so he is taking full advantage of their seemingly blind endorsements. The citizens of Carpinteria deserve to be heard. We want to preserve the quality of our community, clean air for one, but it is being abused for financial gain. Some people do not like to apologize; it appears Das Williams is one of them.

Nanci Robertson
Santa Barbara County

Dangerous Intersection

I get that we live in a sleepy little town that hasn’t changed much in 50 years and that is part of what I love most about Montecito. However, about two years ago Caltrans actually changed a little corner of our world; specifically, the corner of Hot Springs, Middle, and Sycamore Canyon; for the better. If you have ever driven west from the Hot Springs/Olive Mill Triangle in the afternoon you noticed that traffic usually backs up all the way to Casa Dorinda.

In an effort to decrease traffic congestion and speed up the afternoon commute, they repainted the arrows on the two lanes going west towards the roundabout. It used to be, if you wanted to turn left down Middle or go straight towards Von’s that you would stay in the left lane. If you wanted to turn right and drive up Sycamore Canyon then the right lane was for you. However, someone decided to paint straight arrows on both lanes. So now, the left lane is for turning left or going straight and the right lane is also for going straight or turning right. If both cars go straight, then you merge after the intersection. Two cars get to clear the intersection instead of one. It’s perfect!

Perfect, if you are someone who pays attention to street signs and enjoys change when it benefits the community. Apparently, I’m the only one. From the very beginning, I have had people honk at me, heckle me, flip me the bird, and even had a woman tailgate me to write down my license plate number. I only pray that she called the police. I would love to have heard that phone call.

At first, I was really angry that people would react in such a horrendous way. If you haven’t had a woman as old as your grandmother honk, flip you off, and scream curse words at you, you haven’t lived. Admittedly, I wasn’t behaving any better. When someone would honk or give me the middle finger salute, I returned the favor.

Then I realized that people in Montecito need a little time to accept change. I continue to use the new lane as a straight away and endure all the violence outburst. But I keep telling myself that when people drive down this road again, they will remember me. Maybe check the new road paint. And soon, it will start to trickle down into everyone’s psyche.

I am still waiting. Two years later, and I am still waiting.

I thought I would write to you and see if we could mention this in the Journal because yesterday, it got dangerous.

I passed a long line of cars waiting in the left lane to go straight. I pulled into the right lane and when it was our turn to pull through the four way stop, I proceeded to go straight and then merged in front of the truck that was next to me. The driver, waving his hands and screaming, tailgated me all the way to the roundabout. I was in the right lane preparing to go around towards the freeway entrance. He pulled up next to me on the right to drive down Old Coast Highway. Of course, he didn’t pull up to my window and say anything to me directly. He just waited until we had room to merge and then proceeded to cut in front of me and drive towards the freeway.

I ended up on the median in the middle of the roundabout with my kids in the car all because this moron can’t read a road sign. Enough is enough!

Danny Eades

Capps for Supervisor

I am supporting Laura Capps for District 1 Supervisor and I am hoping the Montecito Journal will endorse her candidacy prior to the March 3rd election. I am supporting Laura because I believe in her commitment to restoring government accountability and getting special interest money out of politics in Santa Barbara County. I also agree with her commitment to protecting our environment and fighting climate change. I appreciate Laura’s willingness to work on lowering our county’s high poverty rate and advocate for women, families and children.

As a long time Santa Barbara County resident I have become very concerned with Das Williams listening primarily to his constituents who contribute large sums of money to his campaign. I don’t feel he is representing or listening to the concerns many of his constituents, including myself, have regarding the regulation of marijuana, the proximity of the greenhouses growing marijuana to our local schools, and the adverse effects the odors have on both the Carpinteria/Santa Barbara County residents and the environment. Laura has listened to these concerns and has indicated that she would be an active advocate for increasing the buffer zone of where marijuana could be grown so that it won’t be in such close proximity to schools and residences.

I believe an endorsement of Laura Capps, in the Montecito Journal, would greatly improve her chances of becoming the next Santa Barbara County District 1 Supervisor.

Thank you for time and consideration.


