Appealing Santa Claus Cannabis

By Montecito Journal   |   November 1, 2022

I will not be able to attend the Santa Claus cannabis retail store appeal hearing on November 1, 2022, however I would like to convey my opposition to its approval and impending existence in this message. 

Three things you should know about me before I address my reasons for concern:

My family has lived, worked, and played in Santa Barbara and Carpinteria for five generations. I went to Santa Barbara Junior High, SBHS, and UCSB and owned/operated a restaurant in Isla Vista. I have spent more time on Santa Claus Lane and Padaro Lane than most people you will hear from regarding this matter. Santa Claus and Padaro will always be the most special place in the world to me. 

I voted for Prop. 64 six years ago because I believed, and still do, that the growth, consumption, and sale of cannabis should be state (and federally) legal assuming that appropriate measures and guidelines are followed by our elected leaders.

I am a registered Independent voter. I do not have a political agenda on this matter. This is about right and wrong.

Das Williams’ promise to deny a project in a location that did not provide community benefit has not been kept, to the point where any educated person has to ask themselves these questions: “Is this fraudulent?” “This truly can’t be about adding jobs, right?” “Cannabis users can’t drive a couple miles north on the 101 Freeway to one of the many retail locations in Santa Barbara?” “Or have it delivered to their home by one of the many operators that does so?” It seems like our Governor listened to our complaints about Williams, so much so that he appointed Meagan Harmon to the Coastal Commission, rather than Williams. 

I truly don’t understand how the addition of a Cannabis retail store on Santa Claus Lane is “necessary” for our community. Further, I would be voicing my disapproval of a proposed liquor/convenience store in this location, let alone a cannabis store, for all the reasons you would expect, but above all – it’s not necessary and will be a detriment to our community. 

Lastly, and nostalgically, I still remember “Toyland,” and of course the Santa Claus sculpture, as well as the seafood market with tanks of lobster and crabs because it was a fun and safe place for my grandmother and mother to take me as a child. Since, I was thrilled to see the transformation of the Padaro Grill by one of our prominent/local restaurateurs that is such a big draw for families, especially in the summer. I know the A-Frame Surf Shop owners well; they have done a phenomenal job bringing our youth to the beach via surf camps and competitions. My family regularly eats at the Garden Market and my wife and I have even bought furniture from Coast Supply Co. This stretch of coastal land needs to be preserved and managed properly for the benefit of our kids and future generations.


Grant B. Robertson

Vote Rosanne for a New Voice

We need a more inclusive, diverse board of education. I was extremely excited when I saw Rosanne Crawford was running for SBCBOE. I have followed Rosanne for many years, and I am always impressed with her ideas and verve. The County board has been working in an ivory tower of respectable establishment members largely appointed by the previous Superintendent during his long tenure. What is the record that these respectable people have to run on, when more than half of the students in the district are performing below grade level in English and only 30% can do math.

One-party rule is dangerous. Even if you’re part of that party, one-party ruling over decades is a bad thing, which leads to stagnation and even corruption. All board members benefit when they have to justify their positions to those who would raise questions or an alternative point of view. Otherwise, boards just become an “echo chamber.” Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Personally, I’m tired of the same people and the same politicians and the same establishment nonprofits doing the same thing over and over again with no accountability for outcomes. I want a parent-grandparent-volunteer on that board, someone who is focused on the nuts-and-bolts issues, not making the right soundbites, which ring like a tin bell. She has both vision and critical thinking skills. She will bring perspective from the outside of a grandparent, a parent, someone who has worked with the school district – but not for the school district – for three decades of volunteering in the classroom and as a voice of the public in the boardrooms. Our boards need to be more inclusive, with diverse points of view and perspective to make wise decisions. Rosanne is going to focus on literacy. She has my vote.

I know from the many pieces you’ve written over the years that you’re doing it for all the right reasons… to ask the hard questions and to improve literacy in our County education system. Thank you, Rosanne, for running.

Peggy Wilson

Where Did Santa Claus Go?

