Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   July 16, 2020

Purely Political

Mr. James Buckley is a True Believer. When Donald Trump descended the escalator and announced his candidacy for president of USA, he declared that he is racist, misogynist, and antiimmigrant. For good measure he declared soon after, that he can kill somebody on Fifth Avenue, and it would not change any vote from his supporters. Mr. Buckley tries to be intellectual by supporting Donald Trump’s economy and changes in regulations. Granted, Trump did give massive tax cut for the rich, and regulation breaks for oil industry and school lunches. But then Mr. Buckley shows his true colors by classifying Hillary Clinton’s political career to “marital train.” Hillary Clinton’s career spans her lifetime starting with her speech at graduation from college which was printed on the front page of Life Magazine. As a first lady of Arkansas she did research of state schools that resulted in improvement. As first lady of USA she advocated for women’s rights, and with Congressman T. Delay passed the very successful CHIP program. She was elected as New York State Senator, and won second term by 67%. As a secretary of state, she was effective and approachable by employees and foreign governments. She lost the 2016 election in the electoral college, but won plurality of the votes by 2,967,686 votes. Calling Hillary Clinton’s achievements as results of “marital train,” he not only diminishes her, but also millions of women who combine being mother, wife, and successful career on their own efforts. Mr. Buckley is not only sexist, he is a dinosaur!

Bob Handy

Seriously Flawed

Last week’s issue featured, or at least contained, a letter labeled “President Putz,” that I feel requires a little pushback, since in that letter a recent “Purely Political” column (MJ # 26_27) of mine came into question. The letter writer, Mr. Sean Hutchinson, deplores my intention to vote once again for Donald Trump in the upcoming election and suggests that my doing so, “makes it plain how partisan dreams die hard.”

Perhaps partisan dreams do die hard, but those reveries don’t have anything to do with my presidential choice. The Democrat Party fell or jumped off the deep end of the pier long ago and I’d be hard-pressed to ever vote for someone who has taken that dive. The near rabid adoption of the Black Lives Matter Marxist agenda, the blind observation that recent nationwide “protests” were “mostly peaceful,” serious contemplation over various him-her-it-their pronouns, and other inanities keep me far away from considering any of those folks.

I may also suggest that Mr. Hutchinson check out the color of his own Flavor Aid (the less expensive drink that a truly demented Democrat by the name of Jim Jones served his 900-plus dead victims).

In any case, I eagerly anticipate pulling the lever for the re-election of Donald J. Trump, and plan to celebrate his victory with a cold glass of Montrachet; no Kool-Aid for me!

James Buckley

Water Security = Diversification

I have been following with interest the water series by Nicholas Schou in the Montecito Journal.

In my capacity as a licensed hydrogeologist for over 30 years, I performed numerous hydrologic, geologic, and groundwater studies for the Goleta Water District, the MWD and the City of SB. I also developed municipal wells for these water districts, along with hundreds of private water wells for homeowners and agriculture throughout the south coast.

Therefore, when the June 25th article in MJ asks the question: “What is water security?” I hope I can provide some additional and meaningful perspectives.

The answer is simple: Water security is diversification.

That said, other factors do come into play such as cost. If we did not have to consider economics, desal – a very expensive water supply – could be utilized as a sole source and would provide a very secure water supply.

During the days of the missionaries, the south coast relied on local surface water supplies as its primary source of water. The de la Guerra Springs and Mission Creek are two examples. Then, as the population of the south coast increased, those water supplies proved insufficient, especially during drought. About a century ago, when south coast residents had the depleted surface water resources on the oceanside of the mountains, Montecito and Santa Barbara built dams in the Santa Ynez Valley. Lake Cachuma, a federal project, followed in the 1950s.

While the “local” surface water supplies Gibraltar Reservoir (1920), Jameson Lake (1930) and Cachuma Lake (1955) produce relatively inexpensive water, they proved insufficient during severe drought. Water shortages occurred shortly after each dam was built. In southern Santa Barbara County, drought, sometimes 16 years in duration, occurs, on average, every other decade.

In 1991, when we had exhausted the water supplies in the Santa Ynez Valley, south coast residents authorized a bond measure that financed a project that conveyed water to Central California from reservoirs located in Northern California – aka, the State Water Project.

This distant water source turned out to be both the most expensive source of water that the south coast has ever seen, and the least reliable. In wet years we have not used much of our State Water allocation because it costs more than other sources. And in dry years, we receive only about 25% (sometimes less) of the water that we contracted for. So we end up paying for a lot of water that we do not receive, since we have to pay for the cost of the infrastructure whether we use it or not. As an example, from 2012-2017 Santa Barbara’s cost for State Water was approximately $5,000 per acre foot, about twice the cost of water from the desalination plant.

Ground water from water wells is relatively inexpensive, and relatively reliable, but limited in quantity. Depending on whether you live in Carpinteria, Montecito, Santa Barbara, or Goleta, ground water can play a minor or major role in the water supply tool kit, but it is never plentiful enough to provide the majority of our domestic water needs. So other types of water sources are required in order to fulfill the needs of a growing population.

