Hundreds of SB Residents Tell Governor: No! on Das Williams for Coastal Commission

By Montecito Journal   |   April 16, 2021

We are deeply dismayed to learn that Das Williams is seeking an appointment to the California Coastal Commission for the Central Coast. A controversial supervisor synonymous with Santa Barbara’s much-contested cannabis ordinance, Williams was barely able to retain his position in 2020 (even with the political and financial muscle of the cannabis industry). Indeed, there are serious ongoing conversations about a recall of him and a ballot referendum to upend his cannabis ordinance.

Williams’ ordinance has led to unprecedented, industrial levels of marijuana grows causing skunk stench and terpene production, that pollute our air from the mountains to the beaches. Moreover, these massive cannabis operations, with their associated effluent, are threatening our environmentally sensitive habitats in the coastal zone and coastal streams. 

Indeed, Williams was the subject of a year-long grand jury investigation and report that singled out his ethically challenged and pay-to-play politics with the cannabis lobby in Santa Barbara County. Additionally, he is the subject of a referral to the U.S. Attorney regarding the unprecedented levels of cannabis operations surrounding Carpinteria High School, that have filled classrooms and football fields with a putrid stench, impacting staff and students who are 75% Hispanic. 

Presently, Williams’ lobbying for a cannabis dispensary on Santa Claus Lane, a Highway 101 onramp and beach access adjacent to year-round surf camps for children, has provoked intense community resistance. This matter alone would require Williams’ recusal from an expected Coastal Commission hearing and ruling.

These are but a few of myriad conflicts that would disqualify him from representing the citizens of California and ruling on the many crucial issues before the Coastal Commission. There are several qualified candidates to serve on the Coastal Commission including the Santa Barbara City Council’s Meagan Harmon, a land-use attorney, who was born and raised here. 

Regrettably, Das Williams has never had, nor merited, the respect of many of his 1st District constituents. 

He certainly does not belong on the California Coastal Commission. 

Respectfully submitted by 145 Santa Barbara County residents from its five districts including Buellton, Carpinteria, Cuyama, Montecito, City of Santa Barbara, Lompoc, Santa Ynez, Solvang, Summerland, Tepesquet, and (by quorum) Concerned Carpinterians, a grassroots organization representing approximately 300 residents in the 1st District.

Susan Allen, Susan Ashbrook, M. C. Athanassiadis, Sophia Athanassiadis, Robert Bailey, Valerie A. Bentz, Phd., Susan Beeler Kreutzer, Dave Bettles, Tracy Bettles, Sean Bettles, Dede Borchard, Allen Braithwaite, Tony Brown, Tessa Bryan, Anna Bradley, Timothy Buffalo, Victoria Buffalo, Dinah Calderon, Ricardo Calderon, Anna Carrillo, Janet Carlson, Stephen Carlson, Howard E. Chase, Jo Ann Chase, Jennifer Chisik, James A. Claffey, Debi Clark, Larry Clark, Robert Collector, Eileen Conrad, John Culbertson, Sean Daniel, Bill Dietsch, Elaine Dietsch, Ann Diener, Robert Diener, Gary Delanoeye, Tamara Donohoe, Cheryl Doty, Dewlson Family Farm, Brian Edwards, Linda Ekstrom, Paul Ekstrom, Debra Eagle, Sally Eagle, Terry Eagle, Dan A. Emmett, Rae M. Emmett, Anita Engs, Edward W Engs IV, Stephen K. Figler, Ph.D, Maureen Foley Claffey, Patricia French, Michael French, Jon Gans, Gregory Gandrud, Robyn Geddes, Linda P. Hannon, John Heaton, Valerie Hoffman, Deke Hunter, Ruthie Hunter, Douglas Huston, Llewelyn Goodfield, Marilyn Goodfield, Helen Graves, Scott Graves, Leigh Johnson, Ron Johnson, Rebecca Kapustay, Pati Kern, Richard Kopcho, Darcy Kopcho, Sandra M. Kuttler, Robert Lesser, Jorgito Lucas, David Ludwig, Mike Macari, Barbara Macari, Sarah Mascarenas-Triguero, Derek McLeish, Corinne Matson, William James Matson, Elizabeth Mandl, V. James Mannoia, J. Mariner, Sharyne Merritt, Carrie Miles, PhD, Cathy Ann Miller, Mitch Morehart, Marla McNally, Stephanie Nicks, Doris Neff, Lionel Neff, John Theodore Nunes, Jr., Renee O’Neill, Bobbie Offen, MaryPat O’Connor, Blair Pence, Dianne Pence, Andrew Pfeffer, Elizabeth Poje, Bruce Porter, Denise Peterson, Tom Peterson, Marvin Raupp, Chris Reif, Tracey Reif, Patricia Reynales, Heidi Robbins, Ross Robins, Nanci Robertson, Nelson Roberts, Kathy Roberts, Brenda Rosentrater, Ray Rosentrater, Francis Saragoza, Patricia Saragosa, Sheryl Schwartz, Barry K. Schwartz, Marion A. Souza, Sky Souza, Wendy Spencer, Carla Singer, Jill Stassinos, Barbara Stoops, Helen Thomas, Janet Thomson, Tim Thomson, Abby Turin, Evan Turpin, Hunter Turpin, Casey Turpin, Travis Turpin, Polly Turpin, Scott Van Der Kar, Alice Vazquez, Kaye Walters, Sandra Weil, Allan Weil, Alison H. Werts, Linda Whiston, Edwin Woods, Kate Wu, Gus Zachariou