At the September 7 County Planning Commission meeting, a gentleman got up claiming to represent everybody in the Las Canchas Homeowners’ Association… I think what I found particularly interesting about his comments is that he began them by lamenting the fact that Santa Claus is no longer on a rooftop on Santa Claus Lane (SCL).

It’s worth pointing out for those who may or may not be aware that it was Dr. Steve Kent, the appellant of the Roots Carpinteria project, and his lawyer Jana Zimmer who bullied the County into ridding Santa Claus Lane of Santa Claus. This was done over the objections of many longtime residents of the Carpinteria Valley. Including many people who feel the same way the gentleman from Las Canchas Homeowners Association feels.

Dr. Kent and his lawyer forced the removal of Santa Claus because they didn’t think Santa was compatible with Dr. Kent’s business interests. Apparently, a lot of things aren’t “compatible” with Dr. Kent’s business interests.

Indeed, as the landlord of numerous properties on Santa Claus Lane, Dr. Kent felt it was his prerogative to remove Santa from Santa Claus Lane. With the assistance of his lawyer, they took it upon themselves to rid Santa Claus Lane of Santa Claus. They did this irrespective of how others might have felt about it.

It’s ironic, to say the least, especially since the speaker at the Planning Commission hearing said that having Santa Claus on Santa Claus Lane made Santa Claus Lane a “wonderful spot for kids.” Apparently, Dr. Kent and his lawyer disagreed with such sentimentality. Dr. Kent didn’t want Santa Claus Lane to be a “wonderful spot for kids,” as much as he wanted it to be a wonderful spot to collect his expensive rents on just another hustling and bustling commercial retail corridor, where the almighty dollar takes precedence over everything else, including maintaining SCL as a family-friendly area for families in the Carpinteria Valley.

And now that Dr. Kent has something else to be relentlessly against, a business that he neither rents to nor has a financial stake in, he’s found a new shiny object to be against. In this case, Roots, and the democratic process itself. Before, it was just a laser focus on business and the bottom line on a ledger sheet. 

Santa Claus Lane isn’t Dr. Kent’s personal economic domain to do with as he chooses. SCL belongs to all the people, including those who also own property there and pay substantial property taxes in Santa Barbara County. And it also belongs to those who voted overwhelmingly to legalize cannabis for medicinal and recreational use in California. When does that inconvenient fact receive the attention it deserves?

The Roots Carpinteria retail cannabis facility will be an example of operational excellence. It will serve the health and wellness needs of tens of thousands of people in this area of the County while making sure adults have access to legal, safe, tested, taxed, and ethically sourced high-quality cannabis flowers and cannabis-infused edibles that are proving every day a safe, highly regulated alternative for the pharmacological powders that kill thousands of people every year in America.

So, the message to Doctor Kent and his lawyer should be simple; you’ve made a fortune on Santa Claus Lane, and at a cost to the family vibe that once defined this quaint beach lane. It is time to allow others to pursue their goals and their dreams as you did many years before and as you continue to do even to this day.

Thanks to voters, cannabis is legal in California. And cannabis retail storefronts are a legal and principally permitted use on Santa Claus Lane. Let’s get about it by supporting the Board of Supervisors’ denial of Dr. Kent and his lawyer’s frivolous appeal.

Joe Armendariz is the Director of Government Affairs for Armendariz Partners. He is a former two-term member of the Carpinteria City Council and the former Executive Director of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association, and Santa Barbara Technology and Industry Association. He can be reached at (805) 990-2494.

A Letter from Rosanne Crawford

The upcoming election offers an unprecedented choice of school board candidates this year.

Candidates and voters are well aware of the problems in our public schools. Poor literacy outcomes are at the top of the list for most, particularly for students leaving secondary schools without adequate English and math skills, limiting their opportunity to enter the job market or higher education.

As a candidate for the County Board of Education, I offer choice and fresh ideas. My opponent, the incumbent Marybeth Carty was provisionally appointed in 2013. 