Jill Stassinos
25+ years resident of Carpinteria
32+ years Santa Barbara Special Education Teacher
President of Santa Barbara/Weihai Sister City Association
2nd Vice President of Santa Barbara/Puerto Vallarta Sister City Committee

Support for San Ysidro Pharmacy

When I read about the Pharmacy’s run-in with the DEA I wanted to weep. Steve Hoyt is the best pharmacist in town, possibly the state. The service he provides to the community is vital and irreplaceable. He is more knowledgeable, empathetic and wise than most M.D.’s, and is always willing to listen and try to find an answer to whatever problem you may have. His staff are wonderful, and for those of us with limited mobility their delivery service is a blessing. If Steve needs community members to stand up and vouch for his honesty and integrity, count me in.

Sheila McNeill

The Need for ‘I’

Thanks, Gwyn, for your thoughtful editorial comments on the importance and need for more, “Sorry” these days. I couldn’t agree more. However, I would like to add a bit more to your wise comments.

Saying “sorry” is one thing; adding to it, and preceding it with the personal pronoun “I” – “I am sorry” – is an additional step toward reconciliation when we have hurt or somehow wronged another person. Usually when a parent has instructed their child to apologize for some childhood crime, what usually follows is a perfunctory, “sorry.” I’m not sure, but I suspect that leaving out the “I” provides some sort of quasi self-protection and the avoidance of being any more vulnerable than is necessary.

More difficult yet is adding to the tail end of, “I am sorry,” the question, “Will you forgive me?” This really opens ourselves up to being vulnerable since we are asking for a response – and we don’t know what it will be.

“Forget it!”, “When Hell freezes over!”, “You’ve got too earn my forgiveness”, “Now it’s my turn to get even.” And the most painful possible response of all: “No. I will not forgive you.”

Or – and hopefully – we might hear, “of course I will,” which then opens the door to healing and reconciliation, and also gives a clear picture of where we stand with the person we have hurt or offended. Forgiveness can come immediately, or asking might just be the beginning of the healing process.

Either way, owning our error with “I,” and actually asking for forgiveness in addition to simply acknowledging we goofed (“sorry”), is more likely to bring about true closure and healing than simply uttering-often muttering-a vague, “sorry.” And when true closure occurs, it minimizes the likelihood of holding a grudge by the person we have somehow offended.

I hope I haven’t offended you, Gwyn, by adding my two cents. If I have, sorry.

No, I am sorry.

And, oh, yeah. Will you forgive me?

Ed Wimberly, Ph.D.

Lab Leak?

Could the coronavirus have leaked from a lab?

At an emergency meeting in Beijing held last Friday, Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke about the need to contain the coronavirus.

Good idea Xi!!

A national system to control biosecurity risks must be put in place “to protect the people’s health,” Xi said, because lab safety is a “national security” issue. Xi didn’t actually admit that the coronavirus now devastating large swathes of China had escaped from one of the country’s bioresearch labs.

For full story Google “New York Post – Leaked from Lab.”

Maybe China could adopt Obamacare to “protect people’s health.”

Could the Russians (and Bernie Sanders) also be involved?

Cautiously rewatching The Andromeda Strain,

Dale Lowdermilk
Santa Barbara, CA
Founder NOTSAFE(dot)ORG

Boot Das

I have had the great privilege of living in Montecito for close to thirty years. During that time I have looked to the Independent as my source for electoral guidance. I have trusted their voice.

No longer.

With the Independent’s shocking endorsement of Das Williams, a man whom they quote as having “…serious concerns and significant reservations about…” and “who seems tone deaf and arrogant…” they have lost, for me, their stature.

Mr. Williams had his chance. He had the opportunity to provide true leadership – after the debris flow.

Instead, that fell to the inspired citizens who worked tirelessly to raise $5 million dollars to install ring nets to keep the public safe.

These private citizens fought tremendous obstacles at the local and state level.

Leadership from Mr. Williams from the outset could have made a tremendous difference.

In sharp contrast, Laura Capps embodies proactive, inspired leadership. She has a proven record at the national and regional level of not reacting, but being proactive. She surrounds herself with the smartest people she can find, soliciting answers to the most challenging issues, gaining consensus, and then making decisions (and action plans) from an informed, ego-less position.

That is the kind of leadership our county deserves and that is the only kind of leadership we should be settling for.