A Community’s Search for Answers

Editor’s note: The following letter references Bryan Rosen’s Letter to the Editor in the April 8 issue of the Montecito Journal.

First the critique. I’ve lived in Riven Rock for over 28 years, and never, ever, until the pandemic, have I observed so many vehicles parked on the road. 

Then I pose the question: How many of the locals who seem to feel their rights challenged by the parking restrictions, would enjoy dozens of cars parked in front of their houses on an almost daily basis?

More importantly, given the fires and mudflow, how can these locals seriously wish to threaten the safety and well-being of their fellow Montecito residents? 

Bryan’s road width analysis fails to take into account how far away from the curb some vehicles park as well the width of some of the trucks and other oversized vehicles. I personally experienced on three occasions in the past year of having to back up as my SUV could not get through. What if one of the residents on upper Riven Rock had a health emergency, and the ambulance couldn’t get through?

On the other hand, Bryan does offer several constructive ideas.

First, and most important, is the example he himself sets. Why not bike, manually or electrically, to the trailhead? If the popularity of the hike is exercise coupled with the appreciation of the outdoors, it seems somewhat disingenuous to claim that part of the experience is the ability to drive to the trailhead.

It is understandable that parents with young children and pets may be wary of walking up Hot Springs Road; however, as was done on San Ysidro, Olive Mill, and lower Hot Springs, a walking path might alleviate that problem.

Bryan also correctly notes that no parking signs should be installed, so that the white lines aren’t misconstrued. Having spoken to several impacted Riven Rock owners they are absolutely supportive of that proposal. Perhaps more bike racks should be installed at the trailhead.

In final analysis, if the popularity of the Hot Springs trail doesn’t abate with the waning of the pandemic, the idea of a community wide search for solutions that doesn’t pit neighbors against each other would be worth looking into.

Jon Emanuel

A Woman of High Character

I have read the coverage about Cold Spring School and Amanda Rowan’s efforts to find out what happened to tax dollars. I have known Amanda Rowan for many years, first as a student and later as an active and supportive member of my synagogue and its board of directors. I know her as a person with a deep sense of integrity and honesty. Her perspectives are always insightful and built on a well-honed understanding of the situation at hand, gained by diligent investigation.

My synagogue went through a challenging period with divisive leadership spreading innuendos and false accusations. They also kept some of their darker motivations well below the surface. Amanda was one of the first on the scene to countermand their efforts, speaking truth to those in power. She was always highly articulate and direct in what she said and wrote regarding our difficulties both with lay leadership and me. I always appreciated her candor. 