Voters are looking for change and choice because the status quo is not working. Teachers and parents want a voice at the table. With the multifaceted problems, the common denominator is Literacy – it’s the great equalizer. 

I am the candidate that will reach across the aisle and include teachers and parents to be a part of the solution. I will be accessible and will listen. 

The County Board of Education is over 20 Districts with specific functions to serve the needs of the local school districts by providing administrative, curriculum, and instructional services.

One of them is helping our districts build and implement equitable, excellent instructional programs for all students in their local contexts. Between the schools, there is a lack of consistency. The biggest problem I believe is the practice of tracking of non-English speakers at the elementary level. Currently, if a child speaks both English and Spanish, or Spanish only, they are placed in a different class than English-speaking students. By the end of elementary, many are so far behind in English, they can’t pass the English Proficiency test. As an end result, they continue to be tracked into different classes in high school. Many of them finish school with poor English and math skills with few opportunities.

The County Education Office has many support programs, however, and for example, they could build a stellar literacy program model; the school districts that are struggling in these areas could benefit from encouraging some uniformity for providing better outcomes. 

As a result of this weakness and lack of parent satisfaction in our schools, we continue to have declining enrollment with students lost to private, charter, and homeschooling because of the lack of quality education. 

Focusing on “values and politics” in schools and emphasizing differences has led to divisiveness with an increase in anxiety problems being seen in younger children. 

Let’s get back to the basics and focus on English, Math, Science, and providing career pathways and training for students who are not college-bound. Students need engagement and options to succeed in their school journey or some of them end up in juvenile court schools, which the County Office oversees. Public education is not free; costs run about 23,000 taxpayer’s dollars annually per student. We need to do better.

I am a parent and grandparent and an educational advocate of 30 years who left my professional career to be that PTA mom in the classroom.

For more on my diverse background please visit

I hope to earn your vote on or before November 8th.

Rosanne Crawford

Reelect Marybeth Carty: A Renowned, Effective, and Experienced Community Leader 

In today’s super-charged political climate, I strongly support leaders in public life who model the proverb, “Be modest in speech but excel in action.” This defines Marybeth Carty’s style and is the underpinning for her amazing track record in education, nonprofits, philanthropy, and business. 

Marybeth is a quiet, effective leader, a ‘go-to person’ in a variety of venues, helping to solve difficult issues, leading public service campaigns, or working on community problems. Her calm, low key, and skilled style is in stark contrast to the sad display of yelling, name calling, and disparaging comments in today’s public discourse. 

A passionate believer in public education as the bedrock of our democracy, Marybeth is committed to defending, supporting, and strengthening public education. In Marybeth’s own words, “Public education is the cornerstone of democracy. It is the birthright of American citizens to receive a free K-12 education, but it is the responsibility of elected school board officials to ensure that schools in their communities are prepared to meet the diverse needs of all students. The right to a fair education for all students is a deeply-rooted core value that I hold dearly and work toward daily.”

In a recent debate, Marybeth answered important, difficult, and politically charged questions. No dodging, just calm and honest answers, based on what children need and how they learn. An example of a great communicator and teacher.

Colleagues of Marybeth use powerful words that paint a vivid picture of her integrity, passion, wisdom, effectiveness, and how she “always takes the high road and tells the truth.” The quotes, strong and telling, can be viewed in Marybeth’s webpage

Experience matters.Marybeth’s experience and accomplishments in education, board governance, nonprofit management, and philanthropy have been broadly recognized throughout the community. A few examples include: Hero of Hospice Award, Fighting Back Mentor of the Year, Girls Inc. of Carpinteria Woman of Inspiration, Carpinteria’s Woman of the Year, and Pacific Coast Times Top 50 Women in Business.

Marybeth Carty is exactly the type of person we need in elected positions in these divisive times. She is a living example of the proverb, “Be modest in speech but excel in action.”

She also understands firsthand that effective leadership is about making everyone else better. Please vote for Marybeth Carty, SB County Board of Education, District 1.

