Animal lovers come together to find stray pets happy homes

Animal lovers come together to find stray pets happy homes
CARP member Lee Heller and Code Enforcement Officer David Hernandez introduce CVN readers to CeCe, a homeless terrier with a sweet and playful disposition.

By Erin Lennon

A group of city volunteers unofficially calling itself the Carpinteria Animal Resources Project is lending a helping hand to Carpinteria’s animal population and the city’s animal control services.

In June, Summerland resident Lee Heller banded with a small collection of likeminded city volunteers to form the CARP volunteer team. They pooled their background experiences with area animal advocacy and care groups like C.A.R.E. 4 Paws and Catalyst for Cats to aid the city’s stranded and abandoned animals.

“What it really was, was a bunch of us who were doing informal volunteer work with the city and the Animal Medical Clinic who said, ‘Gosh, we should get a little more organized and let the city know that we’re ready to help,’” said Heller, who has been working with local animal issues for years.

Prior to 2008, Santa Barbara County housed, cared for and placed Carpinteria’s sparse number of stray and abandoned animals up for adoption, with the city’s support and a subsequent fee. That fee structure rose from a per-animal rate to a cost based on the entire city population, leaving the city seeking an alternate solution, according to Community Development Director Jackie Campbell.

“We thought that dollar amount was pretty high, so we explored options for bringing those services in house,” said Campbell, whose department houses animal control services. One option was signing a contract with Dr. Scott Smith’s Animal Medical Clinic on Casitas Pass Road and training code compliance staff in animal control tactics. That, along with volunteer work, has filled the gap left with the close of the county contract.

Heller and her CARP team members are familiar with the clinic. They have helped Smith with neglected and abandoned animals and with the spaying and neutering of animals in low-income neighborhoods outside of their work with the city. However, they also know his clinic is not a fully equipped shelter, but rather a spot to house small dogs and the occasional cat while receiving medical services.

Recognizing the animal housing shortage, CARP volunteers are fostering the adoptable pets in their own homes, introducing them to new environments, animals, people and society.

Heller is fostering a 12-pound pooch named CeCe who began her road to adoption at the Animal Medical Clinic. CeCe is one of two animals currently in foster care, said Campbell.

“CeCe goes on walks in the neighborhood, on the beach and on the trails,” said Heller, who recently received an adoption inquiry from someone living over 100 miles away. “I’m helping to turn her into a great family dog.” And Campbell agrees that these practices can make animals much easier to adopt.

While Heller and Campbell would like to see the animals stay local, Heller is excited to know that as a City of Carpinteria volunteer she’s reaching potential adopters and informing a growing base of animal lovers about the city’s animal control services.

“Our goal is to bring more community awareness to Carpinteria’s small animal control project that is already in place,” said Heller. And she takes this adoption inquiry as a sign.

Carpinteria has always had animal services, with volunteers walking the dogs housed in the two roomy kennels at city hall twice a day and providing some training. This work remains vital, especially for those animals that cannot be placed in foster homes.

The CARP team is recruiting more volunteers to foster local animals and learn more about their personalities and temperaments, which makes it easier to find the displaced pets ideal living situations.

“The great thing about Carpinteria is it’s a small community, and people know each other in a small community and talk to each other,” said Heller. “You can use that to generate interest in and support for a program people wouldn’t have otherwise known about.”

That communication can help with the city’s goal of providing the best experience for the low volume of about 10 to 12 animals per year coming through the program, says Campbell. Animal control services aims for the speedy return of lost dogs to their owners and the location of permanent situations for the city’s adoptable stray and abandoned animals.

Animal control services currently has enough volunteers, but people interested in learning more about volunteering with the city can contact Volunteer & Emergency Services Coordinator Julie Jeakle at 684-5405.

Rincon ready to get sewered

15-year battle to end when ground breaks Aug. 30

By Peter Dugré

Soon the 72 homes overlooking Rincon Point will have their septic tanks pumped for the last time in preparation for removing the onsite waste treatment systems and hooking up to the Carpinteria Sanitary District. An Aug. 30 CSD ground breaking ceremony outside the gate of the private community marks the beginning of construction on the $6 million Rincon Septic to Sewer Conversion Project and the conclusion to a 15-year battle fought over where waste should go after it’s flushed down the community’s seaside toilets.

The long road to getting Rincon sewered began in 1998 when local beaches routinely faced closures due to bacterial levels in the water exceeding water quality standards. A group of surfers took note and called for action, forming the group CURE (Clean Up Rincon Effluent). “People were getting sick from the water. They got earaches, sore throats, sinus issues, diarrhea ... and then word got out and more people were saying, ‘Hey I got sick out there,’” said Wayne Babcock, one of the founders of CURE, in a recent conversation about the impetus for the project.

Following CURE’s involvement, Hillary Hauser, an environmental journalist who had written a lengthy Santa Barbara News-Press opinion piece entitled “Another day at the beach?” rallied a growingly aware public around ocean pollution issues. Activists protested outside a Santa Barbara County Supervisors meeting, and harnessing the energy of the rising tide of public will, Hauser formed nonprofit Heal the Ocean and made ridding Rincon of septic systems a top priority. “Surfers who were beating the drum were really responsible for getting this started,” Hauser said in a recent phone interview.

Heal the Ocean ordered a DNA test of the waters at Rincon Point near the mouth of Rincon Creek in order to determine whether the culprit for dirty waters was septic systems leaching into Rincon Creek. Testing found human fecal bacteria near the mouth of Rincon Creek among fecal coliform from many other animals, a finding tantamount to a smoking gun, according to Hauser.

Momentum was all on the side of sewering Rincon in 1999 and 2000. It seemed like a no brainer. A grouping of 72 septic systems near alluvial soils must leach into the ocean. “If you’re sitting on groundwater, on a creek, on sand, it’s no bueno,” Hauser said. She compared Rincon’s situation to similar problems in Malibu where septic systems are also believed to cause ocean contamination.

Carpinteria Sanitary District, then under the direction of General Manager John Miko, started planning to branch out not only to Rincon Point but also to Sandyland Cove and Sand Point roads and Padaro Lane, where coastal residents were asking to have aging septic systems removed. The local sewage plant had capacity to extend its arms to the 130 homes just outside its reach.

But once the planning started, the process slowed to a crawl. Some Rincon residents disagreed that the issue was so cut and dry. They voted against forming an assessment district to pay the cost of hooking up to CSD in 2001, and when they lost the vote they sued, asserting that CSD was putting the cart before the horse. The judge agreed, ruling that it was procedurally backward to ask for residents to pay for a project that has not undergone environmental review.

Hauser called the issue a “catch 22” because the price tag for an EIR was $425,000, and CSD could not pay for the EIR out of its existing customers’ rates. “I thought, ‘Oh god, we’re dead in the water,’” Hauser remembered. HTO lobbied and CSD applied for a State Water Resources Control Board grant to cover the costs and keep the ball rolling.

As the years ticked away, it became less and less clear that Rincon even had a problem. Beach closures had ended. Rincon regularly tested among Santa Barbara’s cleanest beaches and in 2004 was the only county beach that had zero bacterial exceedances in Heal the Bay’s water quality testing program. In the winter of 2005 to 2006, the next wet one following 1998, Rincon received a C grade on Heal the Bay’s beach report card. It was the only beach in Santa Barbara County above a D on the testing for bacterial levels. For the dryer parts of that year, Rincon was one of only two beaches in SB County at an A+. And in 10 years of historical data at Heal the Bay’s website, dating between 2002 and 2012, Rincon has not had a beach closure (

In a 2008 Coastal View News opinion piece, Carpinterian Giti White, who has family living on Rincon Point, stated, “We are encouraged to overlook Carpinteria Sanitary District’s history of sewage spills, and instead to assume that septic systems are polluting, despite evidence to the contrary.” According to a 2007 letter in CVN from current CSD General Manager Craig Murray, the heavy rains in 1998 led to sewage overflows at the district from stormwater. The Environmental Protection Agency issued an enforcement order in 2002 and monitored upgrades to CSD’s pump stations that were already in progress.

Between 2007 and 2008 the CVN letters section served as a battleground for differing opinions, sometimes mudslinging, about what to do at Rincon. A 2007 vote between the 72 residences tipped in favor of hooking up to sewer by a 41-31 margin, and divided costs for the project in what amounted to $74,000 per Rincon Point residence. Owners could also finance over 30 years and pay $89,000 plus interest.

The intervening years between 2007 and now involved more dogged scrutiny of the project. Initially, project plans called for two pump stations, one inside the gates of Rincon Point, in order to convey the sewage from the homes up to Highway 101 for eventual linkage to current CSD lines on Carpinteria Avenue. The final project designs incorporate underground low pressure systems and grinders at each of the 72 homes and one pump station to be located on the mountain side of the Santa Barbara County Rincon Beach Park parking area.

Project approval was hung up by Caltrans, which had to agree to an easement along the 101, and by Ventura County, which wanted each property to gain permitting and to get up to code before allowing ground to break on the waste treatment overhaul for the neighborhood that straddles the county line. Hauser stepped in again and lobbied State Assemblyman Das Williams, who was reportedly able to bend Caltrans’ ear, and Ventura County eventually dropped its development condition.

Loose ends from both Ventura and Santa Barbara counties were tied up in late 2012 and early 2013, finally paving the way for contracting the project out in two stages to Tierra Contracting and Travis Agricultural Construction in early August.

Padaro Lane has not converted entirely from septic, but Sand Point and Sandyland Cove connected to CSD in early 2012. Those projects, which were contained in one county, caused little neighborhood disagreement and no Caltrans involvment, were completed in mere months and used trenchless drilling to place a sewage line under a section of Carpinteria Salt Marsh. The same trenchless technique will be used at Rincon in order to minimize environmental and archeological disturbances.

Rincon is primed for conversion, but questions remain about what that will mean for Carpinteria’s future. In addition to questions about the efficacy of sewering to reduce contamination, those opposed to the project have suggested that running sewer lines to once rural areas can induce development. Currently, the sewer line stops on Carpinteria Avenue near Rincon Engineering, the last building before the undeveloped end of the bluffs. Part of the Septic to Sewer Conversion project is to run the existing line out to 150 and down to Rincon, alongside the Bluffs 3 property, which is zoned for a resort.

Heal The Ocean, having cleared impossible hurdles in order to end the era of septic systems on much of the coast surrounding Carpinteria, will hold a celebration party on Sept. 8 at Elings Park in Santa Barbara.

Tony’s Restaurant and Summerland Gas Station burglaries linked

In the early morning of Aug. 20, burglars stole a safe containing $2,203 from Tony’s Restaurant on Linden Avenue and made off with another $500 from the cash register at Summerland Market and Gas Station on Lillie Avenue. Surveillance video from the two crimes showed two men with hooded sweatshirts and bandanas covering their faces, leading deputies to believe the same unidentified suspects were behind both crimes.

Tony’s employees discovered that the restaurant had been burglarized when reporting to work at 8:30 a.m. A rear door was open and pry marks were on a separate door, indicating that the men pried open a door to enter and exited through a separate door. Surveillance video showed two men in the darkness at around 3:30 a.m. The men broke a 1 cubic foot safe free from a wall and left with it.

At the Summerland gas station, deputies reported to the scene at around 4 a.m. following reports that an alarm was sounding. They encountered a shattered glass door. The burglars had stolen money from a register drawer but were unable to remove the safe. They stole $300 in bills and $200 in change along with two bottles of Hennessy Cognac. Surveillance video showed an unknown model sedan backing into the corner of the parking lot before two men attempted to pry open an entrance door. Unable to break the lock, they resorted to smashing the glass to gain access to the business. No suspects were identified in either crime.

Fire station plans stay in limbo

Fire station plans stay in limbo
Recently approved plans for a new Summerland fire station include a large training and emergency operations room that will also serve as a community meeting room.

New board members question need for $10 million bond

By Lea Boyd

Despite many questions posed and answered at a four-hour community workshop held on Aug. 17 to discuss two new fire stations for Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District, the answer seemed to grow less and less certain for one burning question: Will Summerland get the new, $5 million fire station that its residents have been counting on?

“I think we have to go back to the table and find out what would gain community support,” said fire board member Chris Johnson. Johnson, an emergency room physician, was elected to the board alongside retired firefighter Bill Taff in 2012, and the two have since challenged the former board’s momentum toward a $10 million bond measure to fund a new Carpinteria station on Walnut Avenue as well as a new Summerland station on the corner of Temple and Lillie avenues.

Summerland’s situation is widely accepted as more dire. The existing station, part of which was built in 1925, has been deemed seismically unfit and was identified by the 2001 Grand Jury as being in the worst condition of Santa Barbara County’s 36 stations. Sandwiched between Lillie Avenue and Highway 101, the 88-year-old structure is too small to house modern fire trucks. “Station two has outlived its usefulness,” summed up board President Ben Miller.

The clock is ticking on the proposed Summerland site, which has an eager seller in the Mosquito and Vector Management District as well as plans for a two-story station already permitted by the county. Longtime fire board members Miller, Craig Price and Bob Duncan have strongly supported the Summerland project and indicated that the Carpinteria station also should be replaced sooner than later given that it, too, fails to meet current seismic standards for critical infrastructure. A two-for-one bond measure is the best route, the board veterans have continued to argue.

Nonetheless, Johnson and Taff have remained unconvinced. At the workshop, both promoted creative thinking to avoid the expensive burden to property owners that a $10 million bond would impose and to strategize for longterm improvements to emergency response services within the district. Alternatives tossed out for consideration included consolidation with Santa Barbara County Fire Department, reassessment of sites for both the Summerland and Carpinteria station, partnering with Montecito Fire District to reduce station redundancy, pursuit of grant funding and partnering with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department in its quest to build a new substation in Carpinteria.

Fire Chief Mike Mingee, another staunch supporter of the $10 million project, agreed to supply the board with service call location data to use in pinpointing the best sites, though he and the veteran boardmembers iterated that several sites in the Summerland area have been considered along the way, and few, if any, appropriate sites exist.

Though Johnson and Taff and their misgivings regarding the station project represent the board minority, a united board has been recognized as necessary for gaining public support to obtain the two-thirds voter majority needed to pass a bond measure.

A general obligation bond for the full $10 million spread over the 6,647 taxable parcels in the district would cost property owners $10 per $100,000 of assessed property value over the 25-year life of the bond. In comparison, a $5.5 million bond, which would pay for the Summerland station alone, would cost $5.60 per $100,000 of assessed property value if its cost were assumed by the district as a whole. Should property owners in the Summerland station response area, which includes the 1,746 parcels west of Cravens Lane, agree to shoulder the cost of the new infrastructure, an assessment district bond would cost a flat fee of $316 annually per property.

A poll conducted last spring to gauge the potential for bond passage concluded that initial support lies just at the two-thirds voter threshold. Described as inaccurately linking service levels and response times with the construction of new stations, the poll and its results have been called into question. The polling company has also failed to provide the district with information about the level of support for a bond borne by the Summerland response area alone.

Summerland residents keen on a replacing their decrepit fire station have expressed frustration at the recent turn of events. MaryJo Jaeger, president of the Summerland Citizens Association, came out to last weekend’s workshop to support the proposed Summerland station, noting that more of the community’s residents had failed to attend because many had participated in community meetings held over the last three years to develop a station design. “We had already agreed that we wanted this station,” she said.

Several audience members, however, argued in favor of alternatives to the two-station project. George Johnson disputed claims that the Carpinteria station requires a $5 million replacement. “It seems to me that the elephant in the room is that the reason Carp. is going to be redone is to get the majority vote … I just don’t feel that the immediacy is there,” he said.

Boardmember Price, a vocal advocate for the dual station project, said, “I personally am very opposed to a kick-the-can-down-the-road approach.” He acknowledged, however, the need to get the firefighters on board before moving forward since, “It’s their house,” and voters are unlikely to support a measure that doesn’t have the firefighters’ backing.

The Carpinteria-Summerland Firefighters Association released a statement in March publicizing the union’s reluctance to support a bond measure given recent staff layoffs. It stated, “We question the fact that the taxpayers are paying the same amount yet their service has diminished, and now they are being asked for more of their hard earned money.” The labor union has remained silent in regards to the station project since the spring release.

Stepping backwards appears to be the only way the fire board will now move forward. Board members agreed that a new poll should be conducted to better assess public support for various options. Board members also alluded to a plan to bring firefighter staffing levels back up, a move that could be critical to securing firefighters’ endorsement of a bond measure.

Ag supporters beseech school board to restore programs

By Peter Dugré

At the Aug. 13 Carpinteria Unified School District Board of Education meeting, Carpinteria High School Agricultural Science students past and present along with Carpinteria Valley farmers each extolled the invaluable hands-on experience and career readiness students gain through raising animals and vegetables in the Ag program. However, school board members stood by their previous decision to eliminate one of two teaching positions in the program as part of a course realignment at the school to better meet enrollment needs, according to Superintendent Paul Cordeiro.

CHS 2012 graduate and current U.C. Davis student Kelsey Drain told board members that her experiences in Ag Science courses and Future Farmers of America prepared her for college and gave her an advantage over classmates entering the animal sciences major. “FFA totally prepared me for my future,” Drain said while emphasizing that her transition to college-level animal sciences was smooth, owing to her familiarity with all the animals.

Still, the school board and administrators resisted again restoring the program that had already been halved and pieced back together last year. In the summer of 2012, many of the same faces similarly stormed a school board meeting. Then, the supporters were able to strike a deal whereby they would privately fundraise for $31,000 in order to pay for half the cost to reinstate the second teaching position, then occupied by Holly Smith. As a result, Smith was hired back, but she resigned following the 2012-2013 school year. Administrators then trimmed the program back again from two teachers to one, opting not to fill Smith’s position.

Commenting on last year’s episode, Ag Science supporter and local avocado grower Paul Foley said, “A reasonable person would say that (last year’s fundraising) shows strong support for this program in this community…. I’m kind of surprised we’re here fighting that old battle when I thought it had been made perfectly clear.” And June Van Wingerden, a local greenhouse flower grower, stated she was “flummoxed” by the repeat program cut.

Board members did not publicly respond to the 10 speakers at the school board meeting. Instead, they said an invite-only meeting with Ag Science and FFA supporters had been arranged for the following day, Aug. 14, and further clarification would be offered then.

Following that private meeting, Cordeiro, reached by phone on Aug. 19, said that a line of communication was opened with the oft-critical supporters of CHS Ag Science staffing. They were told staffing decisions resulted from declining enrollment. “When the school had 850 students, we hired an additional Ag teacher. Now there are 657 students,” Cordeiro said.

Two single semester elective courses, Floral Design and Landscape Design, will be cut from the course catalogue, according to CHS Principal Gerardo Cornejo. Freshman students will no longer be able to opt for Ag Earth Science over regular Earth Science, courses which at times have been interchangeable to cover the freshman science requirement.

Rather than filling the Ag position, a new chemistry and physics teacher has been added in what Cordeiro called an “adjustment.” He also alluded to the school’s goal to build and staff a new Design and Engineering classroom by 2015, which would create a new opportunity for students enrolled in college and career pathway courses, in addition to Ag Science and the Culinary Arts program.

ARB eyes Linden Avenue designs

At an Aug. 15 City of Carpinteria Architectural Review Board meeting, plans for modifications at Beach Bowl, a new smoothie, bowls and gelato business at 901 Linden Ave., were continued to an Aug. 29 meeting. The ARB suggested revisions to a proposal submitted by Dylan Chapell Architecture that would have incorporated reclaimed barnwood veneer on the business’s façade. Instead, the ARB recommended limiting the use of the wood and maintaining the pattern of neighboring businesses. Alex Hamadi is the owner of the under-construction eatery at the corner of Linden Avenue and 9th Street.

Also before the ARB, the much scrutinized Island Apartments building at 261 Linden Ave., which has been constructed but needs permitting for loose ends, gained conditional approval for a parking lot gate accessed from 3rd Street and a sign reading “Playa Lodging” facing Linden Avenue. The board approved architect William Araluce’s modification to the gate to construct it of wrought iron rather than solid wood. The sign was approved by a 3-1 vote; albeit some boardmembers commented that it was potentially too prominent and ornate. On both structures, board members asked that gas lanterns be removed from the top of columns and replaced with recessed lights on the face of columns. Both structures were already approved with modifications by the city council and are subject to final review by Jackie Campbell, Community Development Department Director.

A preliminary review of a proposed 84,550-square-foot office building at 6380 Via Real was seen as generally favorable by the ARB. Project applicant Robin Donaldson, AIA, Shubin & Donaldson Architects has been hired to design the office building by Carpinteria Business Park Investors, LLC, as part of the Lagunitas Mixed-Use Development. The site has had plans and an Environmental Impact Report previously certified in 2000.

The ARB advised architects to conduct a daylighting study to determine and fine tune the way sunlight and heat enter the building. The result of the study may impact the number of exterior horizontal light shelves and influence which glazing will be used on exterior walls. The proposed office building would be located at the corner of Via Real and Lomalita Lane; designs include 343 parking spaces and adhere to a maximum height of 27.5 feet. The project applicant will return to the ARB in the future for a continued preliminary hearing.

2013 Warriors well stocked with weapons

2013 Warriors well stocked with weapons
Senior captains Kevin Stein (#11), Duncan Gordon (#80) and Ian Craddock (#9) and senior leaders Oscar Mejia (#54) and Peter Ramos (#33) will set the tone for a promising 2013 Warrior football campaign.

By Peter Dugré

Ian Craddock has fed the football to a handful of talented receivers and running backs over his two seasons as quarterback for the Carpinteria High School Warriors, but the arsenal of skill players he’ll line up with for his senior campaign might be the most dangerous yet. “We’re balanced. We’re going to make (opponents) cover the entire field every single play,” coach Ben Hallock said.

Agility and ability at each position will keep opposing defenses guessing how the Warriors might attack them next. Craddock, a team captain, has a proven arm and gains a new target in wide receiver Bryson Frazer, CHS’s fastest running and highest jumping athlete, as verified by last year’s track results. “We’ll be motioning (Frazer) around and setting up in different alignments to get him the ball in a lot of different ways,” Hallock said.

The backfield will feature returning fullback Peter Ramos, a senior battering ram who shuttles the ball between the tackles. At tailback, swift-footed senior Jonathan Esqueda returns to the roster and will compete for playing time with newcomer Tim Jimenez, a nimble sophomore with a bright future. Both tailbacks are threats around the ends with breakaway speed.

“We should be able to attack the field both vertically and horizontally with both the pass and the run,” Hallock said.

Strong and skilled senior Duncan Gordon, also a team captain, will line up at tight end as an additional target for Craddock and as a key blocker. Fellow senior captain Kevin Stein will also put in time at tight end and will be a sure back-up quarterback if Craddock needs a breather.

On the offensive line, Greg Elizarraraz and Joel Montes return to action on the left side after starting last year. Gabriel Zapian-Ybarra will play center. Competing for playing time right of center will be Pancho Sanchez, Oscar Mejia, Nick Estrada and Jacob Saenz.

Hallock said the team will likely use its traditional veer option more than in the past few seasons. Also, look for the success of the run to open up the field for the passing game; and vice versa, for the deep threat to loosen up the interior for the running game.

The Warriors will keep the pressure on opposing offenses by employing a new defensive alignment. They’ll set up with only three down linemen who will have line backers stacked on each of them, ready to choose a direction, shoot gaps and plug holes. Stacking will keep offensive lineman guessing which defender they’ll have to block each play.

Lining up in the middle of the defensive line will be a corps of noseguards in Mejia, Sanchez and Saenz. They will be flanked by returning defensive ends Gordon and Montes. The three middle linebackers who will play stacked behind the front line will likely be Elizarraraz, Jorge Arroyo and Jesus Lozano. The stacked approach and blitzing suits the team’s strengths of quickness and football smarts, Hallock said.

Returning to the outside linebacker positions will be Stein and Esqueda. Ruben Garcia, Jimenez, Craddock and Frazer will play in the defensive backfield. Hallock said a key to the defensive unit’s success will be the players’ ability to come together and install the new look. In the new alignment, the team will have the flexibility to put as many as eight guys at the line of scrimmage or to drop up to eight back in coverage, depending on the situation, Hallock said.

The Warriors will compete again in a Tri-Valley League that features Nordhoff, Bishop Diego, Oak Park and Santa Paula high schools. Nordhoff and Bishop remain two of the top teams in the Northwest Division. The Warriors will scrimmage at home against Santa Maria on Friday, Aug. 23 before opening the season on the road against always formidable Templeton High School on Friday, Aug. 30.

Lot split first step in Union Pacific land purchase

The City of Carpinteria is laying the foundation for another purchase of property from Union Pacific, this time on the south side of the railroad tracks in the beach neighborhood. Though the price is still being negotiated, the Carpinteria Planning Commission voted on Aug. 5 to allow for the existing, narrow 5.92-acre Union Pacific parcel that runs between Holly and Olive avenues to be divided into three parcels. The city has its sights set on purchasing two of the resulting parcels, which together span from Holly to Linden avenues and total 1.44 acres.

The city has yet to determine how it will use the land when the purchase is completed, though possible uses include additional beach parking and a railroad undercrossing to safely connect Holly Avenue. The city bought a 0.67-acre lot from Union Pacific on the opposite side of the tracks in 2012, which has been discussed as a potential site for a skatepark and a community garden.

Victims of dishonest Oxnard plumber sought

Victims of dishonest Oxnard plumber sought

Albert Solano, a 46-year-old Oxnard man selling himself as a plumber, was arrested on July 26 by Oxnard Police and charged with elder abuse and working without a valid contractor’s license. Three cases in which Solano is suspected of overcharging and under-delivering for plumbing projects are currently under investigation, and law enforcement believes other victims may exist. Solano is affiliated with several companies including Dr. Drain, Dr. Drain Sewer Repair, Dr. Drain Plumbing and Sewer Cleaning, American One Plumbing, Day and Night Rooter Man, Rooter Dr. Inc. and AR Construction. Anyone who may have been targeted by Solano or has information regarding Solano and the companies he represented is asked to contact the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Bureau at 681-4150.

Great white bites seal near rookery

A shark-bitten seal came ashore and perished mid-afternoon on Aug. 10 between Rincon Point and the harbor seal rookery near Casitas Pier. According to reports from Peter Howorth, Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center director, the wound on the seal was fresh and was inflicted from the bite of a 12- to 14-foot great white shark, based on tooth size and spacing. When first spotted on the beach, the seal was still alive and it had also been seen struggling in the water with a wound near the rookery. Warning signs about shark activity were posted at Carpinteria State Beach for 48 hours following the incident, which marked the first sighting of a wounded seal this year. In 2012, the incidents of seals sustaining white shark bites in Carpinteria were numerous, including a rescued seal on Aug. 13 and an unprecedented event of six seals being spotted with fresh bite wounds on Nov. 1 at the harbor seal rookery.

Vista de SB homeowners finance park purchase with bond

Vista de SB homeowners finance park purchase with bond

By Erin Lennon

Although it is about to get more expensive for residents to call Vista de Santa Barbara Mobile Home Park home, the $250 per month rent increase enjoys the support of most park residents. The Carpinteria Mobile Home Rent Stabilization Board’s July 23 approval of the rent increase and the city council’s Aug. 12 approval of bond financing bring Vista de Santa Barbara residents closer to new ownership and an end to years of litigation with current owner Vista de Santa Barbara Associates.

Residents of the park’s 124 lots will swallow the rent increase to make way for purchase by the nonprofit Millennium Homes, owner of 4,500 mobile home spaces in 19 communities across California. The resolution does not illustrate the typical rent adjustment request, which usually comes from management or tenants. This increase came out of an agreement between both, requiring the board to decide whether the terms were just, equitable and fair.

Vista de Santa Barbara Associates, which has owned the park since its inception in 1979, is financing half of the $13 million purchase price for Millennium Homes and adding $3 million to a fund that will assist tenants with damages and attorneys’ fees following the years of litigation.

To make up the difference, the Carpinteria City Council approved Independent Cities Finance Authority’s issuance of $17 million in tax-exempt bonds on Aug. 12 to finance Millennium’s purchase of the project. The bonds will also provide financial assistance for lower-income tenants and fund park improvements. Millennium President George Turk says the bulk of the rent increase will go toward paying off the bond, which the city had to approve but will not incur debt from.

Millennium’s use of bonds requires it to maintain 20 percent of park spaces at rent levels affordable to very low income households and another 30 percent of spaces at rates affordable to low income households for the 35-year life of the bond. While the agreement increases rent, Millennium will allocate financial assistance of $100 per space every month with another $75 to $100 grant available to very low-income households.

The rent hike goes into effect when Millennium takes ownership, but no sooner than 90 days. The agreement is dependent on Millennium entering escrow on the property and an end to the litigation that began between 2007 and 2008.

The contention between tenants and ownership began in 2002, before the courts got involved, according to former housing authority president and 12-year park resident Bruce Conroy. Ownership sought a monthly increase of $900, bringing rent up from around $300 to $1,200. The parties entered two years of city-sponsored litigation that whittled down the increase to $73 but cost the city $250,000. When Vista Associates proposed raising lot rents on new mobile home owners, heirs who inherited spaces and any part-time neighbors in 2008, the park’s homeowners association took action and called in lawyer James Ballantine to combat the hike. Affected parcels would have seen rents skyrocket from $400 to $900 per month. This shadowed a smaller rate hike in 2006 that was supposed to be the last increase before 2011.

All said, residents, many of whom are on fixed incomes, raised upwards of $50,000, according to Conroy, and partook in five years of litigation including dozens of court filings.

“As your council knows, mobile home rent litigation is expensive,” said City Attorney Peter Brown. “The city has been involved in litigation defending its ordinance in the past.” If Millennium successfully purchases the park, the agreement guarantees it will follow the city’s affordable housing ordinance, even if that ordinance disappears.

In 2012, Vista Associates offered to sell the park to the residents and assist with financing. This halted litigation and catapulted residents into meetings and park elections concerning the possible purchase. Residents could not finance the park, but Millennium Homes could. In July, 111 residents voted in favor of Millennium’s purchase, three voted against the transition and a small group did not vote.

Local realtor and park resident Nancy Branigan knows the market and understands the problems associated with the controversy. “It has been a total nightmare for the residents of the park as well as for real estate agents trying to sell or people trying to buy in the park for the last five years, at least,” said Branigan. She has talked to a selection of local banks that have expressed a willingness to lend within the park after the sale.

“Due to the instability of the raising of the rents, lenders will not lend in the park (now). If someone wants to purchase a mobile home, they have to pay cash,” she said.

However, the full audience at the July 23 Mobile Home Rent Stabilization Board was not unanimous in its support. Two speakers expressed uncertainty about the drastic increase, requesting smaller incremental increases over the years. Park resident Barbara Sanderson argued that this was a burden for all on behalf of heirs who may or may not take over park spaces and part-time residents with more than one place they call home. “I don’t think those are good enough reasons to raise the rents of 70 percent of the park,” said Sanderson.

But the city council fully supported the bond measure and the purchase on Aug. 12. “I’m thrilled for Vista de Santa Barbara,” said councilmember Fred Shaw. “This is a monkey off the back of the mobile home board for sure and the city as well. I just think this is a great project, a very fair project.”

City revisits 2013 to-do list

By Erin Lennon

City of Carpinteria department heads took to the podium at the Aug. 12 city council meeting, providing a snapshot of the city’s progress toward a selection of its annual goals as 2014 approaches.

Community Development Director Jackie Campbell joined Parks & Recreation Director Matt Roberts, Public Works Director Charlie Ebeling and City Manager Dave Durflinger in presenting the work they have accomplished on the city’s annual work program approved in January. The annual program guides staff’s work for the calendar year by laying out strategic issues facing the city and plans for how to address those issues within the budget while also meeting community need. Eight months into 2013, the council got up to speed.

Large projects headlined the presentations, such as Public Works’ Carpinteria Creek Bridge, the Community Development Department’s updated Housing Element and the countywide adaptations to and widening of Highway 101. These large projects require a lot of staff time, which department heads agreed take time away from other, smaller but still important projects.

The directors also have to deal with spur-of-the-moment needs. The most recent falls under public works’ jurisdiction. Ebeling is racing to get the traffic signal on the corner of Carpinteria Avenue and 7th Street fixed before local students begin their first walk to school on Aug. 26.

During a June tree trim along Carpinteria Avenue, a wayward palm frond interfered with a power line, causing some costly damage. An unusually dramatic surge of electricity traveled to the traffic signal, melting the surge suppressor. Though the light has been in use since then, a specialty contractor found irreparable damage last Saturday.

The city is wrapping the signal repair into a planned upgrade to the pedestrian crossing in front of Aliso School. The council approved public works’ emergency request for $120,000 on Aug. 12 to solicit specialty and general contractors to repair and replace wiring, the surge suppressor, conduits and to complete the subsequent street repair resulting from necessary small trenches.

