Two Years Later: Still an Unfair and Forced Choice Objections to Cannabis Retail at Santa Claus Lane

By Montecito Journal   |   June 7, 2022

Two years ago, on July 28, 2020, The Santa Barbara Independent published my article “An Unfair and Forced Choice: Objections to Cannabis Retail at Santa Claus Lane.” There I explained that the decision to place a cannabis retail outlet in either Summerland or Santa Claus Lane was forced because the county arbitrarily insists there must be an outlet south of Santa Barbara, and unfair because both Carpinteria and Montecito have “louder” self-governance structures that effectively prevent this outlet in their jurisdictions.

So, when the supervisors looked for a site they focused on the weaker, less influential communities of Summerland and Santa Claus Lane who can appeal to only one defender, one person, Mr. Das Williams the supervisor who “represents” them.

But Mr. Williams, for all his gentle rhetoric… and never mind the now forgotten S.B. Grand Jury report… seems to be “all in” for the cannabis industry. The touted county lawsuit against Island Breeze growers has produced no change. (Williams’ speculation that Island Breeze has overextended their “non-conforming status” is just political hot air unless backed by facts, which he could provide.) Thousands of dollars were spent on gathering data to show Island Breeze affidavits were falsified, then passed on to the Sheriff, D.A., Mr. Williams, and media without even a single acknowledgement of receipt! So, we in these communities are effectively locked out of self-governance efforts to keep retail cannabis out. I said in 2020, “It’s a shame!” And it still is! 

Given this political “vise,” I went on two years ago to explain why Santa Claus Lane might well be the “worst possible location” for such an outlet! My arguments then made no difference as the county has moved ahead anyway. But although I often feel that I am “spitting into the wind” on these issues, I feel it’s my civic obligation to express my opinion one more time.

Traffic and Parking Congestion:

– Santa Claus Lane is a single, narrow street which, to many, is just an extended on-ramp for US101 south. So cars impatiently zoom through at speed to get on the highway. 

– It is constantly lined with parked cars, often bumper to bumper, on both sides, from the highway on-ramp back to the Padaro underpass, beginning in April right through November. This dramatically narrows the already narrow “street/on ramp.” 

– It is the highly trafficked headquarters for a major highway construction project that will continue for several years.

– Visitors to the existing retail shops, the construction HQ, and beaches often do U-turns, in the face of impatient “on-ramp drivers.” This slows traffic and creates collision hazards; especially with distracted visitors wandering among parked cars. Adding a cannabis outlet will only increase congestion as those from the north will want to return the way they came.


– Whether the Surf School on the lane is considered a “registered school,” it attracts crowds of young children daily for an extended season. The intention of regulations buffering daycare/schools is to reduce the proximity and/or access of cannabis to young children. Surely, with hundreds of young people coming regularly over many months to this exact same narrow strip, the spirit of the buffer rule should apply. 

– The same applies to Padaro Grill. This popular place for families has outside picnic benches and sand play areas even for babies. It caters to children. Putting a cannabis retail store next door makes no sense. 

– One might say, “At least there is no odor from a store.” Maybe not, but the licensing rules include security systems, fences, and armed guards. Does that sound like the kind of place we want within yards of babies and two-year-old children playing in the sand!? 

– The beaches are steps away, loaded with children and unattended teens. Yes, the rules don’t allow underage teens to buy cannabis directly. But since when have rules stopped them from getting someone else to buy alcohol for them? The store and a beach full of older strangers who can never be tied to these teens, in my opinion, makes it unavoidable teens on the beach will have ready access to cannabis.

Beaches: Smoking is not allowed on our beaches. So, with a retail outlet virtually on the beach, won’t this make it much more likely that it will be smoked on the beach? Yes, this would apply in other South County locations. But of all possible locations, none is as close to the beach as Santa Claus.