Wastewater reuse, the process of cleaning up water delivered to the wastewater treatment plant, is a viable alternative, and a reliable alternative, but is limited to non-domestic use. That may change someday, but right now, only a limited area near the Santa Barbara and Goleta wastewater treatment plants is available for irrigation usage. And treated wastewater is expensive.

There is a large and vocal group on the south coast that is in favor of increased water conservation. Santa Barbara County’s south coast is currently one of the most proactive water conservation areas in the United States. Water usage is less than what it was in the 1950s, even though the population of the south coast has doubled. I think we are at the point where you just can’t put any more bricks in the toilet.

The role of the State Water Project will be debated for many years to come, but when the day is done, State Water will likely turn out to be the least reliable and most expensive water source of all when we consider how many gallons of State Water are actually delivered to the south coast and the historic cost. Advocates of State Water will disagree with me, but over time, I think we will find out that the State Water did not deliver the amount of water that it was supposed to deliver. This dilemma will only worsen as climate change and endangered species, like salmon and steelhead, continue to whittle away at our State Water deliveries.

So the answer to Santa Barbara and Montecito’s chronic water shortage, and Mr. Schou’s question of water security is a diversified portfolio of desal, ground water, and the water sources on the Santa Ynez River, when available, with wastewater reuse playing a lesser role, and water conservation maintaining current water demand.

Michael Hoover
Author, Drought & Flood: The History of Water in Santa Barbara & Montecito

Don’t Hold Your Breath

Last week, the Santa Barbara Grand Jury released its report on the county’s cannabis mess blasting the S.B. Board of Supervisors for its mismanagement of the county’s cannabis production, dismissing public input, ignoring major environmental impacts, and allowing excessive production et al. The comprehensive 26-page Grand Jury report on the county’s woeful Cannabis Ordinance underscores the many concerns we have urged upon the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors for the last three years. An Ad Hoc Committee, made up of just Supervisors Das Williams and Steve Lavagnino, was cited by the Grand Jury as the origin of the county’s cannabis troubles.

In February, prior to the March 3, 2020, primary election, the Santa Barbara Independent published an endorsement of incumbent Das Williams for 1st District Supervisor against challenger Laura Capps, President of the SB School Board. This paragraph stands out: “But we also believe Williams will learn to admit his mistakes quickly and with compassion, and that he will strive to repair relationships with those who have been his past allies.”

Fast forward three months to the June 11, 2020, Board of Supervisors meeting when:

• Das Williams rejected his very own Planning Commission’s unanimous recommendation to require CUPs (Conditional Use Permits) on all cannabis projects;

• Das Williams, along with Supervisor Lavagnino, were the only no votes on the Board to ban cultivation within EDRNs (Existing Developed Rural Neighborhoods).

• Das Williams, Steve Lavagnino, and Supervisor Gregg Hart killed a motion by supervisors Peter Adam and Joan Hartmann that would have required odor abatement at the property line.

Supervisor Williams has since only doubled down in his disdain for the majority of his constituents, casting devastating votes against residents, Ag interests, and school children. He grows ever more insulting and contemptuous of his constituents – in person, from the podium and in his emails.

The proposals presented at the June 11 B.O.S. meeting are scheduled to return to the Supervisors on July 14, 2020. Do we dare hope there will be a change in Das Williams’s blatant disregard for the opinions and basic needs of his own constituents? If past actions are any indication, don’t hold your breath.

We believe it is time for the Santa Barbara Independent to publish a retraction and apology to the people of the 1st District and to Laura Capps, and to rescind its endorsement of the blatantly biased and possibly corrupt Supervisor Das Williams. It is sad that his supporters, propped up with cannabis money, succeeded in blindsiding the Independent’s editor, whose endorsement likely gave him the winning edge in an unusually close election that he had no right to win. Since then, he has done nothing but re-commit to the cannabis lobby and gratuitously exacerbate division.

Signed, Fifty-six Residents of the 1st District: M. Athanassiadis, Valerie Bentz, Jennifer Brickman, Paul Brickman, Arnold Brooks, Anthony Brown, Joann Chase, Maureen Claffey, Eileen Conrad, John Culbertson, Catherine Dealy, Brian Edwards, Linda Ekstrom, Paul Ekstrom, Sharen Eskilson, Joan T. Esposito, Les Esposito, Dan Emmett, Rae Emmett, Robyn Geddes, David Goodfield, Llewellyn Goodfield, Marilyn Goodfield, Cathy Henszey, Kim Jones, Pati Kern, Beryl Kreisel, Ron Macleod, Ken Manfred, Linda Manfred, Jim Mannoia, Sarah B. Mascarenas-Trigueiro, Mimi Mauracher, Carrie Miles, Maureen Murdock, Sandra L Nargi, Lionel Neff, Langdon Nevens, Jim Neuman, Bobbie Offen, Merrily Peebles, Andrew Pfeffer, Christopher L. Reif, Tracey Reif, Lori Robinson, Pat Saragosa, Zave Saragosa, Carla Singer, Jill Stassinos, Kaye Walters, Claudia Ward, Leonadi Ward, Al Weil, Sandy Weil, Joseph Zicherman, and Martha J. Zicherman

Up in Smoke

I am surprised that Das William’s suggested in the MJ that White senior citizens are more bias against weed then the dominate (unidentified) demographic of Santa Barbara County. Most of the Woodstock-Haight-Ashbury-Isla Vista peace movement that forwarded the normalization of pot in today’s society were White hippies, some now conservative and all senior citizen.