This pressing issue and others were bumped to the top of the department’s to-do list, delaying other goals set forward in the annual work program, such as filling any staffing gaps and continuing work on other projects. The engineer technician and management analyst positions are filled. The civil engineer and part-time maintenance worker positions will be filled by the end of the month.

“Obviously we’re online with what we set out at the beginning of the year even though we’ve had curve balls thrown at us,” said Mayor Brad Stein.

However, Ebeling is not the only director juggling curveballs.

The General Government and Administrative Services Department, under Durflinger’s direction, has spent the first half of 2013 wrangling with the municipal budget but also responding to an IRS audit and replacing eight to 10 of its aging computers.

Community Development has been working “several extraordinary matters” that have required significant staff effort, said Campbell, including code enforcement’s investigation into five neighboring apartment and motel buildings along Carpinteria Avenue and assisting the city attorney’s office with three dog bite cases.

Parks & Recreation also spent a lot of time on unanticipated projects and needs. The potential sale of the Tee Time property has offered the city an opportunity for additional public open space but required immediate attention. El Carro Park and its plaza also required Parks & Rec. attention to make spring season a little brighter for Carpinteria Valley Little League while Carpinteria Valley Water District improvements to the plaza required department supervision.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant Brad McVay also updated the council on local law enforcement work, which represents over $3 million of the city’s budget. The recently-promoted police chief introduced the council to his supervisory sergeants and Carpinteria Community Resource Deputy Matt Banks, who is currently reinvigorating interest in neighborhood watch efforts.

McVay highlighted rising larceny, burglary and vehicle theft rates and an inventory of 71 documented gang members who may or may not still be in the valley. Also residing in the city are 19 sex registrants, 12 parolees, 17 residents convicted of a crime who are monitored outside of a correctional facility as well as 86 adult and 15 juvenile probationers. The good news: out of the 10,389 calls for services in 2012 addressed by law enforcement in Carpinteria, only 3 percent, or 322, resulted in arrest. “Most of these things, the deputy was able to resolve in the field,” said McVay. “In other words, he’s doing the public service aspect of his job and able to resolve these calls or help with whatever these issues might be.”

The next city council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 9 at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers, 5775 Carpinteria Ave.

Fire ravages mobile home

Fire ravages mobile home
Anthony Vega photo: Firefighters work to save surrounding structures as flames destroy an older model mobile home in San Roque Mobile Home Park.

An aging mobile home in San Roque Mobile Home Park ignited on the afternoon of Aug. 9 and burned to the ground within minutes of the homeowner fleeing the building. Bill Marsh ran out the front door, escaping uninjured as flames engulfed his home. “It wouldn’t have taken much more time for him to be a goner,” said neighbor Suzanne Glunt, who noticed the fire in Marsh’s enclosed side porch, where he typically sleeps, and screamed his name until he rushed out the door.

Neighboring mobile homes sustained only minor damages thanks to firefighters’ efforts to keep the fire from spreading. Windows broke in one structure, a plastic fence melted, and a neighbor’s 25 medicinal marijuana plants were scorched in the blaze. According to Carpinteria-Summerland Fire District Battalion Chief Mike Gallagher, Marsh’s mobile home “went up quickly.” Knowing that the sole occupant had fled the engulfed home, the firefighters strategized to protect the surrounding properties.

Marsh was treated for smoke inhalation and released on site. Having lost his home and all his belongings, he received care from Adult Protective Services and the Red Cross after the fire.

San Roque manager Diego Jara saw the black, billowing smoke from his office and dialed 9-1-1, according to Glunt. She complimented Jara and his brother for reacting quickly and cleverly to the fire, calling for help then rushing to shut off the gas throughout the threatened area.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Bristol admits to sex with minors

Bristol admits to sex with minors
Louis Joseph Bristol

Plea deal includes one-year jail time, five years probation

By Peter Dugré

Carpinterian Louis Bristol admitted to having sex with two underage girls, furnishing marijuana to one of them and sending an obscene video to a third adult victim in a plea deal submitted in Santa Barbara Superior Court on Aug. 8. The deal, which is still subject to approval by Judge Clifford Anderson and the Santa Barbara County Probation Department, would see Bristol, 28, spend 365 days in county jail without credit for time served since his March arrest. The sentence would be followed by five years of supervised felony probation, which if broken, would lead to a four-year prison sentence.

Bristol pled guilty to a felony lewd act with a 14-year-old, felony unlawful sex with a 16-year-old and misdemeanors of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and sending obscene matter.

If accepted, Bristol’s probation terms would include registering as a sex offender, not residing in Carpinteria, staying away from minors and places where minors gather and attending weekly sex addicts anonymous meetings. Following probation, Bristol could apply to have his sex offender status revoked, which would be accomplished by withdrawing the conviction for a lewd act with a 14-year-old—a crime requiring lifetime sex-offender registration—and replacing it with a second count of unlawful sex with a minor, a lesser charge.

Bristol met his two victims while serving as a youth group director at Carpinteria Community Church. His third victim, an adult co-worker at Holiday Inn Express Carpinteria, came forward later in the investigation alleging that Bristol had sent her an obscene video of him masturbating. Court documents state that Bristol admitted to having intercourse with both the 14-year-old and 16-year-old victims on Jan. 5, 2013, and furnished marijuana to the 16-year-old between Dec. 15, 2012, and Feb. 21, 2013. He admitted to sending the masturbation video on Jan. 21, 2013.

A sentencing hearing in Santa Barbara Superior Court will take place on Sept. 12, where the judge and probation office will rule on whether to accept the plea deal.

Prosecutor Paula Waldman said the 365-day sentence on top of forgoing time-served is the equivalent to a two-year sentence. Bristol will not be eligible for electronic monitoring but avoids state prison. If the plea deal is accepted, the remainder of the 11 charges, including forcible rape and sexual battery by restraint, will be dropped. “Not only am I satisfied that this is a just outcome, so is the sheriff’s department, and so are the victims and the mothers of the victims,” Waldman said.

Carpinteria Community Church issued a release stating it “is very saddened by the recent events concerning its former youth director, Louis Bristol.” The church further stated that it is “committed to providing a safe and appropriate environment for our church community.”

Anonymous donor covers cost of art center improvements

The $35,000 needed to spruce up the Carpinteria Valley Arts Center recently arrived in the form of a generous anonymous donor, according to the organization’s Executive Director Sherri Frazer. The center’s permitted improvements, which include the addition of bright shade sails and new signage, pavement and landscaping, have been paid for by an individual that Frazer described as “very passionate about the Carpinteria Arts Center and direction of Carpinteria Valley Arts Council.”

“Thanks to the support of this donor and our community,” Frazer said, “we will be able to make significant improvements to our courtyard . We have been looking forward to breaking ground, and I’m excited to unveil our makeover to the community.” 

Construction is scheduled to begin in early October at the Linden Avenue art center, and the improvements are intended to draw more attention to the organization as it launches a capital campaign to fund a multi-million dollar center already approved by the city.

Body of Portland diver found on Padaro Beach

The body of a Portland man who appears to have been scuba diving alone was discovered by Padaro Lane residents walking on the beach in the 3300 block of the lane around 11:45 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3. By the time Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department deputies and Carpinteria-Summerland Fire District personnel responded, the body of 49-year-old William Frank Grgurich had been pulled out of the water by several residents. Circumstances surrounding Grgurich’s death are under investigation by the coroner’s office.

Madrigal resigns as Canalino principal, Persoon installed

Longtime Canalino teacher Jamie Persoon was appointed interim principal on Aug. 6, following the recent resignation of former Principal Jeff Madrigal. The Carpinteria Unified School District’s Board of Education appointed Persoon to the position for the 2013/2014 school year in order to have a principal in place for the start of school on Aug. 26.

Madrigal, who led the school for the past three years, recently accepted a principal position in the Santa Paula Unified School District. “We thank (Madrigal) for his years of service at Canalino,” stated District Superintendent Paul Cordeiro. “He worked hard with staff and parents to move the school forward academically.”

Persoon, who is a Carpinteria native and resident, has served as a leader among the school’s teachers and is well-known by parents and community members. “She has dedicated years to the District and to Canalino, has had excellent administrative training, and has demonstrated impressive leadership skills in numerous ways,” stated Cordeiro. “The school will definitely go forward with its recently-developed strategic plan, led by (Persoon) and a committed Canalino faculty/staff. The Board asks the staff, parents and community to rally behind her as she makes the transition to her new position.”

Fire board workshop to readdress station needs

By Lea Boyd

Having pressed pause last spring on its proposal to build two fire stations at a $10 million cost to residents, Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District will hold a community workshop on Saturday, Aug. 17 to determine how to move forward.

The variables to consider are many, and the district’s board of directors will attempt to unify behind a single plan that both the community and the firefighters union also will support. Given the projects’ recent history, a single plan that all parties agree on could be difficult to find.

Thus far, what seems unanimous is that the very old, very small Summerland station needs to be replaced. The question of where seemed to have been answered. Over the last few years, the district secured an agreement to purchase property at the corner of Temple and Lillie as well as a Santa Barbara County development permit for a contemporary two-story station on the site. The question of how to pay for the $5 million station, however, proved to be more complicated.

Prior to the 2012 election, the five members of the fire board had set their sights on bringing a bond measure to voters to pay for the new facility. Since the aging Carpinteria station on Walnut Avenue also had been deemed seismically unfit and fails to meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, the board decided to introduce plans for a second new facility and add it to the proposed bond measure, thereby providing a more obvious benefit to residents throughout the entire district.

Though the former board felt it wise to add the $5 million Carpinteria station to the funding package, not all community members have come to the same conclusion. In a recent statement to the board, local resident Lucy Hromadka said, “I think everyone is in agreement that the Summerland station is in grave disrepair, but we are not in agreement that the Carpinteria station needs replacing.”

Then there is the issue of firefighter support for a measure to be decided at the ballot box. In recent years, the district’s budget suffered from the economic recession and the ballooning costs of employee pensions. The district’s workforce was restructured, and two firefighters were laid off. Seeking a greater voice on the board, the local firefighters union, Carpinteria-Summerland Firefighters Association, decided to get involved in the 2012 race for two board seats. With the firefighters’ support, emergency room doctor Chris Johnson and retired firefighter Bill Taff entered the election and won. It was their questioning of the two proposed stations at the March 22 board meeting that brought plans for a $10 million bond measure in November 2013 to a halt.

Following the meeting, the firefighters association released a statement announcing employees’ concerns over a bond measure and the district’s budgetary priorities. It stated, “We question the fact that the taxpayers are paying the same amount yet their service has diminished, and now they are being asked for more of their hard earned money?”

Fire board member Craig Price said at the board’s July 13 meeting that the firefighters’ comments included in the March 28 Coastal View News article had “flabbergasted” him, given that the new stations would dramatically improve firefighters’ working conditions. He said that he hopes to hear more from the association because, “It’s going to be very important for the success of any future bond that we enjoy your support.”

A number of Padaro Lane residents have also entered the fray, asking the board to conduct formal analyses of its operations and bring staffing levels back up before asking the community to support new fire stations. “We want paramedics and firemen at our houses to put out fire and to save our lives, and that comes number one,” said Padaro Lane resident Margaret Baker at the July 13 board meeting.

Fire Chief Mike Mingee has iterated that the funding for staffing and fire station is like “apples and oranges.” A bond measure could only finance capital improvement projects, such as the stations, and would not be applicable to the operations budget, which includes firefighter salaries.

As the debate over what to build and how to pay for it continues, the Vector Control District, which owns the Summerland property intended for the new station, has indicated that it is eager to lock in the land sale. Supporters of the Summerland station plans fear that if the plans languish much longer, the site will not be available. Price said at the July 13 meeting, “We have an opportunity for a site there that we’re familiar with that’s not going to be there if we wait around for another couple years or maybe even 18 months.”

At the workshop next weekend, the board will gather input from community members and consider various scenarios such as pursuing a bond measure to fund only the Summerland station and whether that would be paid for exclusively by residents in the Summerland response area, which includes properties east of Cravens Lane, or if the entire district should be asked to shoulder the cost.

The Saturday, Aug. 17 meeting will begin at 9 a.m. and will take place in the Summerland Fire Station, 2375 Lillie Ave.

Venoco offshore fracking detailed in exposé

Spokesperson says Paredon is not frack job
By Peter Dugré

Venoco, Inc., was featured prominently in a recent special investigation on offshore hydraulic fracturing written by Mike Ludwig and published on, a news website dedicated to investigative reporting on national issues. The article cites two examples of recent use of the controversial oil and gas extraction method commonly referred to as fracking in the Santa Barbara Channel. Venoco fracked from platform Gail, which is located 10 miles offshore from Ventura and pipes its oil and gas to Venoco’s Carpinteria Oil & Gas Processing Facility. At issue in the story ( is the lack of local oversight and disclosure of offshore fracking in federal waters.

Fracking has become a successful and widely used method of producing oil and gas throughout the country, but since the technique uses a concoction of water, sands and chemicals in a recipe that is protected as a trade secret, environmentalists have widely opposed the injection of mysterious chemicals believed to be harmful into the earth. The fluids are injected at high pressures, causing fractures in underground rock formations to allow greater quantities of oil and gas to flow to the wellhead.

Venoco spokesperson Lisa Rivas commented that the fracking from Gail in 2009 and 2010 was short-lived and did not produce oil and gas at levels conducive to continuing the technique. Additionally, Rivas said that Venoco would not frack in Carpinteria if the company gains approval for the Paredon Project, its longstanding proposal to drill from its onshore Carpinteria Processing Facility into offshore and onshore reserves beneath and bordering the city.

“The Paredon structure isn’t the type of geological structure that needs fracturing to stimulate oil development. It is already highly fractured, by nature. That is part of the reason you see so many seeps in the area, both onshore and offshore,” Rivas stated.

Additionally, DCOR, which operates rigs in the Santa Barbara Channel, was identified as having conducted permitted offshore fracking. Natural gas from DCOR-operated platforms is piped into Carpinteria, and Casitas Pier, which extends out from the Carpinteria Processing Facility, is used by DCOR and other companies to service Santa Barbara Channel platforms. However, Rivas said materials supporting fracking are not stored or transported from the processing facility. “There is no fracking, so there are no fracking fluids,” stated Rivas.

The most recent Paredon application, submitted in June, was sent back to Venoco by city planners, who sought more information in order to process the application. One item of information sought by city planners was whether fracking is used at offshore platforms serviced from the Carpinteria Processing Facility. In the notice sent to Venoco following the application, the city asks, “... if fracking is occurring on the offshore platforms, are chemicals for those fracking operations stored at the Carpinteria Processing Facility, even for short periods of time (e.g., one to two days)? Has this storage of chemicals been included in the facility’s Hazardous Materials Business Plan?”

Bus commuters brace for bad news

By Peter Dugré

Local bus riders were afforded the opportunity to tell Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District which pill would most easily slide down their throats at a July 29 workshop at Carpinteria City Hall. MTD Assistant General Manager and Controller Jerry Estrada, a Carpinterian who sang a sympathetic tune, explained again that if MTD’s current financial straights stick, the local bus provider will be forced to cut 30 percent of its services, and the currently favored emergency service reduction plan would eliminate two of Carpinteria’s three lines, including the express commuter line to Santa Barbara.

Speaking to the group of 10, a fraction of the numbers who had shown up at a similar meeting in Santa Barbara on July 24 as MTD conducts its due diligence tour, Estrada explained, “When you’re talking about 30-percent cuts, it’s going to be felt in every jurisdiction.”

Currently, MTD proposes to eliminate the Seaside Shuttle, which operates deep in the red due to low ridership, and the 21X line, the quickest commuter option to downtown Santa Barbara. Line 20, also running to Santa Barbara, would stay intact, but the route meanders on frontage roads through Carpinteria Valley, Montecito and Santa Barbara’s Eastside before its final destination at the bus station.

Asking for the preservation of a quicker route to Santa Barbara, rider Michael Hickey said, “If you catch the 20 during the day to go to a show, you better catch it two hours ahead to get to the movie in time.” Estrada noted the recommendation to preserve an express route, but stressed that his hands were tied by financial realities.

MTD’s financial future depends on whether the U.S. Department of Labor will continue to fund California’s $1.2 billion annual transit grant and Santa Barbara’s $4.8 million slice of that pie. The DOL has yet to rule on whether it will pay California, which could be in violation of the transit section of federal labor laws.

The issue stems from the California Public Employee Pension Reform Act of 2013, a piece of legislation that will require transit employees, among other public employees, to pay a greater portion of their pension costs. The state legislation was voted on last year and enacted in January and was never negotiated with unions representing public employees. Transit employees represented by the Teamsters argued that the CPEPRA violates their collective bargaining agreement with the DOL, which stopped payment to California transit districts due to the potential violation of federally protected employee rights.

Estrada explained that federal money stopped flowing to MTD in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, to the tune of $4.6 million. Currently, the Teamsters are on board with MTD in asking the DOL to fund half of the total loss from last fiscal year, which would have incurred before January, when the CPEPRA became effective. The agreed upon request was filed in June, but the DOL has yet to respond.

The greater ruling on whether California’s new legislation violates federal employee protection has also been on hold. “Ideally the decision will be for us that there’s no violation, and they’ll let the money flow,” Estrada said.

For the short term, an influx of $2.3 million could delay any rash cuts to MTD lines through January, but the future longterm loss of $4.8 million out of a total $28 million annual operating budget, would require MTD to overhaul its entire system to cut 30 percent of costs.

Other concerned riders at the July 29 meeting recommended trimming 30 percent frequency to lines across the system, rather than target specific lines like the local 21x and Seaside Shuttle. Although Estrada admitted that during peak times, Carpinteria riders would likely exceed capacity under the current reduction plan, MTD faces pressure from greater ridership in other jurisdictions, mainly its heaviest routes between University of California, Santa Barbara, and downtown Santa Barbara to accommodate UCSB and Santa Barbara City College students.

Longtime rider Edna Arellano called overloading the 20 a safety issue and said that the 21x leaving from Danny’s Deli on Carpinteria Avenue is already at capacity during the morning commute during the school year. “I leave at 6:45 a.m. and need to get to UCSB…. The 21x is standing room only as it is,” she said. On the occasion of a breakdown, when buses need to be combined, she said buses feel unsteady, and “It’s a danger.”

Many of the overall changes in MTD’s proposed reductions would hit weekend routes, which might hurt fewer commuters but would still hit those who rely on buses to get around. “If you’re riding public transit, you’ve made a choice or have a need, and you need service seven days a week,” Estrada said.

MTD Boardmember Dick Weinberg, a Carpinterian and former mayor, attended the meeting and urged all concerned individuals to directly address the DOL to recommend action. “The squeaking wheel does get grease,” he said. “If they don’t hear anything from this area … (The DOL) is not going to get too excited.” The statewide issue will hit areas like Los Angeles the hardest, so it’s all the more important for smaller districts like Santa Barbara to contact the DOL, he said.

The next MTD Board Meeting, where members and administrators will continue to look at potential service reduction plans, is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 20, at the MTD Administrative Offices, 550 Olive Street. Estrada said it’s likely that funds can be shifted temporarily to stave off line cuts until the new year, but those measure are financially infeasible in the long term.

Options narrowed for towering street trees

By Ashleigh Luschei

The massive shamel ash trees lining Camino Trillado and La Manida have been the subject of multiple public workshops since 2011, when city officials initially identified the trees as candidates for removal and replacement and left residents who are devoted to the towering ashes up in arms. In the most recent workshop, held on July 25, residents decided against narrowing the street and moving the sidewalk to accommodate the trees, making it nearly certain that several of the well-loved trees will be removed.

At the workshop, the city bundled suggestions made at a previous workshop on April 18 into three separate options, which could be “mixed and matched as we want or need,” according to Paul Medel, public works supervisor. “These options are meant to start the conversation,” he said.

The city targeted the trees for removal because their expansive root systems have buckled surrounding pavement, creating both a safety and a legal risk and failing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The alternative to removal had been Option B, which included narrowing the street to accommodate the trees and establishing an easement on private property on which to move a portion of the city sidewalk.

Residents rejected Option B after concerns arose about the loss of parking and the permanence of the easement, even if the trees were eventually removed. Though the city is not required to replace the trees, Public Works Director Charlie Ebeling noted that the city’s policy is to replace removed street trees in general.

A more palatable set of options includes the gradual removal and replacement of the trees and repair of damaged sidewalks, projects estimated to cost a total of $440,000. Under Option A, the bill would be footed by a “benefit assessment district” made up of homeowners on Camino Trillado and La Manida. Option C proposes the use of city funds as they become available, which would slow down the replacement process considerably.

Another suggestion was to remove up to 30 percent of the trees’ root systems, which could reduce the buckling and still maintain the tree, but Ebeling argued such an approach was infeasible. The sidewalks were redone in patches seven years ago, and “now, here we are … and the sidewalks are lifted again,” Ebeling said. Another suggestion to put all the trees in bulb-outs was also deemed infeasible for the entire neighborhood, though possible for select trees.

Resentment arose among residents at the mention of assessments. One resident complained that the city is at fault and should pay, claiming there was a lack of regular maintenance on Camino Trillado over the past decade.

A resident named Mai Tai expressed her own frustration with the workshops, which have been ongoing since 2011. “It’s bittersweet. We’re just talking and not getting anywhere,” she said. The tree in front of her home has reportedly caused plumbing damage.

Ebeling emphasized that the public workshops, and the decisions that came out of them, were a “very important part” of an overall capital improvement program he wants to introduce, including the maintenance of Carpinteria’s $100 million worth of roadways.

The city is, “behind the 8-ball,” Ebeling said. “We’re about 10 or 20 million (dollars) behind in pavement maintenance.”

The Tree Advisory Board, which will ultimately decide the fate of the shamel ashes, meets on a quarterly basis. The next tree workshop will be announced through a public notice, as was the July 25 workshop.

Burglars hit Foothill Road businesses

Overnight between June 1 and 2 three businesses on the 4900 and 5000 blocks of Foothill Road were hit by burglars. One landscaping company reported a padlock cut to a storage shed and $6,082 worth of equipment missing. A separate business also had a power mower stolen, and a third business that noticed a cut padlock had nothing of value for thieves to steal inside the area that was burglarized. Personal materials linked to an auto break-in at one of the properties were strewn about the entryway to the third business. Deputies had no suspects linked to the crime at the time of the report. 

Kingston resigns from THRIVE

Sally Kingston, hired last year to lead the Carpinteria Unified School District’s Cradle-to-Career initiative, THRIVE, resigned from her position last week to accept a job with an Oakland-based charter school management organization. Superintendent Paul Cordeiro announced that CUSD’s board of education is “in discussion concerning leadership of THRIVE Carpinteria going forward.”

In her new position, Kingston will be Vice President in charge of Programs for Envision Learning Partners, a division of Envision Education. Cordeiro praised Kingston for her role in launching the THRIVE initiative in Carpinteria. “Dr. Kingston has been a catalyst for our emerging efforts under THRIVE Carpinteria: Cradle–to-Career,” he said. “We thank Dr. Kingston for her work and wish her success in her new job.”

New director hired for Children’s Project at Main

Maria Chesley Fisk, PhD., was recently hired as the director of the Carpinteria Children’s Project at Main, a collaborative of early childhood services that is operated by Carpinteria Unified School District. As of July 1, Fisk filled the position formerly held by Michelle Robertson.
Before coming to the Santa Barbara area, Fisk directed professional development programs for a Wisconsin educational services agency, served as a research assistant at the University of Michigan, and held various primary grades teaching positions. Recently, Fisk developed an online communication tool, Parent Square, to help parents stay informed on school events and activities. Additionally, she authored “Teach Your Kids to Think: Simple Tools You Can Use Every Day.”

“Dr. Fisk possesses the right combination of professional experience, management skills, education preparation and dedication,” Superintendent Paul Cordeiro stated in a press release. “She will connect with families and the Carpinteria community very quickly and in a very positive way.”

Lucky families land Lagunitas homes

Lucky families land Lagunitas homes
Holly Smolnikar hugs her daughter Cydney while calling her husband to announce that their name was drawn second in the Lagunitas Affordable Housing lottery on July 10. Smolnikar’s sister, Sabrina Blum, celebrates the good news with Maddox and Sydnee Schapiro.

By Lea Boyd

When Holly Smolnikar’s name was read aloud at the Lagunitas Affordable Housing lottery draw at city hall on July 10, the back of the room erupted in hoots, hollers and other joyful sounds. Smolnikar, her husband and their three kids had just been chosen at random from among 47 households vying for a new condo priced hundreds of thousands of dollars less than market value.

“We’ve been waiting to buy a house for 17 years,” Smolnikar said. The lottery win is an “opportunity of a lifetime,” she added.

Six affordable condos and two mid-range condos are waiting to be purchased in Lagunitas, the new residential development on the east side of Carpinteria. The top households drawn in the city’s lottery must secure loans for the units and decide whether the two or three-bedroom units are truly a fit for their families.

“We’re just having a hard time finding anyone to lend,” said Genevieve Shwanbeck. She and her husband and their two kids were the fourth draw in the lottery, and are working to obtain a loan on a two-bedroom unit. They were pre-approved for financing, but their original lender refused to fund a loan due to the resale restrictions that apply to the condos. Per program conditions, the homes must be sold at an affordable rate if the owner decides to move within the next 30 years.

Smolnikar’s efforts to obtain a loan have progressed more smoothly, and the city’s first phase of the Lagunitas lottery, which was held last December, successfully placed qualifying families in the three units then available. Community Development Director Jackie Campbell, who oversees the affordable housing program, said that the program has succeeded in its goal of providing housing for local families that may otherwise be priced out of the market.

Rachelle Gahan, whose name was the number one draw in the lottery, said that the lottery may give her family the chance to own a home even as they watch the housing market move farther and farther from their reach. “Even if we were to buy a fixer upper,” she said, “we wouldn’t be able to afford to fix it up.”

The July 10 lottery, Campbell said, attracted more applicants than any draw in the last 10 years. Only 26 names were placed in the hat for last December’s lottery, versus 47 applicants this time around. Campbell credited rising home prices and interest rates for the upswing in popularity of the affordable housing lottery. She added that, “Availability of new homes in Carpinteria is limited. It’s a commodity that’s hard to come by.”

Homes in the affordable program are priced to be within grasp for above moderate income households, those that earn between 120 and 200 percent of the Area Median Income, which is $71,400 for a four-person household. The four, two-bedroom units in Lagunitas are offered for $274,400, and the two, three-bedroom units are $332,800. (Two mid-range three-bedroom units were also offered for $464,800.)

Among the applicants in the lottery, 28 qualified for two or three preference points and were pulled in the first drawing. Applicants earned preference points for living or working in the city or for being a member of the critical workforce, such as a nurse or teacher. Campbell said that she was pleased to find that among the top picks in the lottery, a handful of individuals are employed at the nearby Carpinteria Industrial Park, meaning fewer cars on the road. “We’re attracting the audience we intended to attract,” Campbell said. “Is the program working? Yes. That to me is rewarding.”

For many of the lottery winners, the opportunity to purchase an affordable condo in Lagunitas will allow them to stay in the town they love. Smolnikar, who grew up in Carpinteria, said that she and her husband have long considered moving out of town to purchase a home in a lower priced market. She believes that “praying for a long time” helped her to obtain one of the Lagunitas homes. “It’s truly amazing to us to be able to live in Carpinteria,” she said.

Schwanbeck and her husband, Ceri Griffiths, have also considered moving to a lower priced housing market, like Ojai, to purchase a home and move out of the one-bedroom cottage they share with their two young daughters. She and Griffiths both work in Carpinteria, however, and Schwanbeck’s main concern about moving out of town was having her two children enrolled in schools far from where she would spend her days. Carpinteria Unified School District does not allow transfers into the district.

While the lottery led to six thrilled families, it also left dozens disappointed. For those whose names landed lower on the list, Campbell recommends researching the city’s new Down Payment Loan Program, which launched last spring and will provide several loans between $25,000 and $75,000 toward home purchases in Carpinteria. Campbell also suggests that employers look into the Coastal Housing Partnership, a program that provides housing benefits to its member companies.

Carey pleads not guilty

Carey pleads not guilty

Michael George Carey, a Rincon High School teacher accused of inappropriately touching a 17-year-old female student and sending her nude photographs of himself by phone, pleaded not guilty in Santa Barbara Superior Court on July 8. Carey will be back in court on July 11 for a request to modify his release terms, and in August for a preliminary hearing setting.

Carey was arrested on Dec. 12 for sexual battery, but charges were not filed until a forensic investigation of his phone and the student’s phone recently concluded. Now Carey faces a felony charge for the alleged naked photo text and two misdemeanor sexual battery charges, one each for allegedly touching the girl’s breast and genitals over her clothing, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Paula Waldman. If Carey is found guilty, he faces up to three years in state prison.

City number crunchers honored

City number crunchers honored
From left, CPA Terry Krieg and the city’s Administrative Services Director John Thornberry receive recognition for keeping the city’s books in excellent shape from Mayor Brad Stein.

The City of Carpinteria’s Administrative Services Director John Thornberry added another notch to his accounting belt recently when he was honored alongside Certified Public Accountant Terry Krieg for exceptional financial reporting. The Government Finance Officers Association recognized the duo for Excellence in Financial Reporting, the highest recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting. Thornberry has received the honor 15 years in a row.

“This award is not an easy thing to get because the GFOA, as they’re known, changes their standards every year, so the bar keeps going up and up and up,” commented City Manager Dave Durflinger as he and the city council honored Thornberry and Krieg at a July 8 meeting.

Police chief badge moves from Moore to McVay

Police chief badge moves from Moore to McVay

After nearly three years as police chief in Carpinteria, Lieutenant Kelly Moore has turned over the lead local law enforcement role to Lt. Brad McVay, a longtime South County resident who has held various positions on the Carpinteria beat.

Moore has been promoted within the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department to criminal investigations at the South County Bureau, which encompasses the area between Carpinteria and Gaviota. Thanked for his service to the community at the July 8 Carpinteria City Council meeting, Moore told city officials, “It’s been a pleasure. I’ve had a great experience working with each and every one of you, especially the staff and city manager and the other department heads.”

Immediately prior to his assignment to Carpinteria, McVay worked as an area commander in the Santa Ynez and Lompoc valleys, which included the contract cities of Solvang and Buellton. He said that as a resident of the South County and a former patrolman, canine handler and supervisor at the Carpinteria substation, he was pleased with the move closer to home. “I’m very, very comfortable here,” he said. “And I’m very happy to be back.”

McVay, who boasts a 29-year tenure with the department, complimented Moore in his management of the Carpinteria substation and said that he looks forward to maintaining and growing law enforcement’s relationship with the community.

Water district works toward Gobernador solution

Carpinteria Valley Water District is moving forward with plans to install a new aeration system at the Gobernador Canyon reservoir in order to bring water quality in the neighborhood up to health standards. High quality water should be flowing from the taps in Gobernador Canyon and Shepard Mesa by Sept. 1, and district General Manager Charles Hamilton said that the new system could be up and running in just a few weeks.

Last spring, water quality tests in the Gobernador Canyon and Shepard Mesa areas failed to meet health standards in what officials called a “perfect storm” of circumstances. The district’s headquarters well, which typically provides high quality groundwater for mixing with lower quality water piped from Lake Cachuma, has been offline due to pump failure. Health standards also recently became more stringent, raising red flags on water test results that had met standards in place just last year.

The district now has good reason to believe that installing an aeration system in the Gobernador reservoir will reduce the concentration of trihalomethanes, compounds linked to health risks that exceeded the levels dictated by the Environmental Protection Agency. A recently conducted test of an aeration system’s effectiveness on district water led to “very positive” results, said Hamilton.

Trihalomethanes are a byproduct of the disinfection process that water from Cachuma undergoes. The water coming from the lake reaches its farthest point in the pipeline at the east end of Carpinteria, which allows more time for byproducts of the disinfectant process to form.

The next round of water quality sampling will take place on Aug. 5, by which time district staff hopes to have the aeration system installed. Additionally, the new El Carro well is expected to be up and running this month, which should help further reduce the concentration of disinfectant byproducts.

––Lea Boyd

Hotel proposal sent back to drawing board

By Erin Lennon

At a joint meeting of the Carpinteria City Council and Planning Commission on July 8, residents and city leaders made it clear that conceptual plans for two, three-story hotels on the Church of the Nazarene property at 4110 Via Real had fallen short of the mark. While developers pointed out that the city would benefit from $400,000 in annual bed tax revenue, city leaders and members of the public recoiled at the look and scale of the project.

