Carpinteria gives cancer the smackdown

Photos by Robin Karlsson
Relay for Life Carpinteria walloped cancer with a $66,000 right hook last weekend. The annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society exceeded its fundraising goal by $11,000 and introduced new and unique ways to raise awareness for the ubiquitous disease. Along with the traditional Relay for Life formula of team fundraising competition and 24-hour track walking, this year’s event featured giant lit-up letters spelling out “HOPE” from a foothill perch along Franklin Trail. It concluded with the Paddle Out for Hope, another well-loved local twist. In a thank you email to event Chair Nancy Garrison and other hard-working volunteers, Katharine Hanna of the American Cancer Society stated, “Without extraordinary people like you, the American Cancer Society could not continue to raise funds for lifesaving cancer research and provide local services, programs and cancer prevention education.”

Shark attack on seal keeps Jr. Guards dry

Shark attack on seal keeps Jr. Guards dry
Warning signs erected after Friday’s shark attack kept many weekend beach users in shallow water or in the sand. photo by Robin Karlsson

By Lea Boyd
Local lifeguards witnessed a white shark attack a seal about 40 yards off Holly beach last Friday morning, just a couple hours before about 1,000 kids were scheduled to compete in a Junior Lifeguards competition. The incident took place around 7 a.m. on July 15 as city lifeguards were preparing for the annual Carpinteria Competition.

“It was kind of a National Geographic moment,” said Morgan Youngs, Aquatics Program Director for the City of Carpinteria.

Estimated at only 7 to 8 feet in length, the shark was likely a juvenile. Warning signs were placed along the beach after the attack, and water events for the Junior Lifeguard competition were canceled. No further sightings were reported of either the seal or shark, and warning signs were removed on the morning of Tuesday, July 19.

The attack took place in front of the swim platform to the east of Holly Avenue. Youngs said he was standing on the beach watching guards on paddleboards place buoys to mark paddle and swim courses when a group of instructors near him in the sand began to shout and point toward the water. He looked out to see the shark with a bloody seal in its mouth dipping down into the water, like the second of a whale breach. Seagulls quickly flocked to the site.

Youngs said it was an exciting interaction to watch and concluded that, “It’s kind of bound to happen. There are seals and sharks in the water all the time.”

Youngs used his megaphone to tell the instructors in the water to return to the beach immediately.

Children from 10 different Junior Guard agencies arrived soon after the incident expecting to compete in water sports. Instructors held beach events exclusively and worked to maintain the kids’ enthusiasm despite their ability to hold only three of the eight scheduled events.

Youngs said that by Tuesday, the program had resumed its normal water activities. Only a few parents asked that their kids be kept out of the water.


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Bluffs III needs you

 Bluffs III needs you
Meeting of the minds. Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs and staff from the Land Trust of Santa Barbara County strategize on how to raise funds to complete the Bluffs III purchase.

by Lea Boyd
Now that the shock has worn off and the news has settled in, Carpinterians are faced with a big task related to the recent purchase of 21 acres of blufftop property on the east end of Carpinteria Avenue—raising $451,000 to truly lock it in as preserved open space. The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County closed escrow on the $6 million property last month and has shouldered responsibility for bringing in most of the remaining funds needed, but Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs is looking to the community to pitch in the nearly half million in order to put the property permanently into the hands of the public.

The land overlooking Rincon Point will cost nearly $8 million when all’s said and done. That price includes the purchase as well as closing costs, property improvements and an endowment fund to help maintain it. Before going public with the effort to acquire Bluffs III, better known as Thunderbowl to many Carpinterians, the Land Trust quietly raised $3 million from anonymous donors. Another $1 million is anticipated from county and state resource protection grants, and the Land Trust and Citizens group are hard at work to bring in the rest. In response to last month’s announcement, community members already have contributed $60,000 toward the Citizens’ $451,000 commitment.