Amanda is a person who wears her heart on her sleeve, a passionate defender of what she knows is right, and, in the spirit of the late John Lewis, she has no compunctions about “getting in the way” when things are wrong. Amanda Rowan is an unswerving advocate for what is fair and just. She has nothing in mind but the best for her community. Amanda acts with righteous purpose toward those who play loosely with their bully pulpits, communal responsibilities, and privilege. She demands the same adherence to morality and ethics from herself that she asks from others. 

One thing for sure, Amanda does not wait to be called upon to set things right in the community. She knows that injustices take root quickly, and the longer one delays, the deeper those roots become. Those striving for justice and equity in their communities can count on Amanda to step up with them and for them.

I have always been honored to have Amanda Rowan in my life. Anyone who has her support is truly blessed.

Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels

No More “Ego-based Posturing”

Bob Hazard’s piece in last week’s issue on the present rift between the water and sanitary districts resonated in several ways.

Many other countries, cities, townships, regions, and municipalities (hello, Paris and Iceland) have long ago figured out the conundrum of how to recycle wastewater into potable water.

The science behind it is sound, healthy, and is definitely not gross.

What’s up, Montecito? Get it together, already, literally. Why are we so behind the times on this?

The status quo of water and sanitary districts as separate entities is truly on the wrong side of history.

Moreover, the treated sewage currently being dumped at Butterfly may be compromising the coastal kelp beds, which have slowly been disappearing from our coastline.

There’s a clue. It may have something to do with the pH of the effluent. Hillary Hauser, can you ring in on this?

Kelp forests are the “lungs” of the ocean. We need them.

They are as critical to protect as the Amazon rain forests, as they too draw down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Yeah. Just like trees do.

So, can we institute a moratorium on what appears to be the ego-based posturing between the water and sanitary districts? 

Can you two agencies form a more perfect, regenerative union, please?

Perhaps a bi-partisan water and sanitation “czar-ship” can be created, consisting of two co-czars, one from each district, charged with reading the science, researching other cities’ very successful unions between water and sanitary districts, gathering consensus, while also developing and implementing a long-term action plan for our lovely town.

Some cities’ treatment “systems” are downright beautiful, green, and lush. They serve as centers for public gardens and art. Kind of like a hybrid of the Botanic Gardens, Lotusland, and Alice Keck Park, only better.

So, thanks in advance, from all of “us”… the people, the local landscape, and the ocean.

We will all be most grateful, in reverse order.

LeeAnn Morgan

There, Bear!

Carlos, the bear, was walking back to his den when he saw her. He felt many feelings all at once. Most were pleasant. He was happy to see her. This She Bear was nothing, if not magical. But being a young, inexperienced bear, Carlos was shy. He nearly dropped the Montecito Journal he was carrying in his mouth as he stood up on his hind legs to wave back to her. She signaled him to come over, and this he did, very slowly, for he still had not remembered her name.

“Carlos, so good to see you!” she said. To his surprise, he could tell she meant it. 

“What is that you are carrying?”, she asked. 

Having forgotten about the paper, he dropped it, and with shaking paws straightened it out so she could read the front page, all the while struggling to remember her name. They both quickly scanned down and saw: Housing project on Hill Road has Montecito Association motivated to halt “disastrous laws” before they pass. 

Eyes wide, they looked at each other questioningly, then she quickly flipped to page 10.

“Not good, Carlos.” she said. “Our habitat is shrinking already. The Cito can’t sustain so many humans either.” 

“Have you seen the traffic lately?” He nodded. 

“We need to follow this, but how?” she asked. 

Carlos told her about the Montecito Association’s Zoom meetings and how his den was set up for viewing. “OK if I come over and watch with you next Tuesday?” she asked. “I can bring some berries for us to share, Wendy Bear knows the best grazing.” 

Carlos agreed and made a point of saying her name three times when he said goodbye!

Walking home to his den in a warm sundowner wind he kept repeating, Wendy, Wendy, Wendy.

Michael Edwards

Misinformation Madness

I don’t mean to be unkind, as he seems to be a good guy, but does “Perspectives” columnist Rinaldo S. Brutoco get his information from the action end of an opium pipe, or does he simply make it up while, for example, contemplating his navel? Does he realize how off-the-mark the officious-sounding statements he peddles are?