The proposed 70-room Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott and the 80-room Hampton Inn by Hilton would be tucked into a 6-foot-high masonry wall constructed along three sides of the 2.62-acre site and screened by vegetative landscaping. Single-family homes, multi-story apartments and agriculture further border the site.

Proposed to reach a maximum of 30 feet, the hotels would include a small meeting room, breakfast area, fitness center and indoor pool. The estimated Development Impact Fees would bring over $1 million to the City of Carpinteria.

Community members joined commissioners and council members in their concerns about the project, the chief concern being the exacerbation of Via Real’s ongoing traffic congestion.

Residents painted frustrating pictures of long lines of vehicles waiting at four-ways stops and congested peak travel conditions. The hotel project would be one of a collection of approved developments coming online that could impact local traffic, according to Councilman Al Clark and Planning Commissioner John Callender.

“I think it would provide a significant impact,” said Art Willner who spoke about the Via Real hotels project on behalf of the Villas of Carpinteria Homeowners Association. “Then of course there’s Highway 101. It gets clogged all the time. People get frustrated. Where do they go? Onto Via Real. So, we’re very concerned with the traffic impact. I don’t think it would be brief. I don’t think it would be short lived.”

Still, others questioned the need for another hotel in Carpinteria and the likelihood that the proposed business-class hotels would be maintained at upscale standards.

“It’s a horrible idea for several reasons,” said resident Michael Mann. “You already have two hotels right next door that are completely under capacity, and to think that people are going to go to these other two hotels when people don’t stop on the highway to go to these already-established hotels, it’s not going to work. Nobody’s going to go there.”

Project applicant Mina Patel argued that the two hotels, which would add 150 rooms to the city’s stock, could mean an additional $400,000 in annual Transient Occupancy Tax revenue for the city. Councilman Fred Shaw, along with a contingent of the planning commission, said he welcomed a business-class hotel in Carpinteria, but the general consensus was to scale down the two three-story hotels to one two-story hotel.

“If you’re going to create an upscale hotel it will be far better to create an atmosphere within that, and that would be landscaping, and that would be softening up areas rather than having three stories, walls, vertical trees…,” said Councilman Wade Nomura.

But plans presented by Peikert Group Architects and the Patel family fall short on landscaping and parking. Carpinteria requires that 20 percent of the developed parcel be landscaped. The proposed Via Real site is only slated to have between 12 to 18 percent coverage, and that will be comprised of narrow planting strips, according to the staff report.

Several easements crossing the property further complicate the site’s environment, especially the easement along the northwest property line that leads to Steve Bunting’s home.

“We have an incredible traffic problem on that street, Via Real,” said Bunting, who would have to drive through the proposed parking lot to get home. “And from time to time we have an incredible parking problem right in that area.” People have been parking in his driveway for years, he continued.

The applicants requested two parking modifications. The first would reduce the required 168 parking spaces to 156 based on a parking demand analysis. Carpinteria currently necessitates one spot per room and one spot for each of the 18 employees. The second modification would establish between eight and 12 of the spaces for compact cars. These smaller spots would create a space for tree wells, increasing the percentage of landscaping.

Following the July 8 conceptual review, the applicant can submit a formal application to the city, but architect Detlev Peikert says he will head back to the drawing board.

“I think we kind of need to go back now and just think about how we can come a little closer to the comments that we’ve heard tonight,” he said.

New Jelly Bowl benches uprooted

New Jelly Bowl benches uprooted
Two new benches installed above Jelly Bowl Beach this week raised frustrations among locals disgruntled with the loss of the logs that served as former blufftop seating. The new benches were discovered flipped over on the morning of June 26.

Two benches recently installed by Carpinteria State Beach on the bluffs above Jelly Bowl Beach were met with forceful objection overnight between June 25 and June 26. The benches, a minor part of a larger and longer-term park improvement plan, replaced a large log that was sacred to some and has sat on the blufftop beach overlook for years. “We’re always trying to make the park better and safer,” commented Dave Wilson, Supervising Carpinteria State Beach Ranger. The tipped benches suffered no damages and are scheduled to be turned to their upright position by a tractor, Wilson said. No suspects were seen tampering with the heavy concrete seats.

Council gets earful for swiping parking spots

After the city painted a Carpinteria Avenue curb at Elm Avenue red in April, erasing two well-used parking spots without notice, area businesses, including Coastal View News, had battled to reinstate the lost parking.

“My customers depend on the convenience of having a place close by to run and pick up or drop off their dry cleaning, and I think eliminating those two spots across the street from me will definitely be an inconvenience to my customers,” said Jim Rockwell, owner of Rockwell Cleaners, 4850 Carpinteria Ave.

Upon review of the matter, the city council moved to restore the spots, which were eliminated to accommodate moving a Metropolitan Transit District bus stop. Instead, the council chose an alternative plan based on multiple recommendations from the city’s Traffic Safety Committee to move the eastbound bus stop farther up the road to the corner of Holly Avenue. The westbound stop will stay in front of Danny’s Deli with its crosswalk moved behind the stop.

This hybrid relocation plan will cost Carpinteria Avenue two or three parking spots in front of a lot that is under development and the city nearly $75,000, according to Public Works Director Charles Ebeling.

Currently, MTD passengers using the crosswalks at the intersection of Elm and Carpinteria avenues have a limited view of oncoming traffic as they cross in front of the buses. The Traffic Safety Committee discussed this issue, as well as 17 other items at its May 29 meeting. Local business owners along Carpinteria Avenue voiced concern over any lost parking spaces at both the committee meeting and at the June 24 city council meeting.

Vice Mayor Gregg Carty withdrew his motion in support of the proposed option that would have kept both stops where they are and moved the crosswalks from in front of to behind the buses. With no loss of parking, this option was estimated to cost between $50,000 and $75,000. Despite business owner support, Carty was concerned that jaywalking would ensue as pedestrians avoided backtracking to the new crosswalks and would instead cross where the old ones had been.

Councilman Fred Shaw shared anecdotal evidence based on his experiences visiting the 4800 block of Carpinteria Avenue early in the morning to pick up his Coastal View News. “That is, at least then, a pretty well used parking space even though it’s red and has been for the last few months,” said Shaw.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 8 at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers, 5775 Carpinteria Ave.

Council adopts balanced budget

By Erin Lennon

Following the Carpinteria City Council’s delayed adoption of its 2013-2014 municipal budget at its June 24 meeting, the council got an earful over the relocation of bus stops along Carpinteria Avenue, which could eat up parking and customer convenience for local businesses.

With a brief discussion and Councilman Wade Nomura absent, the council adopted its 2013-2014 budget and established a standing Budget Finance Committee, on which Mayor Brad Stein and Councilman Al Clark will continue to serve throughout the year.

Budget adoption was delayed at the June 10 meeting to allow Vice Mayor Gregg Carty and Councilman Clark, who were absent, an opportunity to make inquiries. The budget shows a General Fund operating surplus of $6,235 in the city’s largest budget to date, which registers at nearly $15 million.

“As a result of careful, prudent financial planning and the work of city staff, city council and the residents of our community, we have a fiscally responsible proposed budget for 2013-2014 before us,” said Carty. “And I believe it is an efficient and effective plan for delivering high quality government services to our community. And on top of that, it’s a balanced budget.”

City Manager Dave Durflinger sees a promising fiscal forecast of increased revenues, but he also expects increased expenditures in Carpinteria’s future. The city’s largest expense, its contract with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, is set to increase to $3.4 million, and other expenses such as benefits and salaries are on the rise. But those increases are offset as revenues from property and sales taxes increase to nearly $2.7 million and $1.8 million respectively. The Transient Occupancy Tax is also projected to rise to $1.9 million. A comfortable Economic Uncertainty Reserve balance of over $4 million also pads city finances in case the economy takes another downward turn.

“We have capacity,” said Durflinger. “We believe going forward that we’ll continue to see good revenue growth, so that’s the positive in this budget. The negative is that expenses are also creeping up.”

Nursery fire badly burns worker

A boiler room accident at a Via Real nursery on June 19 resulted in a worker with second and third degree burns on his face and chest. The fire, which was quickly suppressed by Carpinteria-Summerland Fire District firefighters upon their arrival, was caused by the worker sawing on a 2-inch natural gas line that supplied the boiler. The resulting burns covered 25 percent of the man’s body. He was treated and transported by paramedics to Cottage Hospital and later transferred to the Grossman Burn Center in Sherman Oaks. According to a press release from the CSFD, it was apparent that there was natural gas in the line that was ignited by the cutting operation. Why there was gas in the line downstream from the cut off valve is still being investigated.

Preschool blunders cost school district $252,000

By Lea Boyd

Carpinteria Unified School District is paying the piper to the tune of $252,000 for a series of missteps related to its infant, toddler and preschool programs. The painful bite into the district’s 2012/2013 budget came as the result of overstaffed programs, lost state funding due to unlicensed classrooms at Carpinteria Children’s Project at Main and the financial toll of staff discounts for childcare services.

“We’re certainly disappointed and unhappy,” concluded Assistant Superintendent Cindy Abbott. “The important thing is that we’re going to move forward.”

In moving forward, the district is hiring a new executive director for CCPM and Abbott, who oversees the district’s finances, says she will keep a tighter grip on the CCPM purse strings. “I’m going to be paying a lot of attention to what’s going on over there,” she said.

Issues began to arise last fall when the Community Care Licensing Division for Childcare, which manages the licensing of daycares statewide, discovered that early childhood classrooms were being operated at CCPM without full licensing in place. Abbott said that the district’s administration was unaware of the licensing snafu and worked to resolve it as quickly as possible. Nonetheless, the state pulled $28,000 in funding for the unlicensed timeframe and came into the facility in November and December of 2012 to conduct a compliance audit.

“There were issues that they (the state) weren’t happy about,” Abbott said. The audit uncovered compliance issues pertaining to the district’s state funded program that provides free preschool classes for children from very low income families.

In 2012/2013, CUSD had restructured its preschool program, dispersing its state-funded students, which had traditionally been housed in one classroom at Aliso School, among multiple sites and intermingling them with the paying preschool students. Intentions were great, Abbott said, but the result was a compliance nightmare. The detailed reporting requirements that formerly applied to just the state-funded program became necessary for all the kids at all the district’s preschool sites. “It turned into an experience that made it very difficult to comply with what they wanted us to do,” said Abbott.

Following the audit last year, the state put a conditional contract in place with CUSD, requiring that the district submit monthly reports instead of quarterly and raising its level of scrutiny over the programs. Of the issues specified in the audit, Abbott said, “Everything has been resolved.”

The loss of $28,000 in state funding proved to be small change, however, compared to overstaffing costs for the infant, toddler and preschool programs. At CCPM, enrollment expectations outpaced reality and staffing costs quickly snowballed. By the end of the year, the district faced a $300,000 gap between income and expenditure for the programs. Abbott explained that the state-required low student to teacher ratio can lead to staffing difficulties. Meanwhile, the 50 percent discount offered to CUSD staff for childcare services hit the budget with an unexpected $38,000 blow. Reflecting on the compounded staffing issues, Abbott said, “You would be amazed at how fast you can run up a operating deficit of $300,000.”

By backfilling with available foundation funds, the district minimized the budgetary damage of the overstaffing issue, reducing its impact on CUSD’s general fund from $300,000 to $185,000.

Combining the $252,000 infant, toddler and preschool shortfall with an unbudgeted 2 percent cost of living increase recently negotiated for staff, CUSD ended its fiscal year in the red by $352,000. The deficit was paid for out of district reserves of nearly $4 million.

During the Board of Education’s budget review on June 25, Boardmember Terry Hickey Banks commented on the one-time nature of dipping so deeply into reserves. She said, “We feel very confident that we won’t have that problem in the future.”

Carpinteria youth football program in jeopardy

Carpinteria youth football program in jeopardy
Bill Swing File Photo Hordes of Indian Football players populated Warrior Football Camp just two years ago.

By Peter Dugré

It was easy to take the Carpinteria Boys & Girls Club Indian Football program for granted. A well of energy rooted in the city’s pride in its football tradition would sustain the program. That was until last year when a four-team program saw anemic participation and shrunk to one team representing junior-high aged kids. At this year’s signup deadline of June 15, Boys & Girls Club administrators and the governing board had to draw up a Hail Mary—extending the signup deadline to July 9—in hopes that players and coaches will get on board and save Indian Football.

At the original deadline, none of the age groups had enough players to field a team. There were a handful of signups at each level, but in order to spend the money on league fees with the Tri-Valley Youth Football League and on equipment, the club needs reason to justify the investment.

Carpinteria Boys & Girls Club Unit Director Jamie Collins said the prospect of canceling youth football in Carpinteria “would be a huge hit to the community,” and added that she’s “hoping to light a fire under parents to come and support the program or sign up.”

For those in the community who bleed Warrior red, the near death of Indian football is puzzling. Dan Cordero, a longtime coach at Carpinteria High School and in Indian Football, observed that many of the kids he coached and who would carry the torch for the next generation had left the area due to the high cost of living. “Those kids are 50 years old now, but a lot of them left because it’s too expensive to live here,” he said. “The tradition pretty much moved out of town.”

Much of the blame for declining numbers has been attributed to a rule change before last season. The TVYFL rewrote its rules on grouping kids into divisions. Now divisions are based on age only, whereas the previous formula took weight into account. Under the new rules, kids in seventh grade who are 100 pounds are in the same game as kids in eighth grade who are closer to 200 pounds.

Several parents said that the shift disproportionately affects Carpinteria. Even though the entire league adheres to the same rules, the feeling is that there are fewer kids in Carpinteria and fewer big kids, making already size-disadvantaged Carpinteria teams relatively smaller. Compounding injury risk concerns, concussions became the hot topic for football players everywhere in the country at about the same time as the rule change. Reasons mounted to hold kids out from football.

Former Carpinteria Boys & Girls Club Director Rich Medel, who retired last year after over 40 years at the club, said he saw signs of waning enthusiasm in recent years. “I sensed something there, and we were trying to pinpoint it,” he said.

Participation was dropping all over the league. He remembers the Santa Barbara program shrinking from around 400 to 300 kids, but there is not as robust a population to draw from in Carpinteria. “A lot of kids are playing soccer now. For the parents, it’s easier, cheaper and they think kids aren’t going to get hurt,” Medel said. He added that there are more options now like swimming, and kids specialize in single sports offered year-round like baseball or soccer at earlier ages.

Also, budget cuts last year led to staff restructuring of Santa Barbara County Boys & Girls Clubs, which are managed by a governing board. As a consequence, Carpinteria reduced its fulltime athletics director position to part time, and had fewer resources for promoting athletic programs, according to Medel.

A suffering youth program and feeder system for Carpinteria High School Warrior football could have repercussions for years to come if players taking the field at the high school level are strapping on a helmet for the first time ever. Additionally, pulling the plug on local youth football would also mean the demise of the Indian Cheerleading program, which would hit close to home for Collins, who enjoyed her days as an Indian cheerleader. Now she’s hoping to lead a cheer and rally community members to rescue the program.

Of the bygone days of Indian Football, Medel said, “It used to be the thing. We’d take our teams to the Warrior games on Friday nights, under the lights. The kids would be in the tunnel when the Warriors ran out on the field, and they’d all say, ‘I’m going to be part of this. I’m going to be a Warrior.’”

Moorhouse earns spot in Hall of Fame

Moorhouse earns spot in Hall of Fame

Pat Moorhouse, a pioneer in women’s athletics, was inducted into the Yucca Valley High School Hall of Fame on June 2. With the passage of Title 9 in 1972, Moorhouse was instrumental in implementing the girls athletic program at YVHS. From there she went on to great success as a coach and PE instructor at Santa Barbara City College, where her volleyball team boasted a 128-16 record and five conference championships and her tennis team compiled a 250-28 record and 14 conference championships. She has been recognized with numerous honors, including Western State Conference Coach of the Year 10 times, the Santa Barbara Athletic Roundtable Louise Lowry Davis award and induction into the California Community College Tennis Hall of Fame and the Santa Barbara Athletic Roundtable Hall of Fame.

“Mishopshno” brings Chumash drama to life

“Mishopshno” brings Chumash drama to life

Carpinteria native Katy Meigs recently published a book focused on some of Carpinteria’s earliest native peoples. “Mishopshno: A Novel of the Early Chumash” centers on life in the prehistoric coastal Chumash Indian village that long preceded Carpinteria. Over the course of a year, members of the community hunt and fish, celebrate, mourn, gamble, woo, tell stories and undertake a perilous trading trip to the off-shore islands. While the village faces war, Aleqwel, a young paint maker, inherits new responsibilities and watches young love blossom between his sister and his best friend. Author Meigs studied English and history at Stanford University and U.C. Los Angeles. For several years she was the proprietor of Mishopshnow Books in Carpinteria and later worked as a writer and editor for the Santa Barbara Independent. Currently, she is a social science editor for academic presses and writes and lives in Ojai. Her new book will be in stock soon at Curious Cup and the Carpinteria Valley Historical Museum. Meanwhile, it is available at

Grapeseed Company recognized for impressive growth

Grapeseed Company recognized for impressive growth
Pictured second from back left, Kristin Fraser Cotte, founder of The Grapeseed Company, celebrates her award alongside other acclaimed female entrepreneurs.

The Grapeseed Company, which opened a retail store in Carpinteria this year, received the Fastest Growing Company of the Year Award at last month’s Women Entrepreneurs Rock the World conference, hosted by Savor the Success. Kristin Fraser Cotte started The Grapeseed Company in Santa Barbara as a hobby back in 2004, creating botanical beauty products from the byproduct of wine. In the past year, The Grapeseed Company has opened its second retail store, released 16 new products, participated in celebrity gifting at the Oscars GBK Gift Lounge, and will be launching over 30 products in local Whole Foods stores this June. Cotte praised the “humble but mighty team we’ve built over the past year to accomplish this type of growth.” The Rock the World conference gathers America’s top female entrepreneurs and executives to develop leadership skills, increase productivity and expand networking opportunities. “We are incredibly honored to be recognized on this level,” Cotte said on behalf of her company.

Construction site burglary suspects arrested in Carpinteria

Two men involved in suspicious activity at a Hope Ranch construction site early on the morning of June 9, were arrested by Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Deputies later that morning in a Casitas Pass Road parking lot. Robert Donohue, 44, of Santa Paula and Joseph Espinoza, 32, of Ventura were both arrested on a variety of charges including burglary, possession of burglary tools, conspiracy to commit burglary and possession of drugs.

Surveillance cameras trained on the construction site drew attention to the likely burglary, but by the time deputies arrived at the scene, the suspects had fled in a van. Dispatchers sent out a “be on the lookout” description of the suspects and the vehicle, and about 20 minutes later a deputy encountered the van in Carpinteria. Both suspects were booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on $50,000 bail. Detectives are investigating whether the two suspects are connected to more burglaries.

Chappell takes seat on county architectural review board

Chappell takes seat on county architectural review board

Dylan Chappell, principal of Carpinteria-based Dylan Chappell Architects, recently was appointed to the South County Board of Architectural Review. In his capacity as a board member representing District 1, Chappell is responsible for enhancing the exterior appearance of buildings, structures or signs and preventing harmful effects of such exteriors as well as conserving the value of buildings and encouraging the most appropriate use of land within the unincorporated portion of Santa Barbara County.

“I look forward to serving the community and making Santa Barbara County an even more desirable place to live,” said Dylan Chappell, who earned his degree in architecture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. “I’m new to the public sector, so my first order of business is listening and learning.”
The South County Board of Architectural Review normally meets on the first and third Fridays of each month in Santa Barbara at the County Engineering Building. For more information, visit 

City revenues up, along with expenses

By Erin Lennon

In its June 10 review of a proposed 2013-2014 city budget, the Carpinteria City Council learned that while finances have recovered from recession-era lows, the rosy revenues should soon be surpassed by climbing costs.

The council delayed adoption of the proposed budget until its June 24 meeting to allow absent councilmen Gregg Carty and Al Clark an opportunity for inquiry.

The current fiscal year posed its own pleasant surprise, rounding out to a balanced final budget despite a projected $280,000 operational deficit. In the upcoming year, the city expects a surplus of $6,235 above its nearly $15 million city budget, according to Administrative Services Director John Thornberry.

“City finances are improving; we’ve been seeing that for a number of months … improving with the economy in general,” said City Manager Dave Durflinger. “But fiscal challenges remain, and those fiscal challenges aren’t far off.” Those bumps include a 30 percent increase in benefit costs for health insurance and pensions and a growing Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department contract, scheduled to increase by $35,922 to $3,351,212.

The major influences on Carpinteria’s fiscal state are the speed and strength of its rebound from the recession, the increase in operating costs and the lack of growth in certain revenues that will leave some programs without full funding.

However, the city is seeing development activity, including potential new hotel projects. Durflinger reported interest from two different developers on two different properties, with a third developer looking into a parcel on Carpinteria’s westside.

“The message is, we’re seeing improvement,” said Durflinger. “We’re seeing activity on the development end that could result in improved revenues, but in the near term, we’re going to see some challenges.”

Property tax income is anticipated to rise to over $2 million in 2013-2014, sales taxes is scheduled to increase to $1.8 million, and Transient Occupancy Tax is estimated at $1.9 million. Described as a healthy variety of revenue streams, by Thornberry, city income is expected to increase by $779,000 in the next year.

Still, certain funds require subsidy from the General Fund, which is expected to collectively pay out $400,000 to Park Development, Park Maintenance, the Right-of-Way Assessment District and Recreation Services. The Gas Tax fund, which pays for local road and bridge work, is also projected to require General Fund subsidy after 2013-2014.

The city’s still-healthy reserve is projected to increase to $7.8 million during the 2013-2014 fiscal year. But subsidy funding combined with required reserve maintenance will decrease the city’s available funds by $270,000 by the end of 2014.

The city’s budget may break departments down to their dollar-and-cents value, but representatives from Community Development, Public Works and Parks and Recreation illustrated the importance of their departments in the community.

“It’s really about the people,” said Community Development Director Jackie Campbell. Her seasoned staff has been working together for years, with a majority of their costs going to employee salaries.

Licenses and permits bring in 27 percent of Community Development Department revenue and are currently projected at $98,765, with 245 permits issued between July and May. More sales are expected with new development in view. The department issued 270 permits in 2011-2012, as it continued to bounce back from its recession-related low of 193 permits in 2009-2010.

The value per permit is also on the rise and expected to continue its acceleration as the Lagunitas Office Building, offices and the Linden Avenue and Casitas Pass Interchanges project along with a variety of others populate the development review lineup.

The Public Works Department continues its goal of becoming better organized, according to Public Works Director Charles Ebeling. The department added three fulltime positions, paid for in part with grant funding. The positions should come in handy as Ebeling reported more capital projects than ever, highlighting a variety of projects that are grant funded and further supported with other monies, like Measure A and Measure D funds. This includes the Carpinteria Avenue Bridge project, of which the Federal Highway Administration will pay approximately 88 percent of project costs.

Capital projects are Public Works’ largest expense, comprising $4,542,882 of the department’s projected $6,552,827 budget. Approximately $240,000 of this budget comes from the General Fund, according to Ebeling.

“I’ve heard tonight, the other departments talk about the things they do to improve the quality of life in Carpinteria very admirably, and I certainly want to count Parks and Recreation as among those departments,” said Director Matt Roberts.

Parks and Recreation aims to improve environmental stewardship and opportunities for recreation through many activities and programs, including maintenance of 100 acres of parklands that include both sensitive areas and ball fields as well as developing parks and trails, and also providing activities for residents through programs and facilities.

Park development and park maintenance receive General Fund subsidies but the department has also uncovered numerous revenue streams including $146,000 from a Park Maintenance Tax, which is a small amount charged to all residential properties and covers a portion of maintenance needs, as well as $25,000 from the Bluffs Endowment Fund. Public pool activity also generates revenue. The age-group swim team provides $40,000, and $35,000 comes from Access Pass sales in addition to other sales.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 24 at 5:30 pm in the council chambers, 5775 Carpinteria Ave.

Parolee flees cops twice, still on the lam

Parolee flees cops twice, still on the lam

Joseph Vallejo, a 22-year-old Carpinteria man who is on parole for assault with a deadly weapon, fled from Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies twice last week and has managed to avoid arrest despite extensive search efforts. Initially, Vallejo ran from deputies when he was approached by an officer who noticed him leaving a local residence at around 10:15 p.m. on May 28. Residents reported seeing the fugitive the next morning at around 10:30 a.m. at a Carpinteria home, but law enforcement again was unable to apprehend the wanted man. In both cases, deputies set up a perimeter, and on May 29, officers brought in Santa Barbara Air Support Unit Copter 1 to help search for the suspect.

Vallejo was last seen wearing a black sweatshirt, jeans and a black hat. He was riding a yellow mountain bike and had a black backpack. He is about 5-foot, 7-inches tall, 125 pounds with black hair, brown eyes and a large tattoo on his neck. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office at 692-5743.

Fugitive wanted for child rape captured in Maryland

Fugitive wanted for child rape captured in Maryland
Santos Javier Guevara-Oliva

After a four-month investigation, a fugitive wanted for forcibly molesting and raping a child under the age of 14 in Carpinteria was taken into custody in Maryland by Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s detectives. Detectives, who had been tracking the fugitive ever since he fled from questioning in January, arrested 33-year-old Santos Javier Guevara-Oliva on May 28 and transported him back to Santa Barbara County where if convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison with no possibility of parole.

Sheriff’s investigators learned of the aggravated assault and forcible rape of a young victim in Carpinteria on Jan. 23. During the course of the investigation, they learned that Guevara-Oliva, who was living with his girlfriend and her daughter, had sexually assaulted the daughter while living at the home. When Guevara-Oliva heard he was going to be brought in for questioning regarding the abuse, he fled the area.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was brought into the investigation and determined that Guevara-Oliva is a citizen of El Salvador and was previously deported from the United States as an aggravated felon in December of 2010. In 2009, he was convicted of grand theft and false imprisonment in Santa Barbara and sentenced to two years in prison. Since then, he illegally re-entered the United States and took up residence in Carpinteria.

After Guevara-Oliva fled the Santa Barbara area, detectives tracked him to Hyattsville, Maryland where he was found hiding out at a family member’s home. Through a joint effort between ICE officers, Maryland State Police, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s detectives, Guevara-Oliva was arrested on Feb. 25 at his Hyattsville residence by federal immigration officers. Because Guevara-Oliva fought extradition, a warrant from the governor’s office was needed to bring him back to the Sheriff’s Department jurisdiction.

Venoco resurrects Paredon

By Lea Boyd

When Venoco Inc. representative Steve Greig delivered paperwork to the City of Carpinteria late last Monday afternoon, he launched another chapter in a local oil drilling saga that many considered concluded with the defeat of Measure J. Greig submitted a revised project description for Venoco’s Paredon Project, a plan to drill for oil and natural gas from the company’s 55-acre facility on the Carpinteria bluffs.

This time around, Venoco proposes 22 wells instead of 35 and a reduced drill time of three years instead of six. The 175-foot drilling rig remains central to the plan, but Venoco intends to omit the lighthouse camouflage in order to decrease the structure’s permanence. Should the plan win approval through the permitting process, these drilling facilities will be used for Venoco to access its onshore and offshore leases and produce 20.5 million barrels of oil, according to the company’s mid-range estimates.

Should Venoco secure its anticipated oil volume, royalties would amount to approximately $75 million for Carpinteria and $75 million for Santa Barbara County, again, according to Venoco’s estimates. The city has not begun processing the application submitted this week, but has raised concerns in the past about whether Venoco’s estimates for royalties are exaggerated.

The deal-sweetening elements of the plan presented when Paredon came before the voters as Measure J in 2010, namely the promise of $5 million dollars to Carpinteria Education Foundation and a 22-acre parcel of Venoco land donated to the city, are not written into the revised project description, but company spokesperson Lisa Rivas said those conditions could be put back on the table. “That’s definitely a conversation we will hope to have with the community, and one we expect to have with the community,” she said.

Venoco brought the original project to the city for review in 2007, but suspended the application to attempt an alternative approval route through the voter initiative process. Measure J was bitterly contentious, with many local residents arguing that the plan’s potential threats to the environment, local aesthetics and public safety outweighed the promises of financial profit. Those in favor of the project touted its relatively low risks and its potential for dramatically improving local public education and filling the city’s coffers. Ultimately, nearly 70 percent of local voters opposed the 2010 measure.

Since then, Venoco has analyzed alternative drilling sites to access its oil reserves from outside of Carpinteria city limits. “This research confirmed that the existing oil and natural gas production facility on Dump Road is the most efficient, safest and environmentally sound location for this project,” stated a press release from the company.

Despite majority opinion against Measure J, Rivas says that the company has an obligation as a state lease holder to develop the oil reserve, or at least to continue attempting its development. She said that Venoco looks forward to moving the project through the city permitting channels. “It’s not a campaign for votes, it is an opportunity for Venoco to talk about the project, educate the community,” she said.

Paredon, Rivas insisted, will not involve any hydrofracking, a process to procure natural gas that has become highly controversial.

The City of Carpinteria has 30 days to review the revised project description and determine whether Venoco’s application is complete. Once the application is complete, the city will begin the environmental review process, which could require publication of a new Environmental Impact Report to address the changes to the plan. Beyond the environmental review, Paredon permitting will require the approval of the planning commission and city council in addition to the California Coastal Commission.

Emergency permitting opens marsh

Emergency permitting opens marsh
Beach walkers watch as water flows out of the marsh on the morning of May 25. Initially a four-foot trench was dug in the sandbar, but the pressure of the water exiting the marsh widened the channel quickly.

By Lea Boyd

While most Carpinterians were fast asleep early last Saturday morning, tractors from Lapidus Construction were digging a four-foot wide trench in the sand at the mouth of the Carpinteria Salt Marsh to release oxygen-depleted water to the ocean and allow oxygen rich water to circulate into the dying marsh. Plugged by a sandbar for five weeks, the marsh had become a stagnant pool where blooming algae consumed most of the dissolved oxygen, leaving little to none behind to support marsh life.

“I think the marsh will rebound,” said Andrew Brooks, director of the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve, which is the portion of the wetland owned by the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The populations that likely suffered most are immobile species trapped underwater and those that lack adaptations for breathing oxygen. When researchers collect data in weeks to come, Brooks anticipates they will find that mussels, clams and worms died in significant numbers.

The May 25 influx of oxygenated water dramatically improved conditions in the marsh, Brooks said. The breach was made during an extreme low tide, which allowed trapped water to flow out. The high tide that followed delivered oxygen rich water to the marsh’s flagging ecosystem.

Dead fish could be found on the beach between Carpinteria Point and Ash Avenue on the morning after the channel was dug. Brooks said that some fish died from reduced oxygen in the marsh water, while others likely perished from the shock of coming in contact with the ocean water when the sandbar came down.

Some fish species use the marsh as a nursery ground, and in the days leading up to the sandbar breach, the shallow waters at the edge of the marsh closest to the ocean teemed with halibut and other fish that were struggling to survive in the stagnant water.

The putrid smell hung in the air as water thick with decomposing algae was flushed out to sea on the morning after the breach. Brooks said that water quality at local beaches should not have been compromised, however, because most of the marsh water flowed out before dawn—the breach was made at 4:45 a.m.—and the current should have swept most of the marsh water to depths beyond where most people recreate.

The marsh feeds a diverse community of birds, which Brooks said should not be greatly affected by the recent episode. Avian species initially benefited from a greater food supply with the die off of some fish and invertebrates, said Brooks. He anticipates that in the long term birds will simply compensate for the reduction in marsh food sources by expanding their hunting territory.

The biggest concern for the marsh, Brooks said, is not the short-term die offs but the increased frequency of sandbars that halt water flow between the ocean and marsh. Another long-lasting sandbar blocked water flow last year, but it eventually came down naturally with an extreme low tide. Brooks and other marsh property owners are working with regulatory agencies to instate a system that allows more rapid permitting to take down any future sandbars at the marsh mouth. Though Brooks commended the Regional Water Quality Control Board, Army Corps of Engineers and California Coastal Commission for their assistance in providing emergency permitting last week, he said that he hopes the process can be further accelerated if there is a next time.

Sand is typically deposited in spring and summer months, while storm action pulls sand away during winter months. Low rainfall reduces flow into the marsh, and therefore reduces pressure on sand that builds up at the mouth. Brooks attributes this spring’s sandbar to the shortage of rain last winter.

The trench in the sandbar was dug during the low tide in order to have the marsh exerting its maximum water pressure. After the initial breach, water flowing from the wetland pushed sand out to sea and widened the channel significantly. Brooks said that it should take quite a while for sand to build up again and threaten another closure of the marsh; nonetheless, given this year’s low rainfall, he added, “Could we see it happen again before winter storm activity? Sure, we could.”