Chet Work, Executive Director of the Land Trust, said that the goal is to raise the necessary funds within a year. Remaining enmeshed in Bluffs III fundraising any longer could limit the Land Trust’s ability to pursue its next opportunity to preserve land. Former property owner Burton Hancock Trust accepted half of the purchase price upfront and financed the rest. The Land Trust hopes to pay off the debt within a year to accrue less interest and a lower overall price.

Citizens for the Bluffs is now distributing donation cans to businesses throughout town. A few quarters, a few dollars, a few hundred dollars—it all makes a difference, said Arturo Tello, president of the group. This weekend, the Palm Loft Gallery opens an art show benefiting the Bluffs purchase, and anyone interested in organizing a fundraiser for friends and family is encouraged to do so and to begin by informing the Citizens group.

Community fundraising is necessary not only to complete the land deal, Tello said, but to give Carpinterians a sense of ownership, pride and stewardship for the new piece of public land. “We are so blessed to have the ocean and the mountains, but we need open space where we can re-create ourselves,” said Tello.

Tello, a painter whose muse is open space, was highly involved in the 1998 effort to save the XX acres of Bluffs that are now Viola Fields and the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve. The community, Tello said, uses that open space extensively and respectfully. “I think people realize that it’s a local treasure and they treat it that way,” he said.

He expects a similar relationship to develop between the community and Bluffs III, though the property needs some TLC first. Heaped with fill dirt and used as a racetrack in the mid-1900s, the vacant land to the far east of town has struggled with illegal dumping issues and neglect.

Nonetheless, both the Land Trust and Citizens share an optimistic vision for its future. “There are no unsacred spaces, only spaces that have been desecrated,” said Tello. “It’s been a little mistreated. We need to help it along a little bit and then let it be what it is; I think it will be wonderful.”

Work said plans haven’t been formalized, but he expects with habitat restoration, improved parking, construction of trail and possibly bathrooms, the property will “really shine.” Ultimately, the Land Trust hopes to transfer the preserve to the city, much as the Bluffs Nature Preserve was handed over nearly two decades ago.

Zoned for a resort, Bluffs III has been in developer crosshairs for decades. The Burton Hancock Trust owned it since the 1960s, Work said, and had entered several purchase agreements with developers in recent years. None of the plans presented proved palatable to the city. Pressure to minimize the extent of development from grassroots groups like Carpinteria Valley Association and Citizens for the Bluffs, along with heavy scrutiny by city staff and elected officials had stymied developers looking to maximize profit. Work said they’d been forced to ask themselves, “Do we execute on a purchase agreement or do we want to walk away? And they’ve ended up walking away.”

The company that held the most recent option, Work said, filed a number of extensions that frustrated the eager-to-sell owner. In situations like that—a willing seller and a supportive community—the Land Trust sees opportunity. The organization, which is dedicated to preserving open spaces that offer agriculture, scenery, recreation and/or natural habitat, was careful not to show its cards in order to avoid pushing a developer into a purchase or to driving the price above market value. Legally, as a nonprofit, a Land Trust can’t pay more for a property than its appraised value.

“We just kind of had to sit on our hands,” said Work of the Land Trust’s approach to securing Bluffs III. At the end of February, the developer failed to secure another extension, and the Land Trust made its move. It vetted the property, locked in a small number of big donors and closed escrow within 100 days.

“It’s not over,” said Work of the Land Trust’s effort to preserve the Carpinteria Bluffs. A 2.5-acre property east of the recent purchase—the elevated area that serves as a launch site for paragliders—could still become a resort, and developers are expected to submit new plans for the Tee Time property to the city soon. “We only work with willing land owners,” said Work. “Those pieces of the puzzle are not ready now.”


U12 Tritons make waves with third consecutive championship

U12 Tritons make waves with third consecutive championship
Carpinteria U12 Tritons are, from back left, Piper Clayton, Gavin Lohuis, Brandon Rogers, Coby Gonzalez, Reyn Clayton and co-head coach Dylan Hathaway, Alondra Badillo, Brianna Rodriguez, and from front left, Serena Smith, David Kinghorn, Natalia Perez, Donovan Hart, Mateo Handall and Diesel Slade.