For example, in a recent column, headed up as “Vladimir Putin’s Big Mistake,” Mr. Brutoco opines that the Russian President’s “biggest surprise and disappointment of his entire life” was the election of Joe Biden, and the defeat of President Donald Trump. Mr. Brutoco goes on to describe how Putin and his KGB comrades used everything in their arsenal to get Mr. Trump elected in 2016.

How ridiculous.

In another casually misinformed paragraph, Mr. Brutoco writes that “it is clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Russia did interfere in the 2016 election in order to install his ally, his ‘useful idiot’ [Mr. Trump] … As history reflects, the plan worked brilliantly.” Wow, Mr. Brutoco must have some deep sources within Russia’s Federal Security Service to know such a thing “beyond a shadow of doubt.” With that kind of inside knowledge, who needs evidence?

This is a fevered dream concocted by allies of Hillary Clinton who hired former British spy Christopher Steele (for a reported $10 million) to pile up a series of rumors and innuendos fed to him by Russians of dubious credibility and print them in what came to be known as the Steele dossier in order to smear the reputation and derail the brash candidacy of Mr. Trump.

What a pile of horse manure.

Whew, it’s painful to continue reading how awful our previous president was, how he destroyed America’s influence and reputation abroad, how the “coup,” the “insurrection” he was planning was prevented. Mr. Brutoco’s disinformation derby goes on for many more paragraphs.

He opines sagely that Mr. Putin couldn’t know that “the ’little people’ who actually run the election machinery in the country would perform their duties with such integrity…” Anyone who believes the pandemic-designed Georgia election was a paragon of “integrity” is, well, is someone such as your “Perspectives” columnist.

Please ask him to refrain from spreading the same load of manure that so many of his colleagues routinely pass around as “fact.” At the least, he could add a disclaimer such as, “As I see it,” or “As I have determined from what little I know.” Then we would understand that what he is writing is just an opinion from a one-sided partisan and may or may not bear any resemblance to actual facts; that his column is just a talking-point-filled parroting of speculative opinion and manufactured falsehoods designed by opponents of Mr. Trump.

Jim Buckley
Montecito

Of Inflation and Deflation

Inflation by definition is an increase in prices and the fall in the purchasing value of money.

That is what’s happening at the grocery stores and the restaurants. What is the cause? Rising wages is one. Lost revenue from the pandemic is another.

Almost $30 trillion in debt is another. Raising taxes or the very real possibility of higher corporate taxes should be one. Imagine if big corporations that pay two or three percent in taxes would skyrocket to 21 percent as proposed.

I am all for big companies paying their fair share of taxes.

Just know that is going to be inflationary. Someone has to make up some of the difference in profits and it will be mostly be the public at large.

Whether it is higher prices, surcharges or fees, the price of goods and services have to go up.

But wait that is not the only scenario.

There is another economic term called deflation.

Which is the decrease of the price of good and services. For example, a well-oiled machine such as Southwest Airlines could and should create lower prices for airline travel.

Another example are cell phone bills. The trend is deflationary as competition and an oversaturated market cause bills to be lowered. The way I see it as long as we do not go back to high interest rates or, even worse, double-digit interest rates we should be fine. If banks go back to giving a free toaster oven for opening accounts, then I will know inflation has gotten way too hot.

Steven Marko

Space is Farr Out

The paper should be congratulated on the wonderful weekly articles by Tom Farr. It brings the reality we are discovering of space into an easily understandable perspective which helps us put our daily concerns into appropriate perspective. This week’s explanation of how our recent knowledge of the space beyond our solar system is particularly helpful in these trying times. Please keep his articles coming to inform us in a layman’s way of developments in space.

Robert L Turner

A Need for More

The anti-upzoning campaign of Sharon Byrne and the Montecito Association is misleading, boomer, and indicative of the need for the state to force localities to build higher density housing.