“Doc” Carty continues to leave mark on local education

“Doc” Carty continues to leave mark on local education

The biggest names in local education joined forces with the biggest financial supporters of local education to pay homage to living legend Bill “Doc” Carty at a Carpinteria Education Foundation fundraiser that has raised over $30,000 for an education endowment fund. At the May 23 dinner held at Rincon Beach Club, Carty demonstrated his perennial humility, smiling modestly through speeches lauding his 26 years as superintendent of Carpinteria Unified School District and nearly 30 additional years as a fundraising powerhouse for local public education.

In her welcome address, Marybeth Carty, Bill’s daughter-in-law and member of the Santa Barbara County Board of Education and CEF’s Executive Board, described Bill as a man of honor whose core values include hard work and service to others. “The CEF endowment is a lot like Bill,” Marybeth told the capacity audience, “quietly and diligently working to provide educational benefits for Carp’s students, but not grabbing the spotlight.”

The microphone sang Doc’s praises as it was passed among Lou Panizzon, retired teacher, administrator and board member; Paul Pettine, parent and CEF Executive Board member; Paul Cordeiro, CUSD Superintendent; Dr. Peter MacDougall, S.B. County Board of Education and President Emeritus of Santa Barbara City College; and Sally Green, CEF President and retired principal.

Doc began his teaching career in the Los Angeles area before moving to Carpinteria in 1960 to become the CUSD superintendent. He was honored as the Carpinterian of the Year in 1989 and co-founded the Carpinteria Rotary Club, Carpinteria Beautiful and Carpinteria Education Foundation. He has been highly active in the Faith Lutheran Church and several community organizations.

Council elects to allow work vehicle parking

With much less discussion, the council also determined at the May 28 meeting that business or commercial vehicles parked in residential zones and tied to home occupations do not violate city regulations. Home occupations are businesses conducted in no more than one room of a residence, that don’t require any structural changes and are performed solely by those living in the home. In the past, these vehicles needed to be parked out of sight, but this parking issue has caused an inordinate amount of investigation on the part of Code Enforcement officers.

“This [policy] creates a discrepancy between vehicles associated with home occupation and vehicles not associated with home occupation even though those vehicles may be very similar in nature and may have the same impact on the street,” said Community Development Director Jackie Campbell.

For instance, someone who operates a roofing business from home and parks the business vehicle on his residential street is violating the city’s Home Occupation regulations, but someone who works for a roofing company and drives the company’s truck home every night can legally park the commercial truck out front.

The Community Development Department recommended that vehicles associated with a home occupation that are parked on a residential street and do not exceed weight limits should be considered incidental to residential use of a property. Staff will also address this issue in its update of the city’s Zoning Code.

The Neighborhood Preservation Committee likewise recommended the city allow one commercial vehicle to be in public view and that the board revisit the size and type of vehicles allowed in residential zones, prohibiting radio-dispatched vehicles that create noise, like tow trucks, along with other types of vehicles that include those that transport refuse.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 10 at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers, 5775 Carpinteria Ave.

Driveway gate triggers beach neighborhood debate

Driveway gate triggers beach neighborhood debate

By Erin Lennon

At its May 28 meeting, the Carpinteria City Council channeled the city’s Architectural Review Board when it approved revisions to the plans for remodeling the beach neighborhood’s Islands Apartments, excepting a highly contentious driveway gate.

Both the city council and the ARB have now required the project’s applicants to rethink the appearance or use of a five-foot-high, solid gate that blocks the driveway and the rear of the complex from the street. The council sent the project back to the ARB with direction to utilize a lower, airier gate—perhaps wrought iron with a height of no more than four feet.

Both Mayor Brad Stein, who lives approximately four doors down from the complex, and Vice Mayor Gregg Carty, who is one of the project’s contractors, recused themselves from the discussion and vote, resulting in the 3-0 decision to approve project revisions.

The council was first introduced to the remodeling plans for 261 Linden Ave. in December 2010 when concerned neighbors appealed the planning commission’s approval of a Development Plan and Coastal Development Permit due to privacy concerns posed by a balcony, potential impacts to their views, a rear wall along the property line and the design of the rear parking area. The main issue now is a 5-foot driveway gate and all of the noise, exhaust and exclusionary feel it may bring to the neighborhood and, more immediately, to neighbor Stephen Marcussen.

“Once again we’d be the victims of stationary cars idling adjacent to our front door, living room, child’s bedroom and master bedroom,” said Marcussen. “This is a beach community, and we should be able to enjoy the fresh air by having our doors and windows open. That’s what we bought into.”

Other project revisions include two 5-foot, 6-inch tall support columns bordering the gate, a masonry wall reaching 42 inches at the southeast corner, a 30-inch tall masonry wall along the 3rd Street property line, an extension of the rear wall out to 3rd Street, low metal gates at the entrance to the front patios, and an upgraded parking lot surface of textured concrete.

Even though the Islands Apartments remodel project is nearing completion, owners sought final approval of revisions at the May 28 meeting despite having already constructed some of the requested revisions. They will have another go at the public approval process when they alter their plans for the gate and return to the ARB.

In the case of front patio fire pits built without seeking prior approval, they require a setback modification to allow their current distance from the sidewalk, and a council denial of the modification would have meant removal of the constructed pits. The patio gates, the masonry wall at the southeast corner and extension of the rear property line wall—the wall that had caused concern in 2010—were also done without approval.

“The changes and modifications all look great, what’s actually been built on site. It’s a shame you didn’t follow protocol and get those approved in the meantime because those would have flown right through anyway,” said Councilmember Wade Nomura to the project team.

ARB member Bill Araluce is the project’s architect, and he argued that the purpose of the gate is to focus the pedestrian’s attention on the front landscaping and building design as opposed to viewing the backs of cars.

Marcussen says the gate will do more than shield the cars. It will make noise as occupants are required to open and close the gate to enter, leaving them to idle with running engines and leaking exhaust. However, Araluce reported that the gate will be hydraulic, meaning neighbors “won’t hear a peep.”

Project contractor George Manuras canvassed the surrounding neighborhood, reporting that nine of the 18 homes on the same street as Islands Apartments have gates. However, Carpinteria Associate Planner Nick Bobroff said the other gates tended to be more open, with the gate in question covering a much larger expanse along the street.

“Staff believes that a five-foot high solid wood and stone gate across that rear frontage is inconsistent with the applicable community design element policies from our general plan,” said Bobroff. “We have a handful of policies that encourage pedestrian-friendly frontages, creating a streetscape that is scaled to the pedestrian and is inviting and that creates the sense of the streets as living rooms of the neighborhood.”

Still, other Carpinterians came out in support of the project, gate and all.

“I just would like to urge you to approve it as is and not be nitpicking little things about it,” said Carpinterian Donnie Nair. “We’re really proud of it.”

4.6-magnitude earthquake felt in Carpinteria

Carpinteria residents felt a tremble on May 29 at 7:38 a.m. due to a 4.6 magnitude earthquake centered 3 miles west of Isla Vista in the Santa Barbara Channel. Many who felt the mild rattling estimated its duration at under 20 seconds. According to the United States Geological Survey, the epicenter was 23 miles west of Carpinteria and 5 miles deep.

Bristol hearing postponed

Carpinterian Louis Bristol, who faces rape allegations against two minors, had his scheduled preliminary hearing date of May 24 postponed. A hearing to set a new preliminary hearing date is schedule for June 28. Bristol, 28, was arrested on Feb. 27 and charged with nine counts including forcible rape, sexual penetration by a foreign object and sexual battery by restraint on the alleged victims, ages 14 and 16, whom he met through his position as a youth director at Carpinteria Community Church. He pled not guilty to the charges.

New charges of sending obscene materials to an additional adult victim have been entered by the district attorney’s office. Bristol also pled not guilty to the allegation that he sent a masturbation video to the alleged victim. Deputy District Attorney Paula Waldman said the amount of forensic evidence recovered from cell phones is “extremely voluminous” and necessitated the postponement. Bristol remains in custody on $500,000 bail. 

Gobernador/Shepard Mesa water fails quality tests

By Lea Boyd

Residents of the Gobernador Canyon and Shepard Mesa area are about to get some bad news from the Carpinteria Valley Water District. Tests of their water have exceeded the threshold for a chemical linked to cancer, and now the district must notify affected customers of the ongoing issue.

“There are really two things a water manager never wants to tell a board: number one that we don’t have enough water and number two that we’ve tripped up a drinking water standard,” said General Manager Charles Hamilton.

The compound found to exceed health standards, a trihalomethane, is the byproduct of the disinfection process for water delivered from Lake Cachuma to the South Coast water agencies, including CVWD, which is at the end of the pipeline. Chlorine is added to water for its ability to react with organic matter, such as leaves and other debris, that collect in the open lake water. The treatment improves water quality, but over time can lead to health-compromising byproducts.

What does this mean to the affected 171 CVWD customers and their families? “It does not mean you have to go out and get an alternative source of water,” said Department of Public Health representative Jeff Densmore. At the current level of contamination, the water is considered a chronic health risk, meaning that an adult who drinks 2 liters daily for 70 years would have about a 1-in-10,000 chance of developing cancer.

District staff called conditions leading to the higher than normal levels of trihalomethanes a “perfect storm.” Typically, the district mixes Cachuma water with high-quality groundwater, but during the testing period a mechanical failure had taken the district’s groundwater out of service. The lack of groundwater coincided with the implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s new, more rigid standards. Tests of water in the Gobernador and Shepard Mesa area continue to conform to the old EPA mandates of 100 parts per billion or less, but have exceeded the new limit of 80 parts per billion.

Boardmember June Van Wingerden noted the impact of the stricter regulations, “We could see that we were going to bump into this sooner or later so now we just have to figure out how to fix it.”

Various solutions were proposed, and the board’s water quality committee will consider how to proceed with input from district staff. With the district’s Headquarters Well back in service and its El Carro Well soon to be back online, water quality should take a turn for the better without major intervention. Also, a new ozone treatment facility that has been constructed at the Cachuma water-processing Cater Treatment Plant is scheduled to begin operation soon.

Hamilton recommended that the board consider a relatively inexpensive—he mentioned $100,000 but said it could be significantly more or less—aeration system at the Gobernador Reservoir to combat the formation of the disinfection byproducts. The groundwater mixing should resolve the problem affecting Gobernador and Shepard Mesa residents, he said, but “I want these people to know that we’re going to attack this aggressively.”

Hamilton also mentioned that an outreach campaign would be needed. Letters will be sent to affected customers, and additional educational outreach may be decided on.

Water board votes to sell state water

Countering the bad news with some good, CVWD boardmembers voted to approve a $50,400 sale of state water. The sale will transfer 400 acre-feet of the district’s allotment from the State Water Project to water districts in Santa Maria, Solvang and Montecito for $126 per acre-foot.

District General Manager Charles Hamilton noted that on the heels of two dry years, the district is acting prudently by retaining a portion of its allotted water. Having worked to sell some of its massive state water burden for years, Hamilton summarized, “We’re getting some significant value out of State Water this year.”

City moves to buy 27.5-acre Tee Time property

City moves to buy 27.5-acre Tee Time property

Land acquisition gambit might secure tax-defaulted property for $1.5 million

By Peter Dugré

The Carpinteria City Council learned at the 11th hour of a move it could make to acquire the 27.5-acre Tee Time property for a fraction of its value and unanimously decided to pursue the purchase by formally objecting to Santa Barbara County’s plan to sell off the tax-defaulted property at public auction. At a May 23 special meeting, the city council adopted a resolution to avert the auction, which was to be noticed on May 28, and to authorize the city manager to take steps to purchase the property for an estimated $1.5 million, the amount the owner owes in 10 years of back taxes. Many hurdles still must be cleared in order for the city to add what it considers to be another coastal jewel to its parks system crown.

“The thought that this property may be acquired and added to the city’s park system would be one of the most significant acquisitions since the (Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve),” commented Matt Roberts, City Parks and Recreation Director.

While the move could give the city priority to buythe property, the city’s right to the purchase must still be approved by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and the State Controllers Office. According to tax law, the city must demonstrate it plans to use the property for the benefit of the public.

Roberts said some of the property’s merits are its potential to further pad the 53-acre bluffs preserve and to extend the Coastal Vista Trail, a series of partially completed pedestrian pathways between Santa Claus Lane and Rincon Point. “This property is a missing link in that trail,” Roberts said.

Acquisition of the property, which spans from the ocean to Carpinteria Avenue over two parcels bordered by City Hall, the Carpinteria Oil and Gas Processing Plant and the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve, would allow the city to add a railroad undercrossing to the portion of the Coastal Vista Trail, Roberts said. He cited a study that estimated as many as 200,000 people cross on the tracks on the property annually.

“This is an opportunity to capture open space, which is becoming rarer and rarer in Santa Barbara County, let alone in Southern California,” Roberts said.

The city had little time to activate its option on the property. Procedure outlines that interested public entities must object to the sale before a notice of public auction is published, which S.B. County had intended to do on May 28. The auction date was set for June 25.

City Manager Dave Durflinger commented that while the purchase of the property could greatly benefit the public, the narrow window for action also posed risks from an inability to conduct thorough inspections and the potential that city could incur legal fees and ultimately see the deal fail. Without inspection, it’s unknown whether there is soil contamination at the site either from pesticide use or oil activity, he said. Also, there’s always potential for a legal challenge to the city’s acquisition.

According to the city attorney’s office, the acquisition could close in as few as 100 days, depending on response time from both the county and state. Following a sale agreement, the city would have to publish a notice of acquisition for 21 days, at which time the land owner could pay back taxes and re-acquire the property. Also, if the owner entered bankruptcy, a stay could be placed on the transfer of the property.

The city did not say whether current occupants would be permitted to stay. Roberts said that hearsay had led him to believe that as little as $1,600 is currently paid in rent between the two lessees, a golf driving range and flower farmer.

Representatives of Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs—the group formed to raise funds for the 1999 purchase of the bluffs preserve—were bullish about seizing the opportunity to add to the public open space. In public comments, each member urged the city to try its luck. Donna Jordan, a representative of Citizens for the Bluffs and former mayor, said the group had always wanted to add the parcel to its original acquisition, which was completed in cooperation with The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County and the City of Carpinteria. “If there were a chance to complete that (mission to join the properties)… it would complete a dream for a lot of people,” Jordan commented.

Following the unanimous vote, Carpinteria Mayor Brad Stein said, “We’ve got the clock against us right now. We don’t know what the outcome will be, but I think money spent now will pay off dividends in the future, far beyond what we can think of.”

Durflinger commented that Citizens for the Bluffs and The Land Trust of Santa Barbara County had expressed interest in helping to fund the purchase; however, time constraints could limit fundraising opportunities. If the city council approves a purchase, city reserves could also be used, Durflinger said. He believed S.B. County would only have an interest in collecting the back taxes, and the purchase price would only consist of the $1.5 million plus applicable fees.

The property is zoned for planned unit development and has had around a dozen developers look into its potential, but due to the constraints of the property—mainly it’s neighboring to a sensitive coastal preserve and an oil processing plant—development plans have not recently brought before the council.

Islands Apartments remodel to return to city council

The City of Carpinteria Architectural Review Board gave its blessing at the May 16 meeting to a modified version of plan revisions for the Islands Apartments remodel, but the city council will have to provide final approval on the altered design.

Located on the corner of Linden Avenue and 3rd Street, the five-unit project is nearing completion and owners are seeking approval for a handful of revisions including the installation of a 5-foot tall driveway gate and support columns, construction of a 42-inch tall masonry wall at the southeast corner, construction of a 30-inch tall masonry wall along the 3rd Street property line and the installation of low metal gates at the entrance to the front patios.

Additionally, the applicant must secure permission for the already-built gas fire pits on the apartment patios, which require setback modifications for their proximity to the property line. Should the city council decide not to approve the fire pits, the applicants could be forced to remove them.

The ARB granted its support of the proposed changes but recommended that the applicant modify plans for the driveway gate to reduce potential impact on the project’s 3rd Street neighbors, who submitted a letter discouraging the ARB from approving the gate as proposed. The same neighbors appealed the original project plans for its anticipated impact on their privacy, among other concerns.

Interchange project wins ARB support

Caltrans cleared the first major hurdle in the long city approval process when it received the architectural review board’s recommendation for approval of its Linden-Casitas Interchange Project on May 16. The ARB’s review was limited to mainly the project’s architectural and landscaping features, but at a public hearing tentatively scheduled for September, the Carpinteria Planning Commission will consider the project’s function and design more comprehensively.

ARB members scrutinized plans and unanimously supported the design changes made to architectural features of the Linden Avenue and Casitas Pass Road overpasses that Caltrans had incorporated into plans based on the board’s input from an April 11 meeting, according to Project Manager David Beard. The board also voted in favor of positioning a soundwall between Highway 101 and Via Real in the stretch from Linden Avenue to Casitas Pass Road, though boardmember Bill Araluce dissented, favoring instead a position along the north side of Via Real.

The project, which is scheduled to begin in 2015 and cost a total of $63 million, will dramatically change the way that traffic moves through Carpinteria. In addition to widening the Linden and Casitas Pass overpasses, the project will connect existing segments of Via Real, extending the frontage road from the east side of Carpinteria Creek to Linden Avenue. All aspects of the project will be considered by the planning commission and city council at upcoming public hearings.

Peoples’ Self-Help Housing to raze Camper Park, build apartments

After nearly three years on pause, Peoples’ Self-Help Housing’s efforts to eradicate the squalid conditions of the Carpinteria Camper Park and provide decent affordable housing in its place are finally moving forward. The City of Carpinteria Architectural Review Board gave what City Planner Steve Goggia described as its “glowing final approval” of Casa de las Flores at its May 16 meeting, and now Peoples’ will work to obtain the final funding needed to construct the 43 rental units ranging from one to three bedrooms.

Ken Trigueiro, Peoples’ director of real estate finance, said that the organization was forced to put the project on hold as the economy slowly began its recovery. Now Peoples’ anticipates that it can secure a potpourri of federal affordable housing funds that it can pair with a traditional bank loan and a tax credit equity investment program to build the $9 million project. The City of Carpinteria helped to make the project more affordable for Peoples’ by waiving nearly $500,000 in Development Impact Fees typically assessed on a project of its size.

Trigueiro said that project funding should be lined up in time to break ground this fall, and construction is expected to take approximately one year. Families that now live on the Camper Park property will be eligible to relocate to the newly constructed Dahlia Court expansion, another Peoples’ project, when it is completed this summer.

Board of Equalization to visit businesses

Representatives from the California Board of Equalization will be paying visits to local businesses that hold sellers permits in upcoming weeks in order to ensure that all relevant state permits or licenses are in place. Business owners have recently received letters from the BOE informing them of the impending visit from a representative from the Statewide Compliance and Outreach Program. According to the letter, businesses that are contacted by BOE will be asked to show their seller’s permit and any other tax and fee licenses that the business owner holds. BOE records will be updated, and the business owners will have an opportunity to ask questions. Specific dates for the BOE visit to Carpinteria are not available. More information about the program can be obtained by calling (408) 938-7776.

Sandbar puts marsh species in peril

Sandbar puts marsh species in peril

By Lea Boyd

Since mid-April, Carpinteria Salt Marsh has gone from a thriving ecosystem to a stagnant pool of water filled with decomposing algae and dying animals. A sandbar that formed at the mouth of the marsh on April 19 or 20 has halted water flow in and out and led to an oxygen-depleted habitat inhospitable to many marsh species. Officials anticipate that emergency permitting can be obtained this week to restore flow from the ocean that will allow marsh life to begin its recovery.

“We’re at the point where there’s almost no oxygen left in the water at the marsh,” said Andrew Brooks, director of the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve, the section of the wetland owned by the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Clams, mussels, worms and other invertebrates that are trapped in the oxygen-depleted water have been most dramatically affected. “They’re stuck in an area where effectively they’re suffocating,” Brooks said.

Some fish have died, he said, but many wetland species of fish benefit from an adaptation that allows them to gulp air to secure oxygen for survival.

The marsh serves as a nursery ground for several coastal fish species, which could be affected by the absence of oxygen. Brooks said that the local halibut population, in particular, may suffer from the current conditions at the marsh, and starry flounder and mullet numbers may drop somewhat as well.

Sandbars occur naturally at the mouth of the marsh, Brooks noted, but they rarely persist as long as this one. Brooks points to two years of low rainfall as the main culprit in creating the stagnant marsh. Regular water flow would put greater pressure on the sandbar, forcing it open and inhibiting its formation in the first place.

Manmade changes to the coastline have also played a role in sandbar formation, Brooks said. The construction of several sea walls and the Santa Barbara Harbor has altered the way that sand moves down the coast and increased buildup at the mouth of the marsh.

Once the sandbar is in place, marsh habitat is more quickly impacted due to increased nutrient inputs from upstream triggering algal blooms. Fertilizers from residences and agricultural operations are swept downstream and into the marsh, feeding algal growth, particularly when a sandbar halts water circulation. Algae pull oxygen out of the water, and when algae die, the bacteria involved in decomposition further deplete oxygen.

“When you look at it you just know that there’s going to be some sort of negative impact from all this algae,” said Mario Nargi, whose home in Silver Sands neighbors the marsh. Nargi noticed weeks ago that the amount of algae had increased and that the water was starting to stagnate. Fewer birds are visiting the marsh, he said, and he is concerned about mosquito populations skyrocketing and the smell of rotting algae permeating the air.

Operating with the support of nearby homeowners and the City of Carpinteria and the Land Trust for Santa Barbara, both of which own significant portions of the marshland, Brooks has been working to obtain emergency permitting from the Regional Water Control Board and the Army Corps of Engineers to dig a channel in the sandbar to open it to the ocean. Once the 5- to 6-foot wide channel is cut with a backhoe, the water from the marsh should push out much of the accumulated sand.

Typically permitting for such an intervention would require months, Brooks said, but the time sensitivity of the marsh’s current low oxygen state has sped up the process. Brooks said that the marsh’s lack of endangered fish species, such as steelhead trout and tidewater gobis, make it likely that permitting will be granted.

Last year, Brooks said, a similar sandbar situation arose, but a very low tide provided the added pressure needed to force the marsh water through the sandbar to the ocean without any human help. Contingent on permitting, Brooks hopes to have the channel dug during one of the extreme low tides taking place this Thursday through Saturday nights.

The marsh should rebound without any long-term damage, Brooks said, but “what is becoming alarming is the frequency of occurrence.” Sandbars were extremely rare when Brooks began working locally in 1993, and two persistent sandbars in two years could be cause for future concern.

While Brooks is working to get the permits to clear up the current situation, he and the other owners are also working to put a system in place whereby future events can be dealt with before significant damage is done to the local marsh.

Motel 6 stabbing suspect still at large

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department detectives are still searching for a man wanted on charges of attempted murder for a stabbing that took place at the Via Real Motel 6 on the night of May 16. The suspect and the victim, who were both employed by a company that was conducting business in the Santa Barbara area at the time of the incident, had been involved in a altercation months prior, reported Lt. Kelly Moore, chief of police services in Carpinteria. The May 16 stabbing occurred outside the 44-year-old victim’s room, and the suspect, who goes by the first name Rob, fled following the incident. The victim’s roommate ran into the lobby to alert the hotel clerk to call 9-1-1 for help.

The victim was taken to the hospital with a single, non-life-threatening stab wound where he gave deputies a description of the suspect and a first name. According to the a Sheriff’s Department press release, the victim said the suspect was a half black, half Indian male adult, approximately 30 to 40 years of age, 5-feet 9-inches tall with a stocky build, curly hair and was wearing a white T-shirt. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Chris Corbett with the Criminal Investigations Unit at 684-5405 x424.

Organista raising funds for triathlon world championships

Organista raising funds for triathlon world championships

Carpinterian Matt Organista likes to mix up his exercise regimen. He runs, swims and cycles, and does all three at such a high level that he has been invited to the Triathlon Age Group World Championships in London, England this September. In order to get there, the 23-year-old triathlete will be raising funds to cover an estimated $4,000 in expenses. His first fundraiser, a spaghetti dinner, is scheduled for Saturday, June 1, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Carpinteria Woman’s Club, 1059 Vallecito Road. The cost for dinner is $10 per adult and $5 per child under 12. Organista, who ran track at Westmont College, called the world championship the climax of his year. He hopes his performance on the international stage can help propel him to professional status. Anyone who wishes to offer support can email Organista at

Warriors turn in season-best performances in prelims

Warriors turn in season-best performances in prelims
Warrior 4x400 runners, from left , Kyle Millhollin and Ian Craddock, will hand off the baton another day after qualifying for the CIF championships at the CIF prelims hosted by Carpinteria High School on May 11.

Cate School’s Joshua Yaro was the top local performer at the CIF preliminary Track and Field championships held at Carpinteria Valley Memorial Stadium on May 11. The senior star who will be playing soccer at Georgetown University next fall qualified for the CIF Division 4 championship meet in the 100m, 200m, long jump and triple jump.

Carpinteria High School’s Bryson Frazer ran his personal best of 50.15 in the 200 to place third and qualify to run again at the championship on Saturday, May 18 at Mt. SAC. Frazer will also run with the boys 4x100 relay team of Jonathan Esqueda, Kyle Millhollin, Matt Kliewer and Frazer and the 4x400 team of Millhollin, Ian Craddock, Kliewer and Fazer, both of which qualified by turning in their best times of 2013. The 4x100 team finished seventh in 44.54, and the 4x400 team finished fifth in 3:29.97.

Also qualifying for the Warriors were Xavier De Alba in the discus. He threw a personal best 134-11 to grab sixth place. Kliewer qualified in the pole vault by clearing a personal best 11-06. Freshman Jimmy Graves will be an alternate in the pole vault with his 11-06 jump that matched his own personal mark and his CHS freshman record.

Warrior girls missed the cut but set three personal records in four events. Nicole Pepper ran a 17.68 in the 100 hurdles; Gaby Fantone ran a 51.19 in the 300 hurdles, and Gabi Montes De Oca reached 32-04 ½ in the triple jump.

For Cate, freshman Joel Serugo qualified in the triple jump (43-03.25) and will be an alternate in the long jump (20-08.75). Yaro ran the 100 in 10.96 and the 200 in 22.10 and leapt 22-11 in the long jump and 44-08 in the triple jump.

Warrior baseball enters playoffs off big win over Malibu

Warrior baseball enters playoffs off big win over Malibu
Bill Swing photo: Warrior senior Derrick Shirley-Moore slides in safely at third base in a big Frontier League victory over Malibu High School at John Calderwood field on May 9.

Carpinteria High School baseball secured second place in Frontier League by defeating first-place Malibu High School, 3-1, at home on May 9, the final day of the season. Malibu lost just two league games this season, both to the Warriors.

“(Malibu) is a really good team that is playing with a lot of good energy. The win today will only boost the confidence of our club as we head into the playoffs,” Warrior coach Pat Cooney commented.

The Warriors (12-10, 10-5) scored their three in the first inning. Duncan Gordon delivered a two RBI single, scoring Anthony Rodriguez, who had reached on a lead-off single, and Marcus Hutchinson, who had walked. Derrick Shirley-Moore crossed for the third run on a ground ball by David Olvera. Gordon, Rodriguez and Max Damron each had two hits.

Malibu (23-4, 13-2) also did its limited damage in the first inning when it jumped out to a 1-0 lead. Then Hutchinson, pitching for the Warriors, allowed no runners beyond second base for the remainder of the contest. In what Cooney called Hutchinson’s “best pitching performance of the year,” the senior right-hander yielded just five hits and zero walks while striking out five batters.
“Marcus really kept the hitters off balance. At the same time, his pace and efficiency kept our defenders ready,” Cooney stated.  
It was senior day at John Calderwood field for the Warriors who graduate seniors Rodriguez, Damron, Olvera, Hutchinson, Joe Caudillo and Shirley-Moore. “All of our players stepped up, and it was great to see the seniors have success in key roles. Some of them hung around a little bit at the end soaking in the closure of the regular season. No matter what happens in the post season, this team can be really proud,” Cooney stated.

The Warriors host a CIF Division 6 playoff game on Friday, May 17, at 3:30 p.m. against the winner of the wild card game between Vasquez and Rosamond high schools. Vasquez (15-8) is the second-place team from Desert Mountain League, and Rosamond (12-8) is an at-large entry from High Desert League.

Local workout buffs win fit physique competition

Local workout buffs win fit physique competition
Strutting her hard-earned stuff, local personal trainer Hannah Goodfield took second place in the Fitness Bikini category of the Global Physique Golden State Championship Fitness Competition in Santa Barbara on April 20.

By Peter Dugré

Disciplined training culminated in a successful competition for three women and a man who train at Carpinteria Athletics. Hannah Goodfield, Christina Norris, Suzanne DeFriez and Gokhan Filiz all walked away with medals and trophies from the Global Physique 2013 Golden State Championship Fitness Competition held at Marjorie Luke Theater in Santa Barbara on April 20.

Goodfield, a personal trainer at Carpinteria Athletics, won second place in the Fitness Bikini competition and third in Fitness Modeling in her height category. She said that getting back into shape following the birth of her son last year motivated her to put in the work to hone her physique. “Being a trainer, it was good to display how it can actually happen,” she said.

DeFriez was trained by Goodfield and won third place in the Bikini Fitness category of the masters division. Norris finished in fifth place, also in Bikini Fitness. And Filiz, who is now a trainer at Carpinteria Fitness, was fourth in the men’s Physique competition.

The women worked together on their moves, according to Goodfield, who said the competition comes down to walking and posing with their hard-earned physiques. To prepare, they bulked up for few months before tightening up their diets and increasing cardio to tone into sculpted show form.

Two dry years, what’s next?

Two dry years, what’s next?
The three main sources of water supplied to Carpinteria Valley Water District are groundwater, Lake Cachuma water and the State Water Project.

Contributed by the Carpinteria Valley Water District

For Carpinterians who enjoy a good rain shower, this past winter has been quite a disappointment. As of May 1, seasonal rain totals for the Carpinteria Valley measured 7.9 inches or 42 percent of the annual average—the third lowest rainfall total since 1948. And rainfall throughout Santa Barbara County is less than 50 percent of “normal.” It’s a picture of concern for water availability, especially if the rainfall patterns since mid-2010 continue through the next year.

Local rainfall averages around 19.5 inches annually and is very important to Carpinterians. As it runs off from the Santa Ynez Mountains and foothills above the valley, it also percolates into the upper layers of soils within the Carpinteria Groundwater Basin. This creates a major source of supply, up to 1,250 acre feet a year for Carpinteria Valley Water District, and even more for growers with wells. An acre foot of water, which is enough to cover a football field with one foot of water, meets the annual needs of several residences in the valley.

Rainfall is also essential for Carpinteria’s surface water supplies from Lake Cachuma, which are dependent upon run-off in Santa Ynez River watershed. Annually the district delivers about 3,200 acre feet of water from the lake to its customers. When rainfall is above average, Lake Cachuma will fill and send water over the spill gates of Bradbury Dam, down into the lower Santa Ynez River. Rainfall in the Santa Ynez River watershed this past winter, however, was insufficient to offset demand. Lake Cachuma storage declined by approximately 18,000 acre feet between October and May.

Precipitation, mainly in the form of snow falling on the Sierra Mountains in Northern California, is also important as the district’s third source of water, obtained through the State Water Project. When the Sierra snowpack is poor, like this year, the state limits the amount of water that State Water contractors can receive. This calendar year, the district can only receive up to 35 percent of its potential 2,000 acre feet allotment, or 700 acre feet of water. The district expects to use most if not all of this 700 acre feet this year. The state’s reduction in deliveries associated with the project is intended to prolong available supplies in case the current dry year over time becomes part of an actual drought.

So what does this mean for water users in Carpinteria Valley? Despite two below-average rainfall years, at this time the district does not foresee any need to begin a program to significantly reduce consumer demand for water.

Carpinterians have already learned to do an excellent job of using water wisely, contributing to our ability to weather two dry years. And the district does not anticipate water shortages in the coming year. As water supply conditions continue to evolve, however, the district will continue to inform Carpinterians of any changes, for better or worse. In the meantime, please continue to use water wisely.

Window-smashing car vandal arrested downtown

Window-smashing car vandal arrested downtown
CVN PHOTO Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department officers order a suspected car vandal to the ground in the 4800 block of Carpinteria Avenue.

Multiple pedestrians were witness to a man bashing in the windows of two cars parked on the corner of Carpinteria and Ash avenues just before 10 a.m. on the morning of May 10. The suspect fled toward Linden Avenue after shattering multiple windows but was apprehended and arrested by Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department deputies a block away from the crime scene. When police located the man, he still possessed the 4-foot metal post witnesses said he had used to break car windows.