By Clifton Jones
Carpinteria Aquatics Club’s 12-and-under mixed water polo team found its way to another championship, this time coming in Division 1 of the Ventura Youth Water Polo league in Oxnard last Saturday afternoon. Although this season marked the toughest one of the year so far, the Tritons finished the regular season 4-3.

The Tritons found a clearer road to first place thanks to the withdrawal of South Coast Red, which has a chance to play in the Junior Olympics. Carpinteria went 3-0 in the season tournament championship beating Malibu Water Polo Club 12-3, Gold Coast 15-4 and the Titans of Rio Mesa 16-4.

While co-head coach Clifton Jones (who authored this article) was away with the 18-and-under boys team at the Shaver Lake Open, co-head coach Dylan Hathaway led the Tritons through the game sweep. Hathaway said he was proud of the team’s performance on Saturday, especially after a rough start against Gold Coast in the second game of the day.

“It was definitely a team win because we had everyone there this weekend, which is big for us as a 12–and-under team,” Hathaway said. “We have a solid core of seven players that can swim, pass and shot without difficulty usually. However, this weekend was how a full 14 players play together.”

The weekend before Carpinteria lost its third game of the short summer season and the second to South Coast Red because the team lacked the core players it relies on since its inception in the fall of 2015.

Tritons on Saturday found success because of the play from everyone, but especially Mateo Handall, Donovan Hart, Brandon Rogers, Diesel Slade, Reyn Clayton, Gavin Lohuis and Coby Gonzalez.

“The difference between from South Coast Red loss and this weekend was that the kids were really fired up to be playing in the season final tournament,” Hathaway said. “I really stressed that the first game was the most important against Malibu, but it actually was against Gold Coast. We started slow and we were able to come together after some difficulties in the first quarter to beat them 15-4.”

This latest championship win for the Tritons marks its third in the last year. The team also claimed the top spot in the fall of 2015 and the spring of 2016.

“It is absolutely amazing that we were able to get first place this season, especially when this team started in the fall when they first starting playing the sport together. It is pretty unheard of you … I think that it will help them as they continue to play water polo,” Hathaway said.


Council denies vacation rental exemption

By Lea Boyd
The Carpinteria City Council denied the owners of two Sandyland Road units exemption from the moratorium on new short-term rental units at the council’s meeting on July 11.

Eileen Mira and Tum Muneio, who purchased their units in Sunset Shores and La Cabana in the months leading up to the temporary law forbidding new vacation rentals in the city, pleaded for a hardship waiver in order to operate the investment properties as rentals as they’d intended upon purchase. “To date we’ve made zero on the units, and we’ve had them for almost a year,” said Mira.

Councilmembers Brad Stein and Wade Nomura once again recused themselves from the short-term rental discussion due to their spouses’ work related to local real estate. The remaining councilmembers decided that since staff’s analysis indicated that the Sandyland units could be sold for at least as much as they were purchased for, the moratorium did not come close to qualifying as a taking and the city would be acting within legal precedence.

The moratorium will remain in place only until the Coastal Commission approves the city’s permanent ordinance restricting vacation rentals, at which time property owners like Mira and Muneio can enter the lottery for a license. Currently there are 144 vacation rentals legally operating on Sandyland; the new ordinance will allow up to 177.

City to consider capital improvement financing
City debt related to the late 1980s’ construction of the Community Pool, expansion of El Carro Park, construction of city parking lot 3 and City Hall improvements will sunset in 2018, and in the coming year the council may consider issuing new certificates of participation for capital improvement projects beyond the annual budget’s means. The $2 million in proceeds from COPs issued in 1988 have been paid off in annual installments, including a $176,500 payment scheduled for this year. The city is facing major road repairs that lack funding and could be paid for through similar long-term financing.

