Author spotlight: Leslie Westbrook

A third-generation Californian, Leslie, currently resides in Carpinteria but called Summerland home for 30 years. The award-winning writer assists clients sell fine art, antiques and collectibles at auction houses around the globe. She can be reached at LeslieAWestbrook@gmail.com or www.auctionliaison.com

At Home With Lou
By Leslie Westbrook   |   January 28, 2021

It’s no surprise that Lou Cannon does a pretty good imitation of President Ronald Reagan. After all, he covered Reagan from his governorship in California to his time in the White House through to his final days, writing five books about California’s former governor and president, including President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime, among […]

The Year That Stopped… and Began Again: A Song of Hope
By Leslie Westbrook   |   January 14, 2021

Looking over my 2020 Filofax calendar (yes, I still use one of those) and reviewing the past year, it’s not nearly as full as previous years. 2020 stated out well enough: it went from meeting friends at Tharios’ Kitchen and Field + Fort, Sunday brunches at El Encanto, Miramar, Four Seasons Biltmore for an Edible […]

The Squeaky Wheel Method
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 31, 2020

Suzy “Squeaky Wheel” Cawthon has spent eight long years on a long and winding road of a dream that began with Fran Davis, the “founding mother” of an effort to re-imagine and enhance Lookout Park. The idea was to move the camp host from its perch and a primo spot to the upper end of […]

A Great Cap to an Otherwise Strange Year
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 31, 2020

My great Aunt Betty laughed when I bought my house in Summerland in the early 1980s. She told me that her husband, my great uncle Heywood, used to work on those wells when they lived in Summerland in the 1930s. Little did I know at the time that the very oil wells he worked on […]

Santa Barbara’s Wonder Woman
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 24, 2020

Hannah-Beth Jackson may have run out of time as State Senator, but she never ran out of the fierce will that got her to Sacramento. She looks back on a legacy of fighting for disaster relief and equal rights for all. Q. Which superhero do you visualize yourself as? A. “I love Wonder Woman – […]

New Arrivals
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 17, 2020

Congratulations to Senator Monique Limón,who was sworn in as our new state senator in Sacramento on December 7 and is also a new mom to baby Gianna. 

Ojai Music Festival’s Virtual Holiday Home Tour & For-real Shopping
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 17, 2020

Every November, I look forward to the Holiday Home Tour in nearby Ojai that benefits the annual Ojai Music Festival, now entering its 75th year. Organized by the OMF Women’s Committee, this year, due to COVID, they have done a terrific job of creating a video tour of three lovely homes. Narrated by architect/designers Steve […]

New to the ‘Hood: Meet Mark Osiel
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 17, 2020

Mark Osiel is a lawyer, author, and law professor who holds the Aliber Family Chair at the University of Iowa. So, what’s he doing in Summerland? Well, he adds yet another accomplished and interesting citizen to the community for starters. Here’s a little to know about the professor and author. Q. You recently moved to […]

Ho! Ho! Holidaze!
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 10, 2020

Santa’s elves have been working hard to prepare Summerland emporiums with festive atmosphere and sparkling gift choices for the holiday season. In fact, most places were already sporting Christmas trees and décor the weekend before Thanksgiving and more than 45 flocked wreaths had already flown out the door like hot cakes at Field + Fort, […]

Home, Sweet Hacienda
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 3, 2020

Hacienda, by Bonita Lifestyle, the latest incarnation of retail shopping therapy in Summerland by Rita Villa, opened its doors mid-November. Located just down the street from the Summerland Beach Café (and in the same row as Garde on the street behind the liquor store), the shop is the culmination of the many years of Rita’s […]

Going With the Flow
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 3, 2020

Have you noticed how the Highway 101 traffic flow has changed with the construction work now in full swing? Heading north from the Padaro Lane onramp through Summerland, most of the traffic was traveling in the right lane – due to the white cement barriers, which do make the fast lane scarily hairy! There are […]

Warning: Follow the Rules, Please!
By Leslie Westbrook   |   December 3, 2020

Even movie stars and the rich and famous need to play by the rules, so it should seem simple for the rest of us mere mortals. At a Summerland Architectural Board of Review meeting a few years back, the board approved a 26,000-square-foot house (by virtue of a variance on the 25-acre beachfront property) for […]

Offshore Oil Well Clean Up! A Post-Election Day Gift
By Leslie Westbrook   |   November 19, 2020

Construction crews are carrying out important cleanup work on two of Summerland’s leaky, abandoned oil wells located just offshore. The work should be completed by November 15, but in the meantime a portion of Lookout Park’s parking lot and the beach area are temporarily being used. Thanks to Heal the Ocean and former longtime Summerlandian […]

Virtual Vacation to Honduras
By Leslie Westbrook   |   November 19, 2020

We could all use a virtual vacation. Santa Barbara Bird Sanctuary board member Leslie Rugg reached out to me enthusiastically via email to get the word out about the parrot haven and rescue center in Summerland whose director of the Sanctuary is longtime Montecito resident Jamie McLeod. Birds with chronic conditions remain at the Sanctuary […]