Local Opposition: What HAS changed in the past two years is overwhelming local opposition. Even Mr. Williams says “neighborhood compatibility” should be taken into consideration. Yet despite nearly 100% of written and verbal comments solicited by the county itself in 2020, the county has chosen to ignore it! Seriously!?

So, two years later, I say again, PLEASE Mr. Williams, in the name of civic duty, if you can’t solve the problem of odors from Island Breeze affecting Foothill Road, Via Real, and Padaro Lane, at least pick a different site and keep our beloved remnant of roadside beachy California free from a cannabis store! We know you can vote with us on this issue and your colleagues can still ram it through. Let us hear you defend us, let us hear you lobby them. If you don’t, shame on you. If you do and they ignore you, shame on them!

Jim Mannoia
President – The Polo Condos

Out of This World

 What a treat for California’s desert explorers: Tom Farr’s “Planetary Analogs: Or Where on Earth is Mars?” (Vol 28, Issue 20). By pointing out the strange forms in our very own desert landscapes, he gives us a chance to experience really far-off worlds without ever donning a space suit, boarding a rocket and leaving our earthly home. Those of us eager to enjoy the wonders of nature are so lucky to have a guide as gifted as Dr. Farr.

Frederic Golden

Salcido Gets the Job Done

Voters have a clear choice for Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools on June 7. The incumbent, Dr. Susan Salcido, is a competent leader who gets the job done. Her opponent, PE teacher Christy Lozano, however, will be unable to do the job at all.

Lozano promises to align curriculum in our county’s schools with her extreme ideological positions. She wouldn’t actually have that power, per the laws in CA Education Code strictly limiting superintendents’ control over school districts. Perhaps Lozano doesn’t know her promises are worthless, as she admits she doesn’t understand the laws and will need someone to explain them to her “in terms [she] can understand.” 

Should she be elected, Lozano would require a vast amount of on-the-job training, much of it on the things she would already know if she’d ever been an administrator. Should taxpayers have to pay for her schooling? We’re already footing the bill for the political career she’s pursuing while on paid leave from her PE teacher job in Santa Barbara. 

Since November 2021 to the end of this school year, Lozano has been on paid leave. She can’t teach PE but she’s capable of campaigning and making media appearances. Aside from the ethics of that behavior, can we expect her to be ready to work the much more demanding job she’s seeking?

On June 7, vote for someone who knows her job and fulfills it. Vote Dr. Susan Salcido for County Superintendent of Schools.

Bonnie Beedles

Sheriff Bill Brown Represents the Finest in Law Enforcement!

Sheriff Bill Brown is clearly the most qualified candidate! Brown has earned my vote because he has the experience, integrity, and proven track record of doing a stellar job for Santa Barbara County. He is a brilliant leader who has successfully led us through challenging times. He has implemented new and innovative programs to reduce crime, make our streets safer, and also provide rehabilitation/reentry for inmates. Take, for example, his approach to those suffering from mental illnesses. The appropriate diversion to community-based alternatives and partnering with Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness to respond to mental health crisis-related calls is compassionate and in line with current enlightened approaches advocated by mental health/medical professionals. His goal of creating a program to address opioid/fentanyl deaths is another example of how Sheriff Brown sees a problem and seeks a solution for the betterment of our community. Sheriff Brown is astutely proactive and I would like to see his outstanding work continue to make our county a better, safer place to live. Thank you, Sheriff Brown, for all you’ve done!

Rita Weinstock

Susan Salcido: A Born Leader

During this difficult and contentious election season, it’s refreshing to see a candidate who enjoys overwhelming bipartisan support throughout Santa Barbara County. Susan Salcido, who is running for re-election as County Superintendent of Schools, is that candidate. She is a living example of the proverb, “Be modest in speech but excel in action.”

During her past five years as Superintendent, Susan’s strong support of schools, children, and families, coupled with her strong leadership skills, have drawn praise from all regions and segments of the community. Descriptive words most heard or read about Susan include skillful, experienced, competent, visionary, analytical, trustworthy, diplomatic, a good listener, and boundless energy. Susan is a born leader.