Red curbs coming
Recommendations by the Traffic Safety Committee to add red curbs in select places throughout town were signed off on by the council. For safety’s sake, parking on the south side of Malibu Drive’s will be more restrictive soon. New red curb will be added west of Linhere Drive, west of Limu Drive and west of Tomol Drive where the Franklin Creek channel reduces driver visibility. The red curb along the west side of Linden Avenue north of Dorrance Way will also be extended.


Talking about water

Talking about water
Ed Van Wingerden stands amid the colorful gerberas that blossom daily at Ever-Bloom.

Greenhouse water world: Part 1
In my May column about the water district’s show and tell concerning a proposal to upgrade the sanitation district’s purification of our waste water and the potential return of that water to our aquifer, I got my tit in a ringer with some of Carp Valley’s growers. Basically, I believe we can no longer rely on rain falling from the sky, and if that is so, to me it seems the death knell for Southern California’s reservoir system.

Therefore, all the focus now must go to the health and sustainability of our aquifer. In our valley there are many wells that are owned privately and not metered. Basically, it feels like the line between them that got and them that want is creeping ever closer.

My friend and neighbor Eduard Van Wingerden called me and asked if I’d come to his nursery called Ever-Bloom and see how intense growers’ efforts are to preserve our water. The minute my wife Caroline and I walked in the door I felt like the kid who went to a sporting goods store to buy a rowboat and found himself in an assembly plant for nuclear submarines.

The growing complex of greenhouses is almost 12 acres large, somewhere around 650,000 square feet of glass and flowers. The Van Wingerden family has been growing flowers since 1699. That was in Holland of course. In 1967 (we all thought it was heaven in ’67) four Van Wingerden brothers packed up their wives and 24 kids and moved to Carpinteria.

What’s wrong with this picture? Nothing. Perfect climate, wonderful small town, affordable agricultural land. Ed told us the choice for a Van Wingerden young man and his career was this: become a priest or become a grower. His father did Ed a huge favor. In Carp as a kid he learned to become a very successful grower, and he grew up in the land of beach bunnies.

Ed founded Ever-Bloom in 1979, and in 1984 he decided to grow gerberas exclusively. Gerbera daisies. Long stems, brilliant colors, one bloom, no leaf. Each flower as beautiful as a piece of sculpture in a world-class museum.

And Ever-Bloom flourished in the 1980s and ’90s, when the western United States still had winters and rainfall. I was working in the movie business at this time, and something crept into the industry like a devastating bark beetle or a deadly leaf-mite. It was called Canada and its money-exchange rate. All of a sudden the work went north (first time I heard “More bang for the buck!”), our patriotic corporate leaders gave us worker bees the sad-eye, ‘Sorry but business is about bottom-line and profit, we’re on our way to Toronto and Vancouver. And you can’t come.’ If you were around LA during this time, you watched the communities near the studios start to dry up, the restaurants and shops and services that depended on the TV and film industry fold.

The same thing is happening today in the Gerbera daisy business. Same two cities: Vancouver and Toronto. The Canadian dollar is worth between 20 and 30 cents more than the U.S. dollar. Canadian flowers sell for a little less than U.S. flowers, and the growers make substantially more than our growers.

Canadian product is good, and Ed’s East Coast accounts aren’t lying when they say Canada’s product is cheaper.

Ed Van Wingerden sees himself as a glass half full person. As an entrepreneur he sees a problem and he goes right at it as though his livelihood depends on it. And usually it does. And Canada is not the only problem he’s sword fighting with these days. California is committed to a gradual increase in the minimum wage (a living wage that is), and Ed is as just and kind as any man around here, but in the 1980s his payroll was 20 percent of expenses, and today it’s closer to 52 percent.

The Affordable Care Act has also greatly strained his bottom line. He believes we all deserve a certain level of guaranteed health care. Many business people I know agree, but many feel this law was just a giveaway to the insurance pirates.

And of course the real scary voice in this business is water. You can’t grow anything without that. Especially not 650,000 square feet of flowers.

Next month this column will get into the battle for survival for Ed and the other flower growers in the valley. Hydroponics. A closed-system for water. Everything is cleaned, repurposed, recycled.