Two men who arrived on the scene and claimed to know the suspect said that he had vandalized a third car at a Foothill Road nursery before arriving on Carpinteria Avenue. One of the men said that the suspect’s home had been robbed two months prior and during a physical confrontation with the burglar, the suspect had been hit over the head with a baseball bat and sustained a severe injury. He had been prone to erratic behavior ever since, according to his acquaintances.

Handcuffed and sitting on the curb, the suspect responded calmly to deputies’ questioning for several minutes, but put up a fight when the officers attempted to place him in the back of the police car for transport to jail. Four officers were needed to contain the man in the back of the vehicle.

Carpinteria bids farewell to long-time volunteer Herman Zittel

Carpinteria bids farewell to  long-time volunteer Herman Zittel

By Lea Boyd

Herman Zittel tried his best to move away quietly before Coastal View News could write a story about all the great things he has done for the Carpinteria community. But when you have given your time and energy the way Zittel has for the last 30 years, people are bound to sing your praises whether or not you feel like joining in the song.

“The guy is just amazing,” said David Griggs, curator and director of the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History, where Zittel volunteered for decades. Zittel’s wealth of historical and practical knowledge has continued to surprise Griggs over the 26 years they have worked together. During that time Zittel regularly lent his services for the good of the museum. “We’re going to miss his sage advice on the board and his muscle at the flea markets,” Griggs said.

After his wife, Betty, passed away last December, Herman decided it was time to move to Susanville, where a three-bedroom tract house cost less than a Carpinteria mobile home and his daughter is less than two miles down the road. It was a typical Herman decision—rational and reasonable—but it leaves Carpinteria absent one well-respected, well-learned community servant, a man who worked tirelessly in support of his passion for books and history.

Asked about the tens of thousands of hours he has logged as a volunteer for the Carpinteria Valley Historical Society and Friends of the Carpinteria Library, Herman, whose modesty can be relied upon, shrugged his shoulders and said, “You just do it because it makes you feel good.”

For most of their years in Carpinteria, Herman and Betty’s volunteering was a two-for-one deal, and Herman is quick to include Betty in his accounts of time spent giving back to the community. “We did it all together,” he said.

Without Betty, Herman’s chances of getting to know Carpinteria as more than a dot on a map were slim. Betty had lived in Carpinteria before marrying Herman and moving to Northern California. They both worked for the U.S. Forest Service at the time, and when Herman decided to take an early retirement in 1982, Betty convinced him to move to her beloved Carpinteria. He remembers her saying, “I’m going to go to Carp. It’s my paradise.” Soon it became his, too.

The pair became involved in local goings on soon after the move. They started volunteering at the Friends of the Library Used Bookstore and later became its managers. Herman served on the Friends board of directors for years, finally retiring a few years ago when Betty’s health began to decline. Susan Williams, former Friends of the Carpinteria Library Used Bookstore manager and long-time volunteer under Herman’s leadership rattled off his finer points: “Amazing source of book knowledge and all other trivia. Able to lift giant boxes of books with a single hand. One great guy. Carp’s loss.”

Leading up to his June 4 departure, Herman has continued to devote significant time to the historical society. He has served on the board of trustees since 1999 and held the vice president position for the last several years. He became the museum’s photo curator in 1996, and in the ensuing 17 years has meticulously catalogued hundreds and hundreds of photos from Carpinteria’s early days. Over the last few weeks, Herman has trained his replacement curator, Paul Foley, in order to leave the museum in good shape for his move.

One of the pastimes Herman looks forward to continuing, and growing, with the move north is his participation in groups dedicated to preserving immigrant trail history. A skilled cartographer, Herman has drawn several important maps to depict the routes of the 49ers and the Western settlers on the Oregon Trail. His relocation to Susanville, a town he lived in prior to his move to Carpinteria, puts him back in the heart of the immigrant trail territory.

Herman’s avid photography and book binding hobbies will also go north with him, and he claims to be bringing enough books to have reading material until he turns 185.

Though generally positive when discussing his move, Herman admitted, “It’s going to be a little hard to pull anchor here.” He said that the great weather is one of his favorite aspects of Carpinteria, but the people are what endear the town to him most.

After the move, Herman said, he plans to drop by Carpinteria periodically on trips south to see family members. With his dry sense of humor, he added, “And I’ll be back eventually, helping the flowers grow,” in reference to joining Betty in their double plot at the Carpinteria Cemetery.

City awarded $263,623 in transportation funds

Councilmembers voted unanimously to accept $264,000 in Measure A funds from Santa Barbara County to cover costs of bicycle and pedestrian safety projects. The competitive grant will be used for constructing a trail from the east end of the city to Rincon and for placing sidewalks near the intersection of Via Real and Cravens Lane and near the intersection of Santa Ynez and Reynolds avenues, where a guardrail will also be installed. The funding is in addition to $551,000 awarded last year for similar projects, which must either improve general bicycle or pedestrian safety or provide additional safety for routes to school. Other projects being funded are 9th Street Footbridge rehabilitation, the creation of a Carpinteria Bicycle Master Plan and intersection improvements at Carpinteria and Santa Ynez avenues and Calle Ocho and Concha Loma Drive.

Friends of Carpinteria Library renews lease on Seaside Building

The city agreed to allow current tenant, Friends of Carpinteria Library, to renew its lease of $1,050 per month on the Seaside Building, which neighbors Carpinteria Library and has been owned by the city since 2009. City Manager Dave Durflinger said the four years of FOL used book store occupation of the site has proven a below-market rate for 1,087-square-foot downtown space is beneficial to the public, because proceeds are pumped into the library’s anemic coffers. FOL President Foster Markoff commented that the partnership with the city has been “wildly successful,” and funds for the library are now being raised at a $65,000 per year clip, all through sales of donated books. The two-year lease contains a one-year option with flexibility for a rent adjustment based on the Consumer Price Index.

Council awards $1.1 million Carpinteria Ave. bridge contract

In a unanimous vote, the city council awarded a $1.1 million contract to Drake Haglan and Associates for preliminary engineering of the bridge replacement project where Carpinteria Avenue passes over Carpinteria Creek. Funding for the design and environmental reporting on replacing the 76-year-old bridge will be mostly covered through the Federal Highway Bridge Program with the difference paid with city Developmental Impact Fees and Capital Improvement funds, which are assessed to developers.

City Public Works Director Charlie Ebeling cited Caltrans bridge evaluations when he initiated replacement efforts in 2012. Caltrans scored the bridge a 51.7 of 100, and while it can safely handle loads in the present, the structure has significant deterioration, including structural undermining and concrete cracking, which led to a label of “structurally deficient” to be slapped on the bridge after the biannual Caltrans inspection.

Overall, the replacement price tag is $8.65 million for the 210-foot bridge, which is not scheduled for construction until between 2016 and 2017. In the meantime, Drake Haglan and Associates will design a project that will survive a 100-year storm, while maintaining utility line passage, improving sidewalks and meshing with the nearby Arbol Verde intersection.

Councilman Wade Nomura questioned whether the construction timing coinciding with the massive Linden-Casitas Interchange and Highway 101 projects could cause further traffic headaches. Ebeling acknowledged “sensitivity to the amount of construction” in the city at the time, but said grant funding must be spent or it will disappear. Also, road closures are not expected during the bridge project for more than a period of one or two days.

VanStry named Publisher of the Year

VanStry named Publisher of the Year

Coastal View News Publisher Michael VanStry received a pleasant surprise at the Association of Free Community Newspapers conference in Denver, Colo., between April 25 and 27. VanStry, who was the chairperson and de facto emcee for the conference, stepped back from the podium to listen to the Publisher of the Year presentation only to learn that he had been selected by secret committee as the AFCP Publisher of the Year.

VanStry, who co-publishes CVN, DEEP and Carpinteria Magazine with Gary Dobbins, was recognized for both management of the three free publications he actively oversees and his involvement in the national association. Upon receiving the award, VanStry thanked Dobbins and his crew of employees. He first attended an AFCP conference in 2004, he told the audience, and was amazed that there were so many others out there with community publications similar to what he, Dobbins and Rosemarie Fanucchi started in Carpinteria in 1994. VanStry credits membership to AFCP with helping to improve and grow all three RMG Ventures publications.

Local publications win 11 awards

Also at the AFCP conference, which offers professional development for advertising executives, editors and publishers, Coastal View News won two awards for its seasonal center spreads, which mix advertising with attractive and seasonally appropriate editorial content. Last winter’s “Shopping with CVN Santas” won second place for best advertising promotion, and last summer’s “The ABC’s of Summer” won third place in the same category.

DEEP Surf Magazine stood out for its use of exciting and vibrant surf photography. The publication won first place for best original photography, best original artwork and best cover. It also won third place awards for best original color photography, best original black and white photography and most improved publication. It earned honorable mention for best original color photography. In introducing the awards ceremony, a presenter sang an improvised song including the lyric “DEEP Magazine is cooler than you are.”

Carpinteria Magazine won first place for best full-page color advertising for its California Avocado Festival ad and second place in the same category for its Porch ad.

Bristol preliminary hearing scheduled

Bristol preliminary hearing scheduled
Louis Joseph Bristol

Carpinteria resident Louis Bristol, who has been accused of raping two minors, will appear in court on May 24 to determine whether his case will proceed to trial. The preliminary hearing will take place at 1:30 p.m. before Judge Clifford Anderson. Bristol, 28, was arrested on Feb. 27 and charged with nine counts including forcible rape, sexual penetration by a foreign object and sexual battery by restraint on the alleged victims, ages 14 and 16, whom he met through his position as a youth pastor at Carpinteria Community Church. Bristol is being held on $500,000 bail. Following the May 24 hearing, Judge Anderson will decide whether evidence presented in the case warrants a trial. 

Street trees require special treatment

The well-loved shamel ash trees on Camino Trillado and La Manida have grown problems to match their massive size. As the roots continue to crack and buckle their surrounding sidewalks, the city is now tasked with developing a plan to balance street aesthetics with pedestrian safety. The conversation is nothing new, but Public Works Director Charlie Ebeling said that the City of Carpinteria is finally approaching a set of options to present to homeowners and the Tree Advisory Board to determine the fate of the trees and sidewalks.

At a special public workshop held by the City of Carpinteria on April 18, residents of the affected streets provided their input into how best to move forward. Various ideas were discussed, including narrowing the street to accommodate the trees, moving a portion of the city sidewalk onto private property to avoid root damage, removing the culprit trees and maintaining the status quo.

Ebeling explained that the city is stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the decision. In defense of the stately trees, many of the neighbors have argued that their removal would inextricably change the character of the street. Meanwhile, the damaged sidewalks expose the city to liability and do not pass muster with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Most of the potential solutions are costly, Ebeling said. To fund a major overhaul of the streets and sidewalks could require the formation of a special assessment district.

With a plan in place and progress made toward a goal, even if the goal is decades away, the city can avoid some of the legal risk associated with the uneven sidewalks. Ebeling said that the solution may be a combination of tree removal and replacement and infrastructure alteration. Since the trees under scrutiny are elderly and may need to be replaced in the next 20 to 30 years, the long-range plan could include a slow removal of the ashes.

At this point, the city is still working to gather ideas and bundle them into realistic options. The neighbors, and the community at large, will continue to be involved in the conversation.

––Lea Boyd

Planning commission greenlights Franklin Trail

By Lea Boyd

Applause thundered through city hall on the evening of May 6 when the Carpinteria Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit and coastal development permit to construct the first 0.66-mile section of Franklin Trail.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing, and I support you 100 percent,” Commissioner John Moyer said to the audience members representing Friends of Franklin Trail and the Land Trust of Santa Barbara County, the two organizations that have worked for the last two and a half years to raise funds for the project and move it through design and permitting.

Ground is expected to break this month on the first phase of the project, and by August, the lower 1.5-mile stretch of trail should be open to the public for hiking, biking and horseback riding. The trail property is closed to the public until construction is complete.

As approved by the commission 3-0 (David Allen and Jane Benefield absent), the Franklin Trail will begin at both Meadow View Lane and Franklin Creek Park, each of which connect to the bike path that runs along Franklin Creek to Foothill Road near the Carpinteria Boys & Girls Club. Signs to discourage parking near Carpinteria High School and the Boys & Girls Club are included in the project description.

From the bike path, the trail will cross Foothill Road and turn west along the edge of CHS where an existing pathway crosses the school’s native plant garden. Plans for this section include a kiosk that provides trail information on one side and a trail mural on the other.

The trail will take users along the west and north sides of the campus, requiring the construction of low retaining walls in some stretches. Along the campus, the interior side of the trail will be lined with a 6-foot chain link fence to separate the school from trail users. A small pedestrian bridge will be constructed over a drainage culvert where the trail leaves the high school property and enters Santa Barbara County.

The 0.66-mile portion of the trail within the City of Carpinteria should cost about $95,000, while completion of the full first phase, which will span two privately owned properties and take users through fenced agricultural production areas before climbing into chaparral habitat along a ridgeline, is expected to cost $365,000.

Friends of Franklin Trail co-chair Jane Murray announced to the commission that the organization has raised more than $670,000 for the project. Funding that exceeds the first phase requirements will be used in years to come to construct the upper reaches of the full seven-mile trail designed to end in Los Padres National Forest at East Camino Cielo Trail.

Trail advocates in the meeting audience included Carpinterians of all ages, and Carpinteria High School teacher Kevin O’Hara presented a petition compiled by his son, Ben O’Hara, who could not attend the meeting, with 171 signatures of CHS students and staff who support the proposed trail.

Access to the historic trail was cut off in the mid-1970s as land use changed in its lower regions to accommodate more residences and expanded agriculture. The trail, which is believed to have been built in the early 1900s by the Franklin family, long served as Carpinteria’s connection to the front and backcountry. Murray said that with this summer’s reopening of the trail, “once again everyone will have access to the mountains in our own backyard.”

The three commissioners thanked the groups present for their dedication to what has proven to be a longer, more complicated process than anticipated for opening the historic trail. Ted Rhodes, who has assisted in fundraising for the project, commented on the little city’s big community projects. “We always dream big and then we’re willing to roll up our sleeves and make those dreams a reality,” he said.

Approved: DAKO’s request for a Development Plan Revision and Coastal Development Permit to add 1,600 square feet to its 20,077 facility at 6392 Via Real. The addition includes a 600-foot second level that will be contained within the existing footprint and shell of the building and a 1,000-square-foot second story added to the east end of the building where a terrace now exists. Dako will also add seven parking spaces and improve landscaping.

Approved: Determination that the city’s purchase of an approximate 1.5-acre strip of land along the south side of the railroad tracks, stretching from Linden to Holly Avenue, would be consistent with the city’s General and Coastal plans. By doing so, the commission gives its blessing for the city council to negotiate with Union Pacific to buy the property, which is designated for open space or recreation.
What the property would be used for has not been decided, but ideas include a pedestrian path from one end to the other and a railroad undercrossing at Holly Avenue.

Approved: Determination that Carpinteria Children’s Project at Main is in compliance with its conditional use permit, which was initially issued in 2008. Described by Planning Director Jackie Campbell as a “good fit” in the neighborhood, the collaborative of educational and family services has not received any complaints from neighbors in the last year. The commission opted to shift the compliance report review period from one to three years given the positive relationship between the collaborative and its neighbors.

Sew rewarding

Sew rewarding
Zoe Iverson, the driving force behind a local effort to create dresses for girls in developing countries, enjoys the hours she puts in behind her sewing machine.

Local dress making benefits girls around the world

By Erin Lennon

Carpinterian Zoe Iverson is an important cog in a local assembly line of friends and neighbors that she has gathered to clothe girls in need. The network has created nearly 200 dresses over the past year, touching the lives of girls in Africa, Mexico and Haiti.

The nonprofit Little Dresses for Africa inspired Iverson with its simple dress pattern and mission: create pillowcase sundresses, and ultimately cultivate self-confidence, for girls in Africa.

“It’s my belief that we have so much here, and I’m especially connected to little girls,” said Iverson who was a longtime early education teacher. “I think if you can give hope to these children who have nothing, it’s very important that you do.”

The pillowcase dress is an invention of the pioneer days and is made out of supplies available throughout the house. The simple sundresses are also ideal for the African climate. However, as an artist, Iverson has put her own spin on the dresses and their delivery, with an added pocket and outreach to girls in Mexico and Haiti as well as those in Africa.

“We try to make every dress really special,” said Iverson. “The pattern doesn’t call for it, but we put a lace pocket on every dress.”

Iverson’s journey began nearly a year ago after speaking to a friend from Ventura’s Trinity Lutheran Church, which was planning a visit to the Masibumbane HIV/AIDS Mission that it sponsors. With her interest piqued, Iverson learned that the traveling parishioners were willing to take a collection of the dresses with them. She contacted the mission’s director, Robert Kluge, who replied with the names and ages of 100 girls from the organization.

Iverson issued a call for help in an email sent to 40 friends and acquaintances. Within two months she received 100 pillowcases as well as use of the space and sewing machines in the Carpinteria Community Church sewing room, a facility managed by Louise Moore.

Two Saturday sewing parties brought together nearly 25 women and produced more than 20 dresses as those with sewing experience operated the machines and those without prepared the pillowcases.

Word of the effort spread through the community as Iverson continued sewing the dresses at home. Her neighbor even joined the effort as well as five of the women from the Ventura church. The bi-county group met its goal, with 80 dresses coming from Carpinteria and 20 from Ventura.

These 100 dresses were just the beginning. Unexpectedly, Penny Velazquez requested 30 dresses to distribute to girls in Tanzania while teaching locals traditional bead stringing as a way to create jobs through the tourism industry. Another 25 dresses followed when Lynda McGraw of Huntington Beach prepared to visit Haiti for the third time.

“We will be sending dresses with her each time she goes. There is a need for more,” Iverson said. Another 35 dresses are already sewn for McGraw’s next trip.

What began as pillowcase dresses has now spiraled off into five groups that are delivering necessities to the people who need them, according to Iverson.

She and others are now saving hotel soaps, school supplies, shoes, hand towels and other items as well as the customary pillowcases for different projects. But Iverson is still committed to her simple, light wear.

“It’s been really fun, and it has made me fall in love with sewing again,” Iverson said.

People who are interested in donating their sewing skills or dressmaking supplies such as pillowcases, wide bias tape and trim can contact Iverson at 684-5339.

Facebook comment launches Canalino threat investigation

By Lea Boyd

What started last Wednesday with name calling among fourth-graders on the Canalino School playground escalated by Friday morning to a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department investigation into a perceived violent threat from a parent that was blasted out on Facebook.

Parent Ray Martinez’s post read, “I’m working here in town right down the street tomorrow. I’m charging (my daughter’s) phone all night and I told her if ANYTHING or ANYONE says or does ANYTHING not right to her cause last time this (expletive) happened they called her a taddle tale the next day, I told her to call me and I’m driving down to that (expletive) school and I’m not going to be very happy!!! And the way I’m feeling right now I’m gonna be working on ZERO sleep!!! I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but I’m mentally preparing myself for jail.” 

The ensuing investigation, which was prompted by parents who saw the comment and voiced concern for sending their children to school the next day, led Chief of Police Services Kelly Moore to conclude that the perceived threat was not credible. Though every potential threat is taken seriously, he said, the entire situation was blown out of proportion. “The response was driven by emotions,” Moore said, referring to the reaction of all parties—both Martinez and his wife Janelle, as well as the others involved.

The Martinezes are frustrated by what Janelle described as the school’s inadequate response to a serious bullying situation in which her daughter was the victim. In last week’s incident on the playground, Janelle said that her daughter was called a name—one that is inappropriate for print—by another girl with whom she has had ongoing conflicts. The incident, Janelle said, is one of several in which her daughter has been the target of put downs, alienation and shoving and pushing by other girls. Principal Jeff Madrigal followed up with the allegations by sitting down with all of the girls involved. According to Janelle, the girls admitted to the name calling, but the punishment was insufficient, merely a forced hug and apology.

“Parents should have been called. Something more should have been done … What’s the message he’s sending?” Janelle asked of the principal’s actions. “That it’s OK to be bullied?”

Madrigal, meanwhile, is prohibited by law from discussing details of specific student interactions, yet he insists that he followed district protocol exactly when dealing with the issue. Over the last few years, the school has implemented new character-building programs and worked hard to discourage bullying behavior on the campus.

District Superintendent Paul Cordeiro said that while he doesn’t condone bullying, none of what transpired between the girls would justify the statement Ray made on Facebook.

Janelle admitted that her husband’s post “probably wasn’t the best choice of words,” but insisted that Ray never had any intention of harming anyone. The Facebook comment led to Ray being banned from the Canalino School campus. Janelle is allowed only for drop off and pick up.

The Martinezes’ fourth-grade daughter, however, has not attended class since last week. Janelle said that she doesn’t want to send her back to a school where she’s picked on, but she has not decided how to move forward.

Prior to a long-scheduled parent visioning meeting on the evening of Monday, April 29, Madrigal acknowledged that the bullying/threats issue could shift the event’s focus. The meeting, however, went on as planned, with attention directed at parents’ wishes for the longterm future of Canalino School. Representing the staff of the school, teacher Jamie Persoon read a letter she had written that indirectly addressed the events of the past week. She commented on the risks of relying on a single story when situations typically have multiple perspectives. She said, “…I am assured as a parent and a teacher that this school, and this district, are committed to the safety of its students. Threats against children, in any form, cannot and will not be tolerated. Please take the time to educate yourself on all the stories before judgments are made. We must model these behaviors for our kids so that they become peaceful, respectful, and productive members of our community.”

Carpinteria by the numbers

Mark Schniepp, director of the California Economic Forecast, presented detailed data on Carpinteria’s economic recovery. Schniepp’s numbers echoed what the city has found, that more people are spending more money locally—from buying houses to renting hotel rooms.

• Of Carpinteria’s 13,076 residents, 8,700 are employed. The unemployment rate is low, at 3.6 percent compared to Santa Barbara County’s 7.2 percent.

• The largest employers in Carpinteria are Nusil (391 employees), Carpinteria Unified School District (350), DAKO Corporation (343) and (303)

• Carpinteria’s 2012 median household income was $65,319, compared to California’s $58,373.

• Carpinteria’s median home price is $842,000, compared to California’s $379,000.

• Locally the inventory of distressed homes is at its lowest since 2007.

• Carpinteria is providing visitor lodging at the highest rate since 2008, and the 2012 rate of room sales grew 5.4 percent over 2011 sales.

• Retail sales in Carpinteria have more than doubled since 2002. They took a small dip in 2009 and 2010, but now far surpass pre-recession sales.

• Agriculture employment dropped substantially in Carpinteria from 2007 to 2012, from over 1,600 jobs to under 1,300 jobs.

• Industrial and office vacancy rates, which rose steeply in 2009, have steadily declined in Carpinteria since their peak in the winter of 2011.

Carpinteria sails out of economic doldrums

By Lea Boyd

The data has spoken. Rising home prices, rebounded sales tax and hotel occupancy that exceeds pre-recession days all say that Carpinteria’s economic future is looking rosier than it has in years. At the April 23 “2013 State of the Community,” an annual event put on by the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce, attendees learned from local leaders all about why they should be optimistic for their community.

The uptick in all things economic means that the City of Carpinteria is drafting a budget that will not be forced to rely on reserves. “We haven’t been able to project a balanced budget in about four years, so that’s great news,” City Manager Dave Durflinger said.

Durflinger noted that Carpinteria properties remain underutilized in terms of housing, and more in-fill projects will likely be permitted in the next several years, raising property values and, therefore, property tax income to the city.

Two resort-zoned properties on Bluffs 3, located at the east end of Carpinteria Avenue, have interested developers working to get projects in the permitting pipeline. “They’re looking at it seriously, and we haven’t had a bite on that in years,” said Durflinger.

A recent decision by the Carpinteria City Council to hire in-house engineers should save the city in the long run, Durflinger said. The public works department will hire two engineers, whose salaries will cost the city less than the expensive consultant services used currently.

Over the course of the last few years of projected deficits, the city has tightened its belt substantially by making changes to the contract with the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department and by reducing its employee pension contributions and insurance costs. “These pay off moving forward. These are big dollars,” Durflinger said.

While most of the city’s news is positive, Durflinger and Mayor Brad Stein voiced concern for the state of local roadways. A substantial portion of Carpinteria’s 30 miles of paved roads are in need of attention, but the street maintenance assessment districts put in place years ago lack any flexibility for growth. Much needed road maintenance must be subsidized by the city’s general fund, and replacement of all the pavement in disrepair would cost millions.

Stolen car suspects flee

Several Carpinterians received reverse 9-1-1 calls around 1 a.m. on April 30 informing them that police were in pursuit of a potentially dangerous man and woman in the area around Carpinteria, Sawyer and Holly avenues and Elm Lane. The pair, which is suspected of stealing a car in Santa Paula, abandoned the stolen vehicle at the southbound Linden Avenue offramp and fled from deputies on foot. As of CVN deadline, the two remained at large, but Chief of Police Kelly Moore said that residents should not be concerned for their safety.

The incident began at around 12:30 a.m. when a local Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department deputy noticed a vehicle with suspicious looking license plates parked in front of the 7-Eleven on Via Real. The vehicle drew suspicion because it had paper plates, similar to those found on a new car, as well as a cracked window. As the deputy entered the shop to check in with the clerk to ensure that everything was OK, he crossed paths with the man heading to the parked car. As the suspicious vehicle pulled away, the deputy attempted to conduct a vehicle stop by activating his emergency lights.

The driver refused to pull over, instead entering the freeway southbound at Reynolds Avenue and exiting at Linden Avenue. With the deputy in pursuit, the suspects stopped the vehicle, jumped out and fled on foot into the nearby residential area. With help from the California Highway Patrol, deputies contained a perimeter of the area. A Sheriff’s Office K9 unit was brought in to help, and a Reverse 911 was made to residents living in the search area advising them to stay inside and to request they report any suspicious activity.

The suspects were not located but are believed to be from Ventura County due to evidence found in the investigation. Detectives are actively working the case. Anyone with information is asked to call the Carpinteria substation at 684-5405 x424.

Carpinterian recalls mixed emotions at Boston Marathon

Carpinterian recalls mixed emotions at Boston Marathon
Sheltered at Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel following the marathon, Carpinterian Charlie Gardner made due with others who waited, like Shalane Flanagan, who finished fourth in the women’s race as the top American runner.

By Peter Dugré

Charlie Gardner will forever remember what he calls his “bitter-sweet” Boston Marathon experience. When he finished the race in 2:54:37, the culmination of months of determined training matched his expectations for the ambitious accomplishment. The roar of the crowd made him feel like “Rocky beating the 10 count,” he said. But about an hour and 15 minutes after he had crossed the finish line, the joy was zapped from the day by terrorists who detonated two bombs that killed three and seriously injured racers and spectators at the acclaimed event.

At the time of the blasts, Gardner, along with his coach Jacqueline Hansen—former Boston Marathon winner and women’s world record holder—was a block away from the explosions, headed to the finish line. Had circumstances been different, they would have used their credentialed access to take their front row bleacher seats, very near to the bombs, to greet another Hansen-trained athlete, who luckily for them was coming in slowly.

“We were about five minutes away from sitting in the bleachers. I had taken a long shower; thank God for that,” Gardner said.

Gardner heard the blasts and thought it was part of construction on that Monday morning. “I thought, ‘Did something fall off a building?’” he said. Then police and medics and the bomb squad rushed into the bomb zone while others fled. “It was chaotic, but the response time was amazing.”

With the area on lockdown, Gardner took shelter at the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel, a restricted venue to which his coach, who was celebrating the 40th anniversary of her marathon victory, had access. All of the elite runners, the winners, were at the hotel. For a time the non-guests, like Gardner who was registered at a different hotel, were sent into a basement conference room to wait.

The shock of the tragedy began to settle in. Nobody knew what was going on. “I didn’t know if that was the hotel I wanted to be in. You’ve got bombs going off, and all of the elite athletes are there, so this was the perfect target,” he said.

Eventually, the experience, which Gardner called “eerie,” brought people together. Everyone was locked in until about 8 p.m. Strangers shared the horror in common. Some of the people Gardner came to know were marathon medical support staff from Seattle and Florida. They had anticipated treating dehydration and instead treated amputations. Thoughts of his daughters reverberated in Gardner’s mind over the emotional wait.

The feeling of togetherness in the wake of tragedy prevailed through the next day, after which Gardner left for New York for another scheduled part of his trip, which was planned as a 40th birthday celebration. On Friday, April 19, he had intended to return to Boston as a tourist to watch a Boston Bruins hockey game. The city was again on lockdown due to the manhunt that resulted in the death of one bombing suspect and capture of a second, so Gardner instead went to the airport in New York and flew back to Los Angeles, cutting his trip short.

Gardner, a former Carpinteria High School and University California, Santa Barbara, track captain and shot put and hammer throw competitor, was driven in his training for one of the world’s most celebrated races. Coming from an athletic background on the opposite side of the sports spectrum from endurance running, he showed versatility in finishing 1,208 out of around 27,000 runners after being ranked 2,245 going in. He’ll remember giving his all in the race, overcoming leg cramps; “I basically ran the last few miles on one leg,” he said, and the promise of tradition and elevated purpose delivered by the venerable marathon. But the horror that followed has attached itself to the to the entire trip, race, months of training and Gardner’s 40th birthday.

“Aside from the tragedy, there were a lot of great things,” he said. “And afterward, everyone came together. I’ll always be part of the Boston Marathon.”

Smoking under fire by city

By Erin Lennon

To keep tobacco products out of minors’ hands and second-hand smoke out of local lungs, the Carpinteria City Council not only lengthened its temporary moratorium on new tobacco retailers but continued its discussion of new smoking regulations on April 22.

Tobacco retailers interested in a Carpinteria storefront must wait an additional 10 months and 15 days. With minimal discussion, the four present city council members absent, Mayor Brad Stein, unanimously voted to extend the block from May 9, 2013 to March 24, 2014. The moratorium was originally adopted on March 25.

“We are allowed to extend the ordinance prior to the expiration based on the finding that there remains a current and immediate threat to public health, safety or welfare,” said Senior Carpinteria Planner Steve Goggia.

Prior to the moratorium, the city had received an application for a “smoke shop” in the retail space at the 901 Linden Ave. The extended moratorium allows the city time to form more stringent rules on the operation and location of tobacco retailers, especially with regard to minors. Staff argues that new tobacco retailers could intensify the current threat from tobacco use and could conflict with or defeat the purpose of the new, stricter regulations.

This stricter stance was apparent as the council forwarded amendments to the city’s zoning and smoking regulations for final adoption at the May 13 meeting.

The amendments are a clear effort to divide local youth from tobacco products, a need exemplified by the increase in the percentage of Carpinteria’s tobacco retailers cited for selling to minors between 2011 and 2012, a jump from 18 to 26 percent.

Amendments would include participation in the Tobacco Retail License program, which is implemented and enforced by the County Public Health Department and would require local retailers to obtain and annually maintain a $379 license for the sale of cigarettes, tobacco products and smoking paraphernalia. Penalties ensue if any of Carpinteria’s 19 tobacco retailers are caught selling to minors.

Currently, individual clerks are cited and fined for these sales. The Tobacco Retailer License would compound the punishment by allowing the county to revoke or suspend the operator’s tobacco license as well. The first violation within any five-year period carries a 30-day suspension with the second carrying a 90-day suspension and the third imposing 12 months. Suspension periods can be reduced for first and second violations through fines of $1,000 or $5,000 respectively.

The added licensing fee and possible suspensions didn’t sit well with Don Risdon, owner of Risdon’s 76 Service & Carwash. “I would in no way condone or encourage this type of sale at my establishment, but there are laws in effect already that prohibit that and that have fees attached to them,” said Risdon. His shop was cited for selling to a minor in 2012. “I’m very aware of it,” he said. “I’m making a real effort to make sure all of my cashiers are working diligently not to sell to a minor.”

The new licensing fee would make the program sustainable and allow for more ongoing monitoring of the local situation, according to city staff.

“I’ve been here for about 13 years, and I don’t think there’s been a year where we’ve had zero,” said City Manager Dave Durflinger. “There’s always been two, three, four, five violations. The number we want to get to is zero, and that number requires a different approach.”

Under considered zoning amendments, no significant tobacco retailer—a business whose tobacco product and paraphernalia account for 67 percent or more of its sales—can open in Carpinteria. These store types had the highest rate of illegal sales to youth in 2012, 20.5 percent. Other tobacco retailers are prohibited from opening within 1,000 feet of any elementary, middle or high school. The eight current retailers operating within that boundary can stay, but three strikes in any five-year period and the city council can permanently revoke their tobacco licenses at a public hearing.

The city’s proposed locations of three possible public Designated Smoking Areas, AKA smokers outposts, received some friction at the April 22 meeting. All sites were proposed in public parking lots within the Downtown T, with one at the corner of 9th Street and Elm Avenue, one on 5th Street and the third off of Cactus Lane.