Das has had his time as supervisor, it’s time for new leadership.

It’s time for Laura Capps.

Bobby Shand

No Mas Das!

Supervisor Williams is not exercising control over the cannabis explosion in Carpinteria Valley. He is not protecting us! 

Contrary to what some letters here have suggested, few of us are opposed to the growth of cannabis. But it is the completely disproportionate density of this growing that is causing the problems… especially odor! This is not simply a figment of the media as other writers here have suggested. All you have to do is drive by on the freeway in the evening or on Via Real almost anytime. Perhaps these other writers do not live downwind? 

In any case we don’t oppose the cannabis business. And if the taxation were shifted to taxation on acreage and not hard to verify revenue, it COULD make a big difference in our community. But the odors are not only giving children and adults headaches and nausea, but it is affecting the value of real estate. You only have to talk to those Realtors attempting to sell properties! 

The answers are simple. Insist that permits be granted only when there is closed system carbon filtration installed. Yes we know this is more expensive but these growers should have no problem with the millions of dollars they expect to take in. 

Enforce your own ordinance Mr. Williams… read it.. it says “best available” odor control. NO ONE disputes that carbon filtration is better than Byers!! So I encourage readers to vote for Laura Capps, not only because she is ready to actually cut back on the density of these grows near schools and residences, and enforce and strengthen ordinances, but because she is also willing to go along with restrictions on campaign financing. Das’ PAC is largely cannabis $$! 

Seriously Mr. Williams! Whose side are you on!

Jim Mannoia

Too Much Cannabis

I am a physician and a resident of Carpinteria. Today I met with the Director of the Santa Barbara County Planning Department Lisa Plowman with questions on how we have arrived at the current state of air pollution and the uptick of respiratory illnesses in Carpinteria Valley.

For example, why did the County Board of Supervisors ignore an assessment from an outside consulting firm, the Woods Group, stating that new cannabis grows would significantly impact air quality and needed an EIR. That assessment was made just on the basis of the odors and chemicals emitted by the cannabis itself.

Numerous environmental issues have become increasingly apparent but the BOS have yet to require Environmental Impact Reports for cannabis production or processing. Sitting Supervisor Das Williams was the architect and driving force behind our woeful Cannabis Ordinance, and has also stymied ANY meaningful remedies to the crisis that he and his Ordinance has created.

So in the county that banned plastic straws, chemicals are being pumped into the air 24 hours a day, seven days a week by the 50-gallon drum. These chemicals were previously used on land fill sites, far away from homes, schools, and businesses. Now their use is required on cannabis operations in Carpinteria. That is troubling for two reasons: 1) Carpinteria now smells so bad it requires industrial odor abatement previously reserved for garbage dumps, and 2) though these compounds are untested for long-term human exposure as vapors, the cannabis industry is deemed more important than human health in Carpinteria Valley.

These chemicals are permitted by our local Air Pollution Control Board – run by Willams’ allies and appointees – because they are not listed on the State of California list of Toxic Air Contaminants. If we have learned anything from the vaping crisis of recent months, it is that otherwise innocuous substances can be lethal when vaporized and inhaled. Mark Byers, the supplier of the most common vapor system in use in Carpinteria, called our Valley “Ground Zero” for use of these systems in a community setting. The only safety data he presented was of four-hour exposure tests of rats in a closed box. That’s like saying well, you smoked one cigarette and you didn’t die or get cancer, so cigarettes must be safe. Without consideration of the DAILY and CHRONIC exposure to the vaporized chemicals being used, and no studies of long-term safety, how can this be allowed? Since no such evaluations have been done, why are these being allowed and even promoted?

Non-toxic substances can be toxic if vaporized and inhaled. Personally, I don’t want to be “Ground Zero” for any new industrial exposure.

Even if the Environmental Impact exemption can be justified for an individual project, there is simply TOO MUCH CANNABIS in the First District.

Every time another pot grow commences operations, the air quality in my neighborhood deteriorates. Every municipal district in the County, including the City of Carpinteria, Goleta, and Solvang, has beseeched the Board of Supervisors to address this, but they have not – with Williams leading the opposition, stalwartly championing his patrons, the cannabis growers.