And the embrace of robotics. Until then, stay calm and cool this summer.

Steve Nicolaides was born and raised in Southern California. He has two granddaughters in the west, and he’s determined to understand and help fix our very serious water problems.


Filing period for local elected officials opens

There’s more going in this fall’s election than the omnipresent Trump versus Clinton Presidential showdown. Each of five local governing boards handling city government, schools, sewers, fire protection and water has seats up for a vote this November. The filing period to run for election begins July 18 and ends August 12. For the Carpinteria City Council race, paperwork should be pulled at Carpinteria City Hall, 5775 Carpinteria Ave. For the other four school and special district boards, paperwork can be pulled at the Santa Barbara County Elections Office, 4440-A Calle Real, Santa Barbara.

In the event that no incumbent files for reelection in any of the races, the deadline to enter is extended to Aug. 17 for non-incumbent candidates.

The following council and board seats are up for election on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Carpinteria City Council
Fred Shaw
Wade Nomura

Carpinteria Unified School District
Terry Hickey Banks (Trustee area #1)
Alicia Morales Jacobson (Trustee area #1)
Jaclyn Fabre (Trustee area #2, Summerland)

Carpinteria Sanitary District
Jeff Moorhouse
Gerald B. Velasco
Michael Damron

Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District
Alfred “Bill” Taff
Christopher D. Johnson

Carpinteria Valley Water District
Polly Holcombe
June Van Wingerden

Danger: yarn blast zone: Arts Center gets wonderful woolen makeover

Photos by David Powdrell
Months of handiwork by scores of crafty people went into the Yarn Blast installed at the Carpinteria Arts Center last weekend. The spectacular work of art will be celebrated on Saturday, July 16 from 1 to 3 p.m. with a grand opening and reception at the Arts Center, 855 Linden Ave. Arts Center Board Co-Chair David Powdrell photographed the installation and noted that local artist Zoe Iverson led the project and involved over 125 people in the artwork. “More importantly, from my perspective, was the look in the eyes of the people passing by on Linden Avenue,” Powdrell said. “They were watching art unfold. Every person that went by stopped, pondered, thought, questioned, discussed or simply admired the color and whimsical magic that was unfolding. That's what great art does.”

IBC turns 15 with flair

Just like their beers, the folks at Island Brewing Company like to put on events brimming with originality. Last week’s 15th anniversary met and exceeded that expectation. Starting Friday and bubbling right through Sunday afternoon, the three-day celebration of local brews made many beer drinkers very hoppy. Highlights of the anniversary party included Polynesian dancers, Japanese Taiko Drummers, VIP Beer Tastings and a conch shell blowing contest.

Making merry at St. Joe’s

Photos by Joshua Curry
The typically quiet field beside Saint Joseph Catholic Church became the epicenter of fun last weekend when the switch flipped on the colorful lights, big sounds and gut-dropping thrills of the annual carnival. The church’s largest yearly fundraiser served as a magnet for the kid population of Carpinteria and also attracted adults looking to cut a rug, eat handmade food, win games and tip one back in the beer garden. Photographer Joshua Curry pointed his camera at the fun and festivities on Friday, June 8 to bring readers this selection of magic moments.

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2016 Rio Olympics: Go USA Water Polo from the Carpinteria Aquatics Club Tritons

2016 Rio Olympics: Go USA Water Polo from the Carpinteria Aquatics Club Tritons

Carpinteria Aquatics Club
The men's and women's US National Water Polo teams voted this video, entered into competition by Carpinteria Aquatics Club, the most motivational ahead of the Olympics. Top prize earned the club $2,500. Coach Matt Organista wrote, directed and edited the award-winning flick. 

Saving the rest of the Bluffs

Saving the rest of the Bluffs
Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs boardmembers, from left, President Arturo Tello, Whitney Abbott, Christie Boyd, Bunni Lesh, Andrea Adams-Morden and Mauricio Gomez, celebrate the months of quiet work that went into The Land Trust of Santa Barbara County’s acquisition of 21 blufftop acres at the east end of Carpinteria Avenue.