Where better than here to have high-density pedestrian-oriented development? Why assume that every new unit equals one more car? Why not visualize and work for a future with 20 times the available housing units but no increase in private car use?

The Montecito Association is correct about car use and noise as the greatest detractor to our quality of life. Imagine if the 101 were buried or glassed in as is done with highways in Switzerland. Imagine if loud pipes were banned and the ban was enforced. Imagine if roads were narrowed, as well as walking paths and bike trails extended and maintained. Imagine a future in which every human age 16-75 does not equal one more car.

@yimbyaction @cayimby carfree.com for more.

Colin Leath

‘Pet Projects’

This is in response to “GOP is Party of No,” by Robert Baruch.

With all due respect, Mr. Baruch, the Republican Party is not the party of “no.” It is the party of putting Americans first; capitalism not socialism; energy independence not the Green New Deal; the Constitution; and secure, not open, borders. Regarding the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, it is a redistribution of wealth scheme and slush fund for the Democrat Party. If you take out stimulus check payments, more than half of the $2 trillion won’t even be used until 2022 or later. Only 9% of the money goes for COVID relief and 1% goes to vaccines. All at a time when Americans lost businesses and have no jobs.

Where does most of the money go? To non-COVID related spending partisan pet projects. It is virtually a Democrat wish list being fulfilled. It bails out mismanaged blue states (California and New York); $570 million go to the teacher unions; $50 million are for abortions; Obamacare subsidies are expanded (unknown costs); $852 million are for civic volunteer agencies; and millions are for illegal immigrants, not average Americans. This massive spending act will increase our national debt, be paid for by new taxes, and choose winners and losers, which is why Senate Republicans said “no.”

Don Thorn

Spring Migration Happening Now

I am writing to share Santa Barbara Audubon Society’s appreciation for our very own hero, Joan Lentz. Through thick and thin, Joan rejoices in birding and continues to teach all of us around her about the beauty of birding and spring migrations in Santa Barbara. 

Just yesterday, on April 7, Joan submitted an avid bird report sharing her enthusiasm for birding and expert knowledge about birdlife. As Joan cheerfully noted:

“Hi all: Just so you’ll have a heads up: spring bird migration is in progress, although a bit slow to see right now. Remember last spring how windy it was? We may not get such a show this year, because the birds aren’t clogged up by the winds, but trust me, they are coming through! If you have a water feature of any kind in your yard or off your balcony, the birds will thank you in this dry year. Just to see the Yellow-rumped Warblers in full breeding garb (!) combined with some of the orioles and the Black-headed Grosbeaks is enough to get you started. I really like making an eBird list when I’m looking out at my backyard, too. You can look online at Bird Cast, which shows you what’s happening in the skies at night. If you’re trying to get a friend interested in birding, have them sit out with you on one of these evenings when the birds are stopping off to get a drink or to bathe – any source of water that you’ve discovered is bound to attract a crowd of migrants right about now. Many are in full breeding attire and look gorgeous! Good birding!”

Indeed. Makes me want to add another birdbath in my backyard. Shout out to Joan, our local Santa Barbara Audubon Society hero, and good birding to all!

Katherine Emery, PhD

With Tremendous Gratitude

We want to say, “thank you” to the Montecito Journal and to “Our Town” correspondent Joanne Calitri for her sensitively written and informative story in the April 8 issue about the upcoming closure of Read ‘n Post.

Her historical insights about the store’s early years were undoubtedly interesting for many readers. And our staff members truly appreciated the opportunity to recall personal Read ‘n Post experiences in their own words. Together we shared smiles, a few tears, and many happy memories.

During the remaining days until Read ‘n Post permanently closes on Saturday, April 24, we invite all our friends, neighbors and customers to visit the store during our “Good-Bye and Gratitude” final sale. It will give us a chance to personally say “goodbye, thank you, and best wishes always!”

Jan Hendrickson, Principal Owner
John Devereaux, Co-Owner
Read ‘n Post, Montecito

P.S. Although the Read ‘n Post store will be closed after April 24, Montecito Country Mart plans to continue operating the post office during the interim period while the new Montecito Mercantile shop prepares to open.

 

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