Bill Cirone, Retired, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools

Bear Scare

Carlos, The Bear, turned on the heater to his den for the first time in a while, “Brrr,” he growled. Saying to himself, “Fall has arrived!” He looked out his window at the colorful Sycamore trees and growing darkness and remembered many Octobers ago, a Halloween costume that was so scary, it almost cost him his life. 

Always the creative bear, as a cub Carlos eschewed the usual ghost, werewolf, or pumpkin costumes, preferring to go as something more contemporary, and fitting with the times. No, he would dress himself as something so fearful that every animal would be frightened of him.

As he settled into his lazy bear chair, Carlos reminisced:

He had just started out at dusk, heading to fox’s den for treats as he rounded a bend in the trail obscured by a boulder. When he popped out from behind the rock, Connie Cougar saw him and pounced, knocking Carlos to the ground. Carlos growled at Connie, “No, Connie, it’s me Carlos!” Connie stopped, puzzled, and looked down at her prey, and realized that she had attacked a friend.

“Good Grief, Carlos! You had me going there, great costume!” said Connie.

And with that, Carlos went home, costume in his candy bag, as he counted his lucky stars and swore an oath to never dress as a real-estate developer, ever again!

Michael Edwards

Not a Fan of Our Recommendations

Your recommendations for the upcoming election have me feeling sad, unappreciated, and betrayed. Whether local, state, or federal, it seems each of your choices promote larger government at the expense of working taxpayers for the benefit of government employees and their political operatives. Ostensibly the beneficiary of larger government programs is disadvantaged people. This rarely happens as the ranks of the disadvantaged continue to grow. Meanwhile working people see their taxes grow while government employees get cost of living pay increases each year with guaranteed early retirement pensions. It’s sad to be promised one thing while a different reality is delivered. Working people succeed or fail in the private sector and their success is marked with higher taxes. Our elected politicians do not appreciate the effort. And so, they deny their political failure and betray us, the working taxpayer. One example: $6 trillion in emergency COVID spending resulted in $100’s of billions of fraud. The money is lost and the taxpayer is handed the bill for government ineptitude. I feel sad and betrayed.

Peter Hunt

Efi Banales Really Knows the Students 

Efi Banales is exactly what the SBUSD needs right now in an elected leader. Here’s why:

Educational Commitment– “It’s a crime, that our Spanish-speaking students are testing at the 4th-grade level,” she said in a recent online interview. She correctly understands how English as a Second Language (ESL) tracking is tragically creating a two-tiered system that isolates Spanish-home speakers and is holding kids back. Her work at La Cumbre Junior High afterschool homework program with parents and students is a model for what truly works.

Hiring Skills – One of the most important roles of an SBUSD board is vetting and recommending future principals. Efi is one who has served for years at the right hand of multiple principals, and she has an eagle eye for the difference between a good principal and a bad principal.

Student Connection – As a 28-year employee for SBUSD, from 1989-2021, at four schools – Franklin, Washington, Santa Barbara Community Academy, and La Cumbre Junior High – she has known literally thousands of students from the Eastside and Westside by name, she knows their stories.

Local Connection – She knows the community and has lived on Santa Barbara’s Eastside for more than three decades. She is a distinguished and respected member of the community.

Quiet Courage – The majority of students in Santa Barbara are Latino, and Efi is unafraid to be a voice for this unique and special parent community. She’s not afraid to “make waves” as many immigrant parents are, and she is passionate about getting Latino parents involved in their student’s education. 

Harold Crawford

Stop The Buck

The buck stops with the board. The incumbents at SBUSD must be held accountable for their voting record.

Vote for Phebe Mansur, a proven and respected public servant from Goleta for SBUSD District 4, and Efi Banales, a retired veteran educator, for SBUSD District 1. One reason to vote for Phebe and Efi is that they both support the “Heart” sex ed curriculum, in contrast to all of their opponents. The “Heart” curriculum starts out with a “parent interview” by the student about the parents’ values and is very sensitive and age appropriate. As opposed to the highly graphic and controversial “Teen Talk.”