Too much credence to Cheech & Chong I think in this attempt to race-shame.

(Overall too much mention of race in politics, this instance no exception.)

As for William’s contention that the County is shy in understanding pot law, he must be correct. The sheriff was recently ordered to return $3 million in cash and derived cannabis oil to a Carpinteria grower (not mentioned by any local press, for which there is no excuse).

Matt McLaughlin

(Editor’s Note: Not that we know of any evidence of unreconstructed hippies serving on the Grand Jury, it was Steve Lavagnino, not Williams who characterized the report as resulting from the bias of old folks.)

Our Own Revolution

With July 14 upon us, I am half expecting SB’s own storming of the Bastille. Folks, it’s getting ugly and believe you me, it’s going to get much worse. But, perhaps, there is a silver lining – allow me to explain:

With great economic turmoil comes change, sometimes positive (New Deal) and sometimes not (Fascism). I have seen our economic tsunami transform usually complacent residents into community questioning activists. Some have taken an “off with their heads” approach to SB-city government, while others have exposed the larger-than-Governor salaries that many of our local public employees are commanding (www.TransparentCalifornia.com). Facts are important because when our politicians begin their COVID-inspired money grab we need to know what – if anything – they are doing to tighten their own belts.

CA has requested and/or received $22B in federal “COVID-related support.” Shockingly, this falls short of the $24B CA spends EACH YEAR for its public Pensions and Post-Employment benefits. These lifetime benefits are funded not on a pay-as-you-go basis but, instead, primarily by borrowing. Healthcare alone has created an $85B (BILLION!) deficit. That’s just healthcare, not the pensions themselves.

Understand, our pols will increase our Property Taxes (Proposition 15 is the first step), our State Income Taxes (the highest in the U.S.) and our local Sales Taxes before they mention executive salaries, head count, or pensions. They will allow our infrastructure to crumble, our poverty rates to skyrocket (third highest in CA), our privately funded foodbanks to swell and our schools to crater to protect their own nest eggs. This is the reality and until we demand that government work for the people – not itself – it will continue.

This is not about our hardworking public salaried employees (I was once one) or vested retirees! This is about unrealistic future expectations and an unsustainable model. One that we as taxpayers continue to allow through our complacency and ignorance (me too!). Did you know that SBC has an $800M+ accumulated Pension liability? Or, that our completely over-budget/unnecessary $110M North Jail will bring our annual custody-related-expenses to $92M – SBC’s unique answer to Justice Reform.

Our County needs to do something that they are likely incapable of doing: develop a turnaround strategy for themselves. Read Al Dunlop (dating myself), map a path that reduces our bureaucracy and dismantle the bottom-up budget approach of our 24 County Departments (“prior year spending plus X”). In other words, clean your own house BEFORE demanding more of our money.

California risks a mass exodus unless BOTH the private and public sectors tighten their belts such that our economic ship can be righted. Let’s all begin to rise from our complacency and shine a light on the facts. If this happens it would, indeed, be a silver-COVID-lining. Stay vigilant, involved and healthy!

Jeff Giordano
SB County Resident

Leash Your Dogs

I was recently visiting and taking a walk on the trails of Santa Barbara’s Campus Point Beach. A couple watched as their two enormous, unleashed Saint Bernards crowded myself and my friend on a staircase. When I expressed concern, the woman scoffed and said Bernards are friendly. On a staircase or any such area where care is necessary, one enormous dog, let alone two, is a danger. In fact, in such a situation the animal’s “friendliness,” especially coupled with their size, is an increased hazard and liability. As a dog-owner it is your responsibility to understand this. It is also your responsibility to know and respect UCSB Policy: Dogs on campus grounds must be on a leash not more than six feet long or securely confined in a vehicle at all times. Dogs under voice command are not considered on leash, and are not permitted. Leash your dogs.

Michael Schrimper

Nail in the Coffin

Hannah Beth Jackson hates small business.

The pressure on small business is never ending, must be nice to have a government job. Hannah Beth tax is Jackson bill 1383 is one of hundreds of overbearing foolish unneeded stacking on anti-small business bills. This is another nail in the coffin for small business in California, why do liberals feel a need to destroy small business.

Vote no and remember government produces nothing.

Kevin O’Connor


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