By Peter Dugré
Open space advocates scored a knock out punch over developers this week. Prime Carpinteria coastal property long coveted by hotel builders was acquired this week by The Land Trust of Santa Barbara County in a move that will protect the property—known as Bluffs III to city planners and Thunderbowl to locals—from development, announced the Land Trust at a June 15 onsite press conference.

The 21 acres overlooking Rincon and currently consisting of dirt bike scars and patchy vegetation stretching from Rincon Engineering in the bluffs business park to nearly the east end of Carpinteria Avenue was purchased for $6 million, of which half has already been raised, but the Land Trust together with Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs is fundraising for the remainder plus another nearly $2 million for improvements and longterm maintenance.

Land Trust Executive Director Chet Work characterized the acquisition as monumentally important considering the dearth of undeveloped coastal land remaining between Goleta and Ventura. Development plans for the property have come before the city several times over the past decade, most recently for a 162-room hotel, two restaurants and a conference center, but few have made it even to conceptual hearings owing to groups like Citizens for the Bluffs scrutinizing plans which were generally considered too large and incompatible with the small beach town.

“We constantly call developers informing them if they’re sick of the process we’re willing to buy the property,” Work said. “Another buyer fell out of contract, and we were prepared and lucky, really. We were waiting. That’s what we do.”

After the opportunity arose to purchase the property, which includes all of the easternmost portion of the bluffs other than uppermost 2.5 acres, private anonymous donors kicked in $3 million for the purchase. The former property owner, Burton Hancock Trust, provided a loan for the remainder of the money to the Land Trust. “The purchase is closed subject to the loan. We’re on the hook to pay it off and need to work with the community to find those funds,” Work said.

Arturo Tello, President of Citizens for the Bluffs, said he and the group, which spearheaded the 1998 acquisition of the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve, “could not be more ecstatic.”

“If you consider the long term, it’s going to be there for generations to come. When there’s more development infill in Carpinteria, it’s going to be even more important to have access to open space,” Tello said. A painter and curator of Palm Lofts Gallery, Tello said he has spent more and more time at the property painting and walking since the quiet campaign to purchase it began months ago. “People use it quite a bit. There’s a lot to be done. People certainly are going to need to step up and put their money where their muse is,” he said.

Overall, the Land Trust estimates it will need $7.9 million to complete the purchase, improve the property and start an endowment fund for future maintenance. So far, $3 million has been donated plus another $2 million in pledges. Additionally an estimated $1 million in grant funding could be available for the acquisition, leaving $1.5 million in need. Citizens for the Bluffs and the Land Trust will work to raise the funds and both expressed confidence that it can be done in similar fashion to the acquisition of the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve in 1998, when $4.5 million was raised in four months. Work commented that the deadline for raising the remaining funds is ASAP since the loan is accruing interest.

The Land Trust delivered a letter to the City of Carpinteria prior to closure of its acquisition to ask for the city to accept the 21 acres as a gift in the same way that the city was gifted the Carpinteria Bluffs as a conservation easement. City Manager Dave Durflinger commented that the city council would review the request in a private session on June 13. The Land Trust has also asked the city to partner with it on grant writing that could raise $1 million toward the purchase.

Pending fundraising, Bluffs III could prove to be a key portion of the Coastal Vista Trail, a grouping of trails along the Carpinteria coastline currently composed of disjointed segments. Eventually, the city and county plan to create a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks between the bluffs and Rincon County Park.

Tello said that in addition to the open space adding to Carpinteria’s recreational offerings, preserving the property from resort development spares the community from negative impacts like traffic congestion and air pollution. “Even though there won’t be revenue from a development, those things never pay for themselves. Nobody had come up with a proposal that made sense for Carpinteria,” Tello said.

“The Bluffs and Franklin Trail and now this are such a resource for our bodies and souls,” Tello said.


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