These locations were highlighted for their convenient proximity to the downtown and the ability to sequester the outposts in their own 20-foot-by-20-foot bubble.

This bubble was not enough buffer for some residents. “Was the intent to protect the health and safety of the residents and visitors or to accommodate smokers?” asked Lisa Guravitz. “Because I see that these amendments are really just a way to accommodate smokers, and it really defeats the purpose of the ordinance.” Guravitz is wife to Councilman Fred Shaw.

The council will review the amendments and the proposed DSA on May 13, but Goggia was clear that Carpinteria would not be completely smoke-free.

“We’re not going to prohibit people from smoking in Carpinteria,” said Goggia. “If you’re walking and you see a DSA, you can steer around it and be 20 feet away. There has to be a balance there.”

The next regular Carpinteria City Council meeting will be held on Monday, May 13, at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers, 5775 Carpinteria Ave.

Pooch pounces on agility championships

Pooch pounces on agility championships
Submitted photo Leo leaps over an obstacle en route to earning his Master Agility Championship.

Less than three years ago, Leo the dog was serving his second sentence in the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter with K-9 Pals. In 32 months, with the love and training of new owner Dorothy Diehl, Leo went from being a two-time shelter inmate to a two-time agility champion.

When Diehl found Leo at the shelter, she noticed a special spark in the young terrier mix. It was one of those classic pound puppy moments, she explained; he caught her eye just before she left the shelter empty-handed. Over the next several weeks, Diehl recognized Leo’s innate attention to detail, his ability to learn and his eagerness to please. She enrolled him first in basic obedience training, then started preparing him for agility competitions.

On March 30, 2013, Leo and Diehl attended the American Kennel Club agility trial in Ventura, where Leo earned his Master Agility Championship, the highest title in AKC. Last July Leo had earned his Agility Dog Champion, the top title in United States Dog Agility Association. 

“Inside of every shelter dog is a champion waiting to be born,” said Diehl. “I think the previous owners were not prepared to put the necessary training into Leo to actualize his potential.”

In the agility competitions, Leo must follow Diehl’s commands precisely. He pays strict attention to every signal from his master in order to complete a course that involves jumps, climbs, twists and turns. His success in competition qualified him for last year’s national agility competition in Colorado, though Diehl opted not to attend.

Leo recently passed his public access test to become a service dog, and Diehl’s newest challenge is preparing Leo to become a hearing dog.

“Really the most noteworthy aspect of the story, to me, is that dogs in shelters have so much to offer,” Diehl iterated. “I wish people would consider them when looking for a pet.”

––Lea Boyd

Russell Cup draws over 40 schools to CHS

Russell Cup draws over 40 schools to CHS
Warrior junior Bryson Frazer won the day for Warrior athletes at Russell Cup by medaling in the 200m, 4x100m and 4x400m.

Warriors set 29 personal records
By Peter Dugré

The 94th Annual Russell Cup Track and Field Invitational, a massive all-day competition at Carpinteria Valley Memorial Stadium known as one of the longest-running and largest meets of its kind, saw Warriors rise to the occasion to set 29 personal records. In the varsity meet, Oaks Christian won both the boys and girls competitions. In all, competitors set 10 Russell Cup records on April 13.

Junior speedster Bryson Frazer scored points by finishing in the top six in each of his events to lead the Warrior boys. Frazer placed third in the 200m in 22.44 seconds, the third best time in CHS history and his personal best. He also placed sixth in the 100m (11.39) and was part of the fourth-place 4x100 relay team and the third-place 4x400 relay team. Jonathan Esqueda, Kyle Millhollin, Matt Kliewer and Frazer ran the 4x100, and Kliewer, Ian Craddock, Millhollin and Frazer ran the 4x400.

The Warriors finished ninth of 43 teams in the boys competition with 25 points. “Although we didn’t win an individual event, many CHS athletes were able to step onto the award stand,” coach Van Latham commented. Finishers in the top four medal.

Other top finishers for the Warriors were junior Peter Ramos, who finished fourth in discus with a 142-feet, 10-inch throw, a personal record by 14 feet. Millhollin also took to the awards podium by posting a fourth-place 400m performance (52.22 seconds).

Varsity Warrior girls were unable to medal in any events, but several set personal records. Brook Hymer ran a 52.67 in the 300m hurdles to set a personal record, and Nicole Pepper ran the same event in 54.13 seconds for her own best time. Kristina Burch set her personal record of 31 feet, 10 inches in the triple jump and another personal best 87 feet in the discus. Sierra Gracia set her personal record of 8 feet, 3 inches in the pole vault.

Cate’s top performer was Joshua Yaro in the long jump with a second-place leap of 21 feet, 1 inch.

Latham commented that the outpouring of volunteers is what makes the enormous undertaking of the Russell Cup possible. This year, longtime meet volunteer Ann Nomura was named Honorary Meet Director. “We received numerous compliments from the visiting coaches saying the Russell Cup is their favorite meet of the year. This is due to the scores of volunteers who make the meet run smoothly and efficiently. They make Carpinteria shine, regardless of the weather,” Latham said.

Cate and CHS split duel in the pool

Cate and CHS split duel in the pool
Bill Swing Photo Warriors and Rams swimmers push off in the backstroke, one of many tightly contested events in the head-to-head meet, which the teams split at Cate on April 10.

Cate School girls and Carpinteria High School boys emerged victorious from the head-to-head swim meet at Cate School on April 10. Cate’s girls collected a resounding 107-55 victory, and CHS boys edged Cate 78-73.

Several Rams swimmers put in CIF consideration performances and set school records. Anna Lueck, Sophia Soriano, Maddie Schragger and Lydia Stevens swam a 2:07 in the 200 Medley Relay. Zach Allen, Guhan Iyer, Sam Kim and Sam Pelham set a Cate School record of 1:51.7 in the 200 Medley Relay. Zach Allen set two Cate School records of 23.24 in the 50 free and 51.87 in the 100 free. Caroline Montgomery swam 2:09 in the 200 free for CIF consideration; Maddie Schrager swam a personal best 2:28 in the 200 IM for CIF consideration.

For the victorious Warrior boys, first-place finishers were Thomas Fly in the 200 freestyle (1:57.58), Noah Reed in the 200m individual medley (2:30.98), Casey Walter in the 500 freestyle (5:29.91) and the 200 freestyle relay team of Reed, Omar Aguilar, Sergio Castaneda and Josh Alpert (1:55.6) and the 400 freestyle relay team of Alan Chavez, Walter, Chris Fedderson and Fly (3:42.96).
Warrior girls first-place finishers at the meet were Hope Grant in the 50 and 500 freestyle (27.38, 5:49.30), and the 200 freestyle relay team of Allison Wagner, Brenda Rodriguez, Leticia Cruz and Hope Grant.


Locals play roles in movie production

Locals play roles in movie production

“The Bet,” a big screen comedy produced by Community Film Studio Santa Barbara, will premier this weekend thanks, in part, to the hard work of Carpinterians. Finola Hughes of “General Hospital” fame directed the film, and Amy Orozco, a local writer, played a small acting role as a waitress in the movie.

Filmed in Santa Barbara last August, the romantic comedy pits a teenager against his grandfather in a wager over who will find love first. If the teen succeeds, he wins his deceased father’s vintage muscle car, and if the grandfather wins, the teen has to rebuild the family porch and re-do the landscaping.

Orozco, who is the editor of Carpinteria Magazine, was one of 300 volunteers to lend a hand in the Community Film Studio’s inaugural effort. She praised the concept of a nonprofit, all-volunteer film company based on the structures and principles of a traditional community theater. “I’d love to have more ‘good little films’ to watch,” she said. “I think the studio’s idea is one whose time has come, or is long overdue.”

Having never acted outside of Carpinteria’s Plaza Playhouse Theater, Orozco said, “I was really nervous on the set, but it was all in a good way. My scene is very short and by the time it finished I was getting comfortable and wanted to do a lot more filming.”

“The Bet” gave Hughes, who has acted in movies and television for decades, her first opportunity to direct. According to Orozco, Hughes was easy to work with, full of helpful acting tips and a real “roll up your sleeves kind of person.” The day Orozco filmed, the makeup person had not arrived, so Hughes did Orozco’s makeup before stepping back to direct the scene.

Carpinterians will have an opportunity to see the work of Hughes and Orozco when the film premiers on Friday, April 19 and Saturday, April 20, at 7 p.m. at the Arlington Theater, 1317 State Street. General admission is $12.50, and advance tickets can be purchased at or directly at the Arlington box office. There will be a question and answer session with key cast and crew immediately following both nights of screenings.

Carpinterian arrested with guns, robbery tools and drugs

Carpinterian arrested with guns, robbery tools and drugs

The middle-of-the-night arrest of Fernando Huerta Perez, 27, in Carpinteria likely preempted a future crime, according the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department. Perez, a Carpinteria resident, was discovered sitting inside his vehicle under the influence of drugs and in possession of weapons and other criminal tools while parked in the 1100 block of Casitas Pass Road on April 8 at 1:15 a.m. Deputy Amjadi noted the man’s presence and made contact with him due to the time of night and his proximity to businesses that are open 24 hours a day and could be targeted in a robbery.

Perez was found to be under the influence of a stimulant and arrested. A loaded revolver was found in his waistband, and a further search revealed methamphetamine, methamphetamine pipes, a Derringer pistol and a loaded SKS assault rifle with a high capacity magazine, masks and two-way radios. Due to the fact Perez had been arrested on weapon and drug-related charges in January, his bail was set at $95,000. He posted bail and was released from jail last week.

Council to discuss tobacco retail ordinance, budget update

At its next meeting, the Carpinteria City Council will discuss extending its moratorium on new tobacco retailers while hearing the first reading of a new ordinance regulating tobacco retailers. Also on the agenda are presentations on the quarterly finance budget update, quarterly investment report and the Community Partner Award. Anyone interested in speaking on the topics of discussion or any matter relating to the city is encouraged to attend the meeting. Agenda items are subject to change before a final agenda is posted at on Friday, April 19.

CORRECTIONS - 04/18/13

Last week’s headline, “Palms stabbing under investigation” was incorrect. The stabbing, which is still under investigation, did not occur at The Palms. See related story on page 7.

In the “Hindsight” section of the April 11 issue of Coastal View News, the 1970 Carpinteria High School baseball team was misidentified.

ARB lauds updated Caltrans plans

ARB lauds updated Caltrans plans
A wider Linden Avenue overpass will include a second northbound lane and a stoplight at the freeway offramp. Architectural details may be altered as the design moves forward.

By Erin Lennon

The Carpinteria Architectural Review Board praised Caltrans’ updated plans for the Linden Avenue and Casitas Pass Road Interchanges and Via Real Improvements project at an ARB meeting on April 11. The large-scale, $63 million project, which is slated to begin in early 2015, will continue to undergo modifications as it makes its way through the city planning process.

“Caltrans was very responsive to our concerns,” said ARB Vice-Chair Scott Ellinwood who was also a member of the project’s Design Review Team. “… aesthetically, I think they’ve followed our recommendations well.”

The interchange improvement project has been on the minds of Carpinterians since the 1970s, with community opposition limiting the project’s progress in the 1990s. However, traffic between Santa Barbara County and Ventura County continues to increase, which has prompted the widening of Highway 101. Improvements to Carpinteria interchanges and local traffic flow have been incorporated into the widening project to help the city meet the demands of the greater number of cars on the road. In addition to widening the Linden Avenue and Casitas Pass Road overpasses, the project will replace Highway 101 bridges that cross Carpinteria Creek and extend Via Real into a continuous frontage road across the creek to Casitas Pass Road and Linden Avenue.

Caltrans is working to balance the project’s structural needs with Carpinteria recommendations to personalize the local stretch of the highway 101 widening project. The Carpinteria City Council created the Design Review Team in 2011 to meet this goal.

“Both the Caltrans design team and the DRT evaluated a number of characteristics that are in the community currently to try to draw from and find some area where the design would be compatible with the characteristic flavor of Carpinteria,” said Jonathan Leech, contract planner for the city, who included the team’s 39 recommendations in his staff report.

The ARB is charged with providing design input to ensure the Carpinteria stretch of the project embodies the local spirit. Members of the board lauded Caltrans’ efforts to lower the overpasses, add architectural features, increase landscaping throughout the project and modify the bridge railings and pedestrian fencing to better reflect local style.

Caltrans will return to the ARB on May 16 to address board inquiries regarding aesthetic items such as landscaping, sound wall placement and pure decoration. The Planning Commission’s review is currently scheduled for Sept. 3.

Board member Richard Johnson introduced discussion of character designs on the bridge faces and other ways to decorate the large masses. “It gives it some detail as opposed to when Caltrans came in here and painted their brush across the highway and went home,” said Johnson. “Somebody cares a little bit.” Ellinwood commented that the DRT had investigated this point but found few options that weren’t “overly fussy.”

The ARB also went to work addressing the design of the columns on the Casitas Pass Road and Linden Avenue overpasses. The flush, T-shaped center column abutment does not visually correlate with the chamfered end columns that extend past the bridge base, according to board members.

The board also considered the maintenance of community connectedness in terms of the project. Board member William Arulace questioned the placement of the 12-foot sound wall along Via Real, saying it visually divided the city’s north and south sides.

“It’s going to create a tunnel effect, and it’s just going to make a no mans land along Via Real,” said Arulace. He suggested placing the necessary sound wall on the property line side of the street.

Within strict parameters marked by severe setbacks from the highway, width restrictions and local input, Caltrans Landscape Engineer David Emerson must fill the landscaping jigsaw puzzle. He sought input on plant choices from the ARB. Caltrans will use landscaping to dress the project in native species that provide visual value with minimal maintenance, said Emerson. “The idea is that the plant won’t overgrow the container that it’s in so maintenance doesn’t have to go out and trim it,” said Emerson. “But I would like something that can get as robust as possible.”

Current plans leave the avocado orchards to the north of Via Real intact and protect Carpinteria Creek by framing the overhead bridges with boulders that will filter storm water runoff.

The next ARB meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 16 at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 5775 Carpinteria Ave.

Harry and Michele VW to chair auction

Harry and Michele VW to chair auction
Submitted photo Harry and Michele Van Wingerden, pictured during a recent trip to the Netherlands, are this year’s honorary chairs for the Carpinteria Boys & Girls Club Annual Benefit Dinner & Auction.

When Carpinteria Boys & Girls Club has needed community contributions over the decades, Harry and Michele Van Wingerden have been among the first to step up. For their unwavering support, the Van Wingerdens will be the 2013 honorary chairs for the 29th Annual Benefit Auction & Dinner on May 18.

“Harry and Michele were chosen for their dedication to the children in the Carpinteria community. They have been active supporters of the Carpinteria Boys & Girls Club through attending the auction, donating and educating our youth through yearly pumpkin patch tours,” stated Louise Cruz, auction chair.

Harry, who called the selection a great honor, is a past board member of the club, and the couple’s children and now grandchildren have attended the club where Harry coached sports teams. “I applaud the club for its afterschool program. Where do boys and girls go if there’s no club? It’s an important, stable environment where kids can go and thrive,” Harry, owner of Myriad Flowers, said. “The auction helps to keep the club going and provides important scholarships. Money spent at the auction pays off two-fold, three-fold, in so many ways.”

This year’s auction, the first held with Jamie Collins as Unit Director, is shaping up to be an entertaining event. With a cowboy theme, the “Saddling up for a Bright Future!” auction will take place at the clubhouse, 4849 Foothill Road, beginning at 4:30 p.m., and guests can participate in games, raffles and silent and live auctions all while elbowing up to the bar and having dinner.

Live auction items include trips to Oregon, Denver, Italy and Africa, and silent auction items include Dodger and theme park tickets. To purchase tickets for $75 per person, sponsor a table or donate auction items, call 566-3417 or email

Round two of bag ban takes effect

By Lea Boyd

By the time Coastal View News hits the stands this week, the second phase of Carpinteria’s controversial bag ban will be in effect and single-use plastic bags for store purchases will be a thing of the past. Contact with multiple local shops confirmed what Erin Maker, environmental coordinator for the City of Carpinteria, reported: “Most (businesses) have come to the conclusion that this is going to be pretty easy for them.”

As of April 11, local businesses that were unaffected by the first phase of the ban, those that are under 3,000 square feet and gross less than $5 million annually, are prohibited from providing customers with single-use plastic bags or paper bags with less than 40 percent post-consumer recycled material. Restaurants are exempt as the result of litigation against the city by Save the Plastic Bag Coalition.

The first round of restrictions banned large commercial businesses from dispensing single use bags—plastic and paper—on Oct. 22, 2012. Albertsons, Vons, Rite Aid, CVS and Kim’s Market were included in that first phase, though Albertsons had voluntarily stopped dispensing single-use bags to its customers months prior.

For many local shops, the second phase of the ban means business as usual. Soap and Island Outfitters were using recycled paper bags long before the city required it, and Rincon Designs employees said that the shop’s signature thick plastic bags qualify as reusable bags under the language of the ordinance.

Kiona Gross, owner of Curious Cup, said that she made the switch to 100 percent recycled paper bags when the city first passed the ordinance. She was supportive of the ban all along, and though the new bags are more expensive, she has changed the size she offers to bring down the price.

Soap owner Daniel Case said that even though his bags are permitted by the city ordinance, the spirit of the ban is bothersome. “I don’t like to be micromanaged,” he said. “We have enough to worry about … (the city is) always throwing something else into the mix.”

Destined for Grace thrift store managers were reluctant to stop providing plastic bags, but the nonprofit, which funds a school in poverty-stricken Haiti in part through the income from three area thrift shops, has benefited since making the switch along with the large stores last October. “While annoying and inconvenient at first thought, (the ban) has actually decreased the business expense of having to purchase plastic bags and increased our revenue by sales of reusable bags with our logo,” said nonprofit co-founder Rebecca Smith.

Pacific Health Foods owner Joanna Noll had vocally opposed the ban as the city gathered input and drafted the ordinance. Noll argued that by offering biodegradable bags, the store was doing its part for the environment and should not be punished for it.

The city decided against allowing bags labeled as biodegradable under the ban because no standards exist for them, Maker explained. “Pretty much anyone can stick the word ‘biodegradable’ on their bag,” she said, adding that so-called biodegradable bags only break down in specific conditions and many break down to small bits of plastic that persist in the environment and wreak havoc on ecosystems.

Businesses affected by this round of the ban received letters from the city in preparation, and in the coming weeks, the city will be checking in with businesses to ensure a smooth transition. Those that do not comply can be issued a warning or a citation, Maker said, though none of the businesses affected in the first phase have failed to comply.

Residents of Carpinteria have slowly adapted to bringing their own bags to the large stores, and Carpinteria Beautiful’s five-year campaign to shift Carpinterians toward re-usable bags helped to lighten the blow of the ban. Maker said that most people have been supportive of reducing plastic bag consumption and the resulting pollution of local waterways and sensitive habitats.

Palms stabbing under investigation

By Peter Dugré

A late night incident at The Palms restaurant on Linden Avenue on April 6 resulted in the arrest of one Carpinteria man for resisting arrest while another man and two women ended up in the hospital with injuries, one of which was a stab wound.

According to Lieutenant Kelly Moore of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, Evaristo Velarde, 33, of Carpinteria, was arrested for resisting arrest following an altercation with officers and another man, 24, who had a sustained a bloody stab wound to his back by an unknown subject.

Deputies originally were called for a fight between a man and woman, Moore said, but when they arrived at the scene, they saw two men fleeing. Deputies pursued the men and ascertained that one was bleeding profusely. When they were able to overtake the men at the intersection of Carpinteria and Maple avenues, the men reportedly resisted deputies and fought each other. Deputies used a taser when arresting Velarde. The man with the stab wound, whose name was not released, was admitted to Cottage Hospital but was not arrested for resisting officers.

Officers were unable to identify a suspect in the stabbing. According to initial reports, two women alleged that the stabbing victim had punched them in the face at the restaurant, causing injuries that were assessed at the hospital. It appeared that the fight between Velarde and the stabbing victim stemmed from the altercation with the women. The assault allegations against the stabbing victim were being investigated by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office, but charges had not been filed.

Details on the severity of the stab wound were not immediately available, but the victim’s condition was monitored over night. He also reportedly remained uncooperative at the hospital.

Fainting driver causes downtown collision

Fainting driver causes downtown collision

A woman who reportedly fainted at the wheel on April 5 drove her vehicle into oncoming traffic and collided with a GMC Yukon on the corner of Carpinteria and Maple avenues. “I was just selling veggies and bam!” said Katie Shepherd of The Farm Cart, who was within a few yards of the accident when it took place. The woman driving the SUV said she had passed out while driving, Shepherd said, and she remained dazed for several minutes after the collision. She and the child in the backseat were both fine, and Ramon Munoz, the driver of the Yukon who said that the woman’s car came out of nowhere, was also uninjured. The accident happened around noon and slowed traffic through town until the two vehicles were towed.

Construction to begin soon on Franklin Trail

Construction to begin soon on Franklin Trail
Daniel Girard photo: Michael Feeney of the Santa Barbara Land Trust points to Franklin Trail plans held by, from left, trail construction manager Biff McIntyre and Friends of Franklin Trail Co-Chairman Bud Girard. Trail construction is slated to begin on May 1, and until the trail opens in late summer, all portions will remain closed to the public.

Users trespassing until official opening
By Lea Boyd

Friends of Franklin Trail has discovered that blazing bureaucracy can be far more time consuming than blazing a trail. And while the nonprofit has been working its way through the permitting process and will begin construction next month in an effort to open the trail in late summer, more and more anxious trail users are trespassing in an attempt to access the still incomplete route into Carpinteria’s frontcountry.

“People can’t wait for it to open, and I’m one of them,” said Friends co-chair Jane Murray. “But we’ll all have to be patient.”

An average of three groups of hikers a week are found illegally entering the Persoon family’s property in the lower region of the future trail, Murray said. Most believe that the trail is already open and are attempting to locate it, and property owners have tired of requesting that the public exit their private property, which is under agricultural production. When the trail opens, it will be lined with chain link fencing in the quarter-mile section that runs through the Persoon ranch and certain stretches on the periphery of Carpinteria High School.

Anyone found on private property in search of the trail can be cited for trespassing until the trail is officially opened. Trespassing on a farm or ranch is an infraction punishable by a $75 fine for a first offense and $250 for a second offense.

At the completion of the first phase, the trail will be about three miles roundtrip, beginning at a designated parking area on Meadow View Lane then running along the edge of Carpinteria High School, through Persoon property and up into the Horton ranch. Murray said that though the lower reaches will be fenced, once the trail enters Horton property it will be about a half-mile of unfenced single track flanked by chaparral. She described it as switchbacking along a ridgeline and offering beautiful views.

Working closely with the Land Trust for Santa Barbara, Friends of the Franklin Trail has secured funding for the entire project—a trail that will ultimately take hikers, cyclists and equestriennes through Rancho Monte Alegre and into Los Padres National Forest where it will ascend the crest of the Santa Ynez Mountains and come down to connect with a network of backcountry trails in the Santa Ynez River recreation area. The full project will

require three phases of permitting, design work and construction.

When Friends of Franklin Trail first organized itself and began plotting to reopen of the historic trail, which has been closed for decades due to its overlap with private property, the anticipated opening was to be in 2012. As announced by the Land Trust this spring, “It takes a lot of planning and permitting to get past the stage of inspiration to perspiration. We’re almost there.”

The behind-the-scenes work is nearly complete on the first phase. Initial trail construction will take place on the Horton ranch, which is in the jurisdiction of Santa Barbara County. Work on the lower portion, which falls within the City of Carpinteria, will require additional permitting.

“We’re moving in the right direction, and there are no more stumbling blocks,” said Murray. “It’s just taken an awfully long time to get through the red tape.”

County to repay Carpinteria $143,605 in duplicate charges

By Sara Monge

The City of Carpinteria will be adding $143,605 to its coffers after the city council approved a settlement agreement with the County of Santa Barbara over a property tax administration fee charged twice annually to Carpinteria over several years.

During the state budget crisis of 2006-2007, California started shifting monies it collected from its cities. Instead of receiving sales and gas taxes, cities are now allotted a greater percentage of property taxes, a swap of sources that provides cities with the same amount of funding. The county manages property tax revenue for cities and charges a property tax administration fee (PTAF). With the shift in the funding model, property tax revenue began arriving from the state and the city, and the county began charging Carpinteria two PTAFs, one for each source.

Multiple Santa Barbara County cities, including Carpinteria, protested the second fee. Instead of filing a lawsuit over it, the cities and county agreed to await the outcome of a lawsuit between Los Angeles County and Alhambra to set a precedent and avoid a costly legal battle. Santa Barbara County continued charging the PTAF in the interim. When the suit was ultimately decided in favor of Alhambra, Santa Barbara County quickly offered a settlement.

The county will reimburse fees plus interest accrued since the 2006-2007 fiscal year, but both parties will pay for their own legal fees. City Attorney Peter Brown advised the council to accept the deal saying, “I think the County of Santa Barbara is being very upfront (with this agreement) … and are paying the same interest we would have received on the money.”

City Manager Dave Durflinger hailed the outcome as “good news for the city” explaining that in addition to the one-time payment to the general fund, the city will save $20,000 annually by avoiding a second fee paid to the county.

Council hears General Plan Report

In other news, the council reviewed the 2012 General Plan Report, which it approved 4-0 (Mayor Brad Stein absent) and will submit to the California State Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. Councilman Al Clark praised the document saying, “It reads like a history of the city … it is enlightening to see all the things we (as a city) have accomplished.”

The report included all projects the city was involved in last year, including: banning single-use plastic bags, implementing an Integrated Pest Management plan, building a trail system, fixing sidewalks, removing and planting trees on Linden Avenue, the success of the creek rehabilitation program and replacing the heater at the city pool.

It was also reported that contractors in Carpinteria have been keeping busy; 217 building permits were issued, resulting in 65 new multi-family and 22 single-family houses either built or to be built this year.

The council heard a Housing Element Progress Report that reflects new construction over the past two years. The number of units the state will require Carpinteria to add between 2014 to 2022 in order to shoulder its share of anticipated statewide population growth should drop from 350 to 305 given the amount of local housing constructed recently. People’s Self-Help Housing’s Dahlia Court expansion, which is nearly finished, and Casa del Flores apartment complex, which is scheduled to be constructed once funding is complete, will help the city meet the state requirement for new low and very low income housing.

Residents can also expect to see an update of the decades-old zoning codes this fall. And soon the city will announce a new loan program to help first-time home buyers with their down payment. The program will be funded largely through a fee paid by Lavender Court owners to convert for-sale affordable units to market-rate rentals.

The next regular Carpinteria City Council meeting will be held on Monday, April 22 at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall, 5775 Carpinteria Ave.

ARB supports art center plans

ARB supports art center plans
Architect Scott Ellinwood’s plans to improve the CVAC site include the erection of colorful sails and a curved, wave-like fence along Linden Avenue.

Boardmembers request muted colors

Carpinteria Valley Arts Council plans for making a visual splash at its downtown arts center were generally well received by the Architectural Review Board on March 28, though board members advised CVAC to tone down the splash a bit.

The four proposed shade sails, designed to be eye-catching and to replace the wooden trellis at the entrance of the property at 855 Linden Ave., were the major topic of concern. The ARB recommended the applicants choose a more subdued color palette, rather than the proposed bright, primary colors, and shift the structures five feet back from current plans.

The purpose of the site improvements, according to CVAC representatives who spoke at the ARB meeting, is to draw additional attention to the now nondescript property. The nonprofit, whose mission is to promote the arts, is working to heighten its visibility as it gears up for a capital campaign to fund a new, multi-million dollar building on the site. Site improvements reviewed by the ARB last week are intended as short-term and relatively inexpensive; CVAC plans to break ground on the new art center, which is already approved by the city, in the next four to five years.

Along with erecting the sails, CVAC is seeking to replace the existing chain-link fence fronting the property with a clear plastic panel fence that will mimic the curved front of the future arts center, a design known as “The Wave.” Plans incorporate hardscape and landscape areas that reflect the layout of the future center, and the repaved area will be painted to indicate the floorplan of the approved building. Large potted plants will be set along the sides of the property.

Having received the ARB’s support for the project, CVAC will amend plans for review by the Carpinteria Planning Commission. City Planner Nick Bobroff said that the planning commission review is tentatively slated for May 6.

––Lea Boyd

Council proclaims April as Carpinteria Beautiful Month

Council proclaims April as Carpinteria Beautiful Month
Mayor Brad Stein, pictured center, awards a proclamation for Carpinteria Beautiful Month to members of the organization dedicated to keeping Carpinteria clean, green and beautiful.

By unanimous vote of the Carpinteria City Council, April has once again been named Carpinteria Beautiful Month. The hard-working, all-volunteer organization will ramp up its efforts and its visibility this month, hosting various activities that culminate in the annual Home and Garden Tour on April 27. The self-guided tour of five outstanding local homes will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $30 and are available at Susan Willis, Sandcastle Time, Cotton Company and Porch. Other events that Carpinteria Beautiful will participate in this month are the city’s Hazardous Waste Disposal Day on April 13, bus bench painting, Earth Day and Adopt-a-Spot trash pickup. For more information or to volunteer with Carpinteria Beautiful, call 684-4818.

Water district moves to raise rates

By Peter Dugre

Carpinteria Valley Water District customers should expect letters in the mail announcing that their notoriously high rates might edge up by nearly 2 percent. The CVWD board of directors voted unanimously at a March 27 meeting to send letters noticing customers of its proposal to raise rates beginning in July. Wary of rate hikes, given that Carpinteria already pays the most for water on the South Coast, boardmembers gave all assurances that between now and the final approval of the 2013-2014 budget in June, they will seek to eliminate the need to pass increased costs on to customers.

Emphasizing the tentative nature of the rate hike announcement, Board President Matt Roberts said, “The jury is still out on exactly what we’re going to do. This is where we are at the current date and time.” Under Proposition 218, special districts like CVWD must alert customers of rate increases 45 days in advance; if a majority of customers petition against the increase, the district cannot legally raise rates.

Budgeting currently calls for a 1.8 percent rate increase for all residential customers, a 1.9 percent increase for multi-family residential customers and a 1.2 percent increase for agricultural customers. On average, the percentages translate to a $1.18 monthly increase for residential low-volume water users, a $2.66 increase for residential high-volume, $1.11 per residence for multi-family dwellings and $2.63 for agricultural customers. The budget also includes a 0.9 percent increase in monthly service charges.

Boardmember Polly Holcombe, who is sitting on the budget committee for the first time since being elected in 2012 in an effort to unseat those who bore responsibility for high rates, called the increase “marginal,” and explained, “Two-thirds of the increase is based on pass through from various agencies we have little control over.” She mentioned water treatment at the Cater Plant as one such cost.

Of CVWD’s $10.77 million projected budget for 2013-2014, $4.34 million will go to debt repayment, most of which is related to state water obligations. The district also anticipates paying $825,000 for capital expenditures and $5.6 million in operating costs. Total expenditures will increase by about 1 percent, and the largest increase is $200,000 toward state water debt repayment. Other costs to the district have decreased; the budget includes a 2-percent reduction in district contributions to employee pensions and also a decrease in the amount contributed for insurance premiums.

During a budget presentation, Assistant General Manager Norma Rosales pointed out that CVWD soon might partially shed its distinction as the most expensive district on the South Coast. The average low-use residence would pay $66.17 per month, which would still beat second-highest Montecito Water District’s $58.16, but for high-use residences, Goleta Valley Water District would charge $160.98 on average, compared to CVWD’s $156.68 monthly rate. The comparison displayed water rates for Montecito if a proposal to raise rates by16.3 percent this year and 7 percent for two years moves forward, and it also assumes a 7 percent rate and service hike for Goleta.

CVWD has not increased base tier rates since before the 2009-2010 fiscal year, and the most recent adjustment was a 3.5 percent decrease in 2010-2011. Monthly service charges last increased by 4.8 percent in 2011-2012.
Proposition 218 letters will be mailed on April 11. A proposition 218 hearing about the proposed rate increase is scheduled for June 5 at 5:30 p.m. in Carpinteria City Council Chambers, 5775 Carpinteria Ave., and the board plans to adopt its 2013-2014 budget on June 11.

The next regularly scheduled meeting is for Wednesday, April 10, at 5:30 p.m. also in council chambers.

Bristol bail reduced to $500,000

Bristol bail reduced to $500,000
Louis Joseph Bristol

Carpinteria resident Louis Bristol, who has been accused of raping two minors, had his bail reduced from $2 million to $500,000 following a March 27 hearing in Santa Barbara Superior Court. Bristol, 28, was arrested on Feb. 27 and charged with nine counts, including forcible rape, sexual penetration by a foreign object and sexual battery by restraint on the alleged victims, ages 14 and 16, whom he met through his position as a youth pastor at Carpinteria Community Church.