A weak “rubber stamp” board has created a crisis of lost learning during the pandemic, a crisis of mental health, erosion of classroom discipline, exponential rise in reported “thoughts of suicide,” the controversial and dangerous firing of the Safety Resource Officer at San Marcos High School, and a dramatic rise in race-related student incidents.

Perhaps most of all, the misguided “Leveling up” which eviscerates the dedicated honors and GATE programs, the pride of our district, which were built up over decades. This was the last straw for teacher morale and for many parents, who have pulled their children out of the public schools in increasing numbers.

The current Superintendent has a heavy handed, top down, leadership style and is out to “change the world.” She has made the job of teachers nearly impossible.

If you think improvement must be made in school safety, literacy, vocational educational opportunities, teacher and administrative morale, and you want to see age-appropriate sex ed and dedicated honors classes in our secondary schools, vote for the two candidates who have your values and the steel character to hold the current Superintendent accountable.

Michelle Martinez

What a Mess

L.A. is in crisis mode. The latest news is that there are three members of the city council that are either racist or out of touch or both. With about 70,000 people without a home and encampments all over the city, it’s a wonder a person with four billion dollars would want the job of mayor. The pay for the mayor sits at about $300K a year. 

Rick Caruso has pledged to do it for a dollar. That is $300K right to the bottom line.

The city has pledged three billion dollars over the next five years to address the homeless problem. Money is the seed to making a dent in this crisis. Equally, it is how and who controls how the money is spent.

That’s where Rickenters the picture. Rick knows how and to who this money should go to. His big advantage over Karen Bass, as well as most politicians and most other people for that matter, is how he makes everyone accountable.

If you are not beholden to groups who gave you money to get in office, you hold a huge advantage. The only minor issue with Mr. Miramar is he is running as a Democrat after being a lifelong Republican. Sure that is a red flag.

Thankfully mayors in general take a nonpartisan view on local matters. Therefore, thank you Mr. Caruso for taking on this challenge.

Just a reminder – the beaches are for public use.

Steve Marko

Against the Minimum Wage Increase

I applaud Bob Hazard’s recent article, “Calif. Scheming: Fast Food Folly Unfrocked,” and want to amplify some of his points. Among economists there is little debate about the effects of minimum wages and study after study finds that raising the minimum wage has a direct negative employment effect on low-skilled as well as young workers. There is no doubt that raising the minimum wages for fast food workers will increase unemployment among the least skilled whereas higher-skilled and union workers will benefit. And those businesses that produce substitutes for workers will also benefit – self-checkout, scanners, robotics, etc.

But the real reason for Gov. Newsom signing this bill is not about raising wages for low-income workers, it is about government control. The law forms a new regulatory committee that will pass judgment not just on wages, but on benefits packages, vacations, hours leave policies. It will start with the large companies and progress to the small businesses. He, and others, want to substitute the judgement of government appointees and union representatives for the judgment of business owners, the very people who are on the ground conducting the business. This type of intervention seeks to replace the productive engine of free enterprise with the inefficient process of governance by committee. It aligns the politicians and government employees with the employees of private unions, and we all know that leads to more costs and fat pensions with taxpayers picking up the tab. No wonder business owners and wealthy individuals, the people who pay 80% of the state’s intake of tax dollars, are exiting this state at records levels.

The ruling party of California wants to control everything from how much one pays their own workers to banning gas stoves in your homes or chainsaws on your ranch. Compulsory government control is ever-increasing in this state due to the elimination of the checks and balances of a two-party system. The Democrat Party no longer needs to compromise when it comes to private enterprise versus social engineering, or raising fees and taxes versus more retrained fiscally responsible policies. As Mr. Hazard said, such wage and work regulation should “send chills to both thoughtful liberals and conservatives alike” and “will voters care enough to do something about it?” Will they indeed.  

J.W. Burk


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