Judy Dean MD

Setting the Tone

If the ‘tone’ is set at the top, the ‘tone’ stinks. No, I am not referring to the ‘pot odor’ that permeates the air but to some of your supporters. Within this last week three ‘lawn signs’ in support of Laura Capps, which I personally put up disappeared into thin air. This morning we found the ‘lawn sign’ which was in front of our house, on our private property, missing from its very visible spot. Not to worry though, they have all been replaced and we now have two ‘lawn signs’ in support of Laura Capps in front of our house.

You need to set the tone for your supporters. You need to tell them that if they want to support you that they should transparently campaign on your behalf. Tell them that they do not need to be so small-minded and weasily that they feel that the only way you can prevail is if they swipe Laura Capps’ ‘lawn signs.’ How juvenile.

For weeks, I have looked at the three ‘lawn signs’ around the perimeter of the former Big Yellow House in Summerland (now occupied by Headwaters (https://goheadwaters.com/) – yes, another cannabis related business­ – and have managed to neither remove or deface them. It is possible to not support a candidate and leave their ‘lawn signs’ in place.

So, how-about getting your head out of the ‘weeds’ of your campaign and setting a more positive tone for your supports.

A former supporter,

Elaine Dietsch

Choose Excellence!

When you vote on Tuesday, I’d like you to think about demanding excellence.

Allow me to explain: A recent endorsement (sort-of) of our First District Supervisor lauded the fact that he “made sure that bottled water got passed out” following the most heartbreaking and deadly natural disaster in our history. I don’t question the compassion or the need but is this the best our $1.1B County, with 4,200 employees, can do? How about a climate safety conference where we bring to bear national thought leaders? Or, meaningful public funding initiatives for innovative and privately conceived projects? Or, a local office as people reinvest and have questions about insurance, permits, etc. – we can’t keep accepting mediocre and allowing our public servants to describe it as “excellent.”

Capps, on the other hand, has developed a detailed/thoughtful Plan, has vowed to be a “proactive partner” with the Partnership for Resilient Communities and to support Curtis Skene who privately (does anything in this district get done with public funding/innovation?) seeks to clean and maintain the debris basins.

Also impacting our district and, believe you me, it will only get worse, is cannabis. Remember, our Supervisor was one of two ad-hoc Committee Supervisors (three would have required public meetings at the drafting phase) that created the most lenient cannabis ordinance in the state. One that circumvented Prop 64’s large grow moratorium thereby allowing the “largest pot farms in the world.”

Our sweeping Ordinance – the crowning legislative achievement of this Supervisor—has become the posterchild for CA’s other 57 counties of what NOT to do. We have a nearly three square mile “cap,” anemic tax revenues, the potential destruction of our $2B wine/avo industries, lack of any Economic Impact and/or Health Studies (yes, VOC’s have health risks) and the failure to require odor eradication systems that effectively preserve health, values and quiet enjoyment. An ordinance that poses an existential threat to our entire County and that will likely degenerate into litigation is not “excellent.”

Finally, we have no transparency of process and public trust has been destroyed. SB has no Ethics Commission or recusal standards and allows political contributions to be paid close in time to a Board vote. We have rubberstamped and/or faux endorsements that occur before challengers ever officially enter the race – union money flows, special interest money flows, and the dominos fall. The incumbents retain power and all is right with the world. But really, it’s not!

Over the past few months, I have come to know Laura Capps and while I don’t agree with her on every issue, I can tell you that she is right for the District. She is willing to listen and, more importantly, she has integrity. She is a reformer who knows that we are ethically challenged. She understands that our $1.1B county can do much more as it relates to homelessness, climate safety and poverty and that we can learn from others with respect to cannabis. She doesn’t shoot from the hip and instead relies on a solid education and local knowledge to propose solutions. She has a moral compass we can trust.

This is a non-partisan local election so let’s not be distracted by national issues and catchphrases. Whomever you support and whatever your party, vote! Vote your individual conscience, vote for change, and know that we can do better than mediocre.

Jeff Giordano
SB County Resident

Our Apologies

In the 7th paragraph of Calla’s Corner (Jan. 20-Feb 6) it should read: “Many of Dr. Hrach’s patients were able to pay the $2,750 for individuals and $5,000 for couples for the 24/7 care.”


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