In reducing Bristol’s bail, Judge Clifford Anderson stipulated that Bristol cannot enter Carpinteria and specifically cannot go to his former church or place of employment, the Holiday Inn Express, where he was accused of committing the crimes. If released on bail, Bristol must not contact any minors or the victims and their families and will be electronically monitored and subject to searches at any time.

Deputy District Attorney Paula Waldman had asked for a denial of bail reduction. In documents presented to the court, Waldman alleges that Bristol sent unwanted pornographic images of himself masturbating to a third victim and sexually harassed a former co-worker. The DA’s office has filed further charges on Bristol for misdemeanor unwanted distribution of pornography to the adult victim. Following the hearing, Waldman said that the $500,000 bail is still elevated above regular bail schedule, giving consideration to the risks.

A hearing for the defense and prosecution to set a preliminary hearing date is scheduled for May 2. As of April 3, Bristol was still in custody at Santa Barbara County Jail.
--Peter Dugré

Warriors pound Rams on volleyball court

Warriors pound Rams on volleyball court
Bill Swing Photo: Warrior volleyball player Joey Gamez splits the Cate School defense in a Warrior sweep of the Rams on March 22.

By Alonzo Orozco

Tallying the first eight points in game one against local rival Cate School, Carpinteria High School boys volleyball built upon the early momentum en route to a 25-9, 25-15, 25-7 Warrior sweep of the Rams at Warrior Gym on March 22. “My only concern was how focused (the Warriors) were going to be with spring break just hours away,” explained Carpinteria coach Marc Denitz.

After the Warriors earned the first sideout at the beginning of the opening game for a 1-0 lead, setter Jesus Ortega helped put the coach’s mind at ease by serving up the next seven points to make it 8-0 CHS. However, Denitz seemed more impressed with Ortega’s overall ability to distribute the ball among his teammates than with his adept serve. “This is his first year that he’s been setting on varsity, so he’s learning a lot. His setting’s really improved, consequently our play is more exciting,” said the pleased coach of his versatile junior.

Ortega’s passing would lead to a number of kills, particularly by Joseph Gamez, whose cross-court, angling spikes continually sped past Cate’s middle blockers throughout the evening. The Warriors’ front line also stood strong with Ben O’ Hara in the lead clogging up the middle and stuffing multiple Ram efforts at the net. “He’s really taken control of the middle, even against all teams that we’ve been playing,” said Denitz. As a result of CHS’s outstanding teamwork, the Warriors weren’t challenged in the opening set, winning by a score of 25-9.

Cate fought back in the second game, winning the game’s first point, as Hershel Jordan and Morgan Pierce made their presence known on the front line, blocking Warrior attempts and keeping the Rams within striking distance. Mo Batal also contributed with some scrappy play, digging balls out for Cate to keep rallies alive. Jordan’s spike down the middle, and a subsequent Warrior line violation brought the visitors within four at 12-8. But with O’ Hara smothering the middle and Ortega’s steady serving, CHS pulled away, capturing the second game by a score of 25-15 to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five game match.

The Warriors seemed to wear down the Rams in the third game. When CHS’s Eduardo Garcia’s sliding dig of a Cate serve landed harmlessly over the net, the home team jumped out to a 6-1 lead. With Erik Arciniega’s speedy serve and Chris Gaggero and JV upstart Victor Saldana’s hard hitting, the Warriors went comfortably ahead 15-2. CHS went on to win the final game, 25-7 for a 3-0 victory.

It was a good win for the Warriors, who started out the season losing four of their first five matches. Meanwhile, the Rams’ (0-2) season has just gotten under way. For Cate coach Richard Pertsulakes it was just a matter of execution. “We had 20 hitting errors in three games, so we basically gave them a game on errors,” commented Pertsulakes.

CHS’s Nixon named Teen Star 2013

CHS’s Nixon named Teen Star 2013
A commanding stage presence was one quality that impressed judges and audience members who named Carpinteria High School student Allie Nixon Teen Star Santa Barbara. PHOTO BY Emilio MK Visual Media

By Peter Dugré

Said to have a “sophisticated style” by judges, Carpinteria High School senior Allie Nixon rose above the competition to earn the distinction of being named Santa Barbara’s reigning Teen Star following the finals in the singing competition at Granada Theater on March 23.

Nixon garnered audience votes by text message after singing “Dog Days are Over” by Florence and the Machine to advance to the final round of three from a field of 10 finalists. She then secured the title after singing “E.T.” by Katy Perry in a “slowed-down,” “jazzy” style, according to Nixon. She called the announcement of her victory a “complete surprise” and said she felt “very blessed.” She earned a $1,000 prize, a recording studio session and gigs to open for prominent local acts through the victory.

Fellow CHS senior Kendall Kincaid also advanced to the finals and sang Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” Kincaid and Nixon qualified out of more than 100 contestants from throughout the county to perform at the Granada on March 23.

Nixon said for the final round Kincaid, her best friend, became her coach and biggest supporter through the tense moments. “She was a huge part of the win,” Nixon said. “It meant so much to have my best friend there.” Both Kincaid and Nixon tried out last year but were not called back for the live performance.

Justin Sinclair, also of CHS, played instrumentals for Nixon—the accordion for “Dog Days” and guitar for “E.T.”—and Nixon credited him for helping to make the cover songs more original and suited to her style. “(Sinclair) deserves a lot of credit,” Nixon said.

Nixon said she has not had professional vocal training and has learned a lot from siblings in her musical family. She is involved in musical theater and choir at CHS.

Teen Star Santa Barbara is a benefit for Santa Barbara County Schools and supports the arts.

HopeNet seeks volunteers

Anyone interested in helping HopeNet of Carpinteria, a local grass roots suicide prevention group, do outreach, plan future activities or help to promote suicide awareness is invited to attend the group’s next meeting on Wednesday, April 3, at 7 p.m. in the Curious Cup Community Room, 929 Linden Ave. To access the room, enter through the rear entrance on Yucca Lane. Community service hours are available for high school students. For further information, contact

Volunteers keep Carpinteria ticking

By David Griggs
Director/Curator of Carpinteria Valley Museum of History

The Carpinteria community is blessed to have so many vibrant organizations working for the betterment of our citizens. Groups such as Carpinteria Beautiful, the Boys & Girls Club, Carpinteria Education Foundation, HELP of Carpinteria, Friends of the Library, Citizens for the Bluffs, City Host Program, Girls Inc., Seal Watch, Salt Marsh Nature Preserve, Carpinteria Senior Citizens, Carpinteria Woman’s Club, Carpinteria Valley Historical Society and Museum, and service organizations such as Morning and Noon Rotaries, the Lions Club and Kiwanis all are woven into the fabric our daily lives.

There are many, many more I have not named here, including our churches and religious organizations—an amazing number for a community of this size. It points to the dedication and commitment by our citizens to help educate and support all aspects of our society. The many accomplishments of these involved citizens in very large part contribute to our overall wellbeing and the sense of belonging we all feel toward this special community.

These organizations could not function without the volunteered time, talent and financial support of their members and others in the community. It is amazing to me how many of the same individuals are involved with more than one of the above named groups—dividing their time among the various volunteer positions that keep these important nonprofits afloat. As many previous sources of funding for these numerous worthwhile causes continue to be scarce or nonexistent during this prolonged economic downturn, the resources provided by those folks willing to share of their work and wisdom are essential to keeping these services and programs operating.

For those of you reading this who are unfamiliar with the workings of many of these groups, please stop and consider what life in our beautiful valley would be like if suddenly these beneficial organizations ceased to function. We can’t look to government to fulfill these needs, instead we rely on the generosity and commitment of our own citizens to better our own community. It is one of the things that make Carpinteria and America great!

Please consider becoming involved in a local nonprofit and lend your support, either as a volunteer or financial supporter, or both. On that note, the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History is seeking new volunteers to help keep our free, self-sustaining museum open to the public. Except for the museum’s director/curator, the organization is completely run by volunteers.

The historical society is holding a Museum Open House on Monday, April 8, from 10 a.m. until noon at the museum, 956 Maple Ave. I will conduct a special free tour of the museum, and visitors are encouraged to explore the many volunteer opportunities available. Coffee and light refreshments will be served, and all interested persons are invited to attend. No commitment is necessary and a RSVP is not required. Come in and see how you can support the community and reap personal rewards by volunteering.

Schools getting look over for future makeover

By Peter Dugré

On the long road to updating a Facility Master Plan for local schools, the Carpinteria Unified School District Board of Education on March 26 heard a presentation that sought to separate “wants” from “needs” for school site upgrades throughout the district. Hired consultant Pat Saley reviewed general goals currently being established for the development of a new FMP and outlined how school site visits and discussions with administrators will shape top priorities for future facilities projects.

Saley, who received a $15,000 contract to draft the FMP in January, told board members that broad goals will be to tailor facilities to best support teaching and learning, analyze the viability of aging portable classrooms and provide adequate security and adequate infrastructure. Saley said she is sure to base her findings on classroom needs of the future. “Are kids going to need lockers in five years, or is it all going to be tablets?” she pondered.

So far, Saley has toured Carpinteria High School, Carpinteria Middle School and Rincon High School, and upcoming tours are planned for the remaining school sites. Specific areas of interest that have arisen thus far include food service, multi-purpose, physical education, music, science and general assembly facilities. Essentially every aspect of each school is being examined including infrastructure like heating, water, plumbing and storage in order to set priorities for the FMP, which will not be finalized until the end of the summer.

Saley called high school locker rooms “interesting” and “very bright,” hinting that they could use some work. She also commented that storage is sparse and some principals “have things stored in their garages.”

Assistant Superintendent Cindy Abbott added that CUSD maintenance crews are digging into the infrastructure nitty gritty in order to determine what original facility equipment might need upgrading and at what cost. Cost estimates will become important once the district completes its FPM and moves forward with potential funding options. Boardmembers have already discussed a possible general obligation bond that could hit ballots in a November 2014, election. Additionally, through the sale of its Toro Canyon property, the district has over $2 million that must be used for site improvements.

Any bond measure discussion and FPM will be based on public input. Currently, Abbott said, district administrators are compiling a list of contacts from which to form a committee that can provide input for the FPM. Abbott called the committee-in-the-making the Superintendent’s Steering Committee, and mentioned that experts like architects and lawyers will be included on the 8-to-10 person body to help navigate technical hurdles and extend the conversation about the formation of an FPM to the general public.

“The committee could be a valuable resource if we decide to go forward with a general obligation bond in 2014,” Abbott said.

The next CUSD Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 9, at Carpinteria City Council Chambers, 5775 Carpinteria Ave.

Fire board tables bond measure

Firefighters, residents request better services over facilities
By Lea Boyd

Two new fire stations proposed for Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District will be left on the drawing board until the fire board and local firefighters can settle differences over where the district needs to direct its dollars. An upgraded Summerland station has been permitted and plans for a seismically sound Carpinteria station are in the works, however, firefighters, whose campaigning power would be paramount to winning the election, say that staffing cuts incurred over the last few years should be patched up before the district asks voters to support a $12 million bond measure.

“We question whether this great expense to residents would result in any enhanced services to the community,” stated a release from the local union, Carpinteria-Summerland Firefighters Association. “The $12 million bond, a hefty burden that would be shouldered by property owners, can only be used for facilities; it would do nothing to mend the bottom line.”

Fire board members, who discussed the issue at a special meeting held on March 22, reached the conclusion that the target Aug. 27 vote by mail election was unrealistic given a lack of consensus among their own ranks and uncertainty as to whether the firefighters, whose statement regarding their position was made after the meeting, would be on board.

The only common ground that could be reached by the board was an agreement that the Summerland station is in a state of disrepair and should be a priority for replacement. The decrepit, tiny station squeezed between the freeway and Lillie Avenue has been called a “disaster waiting to happen” by Fire Chief Mike Mingee. Santa Barbara County has already permitted the proposed station’s construction and the community supports the plans, but the district lacks the means to fund its multimillion dollar construction.

A replacement for Carpinteria’s Walnut Avenue firehouse is a more recent addition to district dialogue. Though newer than the Summerland station, the Carpinteria station is also aging and fails to meet seismic standards for an emergency services facility. Serena Cove Association representative Margaret Baker, who spoke at the board meeting in favor of increasing services before considering the bond measure, likened the Walnut building to a carrot dangled before voters to garner the support needed from the Carpinteria end of the district to win an election.

The board’s decision to forego an August election came in spite of survey results indicating initial voter support that meets the two-thirds threshold required to pass the bond. At the meeting, Tim McLarney, president of polling company True North, presented results from 275 phone surveys conducted with voters in the district. Having heard sample arguments in favor and opposed to the measure, 67 percent of survey subjects said they would support a measure that would annually cost property owners about $14 per $100,000 of assessed property value (about $92 a year for the average Carpinteria home).

Results indicated that the strongest argument for the measure would be to link the new stations to improved 9-1-1 response time. “Voters don’t so much care about buildings. What they care about is what the building enables you to do,” McLarney said.

That link between buildings and response time is non-existent, argued director Bill Taff, a retired firefighter whose campaign for a seat on the board was supported by the firefighters union.

He and director Chris Johnson, another board member endorsed by the firefighters in the last election, expressed disappointment in the poll and questioned the validity of its results given the phrasing of questions. “We worded a survey to elicit the response we wanted and we got the response we wanted,” Taff said.

McLarney contended that the survey was crafted to determine what was most important to the electorate, information that could be used to design and implement a strong campaign for the bond.

Board President Ben Miller defended the functionality of the survey and argued that a link does exist between new stations and improved service. Should a massive earthquake hit, fire stations must still be standing in order to provide any services to the community. Miller added that upgraded facilities would keep firefighters in town for training exercises rather than requiring them to leave the area and train in Santa Barbara.

Local residents, including multiple Padaro Lane homeowners, voiced concern for recent firefighter staffing reductions prompted by the district’s fear of ending the year in the red. Engine companies reduced from four to three men leads to substandard safety for the firefighters and the community, speakers said. In her request that the district focus on service levels over facilities, Lucy Hromadka said, “Buildings don’t fight fires or handle medical situations, but firefighters do.”

Chief Mingee told the board that the four-man company is a luxury unafforded to most other Santa Barbara County engines. CSPFD has continued to fully staff its engines, he explained, but for the last couple months when a firefighter calls in sick, he is not replaced on the shift. The temporary staffing decision was made in an effort to keep the district from exceeding its overtime budget, which has been at risk due to the high rate of sick leave use within CSPFD. Mingee told the board that staffing levels will return to normal at the end of March if the sick leave rate comes down.

The C-S Firefighters Association contends that budget-driven cuts have impacted their ability to serve the community. Since 2011, two firefighter/paramedics were laid off and the emergency vehicle purchased about a decade ago and funded in large part through community donations was taken out of service and sold. “We feel those changes have impacted our ability to respond as safely and effectively, and now the taxpayers are receiving a lower level of service,” stated the union’s release. “We question the fact that the taxpayers are paying the same amount yet their service has diminished, and now they are being asked for more of their hard earned money?”

Though the firefighters are beginning to voice their concern, voters, on the other hand, are confident in the services currently provided. Almost 90 percent of voters interviewed by True North said that the quality of local fire protection and emergency medical services is good or excellent. “This is an excellent score,” McLarney said.

Mingee emphasizes that the rebuilding of the fire stations and the staffing challenges are two separate issues. “A capital improvement bond will not help address any challenge within our operating budget,” he stated in an email. A special tax to benefit the district’s operating budget or a reorganization of the district, “will not address our fire station needs,” he concluded.

Director Craig Price, a Summerland resident and longtime proponent of a new fire station in the Summerland community, advocated for holding off on a bond election until the board is unified and the district has “a fair indication that the firefighters are going to work with us.” He noted that other agencies in similar positions rely on the firefighters to champion the cause because the districts themselves are legally barred from committing resources to a campaign. “As much as I want to charge ahead,” Price concluded, “I want the horse to be ready to win the race before we let it out of the gate.”

City moves to ratchet up smoking regulations

$379 license fee to hit tobacco retailers
By Sara Monge

Carpinteria City Council members set their sights on keeping tobacco out of the hands of minors when they voted unanimously to have staff draft new ordinances concerning tobacco licensing and acceptable locations for selling tobacco products in the city. They also unanimously voted to establish a temporary moratorium on new tobacco retailers in the city at their Monday, March 25 meeting. Vice Mayor Gregg Carty explained, “This whole smoking thing is about how we can protect the health, safety and welfare of our residents and visitors.”

The new round of restrictions would complement the 2011 citywide ban of public smoking. City Senior Planner Steve Goggia reported that five of Carpinteria’s 19 tobacco retailers were caught selling products to minors in 2012 during the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department annual sting operation—which shows an increase from the prior four years. Studies, he said, have found that minors are much more likely to buy from vendors within 1,000 feet of schools. The types of stores found to sell to juveniles at the highest rate are “smoke shops” that primarily sell tobacco products.

The council chamber was full of locals who supported tighter restrictions, including teens from Girls Inc. who were among the first to advocate for the original smoking ban. At this week’s meeting, they presented the council with over 200 signatures from people who support additional regulation on tobacco products.

The proposed restrictions would bar any new tobacco retailers from opening up shop within 1,000 feet of any elementary, junior high or high school, whether private or public. Existing retailers within 1,000 feet of schools would be allowed to continue selling tobacco products, but if the establishment were to close, be sold or lose its tobacco license, the council intends to ban the shop from selling tobacco products in the location again. Councilman Wade Nomura said he wanted a very specific policy set for “grandfathered” retailers’ licenses so that it is clear, among other things, whether such licenses could be transferred in a sale.

The council also supported a new ordinance requiring vendors to obtain a Tobacco Retailer License. According to Goggia, cities which implemented strong tobacco retailer licensing ordinances showed an average of 68 percent decrease in youth sales. The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department would administer licenses to local vendors on an annual basis and take responsibility for enforcing the city’s regulations. The county would regularly report to law enforcement and the city council concerning the program. Licenses would cost Carpinteria tobacco retailers $379, which would cover the cost to administer the program. Goggia was quick to point out that according to nation-wide studies, tobacco products are big money makers for retailers.

Council members voiced disappointment over the current consequences for selling tobacco products to minors. Clerks who sell to minors are fined, Dawn Dunn of the County Health Department explained the state penile code, but the business owner incurs no punishment from the state. The clerks can be fined $200 for the first infraction, $500 for a second and $1,000 for a third.

If a local jurisdiction implements a tobacco license program, it can decide what penalties to put in place—including fines or suspension of the license and therefore sale of tobacco products. Carpinteria’s proposal to implement $1,000 to $5,000 fines found traction with Councilman Fred Shaw, who said fines in that range would “really make a point to retailers.”

The council was not so keen on staff’s suggestion for relaxing current rules about where Designated Smoking Areas (DSA) can be set up under the smoking ban. City Manager Dave Durflinger explained that an amendment could help achieve “a balance between protecting people from second-hand smoke, but having a place where people such as campers and visitors can smoke.” Specifically, he said, it is hard to find a place for people to smoke in the Downtown T area and near the campground.

“I don’t want to water any of our existing ordinances down—we need to make them stronger,” said Councilman Brad Stein. “Smoking is becoming passé, and I’m hoping in 10 years it will be gone. The public majority will benefit from this going forward.”

City staff will research potential downtown DSAs and bring them back to the council for consideration at a future meeting.

Finally, the council unanimously voted to adopt an Interim Urgency Ordinance which allows a 45-day moratorium on new tobacco retailers in the city. City staff suggested the temporary moratorium in order to avoid a conflict with the forthcoming regulations. Urgency ordinances need 4-of-5 votes to pass.

The next regular Carpinteria City Council meeting will be held on Monday, April 8, at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall, 5775 Carpinteria Ave.

Warriors walk-off on seventh inning rally

Warriors walk-off on seventh inning rally
Warrior outfielder Duncan Gordon slides into third after leading off the seventh inning with triple.

By Peter Dugré

Carpinteria High School junior Duncan Gordon connected for a triple in the seventh inning of a Frontier League win over Villanova Prep on March 15 at CHS’s John Calderwood Field. Parked on third base, Gordon represented the winning run until sophomore Nick Walker belted a bases-loaded, one-out single to left field to drive him in for a 7-6 Warrior win.

“It was good that we won in the end, but it was a gray hair kind of game,” Warrior coach Pat Cooney said. Although the Warrior offense amassed 14 hits, five errors by the defense allowed Villanova to take the lead in the second and third innings before the visitors tied the score at 6-6 in the fifth inning.

The Warriors scored a run in the first, but three walks and two errors in the top of the second allowed Villanova to forge ahead, 3-1. Then in the bottom of the second, Warriors Mo Sanchez, David Olvera and Anthony Rodriguez each recorded singles before Derrick Shirley-Moore collected two RBI on a two-out single to cap a three-run Warrior second inning.

Although the Warriors had regained a 4-3 lead, Villanova benefited from one hit and two errors in the top of third to go ahead 5-4. The Warrior offense, which recorded 14 hits in the game, came to the rescue once again to put the team up 6-5 after three innings.

“On the bright side, our defensive lapses did not carry over, and we came back after each let down. We got big hits in tough spots throughout the game. Both pitchers were poised under tough circumstances,” commented Cooney.

Winning pitcher Nick Walker took over for the Warriors, relieving Max Damron from an escalating pitch count in the fourth inning. Walker, a sophomore, threw four effective innings, yielding just one run before helping his own cause with the game-winning RBI.

Gordon batted 3-for-4, and Olvera, Rodriguez and Marcus Hutchinson each had two hits.

The Warriors stood at 3-3 overall and 2-0 in league following the victory. The team was gearing up to face Fillmore High School on March 20 after press time in another league contest. On Friday, March 22, the Warriors host league leading and undefeated Malibu in what could be a standings-altering affair at 3:30 p.m.

Local investor buys 50,955 square-foot bluffs building

Local investor buys 50,955 square-foot bluffs building
Brad Elliott photo: From left, Bob Tuler of Radius Commercial Real Estate & Investments, investor Victor Schaff and Greg Bartholomew of Hayes Commercial Group are pictured in front of Schaff’s new building at 6267 Carpinteria Ave.

Though Venoco will continue to occupy the office building at 6267 Carpinteria Ave., the company’s rent checks now will be written to a new name. As announced this week, investor Victor Schaff purchased the 50,955 square-foot building, which was listed for $16.45 million, for an undisclosed amount. Schaff is the largest owner of office properties in Carpinteria, and the purchase is the largest sum ever paid for a Carpinteria office property, according to a press release.
Widely known as the “Venoco building,” the property has been leased by the oil and gas company since 2004, and the building was constructed in 1997. Venoco has executed a 10-year lease extension there.
“I never imagined becoming the owner of the most prestigious office building on the Central Coast, right here on the Carpinteria bluffs,” said Schaff. “Adding this unique office building to my portfolio speaks of my great confidence in the Carpinteria and South Coast office market.”
Greg Bartholomew of Hayes Commercial Group, which represented the seller, called the the building a “trophy property,” and added that, “Even with the large price tag, there was substantial interest from investors from across the country.”

Child molestation hearing pushed two weeks

Child molestation hearing pushed two weeks
Michael Norris

The March 13 preliminary hearing scheduled for Michael Norris, a former Carpinteria resident arrested on multiple counts of child molestation, was continued to March 28. Norris, who had been living in Costa Rica, turned himself into authorities in February after learning that there was a warrant out for his arrest. He was charged with multiple counts of child molestation, including continual sexual abuse of a minor, contact with a minor with the intent to commit sexual abuse, distributing and producing pornography to a child and aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14 years of age. According to Deputy District Attorney Benjamin Ladinig, further exchange of information and the possibility of entering into plea discussions led to the hearing postponement.

Hearing continued for youth pastor accused of child rape

Hearing continued for youth pastor accused of child rape
Louis Joseph Bristol

Carpinterian Louis Bristol remains in jail on $2 million bail after a hearing on March 13 was continued until March 27. Bristol, held on nine counts including forcible rape, penetration by a foreign object and sexual battery, has been accused of using his position as a Carpinteria Community Church youth pastor to gain access to two underage victims. Matters to be discussed at the continued hearing are a possible bail reduction and the setting of a preliminary hearing date. According to prosecutor Paula Waldman with the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office, a third victim has come forward. Although charges have not been filed against Bristol for a third victim, the new information factored into the delay of the latest hearing. Also, Bristol’s attorney Larry Powell received discovery documents on the morning of the hearing and asked for more time to review them.

Officers issue first smoking tickets

By Peter Dugré

For two years since its 2011 inception, Carpinteria’s ban on smoking anywhere in the city seemed symbolic. Bar patrons still filtered onto sidewalks to light up without consequence. Then within the last month, the ordinance grew some teeth. Sheriff’s deputies handed out the first three citations to smokers outside of bars.

According to Lieutenant Kelly Moore, chief of police services at the Carpinteria station, plenty of verbal warnings led to the first enforcement with bite. “We got tired of telling the same people to stop,” Moore said.

Sheriff’s deputies issued two tickets at The Palms and one at Carpinteria & Linden Pub, according to Moore. Enforcement was prompted by citizen complaints that the 2-year-old law was not being followed, particularly at the establishments where enforcement ultimately occurred. Patrons of Island Brewing Company were also confronted and warned by deputies. Moore said the enforcement was meant to “send a message to clientele.”

A first offense carries a fine of $100, and additional violations carry a $200 fine for a second offense and $300 for each offense thereafter. Court fees also apply when citations are issued by the sheriff’s department.

Although recent enforcement demonstrated a change in direction, Moore said that overall officers are not actively looking to ticket smokers. “We’re still not the smoking police, but we will be when we have to be,” he said. Officers have not received fresh citizen complaints since issuing the citations.

Moore pointed out that in the case of The Palms, smokers would only have to go to the back of the building where there is a “smokers outpost,” an area allowed for smoking as written into the ordinance. Outposts must be marked and at least five feet from commonly traveled routes.

Senior city planner Steve Goggia led the public outreach effort as the city rolled out the ordinance. He explained that businesses can form their own outposts following the guidelines written into the ordinance. Outposts need not be permitted by the city. Goggia said business owners all received numerous visits as part of the city’s outreach effort. “Everybody is always looking for someone to blame, but it’s been two years,” Goggia said.

State of the arts

State of the arts
From left, are CVAC board members Marty Selfridge, Al Clark, Amanda McIntyre, Niels Johnson Lameijer, David Powdrell, Vera Bensen, Gary Campopiano, Louise Moore and new Executive Director Sherri Frazer. Boardmember Norm Arnold is not pictured. 

CVAC launches multiyear plan for art center
By Lea Boyd

If Carpinteria Valley Arts Council were an individual, he would be considered generous, community-minded and highly respected by most everyone he knew. He would be somewhat unkempt but with the potential to be very strikingly handsome. A bit introverted and shy, he also would be modest to a fault. These are, in essence, the findings of a feasibility study conducted last year to determine whether the organization is ready to launch a capital campaign to fund a $5 million, city-approved art center at 855 Linden Ave. Before a campaign will succeed, the study concludes, CVAC must undergo a makeover, shed its modesty and become an extrovert.

“The community needs to know who we are and what we stand for,” said Sherri Frazer, newly hired CVAC executive director whose position came out of a recommendation in the feasibility study. “We need to get people to fall in love with (CVAC). They need an emotional connection.”

Discovering that the community was not quite ready to fund the two-story building designed to house art classes, galleries and studios was a disappointment, CVAC board president David Powdrell admitted. He recognizes, however, that employing a patient strategy and waiting a year or two before launching a capital campaign will be best for the organization in the long run. “It’s a matter of taking some little steps before we take the big step,” he said.

The building, designed by Andy Neumann to be an art piece in and of itself, initially sparked controversy, but by the close of the city permitting process, Carpinteria’s notoriously nitpicky decision makers were wholeheartedly on board with the plans for a structure whose transparent, curved, wave-like façade looks out at the heart of downtown Carpinteria.

But the buzz generated through the permitting process, which took over a year, eventually faded into the background and community conversation shifted to other topics. CVAC simply continued to do what it had done for years, hosting rotating juried art shows, operating its summer camp for children and coordinating its annual Artists Studio Tour. Or so it seemed.

“We have been quietly plotting, putting a game plan together,” Powdrell explained while sitting at a picnic table at the art center site. “And now it’s time to come out with what’s happening here. It’s going to be magical here.”

The game plan to bring about magic is multifaceted. Hiring Frazer, who Powdrell said “rose to the top” of the 37 applicants for the position, was one of the first steps. She brings over a decade of experience with nonprofits and several years in the marketing industry.

The board also added new members with key experience. Retired teacher Marty Selfridge will serve as a liaison with the local schools, helping the organization to fill gaps in art programming that have arisen due to state funding cuts. Amanda McIntyre, longtime supporter of the arts throughout the Santa Barbara area, will lead the organization’s new Ambassador’s Council, a group charged with cultivating potential donors.

With a paid staff person at the helm, a fortified board of directors and a recent and completely unexpected $80,000 gift from the estate of Elizabeth Hayden, the organization is poised for the next steps: better branding itself, bringing cohesiveness to its programs, utilizing social media to its advantage, resurrecting gala fundraiser “Palette and Palate” and improving the existing center.

Currently CVAC’s property, which was gifted to the nonprofit years ago by now-deceased artist Patty Sim, consists of a small gallery separated from the Linden Avenue sidewalk by a chain link fence, a drab wooden pergola, an array of wooden picnic tables and scattered potted plants.

One of the most striking findings of the study, which was prepared by Netzel Grigsby Associates, was a lack of community familiarity with CVAC. Netzel relied on interviews conducted with 34 individuals identified as influential community members who could help a capital campaign through leadership and/or financial contributions. Among those interviewed, 27 percent lacked sufficient awareness of the organization to rate its image, 42 percent couldn’t rate its effectiveness, and 54 percent could not rate its programs and services.

In an effort to draw more attention to the center and shine a brighter light on CVAC’s mission to promote the arts, the organization has drafted plans to improve the property until the new center can break ground. The pergola will be replaced with bright, canvas sails in primary colors, and instead of the chain link, passersby will walk along a curved, transparent fence that mimics the façade of the future center. The cement ground covering will be resurfaced, and extensive landscaping will be installed. Powdrell estimates that the temporary improvements, which will soon be considered by the Carpinteria Architectural Review Board, will cost about $35,000.

“We would like to be aesthetically pleasing to people in this area,” said Frazer. “We want to draw them in to what’s going on in this space.”

Future fundraising lies at the core of all the organization’s plans. Not only will site improvement raise CVAC’s profile, but elements such as marked out rooms representing the future art center will provide potential donors with a feel for what could be.

The Netzel study found that though CVAC needs to raise awareness of its role in the community, those who are familiar with the organization regard it positively and perceive its programs for youth and for advancing the arts as highly successful. No major donors came forward during the study interviews, however, and a minority of interviewees thought that a $6.9 million goal to fund the center and an endowment would be realistic.

Powdrell blames the sluggish economic recovery for some of the interviewees’ hesitation to commit funds or place confidence in CVAC’s ability to raise the funds. “Frankly, when they went out and asked for dollars, we were in a recession,” he said. “I think we’re coming out of it now.”

If the economy cooperates and CVAC effectively transforms itself from shy guy to leading man, Carpinteria should see a ground breaking at 855 Linden Ave. within five years.

Council plots traffic improvements, sets affordable housing fees

By Erin Lennon

The Carpinteria City Council unanimously approved measures to maintain its grip on affordable housing in 2013 and to further local traffic relief and safety over the next five years at its March 11 meeting.

From bike paths to trails and traffic maintenance projects, Carpinteria has transportation goals, and Santa Barbara County has the money to reach them. But before those needs can meet the means, the city must adopt and submit its annual local Program of Projects, a guide map that makes its way to the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments stating which Carpinteria transportation projects will receive county Measure A funds between 2013 and 2018.

“The spreadsheet shows a nearly $22 million five-year program for transportation programs and projects (in the county). Over the five-year period, the city can expect to receive an average of approximately $700,000 per year or nearly $3.5 million in Measure A allocations total,” said City Public Works Director Charles Ebeling.

The one-half percent sales tax funding the Traffic Relief and Transportation Safety Measure, or Measure A, can only be used for projects included in the program approved by the council on March 11. Before the city can collect the funds, it has to ante up $91,329 in discretionary non-Measure A funds for transportation projects and capital improvements, an amount equivalent to what the city spent in 2007-2008.

The approved program provides funds for administration, street maintenance, right-of-way maintenance and capital projects. Among the prioritized projects are the replacement of the 9th Street footbridge over Franklin Creek and the footbridges across Santa Monica Creek at Via Real and El Carro Lane. The Rincon Trail Project is due for a portion of the funds, as well as downtown intersection improvements and a sidewalk in-fill project at Cravens Lane and Via Real.