Sports Legend Maria Sharapova buys Summerland Ranch
By Leslie Westbrook   |   November 5, 2020

A warm Summerland welcome to sports legend Maria Sharapova, who has purchased one of my favorite properties. The retired (in February of this year) tennis player has purchased a five-acre ocean view compound in the hills for $8.6 million. The 33-year-old Russian has won more than $38 million in prize money – that’s not counting […]

101 Widening – Fasten Your Seatbelts!
By Leslie Westbrook   |   November 5, 2020

Will freeway noise be louder or quieter, during construction and/or when it is finished? How long will the construction take (spoiler alert: asteroid Bennu)? Will commuters take a short cut on the “Banner Avenue freeway” instead of the 101 or Lillie Avenue?  All these questions and more were answered during an informative 1.5-hour presentation by […]

Mega Mansions on the Market
By Leslie Westbrook   |   November 5, 2020

For anyone wanting to live the Summerland version of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” two of the town’s grandest estates are on the market. Both are owned by polo patrons: there are digs and playing fields for the horses that far outshine many Summerland beach shacks. Tuscany Oaks Farm, a seven-bedroom, 10-bath polo estate […]

A Matter of No Party Preference
By Leslie Westbrook   |   October 29, 2020

In the newsroom of the Washington Post, Lou Cannon cultivated a reputation as a “reporter’s reporter.” Concealing his political loyalties was as much a matter of professional integrity as it revealed his facility to see both sides. “I’ve been a Democrat and I’ve been a Republican,” Cannon revealed during a recent Zoom conversation just before […]

On My Soapbox: To Agree or Not?
By Leslie Westbrook   |   October 1, 2020

This week I’m taking the opportunity to sound off from my soapbox, since the lead item on the Summerland’s popularity vote “yea” or “nay” for a cannabis dispensary in town, which ran a few weeks ago, created quite a little stir that resulted in three letters to the editor printed over three issues. First, I […]

More Messages from ‘The Great Beyond’
By Leslie Westbrook   |   September 17, 2020

Congratulations to Summerland-based author Cynthia Hamilton, whose latest mystery book, the fifth in her private investigator Madeline Dawkins series, The Patience of Karma, came out this week from her new publisher, Severn River Publishing. This story revolves around three crimes, including a tragic boating accident off the coast of San Diego, some Santa Barbara shenanigans […]

Porch Opens: It’s in the Cards (Tarot Cards, That Is)
By Leslie Westbrook   |   September 17, 2020

Porch, the popular Santa Claus Lane home, garden, and gift store, has moved from Santa Claus Lane and officially opened in its new location in the space long known as Just Folk on Lillie Avenue. With a new coat of white paint and the two-story space filled with lots of tempting items, large and small, […]

Not Safer At Home
By Leslie Westbrook   |   September 3, 2020

Quarantine can heighten the risk of domestic violence, but help is available Maria Carbonell gratefully remembers the week she took refuge at a Domestic Violence Solutions safe house eight years ago. “A lot of people didn’t know I went to a safe house. I never shared it with anybody,” says Carbonell, 52, in a recent […]

Santa Barbara Magazine Summer Issue Out: A Secret Message?
By Leslie Westbrook   |   September 3, 2020

A reader called me to ask whether I knew why the summer issue of Santa Barbara Magazine with a wonderful, whimsical piece of cover art by Pedro de la Cruz included the number “45” on it? “Was the magazine promoting the re-election of our 45th president?” she pondered. Nope, this is not some subliminal message: […]

Space Opens in Carpinteria: You’re Invited!
By Leslie Westbrook   |   September 3, 2020

Congratulations to Zelda Prune and her business partner Jonathan Brandan, who have opened the doors to their new home and garden showroom, Space, at 4856 Carpinteria Avenue in Carpinteria. Stop by for some socially distant shopping, mint lemonade, and “safe” nibbles this Friday, Saturday, or Sunday (August 28-30) from 11 am to 6 pm. Vintage […]

Summerland People: Nancy Aviles
By Leslie Westbrook   |   September 3, 2020

Her faith, and the views, help her through One Summerland family that is looking forward to the changes at Lookout Park is Nancy Aviles, her husband, Rodrigo Campuzano, and their two young children, Amy and Roy. “Living in Summerland is a wonderful experience,” says Nancy, a child development specialist who works for an early intervention […]

A New Look for Lookout Park
By Leslie Westbrook   |   September 3, 2020

Summerland residents and visitors who enjoy Lookout Park should be feeling pretty hopeful: the construction aspects of the long-anticipated improvements to the east end of the ocean view community recreational area are almost complete – but there’s still a three-month waiting period for the official opening. The project will open to the public in December […]

Summerland Cannabis Survey
By Leslie Westbrook   |   September 3, 2020

Decisive Opposition to New Dispensary Despite 70 percent of Summerland voters in the state election voting in favor of marijuana legalization, residents and business owners are overwhelmingly against the establishment of a cannabis dispensary in town. So says a recent survey with a sample that comprises 25 percent of residents and almost all business owners […]

Natalia Alarcon: Bringing Diversity to the Table
By Leslie Westbrook   |   August 20, 2020