Dr. Salcido has also been tested in crisis management to the extreme. In 2017 (the year she took office) she had to navigate the conditions created by the Thomas Fire. Then in 2018 she had to mitigate the tragic impacts of the debris flow. Since 2020 to the present, the COVID-19 pandemic has created one of the largest threats to our schools in our nation’s history. Susan’s priorities remained consistent and focused on children: keep students safe, keep schools open, and continue to focus on long-term excellence.

Dr. Salcido immediately recognized the growing mental health challenges for children and the lack of resources. Working in partnership with County Mental Health, the Santa Barbara Foundation, and local school districts, she played a major role in brokering a $4 million grant to place mental health services on school campuses.

Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino wrote about Dr. Salcido, “Her unflinching proactive leadership during multiple challenges has been crucial to our resilience. I am grateful for her strong and unifying efforts.” District Attorney Joyce Dudley added, “I’ve felt reassured and heartened to have Superintendent Salcido as a trusted and respected leader at the helm of Santa Barbara County schools.” 

Dr. Salcido reinforces her knowledge of the community by being out there on the front lines. She has visited over 500 classrooms throughout the county, attends school board and service club meetings, and community events.

Susan is home grown. She attended public schools in Santa Maria and earned two degrees from UCSB. She has worked on the front lines in education in this county for over 26 years as a high school English teacher and coach, a junior high school principal, Deputy Superintendent, and Superintendent of the County Education Office. She knows the county and understands regional differences and nuance. She is trusted and has worked successfully, bringing people together and using diplomacy to resolve issues. 

Two Santa Barbara County Teachers of the Year say it best:

Michelle Minetti, a first-grade teacher in Guadalupe and Teacher of the Year, said:

Susan is a pillar of the community and the world of public education. She is a product of our county school system who received her education and stayed close to her roots to give back and lead our school districts at the county level. Her work ethic embodies her family’s humble beginnings in the Santa Maria Valley. She is the example that teachers talk to their students about when it comes to hard work and perseverance, making dreams a reality.”

Kelly Choi, a teacher in the Santa Barbara School District sums it up this way: “Dr. Salcido cares deeply for our students’ safety, wellness, and learning.She is honest, caring, trustworthy, and able to make tough decisions, all the while keeping students as the center focus. We can count on Susan for bold action and courageous leadership. Susan Salcido’s motivation is pure: It’s for students.”

Bill Cirone, a retired Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools.

I Can See Clearly Now

These last couple of years have opened my eyes to the fact that my eyes were closed before. And having closed eyes is most harmful when it comes to shaping the youth, the future of Santa Barbara. For that is why I write this letter. I love Santa Barbara, I love the community, and I care tremendously for its well-being. Yet I sit with a broken heart, watching the youth reflect academic and behavioral fails. How can this be the result in such an iconic location? The answer is poor leadership. And now is our rare opportunity to fix this problem!

To fix this, there needs to be accountability for educational outcomes, that way we can achieve the results that Santa Barbarians deserve. Christy Lozano has been watching this lack of accountability up close, so she is rising to the occasion, bringing a call for transparency of our county school district’s financial expenditures and curriculums, for us community members and parents to see.

Lozano’s also bringing her genuine concern, her integrity, and her passion to help. She has already exemplified embodying social justice in her 18 years teaching K-12, working with disadvantaged children and youth. She has the spirit of a true coach and cheerleader, who sets highest expectations rather than the lowest, and encourages the weak to be strong. Just ask her how many of her remarkable students ran 100 miles?

Christy Lozano definitely emits amazing role model leadership behavior. For anybody that doubts her, I implore you to vocalize those doubts to her personally, and allow her the chance to win you over. Though it’s not about winning us voters over, it is about the children winning. Let not our possibly convoluted and closed eyes backfire onto the children. If we want a better world, we need to act locally, and we need to act now, by voting for Christy Lozano.

Amy Blair  


You might also be interested in...