Natalia Alarcon, 34, is not the first woman, nor is she the first Hispanic, to run for a seat at the Carpinteria City Council dais. But she is the first Latina woman – and the youngest – to run, at least in recent history. Two seats are open in the race – a new mayor […]

Closed in the Time of Corona
By Leslie Westbrook   |   August 14, 2020

As I waltzed through the mostly empty streets of Summerland this past Sunday, the cowboy ballad “The Cowboys Lament” (aka “Streets of Loredo”) came to mind: “As I walked out on the streets of Laredo.As I walked out on Laredo one day,I spied a poor cowboy wrapped in white linen,Wrapped in white linen as cold […]

A Final Love Note
By Leslie Westbrook   |   August 6, 2020

From the Gandhi of the USA John Lewis (1940-2020), activist and congressman, penned an essay that ran in The New York Times on the day of his funeral. Lest we be reminded, or perhaps you missed it if you were hiding under a rock, here are a few highlights worth remembering or even clipping out […]

The Gardening Lady of Summerland
By Leslie Westbrook   |   August 6, 2020

Sonya Harris keeps the seaside town in the green Most people recognize Sonya Harris from, er, behind. Often seen bent over the landscape edging the 101 northbound entrance, or the Summerland Memorial Garden or other spots in town, Sonya has taken it upon herself to keep the seaside town looking healthy and green ever since […]

Gentrified or Not? A Chat with a Summerland Gentleman and Some Food for Thought
By Leslie Westbrook   |   July 23, 2020

Guy Hamilton and his wife, author Cynthia Hamilton, have lived in Summerland for 33 years. He wouldn’t live anywhere else. Guy recently reached out reminding me that he owned Chanticleer (now the site of Lucky’s) back in the late 1970s-early ‘80s and suggested he could offer a “little different perspective on things.” “Wouldn’t it nice […]

More Buzz…
By Leslie Westbrook   |   July 9, 2020

Longtime fixture Summerland Oriental Rugs has moved their showroom across the street to the former home of Clive Markey’s Pine Trader. Longtime treasure-filled Summerland Antiques Collective re-opened a few weeks ago and has been buzzing with activity adding to the retail mix… Carpinteria’sPorchis moving from Santa Claus Lane to Lillie Avenue (into the space formerly […]

Meet Shane “Big Daddy” Brown – The Creator of The Well
By Leslie Westbrook   |   July 9, 2020

Trying to catch up with Shane Brown, creator and owner of the newly opened home and garden lollapalooza called The Well, in the indoor/outdoor spaces formerly known as The French Bulldog, Café Luna, Mediterránee Antiques, Summerland Rugs, and more, is a bit like trying to catch a fish with greased hands. “I get things done! […]

Bella DePaulo on Living Single (and Together) in the time of COVD-19
By Leslie Westbrook   |   June 25, 2020

Bella DePaulo is an author, speaker, columnist, and authority on being single who has lived in Summerland for 20 years. She coined the word “singlism” which is “the stereotyping and stigmatizing of single people” and is the author of several books on single people, including The Best of Single Life and Singled Out: How Singles […]

Pilot Organic Agriculture Program
By Leslie Westbrook   |   June 11, 2020

The Carpinteria Unified School District at their May 12 board meeting approved the leasing of a portion of the Whitney acreage that has been in limbo as a potential new campus site for Summerland School for as long as I can remember. Leslie Person Ryan’s Organic Sweetwater Farms (OSF) will be planting four acres of […]

People of Summerland: Gordon Morrison
By Leslie Westbrook   |   June 11, 2020

Every Sunday evening at 7 pm Gordon Morrison, bagpiper, husband, father, and VP of Engineering at Freedom Photonics, steps onto the porch of his family’s Summerland house and plays the bagpipes as the sun sets. It’s a comforting lament during these difficult times. I asked Morrison our usual “People of Summerland” questions. I also sat […]

People of Summerland
By Leslie Westbrook   |   May 28, 2020

From long held memories with old neighbors to first impressions upon new encounters, one thing remains true in our “People of Summerland” snippets: from the terrific views to thoughtful neighbors, the pop. 1,500 town is a magical place. Fran Davis, Writer; Roger Davis, Retired Editor “As Summerland residents for fifty years, we’ve accumulated a staggering […]

The Scoop from Rusty’s Pizza CEO Tyler Duncan
By Leslie Westbrook   |   May 14, 2020

It may be the longest, most anticipated pizza parlor opening in Summerland history: five years in the making. At long last Rusty’s Pizza is finally open in Summerland at the former Stacky’s Seaside spot on Lillie Avenue. The day I spoke with Tyler Duncan, CEO of the family business launched by his parents in Isla […]

Gerri French: Clinical Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Educator
By Leslie Westbrook   |   May 7, 2020

Q. What special memories do you have of Summerland? My fondest memories of the Summerland community come from when I first became a mother. Summerland is a wonderful family town and Summerland Elementary was (and still is) a wonderful school. Families would get together at The Nugget and at the beach. Cafe Luna was a hub, but […]