Carpinteria’s $3.54 million in Measure A funds will combine with the $1.07 million in unspent Measure A funds from prior years for a total of $4.62 million from which the city can pull for improvements.

Aside from paving the way for improved traffic conditions, the council also approved the annually updated In-lieu Affordable Housing fee, a stride toward maintaining and creating obtainable housing. In 2004 the city council adopted the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance, requiring all developers creating new residential projects of five or more units to make at least 12 percent of those dwellings affordable for households earning 121 percent of the area median income, which is currently $71,041, according to Community Development Director Jackie Campbell. At 121 percent, affordable units must fit the budget of a family of four living on $90,206 per year.

Developers who cannot fit the affordable units into their projects can pay an in-lieu fee that will make up the difference between the median sale price of a unit and the affordable housing price for the upper-moderate income family. The fee is updated annually using housing sales data from the previous year to keep pace with median housing prices, incomes and mortgage interest rates.

In 2012, 60 single-family dwellings were sold for a median price of $612,500, and 62 condos were sold for a median price of $361,000. Campbell subtracts the affordable sale prices, $417,900 for single-family units and $277,600 for condos, from the median sale prices to ascertain the necessary in-lieu fee. Builders who cannot fit the necessary affordable units into their development plans will pay an in-lieu fee of $194,600 for single-family dwellings and $83,400 for condos in 2013.

The median price for a single-family unit increased by $65,000 between 2011 and 2012 with the median condo price also increasing by $18,000.

“That’s quite an indicator of what’s happening out there in the residential housing market, at least in Carpinteria, but this is happening in other places in California as well,” said Campbell.

The next regular City Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 25, at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers, 5775 Carpinteria Ave.

Warrior spring sports preview

Warrior spring sports preview
Looking to make strides this year in the hurdles are Warrior leapers Nicole Pepper, clearing the hurdle, and Kylie Augerot, not far behind. BILL SWING PHOTO

By Peter Dugré

The campus of Carpinteria High School is warming up as the calendar turns to spring. Readers can expect a robust season of action among the sports included below, baseball, softball, boys tennis and track and field.

The odds of Warrior baseball winning a league championship have greatly increased this season after the team’s move to Frontier League, a realignment that “levels the playing field,” according to coach Pat Cooney. Playing its brand of small ball, the 2013 Warriors will rally behind a core of six seniors in an attempt to keep the pressure on opponents while competing for league supremacy and a playoff berth.

Getting the call at pitcher will mainly be seniors Marcus Hutchinson and Max Damron, who both bring varsity experience. Hutchinson also plays a smooth shortstop and is a run generator at the front of the batting order. When not pitching, Damron roams the outfield.

Also rejoining the squad is the big bat of Derrick Shirley-Moore, a senior, middle-of-the-order hitter who has a knack for knocking guys around the bases. Shirley-Moore occupies the corners of the infield, swapping between first and third base. Fellow senior Joe Caudillo plays first base as well. Other seniors are center fielder Anthony Rodriguez, a sure glove up the middle, and utility man David Olvera, a versatile defender and runner.

The team also features juniors Kevin Stein returning at catcher, Mo Sanchez at second base and Duncan Gordon, a double-threat with a strong bat and sure glove.

The battle for Frontier League will be waged against Santa Paula, Santa Clara, Fillmore, Malibu and Villanova Prep. Malibu and Carpinteria have played tight ball games in past meetings, and Santa Paula and Fillmore are similar to Carpinteria in school size. They should also pose challenges in a league that will likely come down to the wire, according to Cooney.

The team lost its season-opening doubleheader against non-league Santa Ynez High School and looks to balance the 0-2 start while hosting Cabrillo High School in a home doubleheader on Saturday, March 9, starting at 11 a.m. Following that, the league home opener will be Friday, March 15, at 3:30 p.m. versus Villanova Prep. Cooney said every game throughout the league schedule, which pits CHS against each foe three times, is important. “If the last week of the season matters to us, we will have achieved our goal of competing for a league championship and playoff spot,” Cooney said of a no-gimme league run where the championship might not be settled until the final pitch.

Boys tennis
As is often the case with Carpinteria High School sports, the boys tennis team enjoyed success in the Frontier League, but the reward is a move up to a whole new league, the ultra-competitive Tri-Valley League, where CHS teams often fare worse. From last year’s Frontier League championship team, the Warriors return All-Leaguers Ben Murray, Collin Nathanson and Jonathon Cleek. Their task is to catch teammates, many gripping a tennis racquet for the first time, up to speed with the new sport.

Coach Charles Bryant, who is in his second year with the team, said team chemistry is one of group’s greatest strengths. “The boys really pull for each other and get along great,” he said. “What we lack in experience we gain in attitude.” He hopes the strong bond along with a rigorous preseason schedule will bring the team into form for a run against the TVL, which contains many tournament players a notch above last year’s competition.

Bryant said that by the second round of league play—teams match up twice—he believes the Warriors will show signs of progress. He also holds out hope of qualifying for playoffs. “Our improvement over the season will be the key to our success,” he said. “We will work the boys hard, and hopefully we can make some headway in this tough league.”

Pitcher Catalina Maldonado and the Warrior softball team have elevated their game in recent seasons. This year the trend will have to continue for the team to compete in Tri-Valley League. The Warriors won Frontier League last season and played into the semifinals of Division 6. Gearing up for this season, the landscape has changed. The Warriors play the regular season in TVL, and playoffs are in Division 2, a high division that’s a testament to the strength of the league.

Coach Henry Gonzales, who has been at the helm the last three seasons, said the team has what it takes to compete in TVL. “Being in TVL is where we want to be. Now we just need to show people we belong,” he said.

Maldonado, last year’s Frontier League Most Valuable Pitcher, enters her senior year having gunned down batters since she was a freshman. Her skills will be needed to keep opponents off the base paths. “(Maldonado’s) very capable of pitching against (TVL) caliber players,” Gonzales said. “We’re lucky to have her on our side to keep us in ballgames and to win ballgames.”

Maldonado has also done a lot of the heavy lifting on offense for the Warriors over the past three seasons. Her bat, combined with those of fellow seniors Elena Schneider and Erin Saito, will be counted on for run production. Schneider plays second base and Saito plays outfield, and both are top-of-the-order run producers. Senior Delaney Henderson, a transfer from Saint Joseph High School, will play shortstop. The senior leaders will go into battle alongside junior Alyssa Freeman and sophomores Hannah Galsterer, Natalie Saito and Paulina Barbosa.

Gonzales said that jumping to TVL means every team will have an ace pitcher of Maldonado’s caliber. Particularly stiff competition will come in the form of Oaks Christian and La Reina high schools.

Track and field
The storied Warrior track and field program looks to write a new chapter this season behind a group of speedy middle-distance runners and impact throwers on the boys side. A league realignment, which sought to balance Frontier and Tri-Valley leagues by sending Oaks Christian and Nordhoff high schools to Frontier, should make personal and team goals more attainable for the Warriors. Recent seasons have featured a loaded Tri-Valley League that squeezes athletes out of CIF contention due to an overabundance of qualifiers.

For the boys, senior Kyle Millhollin and transfer student Bryson Frazer will go head-to-head with each other and the rest of the league in the 400m and other middle distances. The duo gives the Warriors a strong nucleus in the 4x400 relay, which the team won at the early season Rincon Races. Throwers Peter Ramos and Xavier De Alba will be point collectors, as well, hurling the discus and shot put.

The girls team is still seeking its identity and will build on the promise of a collection of pole vaulters and hurdlers. Nicole Pepper has a strong foundation to build off in the hurdles. The vaulters include Morgan Wallace, Sierra Garcia, Brooke Hymer and Claire Sorosky, one of which will end up breaking away from the pack, according to Coach Van Latham.

The team is led by captains Matt Kliewer, De Alba and Millhollin, on the boys side, and Linda Buchmiller and Sierra Garcia for the girls.

In an always busy time of year for Carpinteria Valley Memorial Stadium, the team hosts Russell Cup on April 13 and CIF Prelims on May 11. The league realignment will likely result in more Warriors competing on May 11.

New faces join CVAC board

New faces join CVAC board
From left, Amanda McIntyre and Marty Selfridge recently joined the Carpinteria Valley Arts Council board of directors.

Art supporters Amanda McIntyre and Marty Selfridge recently joined the Carpinteria Valley Arts Council board of directors, bringing “a wealth of fresh and exciting new talent,” according to the organization. McIntyre has been a major player in the Santa Barbara art community for years and has decided to focus her attention on Carpinteria’s art community now. She will be chairing the newly formed Ambassador's Council, a select group of influential community leaders who share the same passion and vision for promoting the arts in Carpinteria. Selfridge, a retired Carpinteria Unified School District teacher, will work on ways for the Carpinteria Valley Arts Center to collaborate with local schools, whose budgets continually get cut for art and art-related programs. 

Llama puts up plein air show

Llama puts up plein air show
Artists making up Carpinteria En Plein Air Painters are from left, Chris Sobell, Meg Ricks, Cezanne Totton, Ginger Plum, Lily Sanders, Babs Runyon, Kathe Hines-Knight, Linda Collins, Cristine Crooks and Anne Fraser; not pictured is Suzanne VanDuinwyk.

A group of outdoor painters that is always after the perfect Carpinteria vantage point have put their work on display at Lucky Llama for the month of March. The group exhibit by Carpinteria Plein Air Painters focuses on local scenes painted on the spot. Artists include Chris Sobell, Meg Ricks, Cezanne Totton, Ginger Plum, Lily Sanders, Babs Runyon, Kathe Hines-Knight, Linda Collins, Cristine Crooks, Anne Fraser and Suzanne VanDuinwyk. They’ll gather at an artists reception on Saturday, March 9, from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the local café, 5100 Carpinteria Ave. Carpinteria Plein Air Painters meet on Friday mornings to paint local scenes. For more information on Lucky Llama’s March show, call 684-8811.

Eighth-graders earn college scholarships

Eighth-graders earn college scholarships
Scholarship winners, from left, Jessica Irabon, Annalisa DeAlba, Ana Delgado, Alisa Lemere and Yulisa Rosales are congratulated by Girls Inc. staff members Stefanie Durr, left, and Jessica Wetzel, right.

By Lea Boyd

Five Carpinteria eighth-graders recently had their chances of attending college increase by $500 and a priceless vote of confidence. Annalisa DeAlba, Ana Delgado, Jessica Irabon, Alisa Lemere and Yulisa Rosales each earned a Strong, Smart and Bold Eighth Grade Scholarship as part of a nationwide initiative by Girls Incorporated to expand college bound programming for girls.

After encouraging five participants in the organization’s Eureka! program to apply and helping them to submit letters of recommendation and a two-page essay last fall, Girls Inc. of Carpinteria learned in February that its members had claimed five of the 18 scholarships offered to teens throughout the nation. “The Eureka! program is committed to getting girls on track for high school graduation and prepared for the college application process,” said Jessica Wetzel of Girls Inc. Carpinteria. “This scholarship serves as motivation to continue working toward college goals and gives the girls a taste of the scholarship application process at a very young age.”

In their essays, the applicants wrote about their best qualities and how Girls Inc. has helped them to cultivate these strong, smart and bold attributes. Delgado said that thanks to Girls Inc., she has developed strength academically, emotionally, physically and socially. She stated in her essay, “I have learned how to steer clear of negative influences and now know what to do if I am asked to give in to the crowd.”

The Eureka! program, which launched locally in 2012, includes 25 local eighth-graders. These girls spent four weeks last summer at U.C. Santa Barbara in hands-on science and technology programs and participating in college prep and self-esteem building activities. Eureka!, which is a three-year program, has already had a huge impact on the girls, according to their scholarship essays.

Alisa Lemere wrote that Eureka! has “taught me a lot and really motivated me to go to college….” Yulisa Rosales commented on the confidence and pride she gained when Eureka! challenged her to overcome fears of deep water. After Rosales swam the length of a pool despite her unease, her instructor commented, “All of the girls in the program were inspired by (Rosales’) bravery and commitment to growth.”

Not all of the girls dove into Eureka! head first. DeAlba had second thoughts during the first week of the intensive, time-consuming program but soon became comfortable with her peers and instructors. With renewed excitement, she committed herself to Eureka! and began exploring career options. “(DeAlba) now knows that she can make her future what she wants it to be,” stated Wetzel, “and that by starting to think about these things now, she is making positive steps toward having the life she wants for herself.”

The five young women recognize that there are still many challenges ahead of them if they want to put their hard-earned scholarship money to good use. They have set their sights on attending college—some as the first members of their families—and succeeding in careers of their choosing. Securing the $500 scholarship is just the first step toward their long-term objectives.

“I work very hard to keep my grades above average to make my parents proud and to stay on track with my goals,” Irabon stated. She and her fellow scholarship winners are preparing for college when most of their peers are just beginning to think about high school.

City Council to meet next week

The Carpinteria City Council will meet on Monday, March 11, at 5:30 p.m. at city hall, 5775 Carpinteria Ave. On the council’s draft agenda are an appointment to the Parking and Business Improvement Area Advisory Board, a review of Measure A funded projects and a discussion of the Housing In Lieu Fee, an annually set fee charged to developers who fail to include the legally required number of affordable units in a project. Anyone who wishes to comment on an item in the council’s purview is welcome to speak during public comment period. The final agenda and staff reports will be available on Friday, March 8, and can be accessed at

Local youth pastor denies child rape allegations

Local youth pastor denies child rape allegations
Louis Joseph Bristol

Carpinteria youth pastor Louis Joseph Bristol pled not guilty to nine counts including two of forcible rape, two of forced sexual penetration by a foreign object and one of sexual battery by restraint at an arraignment in Santa Barbara County Court on March 1. All charges are alleged to have been committed on two minors.

Bristol, 28, surrendered himself to the sheriff’s department on Feb. 27 after inappropriate text messages between him and a Carpinteria Community Church high school youth group member led to an investigation into allegations that he used his youth pastor position at the church and his assistant manager job at Holiday Inn Express to commit crimes against two girls, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

Detectives allege Bristol committed the crimes against a 16-year-old and 14-year-old victim. They believe he met the victims in a church youth group and committed the crimes at Carpinteria Holiday Inn Express. The crimes allegedly occurred starting in September of 2012. The sheriff’s department believes there may be other victims.

Coastal View News contacted Carpinteria Community Church pastor Jarrett Johnson, who would not elaborate on the criminal investigation in progress. Johnson said, “Hearts are broken about this one on all sides.”

In a press release, Johnson stated, “In keeping with the church’s policies of providing safety for the congregation and protection for church employees in such times, these allegations were immediately reported to authorities.” Bristol has been placed on leave by the church.

Bristol is scheduled to appear before Judge Clifford Anderson on Wednesday, March 13, to set a preliminary hearing date. At the hearing, Bristol’s attorney, Larry Powell, can also present a case to reduce the $2 million bail that his client is held on. Powell did not return a phone call requesting comment before press time.

Bristol is also charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor on allegations that he furnished marijuana to the victims and other members of the youth group. If convicted, Bristol could face up to 20 years in prison.

––Peter Dugré

HopeNet meeting to help reduce local suicides

HopeNet of Carpinteria is sponsoring a community workshop to help Carpinterians obtain the necessary skills to identify suicide warning signs and provide support strategies and resources for those at risk. Mental health professionals will be facilitating the workshop, and Spanish translation will be provided. The public is invited to attend the free event on Monday, March 18, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Carpinteria Woman’s Club, 1059 Vallecito Road. For more information, email or call 684-2509.

EPA to hold Carpinteria parking meeting

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will conduct a public workshop to present recently compiled parking audit data and discuss solutions to local parking issues on Thursday, March 14, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at City Hall, 5775 Carpinteria Avenue. The City of Carpinteria invites residents to attend the meeting to learn more about city parking issues and share their ideas on the topic. Carpinteria was among 43 recipients selected from 121 applicants to participate in such a workshop conducted by EPA staff and national experts.

The workshop will focus on stimulating the local economy while protecting people’s health and safeguarding the environment. Research shows that the way communities are developed has a major impact on the quality of the natural environment. Regions with walkable, mixed use, compact neighborhoods, towns and cities, knit together by a robust network of transportation and environmental corridors, protect human health and the natural environment. According to studies, development reflecting smart growth principles can lead to reduced growth in air pollution and less polluted runoff into creeks and oceans. To find out more, contact city hall at 684-5405.

FEMA corrects flood map blunders

Expensive flood insurance need drops
By Erin Lennon

The gloom of looming flood insurance mandates from mortgage holders lightened after the Federal Emergency Management Agency informed the City of Carpinteria on March 4 that it had corrected its erroneous Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) published in December.

The map inaccurately placed a number of properties within the 100-year floodplain, resulting in bank requirements for costly flood insurance from mortgage holders, with premiums ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars a year.

FEMA approved and implemented the map revisions for the entire city, a process that Public Works Director Charles Ebeling thought would take much longer.

“It’s official; we already have a new map...” said Ebeling. “Essentially, the problem has been fixed.”

This is déjà vu for Carpinteria but with a quicker remedy. A deluge of errors on the 2005 FIRM required a Letter of Map Revision (LOMR), a document that usually illustrates how one property has been adapted to elevations above the floodplain, perhaps by bringing dirt in to elevate an apartment complex, for example. LOMRs can pertain to multiple structures as well, and in 2005 and in 2012, the document revised the map of the entire area. However, revisions to the 2005 map were not adopted until 2009.

Carpinterian Mike Lesh was required to purchase flood insurance after FEMA published its 2005 map. While his property remains within the floodplain boundary, his flood insurance premiums have been less stable, increasing by nearly 10 percent a year. His rate grew from $800 in 2006 to $1,400 in 2013, sometimes to a cost reflective of a much higher mortgage. Finally, his bank required that he only purchase enough insurance to cover the amount of his loans. While he assumes the 10 percent increase will continue, he is back down to his original $800 premium.

“Either you purchase the flood insurance or they’ll purchase it and put it on your mortgage. It’s a universal threat,” said Lesh. He has not had any flooding issues but must continue to purchase the insurance.

FEMA published its Carpinteria FIRM, errors and all, on Dec. 4 despite the city citing several mistakes on the map including errors in the actual floodplain boundaries, incorrect elevations and exclusion of documents that should have been attached, including LOMRs.

Carpinteria worked directly with FEMA engineers to review their work and provided the agency with the engineering records used to revise the 2005 map as well as LOMR records to illustrate exemptions.

The city will provide copies of the LOMR that property owners can give to their banks as evidence that they don’t need flood insurance, according to Ebeling. The city also issued a press release about the revised map on Tuesday and will begin contacting residents who called about the issue.“

I am pleasantly surprised FEMA acted so quickly and was able to update the entire map,” said Ebeling.

Carpinteria enforces its own floodplain ordinance and employs a floodplain manager, which proved successful after the city passed a random FEMA audit of its floodplain management this past summer.

The department of public works is also researching enrollment in the FEMA National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System, which requires an increased investment in public awareness, flood preparedness activities and ongoing staff development. With enough participation, enrollment could result in a 45 percent drop in resident premiums and increased disaster support for the city.

Youth pastor arrested for child rape

Youth pastor arrested for child rape
Louis Joseph Bristol

Carpinteria youth pastor Louis Joseph Bristol has been charged with multiple counts of child molestation, child rape, lewd acts upon a minor and furnishing an illegal substance to minors, according to a statement issued by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department on February 28.

Bristol, 28, was arrested on Feb. 27 after inappropriate text messages between him and a Carpinteria Community Church high school youth group member led to an investigation into allegations that he used his position at the church and his job at Holiday Inn Express to commit crimes against two female juvenile victims.

Bristol is accused of sexually molesting and raping the victims, one of which on multiple occasions between late 2012 and 2013 in vacant hotel rooms. He is also accused of selling marijuana to the victims and others in the youth group. Bristol is in Santa Barbara County Jail on $2 million bail awaiting arraignment.

Detectives believe there may be more victims. Anyone with further information should call Detective Chris Corbett at 684-5405 x424 or call the anonymous tip line at 681-4171.

Rams finish in final four

Rams finish in final four
Cate School’s Geoffrey Acheampong lunges after a loose ball in a hard-fought victory over Ontario Christian at Cate on Feb. 22.

By Alonzo Orozco

In its first season as a CIF SS Division 6 contender, Cate School boys soccer made a deep playoff run but ran out of time in its semifinals battle against top-ranked Carter High School. The Rams had won consecutive Division 7 crowns before bumping up to Division 6 this season. The following is a blow-by-blow account of Cate’s run through round 2, quarterfinals and semifinals. There may be more to come if the Rams petition to enter the CIF Regional tournament.

Rams win round 2 on the road:
Cate School boys soccer survived a three-hour drive and a formidable challenge at Banning High School to pick up a 1-0 victory on Feb. 20. The Rams outshot the Broncos 18-3 but the only shot to find the net was a 25-yard blast from junior Tyler Douglas 35 minutes into the contest. Rams coach Peter Mack credited senior captain Joshua Yaro for strong defensive play and directing the back line. Freshman goalkeeper Keller Mochel posted his second straight playoff shutout. Also, the Rams showed resilience in battling the frigid temperatures and strong winds.

Shutout streak continues in 2-0 quarterfinals victory:
In a very physical match, the Cate School boys soccer team tallied a goal in each half en route to a 2-0 quarterfinals victory over visiting Ontario Christian on Feb. 22. A hard foul on Cate captain Joshua Yaro set the tone early. “It’s hard to walk away from those things (rough play), and we don’t always; but I think you saw today that (the Rams) see the bigger picture,” commented Cate head coach Pete Mack. The early foul was committed by Knight Christian Dirksen, a six-foot, five-inch, 200-pound team captain who clipped Yaro’s ankles. Both teams saw players hit the pitch, keeping the medical staff busy.

Cate received brilliant play from midfielder Geoffrey Acheampong, who directed the attack, distributing the ball to teammates and keeping play at the Ontario Christian end for much of the first half. “I’ve just been amazed at how much (Acheampong’s) grown as a player … he likes to carry the ball, but he’s finding his teammates, he’s finding them early,” said Mack of the talented sophomore. In the 21st minute off a corner set piece, Acheampong found Yaro with a cross in front of the goal. Yaro drilled the ball past OC goalkeeper Brandon Mouw, giving the Rams a 1-0 lead.

The point was all the Rams needed as the defense limited the Knights to a single shot on goal. OC came into the game with an overall record of 20-2, finishing 13-1 in the Ambassador League.

Cate found the back of the net near the 50th minute on a ball from Tyler Douglas to Joel Seguro, who directed it across the goal to a charging Abraham Tall. Tall toed the ball across the line for the score and a 2-0 Ram lead.

Rams run out of time in semifinals:
Cate’s home semifinal match on Feb. 26 against Carter High School featured two swift and highly skilled squads. The Lions, champions of the San Andreas League, came in with an overall record of 22-0-5 and ranked 12th in the state. Carter wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard when midfielder Ricardo De Rueda picked up a loose ball in the Ram zone and drilled it over leaping Ram goalkeeper Keller Mochel from 25 yards out to give the visitors a 1-0 lead just 12 minutes into the game.

But Cate countered quickly from the kickoff, putting pressure on the Lions that resulted in Geoffrey Acheampong’s blast being turned away by Carter goalkeeper Moises Rodriguez. Both teams played at a furious pace, each attacking and countering the entire afternoon. The Rams broke through with the equalizer near the 19-minute mark, when midfielder Justin Kim, on a long chip from Joshua Yaro into the box, slipped the ball past Rodriguez to make it 1-1. Kim pushed the Rams forward throughout the day. At the midway point, the teams left the pitch still tied at one.

At the 48-minute mark, the Lions forged into the lead on a penalty kick following a Rams hand ball. Carter defender Juan Magana picked the right corner, driving it past Mochel to make it 2-1. Around the 55-minute mark, the Rams nearly tied the game again when Acheampong’s free kick narrowly sailed over the cross bar.

When Lions midfielder Albert Caro’s low liner off a set-piece found its way off a Cate defender’s leg into the net near the 58-minute mark, it looked as though the Rams’ quest for a third straight title was about to end. But a goal by Yaro on a nice feed from sophomore midfielder Iman Fardghassemi suddenly made it a 3-2 game with a little less than 20 minutes to play. However, two big saves by Rodriguez thwarted the comeback and sealed the 3-2 win for Carter.

Mack summarized his team’s performance; “There’s not a better group of kids. They’re depleted both emotionally and physically; that’s all you can ask.”

Booster board restructures

Booster board restructures

Following a restructuring meeting on Feb. 25, the Carpinteria High School Athletic Boosters Club seated a new board of directors. The new board includes, from top left, President Chris Kelsey and First Vice President Mike Damron, and from bottom left, Secretary Christie Cooney, Treasurer Kathleen Gordon and Second Vice President Lori Bowles.

Carpinteria Ave. proposal comes under ARB fire

Carpinteria Ave. proposal comes under ARB fire
BBP Architects: A two-story building fronting Carpinteria Avenue at Holly Avenue would offer retail space on the first story and office space for applicant M3 Multifamily upstairs. ARB members sent architects back to the drawing board at their first review of the plans.

By Erin Lennon

The Carpinteria Architectural Review Board found more negatives than positives in a proposed multiuse plan for the corner of Carpinteria and Holly avenues during the board’s Feb. 21 meeting. Board members concluded that, in its current form, the project fails to harmonize with the neighborhood or enhance the look of downtown Carpinteria.

M3 Multifamily’s design for a multiuse plan is dominated by a 33-foot-tall commercial building, a height three inches above the municipal code maximum. Plans, drafted by BBP Architects, also include two 600-square-foot one-bedroom apartments in a structure behind the commercial property.

The two-story commercial building would house a large retail space on the ground level, fetching high-end rents, according to M3’s Jon Martin, with M3’s corporate office on the second floor. The building’s sidewalk-hugging position caught the attention of city staff and ARB members. City planner Nick Bobroff said, “I don’t think we have any other large buildings on the Carpinteria Avenue corridor that come out to the property line.”

Developers said they drew on language from Carpinteria’s General Plan, arguing that their style would communicate to visitors and residents that they were entering the city’s downtown T. The development, they said, would act as a type of gateway with a paseo and outdoor space to buffer and beautify the establishment. However, it was not the gateway that the board sought.

The plans include 12 parking spaces, though 14 are required for a project of its scale. Nearby resident Jason Rodriguez voiced concerns over the already tricky parking situation on Holly Avenue. The Carpinteria Valley Association also questioned the project’s effects on the area and its appropriateness for the space.

“This imposing structure is inconsistent with the neighborhood and with Carpinteria’s small beach town character,” said CVA representative Michael Hanrahan. “We believe it is also in violation of the general plan and would have too many adverse effects on the area.”

Echoing the board and city staff’s thoughts on the zero setback, Hanrahan said the plan encroached on passersby and disrupted the flow of pedestrian traffic, especially on the corner of Carpinteria and Holly avenues.

The board also called out the project’s aesthetics, asking for more variation in the flat design and a clearer tie between the proposal and Carpinteria’s beach community look and that of Carpinteria Avenue.

“You’re hoping to refer this to art deco, but it seems a very feeble impression of a style,” said boardmember Scott Ellinwood. “We have some better examples in town.”

M3’s Martin and BBP architect Tracy Burnell stressed the viability of the project, saying concessions will take away options for high-end retailers and the ability to construct the project on what they called an awkward property.

“We’re at that classic applicant problem where we’re reading what the legislative guideline of the city is and doing it, and then you guys are killing us,” said Martin.

The board will revisit the plans on March 21.

Fugitive nabbed in local restaurant

Fugitive nabbed in local restaurant
Steven Kunes, a Pennsylvania resident who has also lived in Montecito, has an extensive criminal history that includes forgery, grand theft and commercial burglary.

A 56-year-old felony fugitive who escaped from his electronic monitoring device six months ago was apprehended by Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Deputies after being recognized at a Linden Avenue restaurant on Feb. 24.

Steven Kunes, a Pennsylvania resident who has also lived in Montecito, has an extensive criminal history that includes forgery, grand theft and commercial burglary. He was serving a sentence at the county jail and was approved for electronic monitoring on Aug. 1 of 2012. On Aug. 22, an alert went out that his device had been cut at the Fed Ex office on Hope Avenue. Kunes fled the area after mailing his device to a custody deputy at the Santa Barbara County jail. A warrant was issued for his arrest.
At around 11:15 a.m. on Feb. 24, a man patronizing a restaurant in the 700 block of Linden Avenue identified Kunes, who was sitting at the bar, from a booking photo on the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page. A friend of the man confirmed his suspicions and called 9-1-1.
Kunes was arrested and is in Santa Barbara County Jail pending an arraignment on escape charges. No bail is set.

ARB scrutinizes new firehouse

ARB scrutinizes new firehouse

By Erin Lennon

At the Feb. 21 Carpinteria Architectural Review Board meeting, Leach Mounce Architects presented conceptual plans to demolish the current Carpinteria fire station, replacing it with a new single-story station fitted for safety and quick response. The board applauded the design concept, but raised inquiries concerning project height and the lack of landscaping.

Plans devote 8 percent of the property to landscaping, as opposed to the required 20 percent. To make up for the lack of landscaping, the board suggested a permeable ground covering and also suggested the design team consider strategies for dealing with storm water runoff.
The overall design, praised by the board, includes a contemporary H-shaped structure with metal roof and siding. The large apparatus port allows a readied truck to stay clear of the sidewalk, and a drive-through orientation erases the need for complex maneuvers.

“When you need help from a fire station, you want the most advanced equipment, the best methods and the best training you can get,” said architect Howard Leach. “And this station expresses that. It’s a contemporary station expressing contemporary techniques and methods by the fire department.”

The 48-foot-tall training tower drew concern for its possible interference with the aesthetic of Carpinteria’s civic sub-district. The proposed tower surpasses the existing structure by over eight feet. New training potential would present itself with the proposed tower. Fire fighters would have oppofrtunities to develop skills for situations that involve multiple levels, and the tower would include balconies, repelling cleats and access windows. The tower would keep emergency staff in town as opposed to training in Santa Barbara.

The board requested relocating the loud backup generator away from neighboring residences and removing the large braces from the rooftop dormers to create a more cohesive look.

Rincon Trail design contract green lighted

Council approves Coastal Plan amendment
By Sara Monge

Measure A will foot the bill for the Carpinteria Rincon bike trail’s $150,000 engineering design contract, which the Carpinteria City Council unanimously approved at its Feb. 25 meeting. The high-cost study is needed to provide detailed information on a complex trail project that spans city, county, Caltrans and railroad jurisdictions.

Parks and Recreation Director Matt Roberts explained that the project has unique design challenges, such as building a bridge over the railroad tracks and dealing with potentially unstable soil in steep grades. City Manager Dave Durflinger likened it to the Linden Casitas Interchange project, saying, “This type of (Parks) project requires a level of preliminary review we rarely see.”

Bengal Engineering’s expertise, Roberts said, will help the city overcome the design hurdles.

He further explained that all money for the project has thus far come from grants, and he expects that due to the importance of the project—connecting a bike trail from Ventura to Carpinteria and potentially to Santa Barbara—will continue to give it an edge in the competition for future funding.

The proposed trail also adds benefits to the freeway widening and overpass projects, as pointed out by Jonathan Leech, contract planner for the city. In order for the city to modify its Coastal Plan, which is a requirement for implementation of the projects, it must show that there are benefits that outweigh the encroachment on agricultural and wetlands the project proposes. The interchange project is being specifically engineered to minimize and mitigate such property loss, but the inclusion of the Carpinteria Rincon and Santa Claus Lane bike trails, which will allow for alternative transportation from Ventura to Santa Barbara, will act as an added benefit.

The council voted 4-0 (Councilman Wade Nomura abstained due to conflict of interest triggered by his home’s proximity to the project) to go forward with the initial draft amendments to the Local Coastal Plan. The final amendments will be approved by the council before being sent to the Coastal Commission for consideration.

Councilman Al Clark described the Coastal Plan as a somewhat “sacred document” and said he worried that the amendments could open up the door for other negative changes in the future. However Leech assured the council, the amendments would be “as narrow, specific and limiting as can possibly be.”

While many residents came out to talk about the project, most voiced opposition to the lack of soundwalls and the elevation of the freeway and overpasses. Durflinger reassured the crowd saying, “This is a huge project with lots of moving parts, and though we’ve been working on it for some time, we are just at the beginning of the city’s development review process.”

The rough timeline for the project aims to have the preliminary review of the Caltrans design back to the council this October and a final review set for May of 2014. However, the plans will have to pass through the Architectural Review Board and Planning Commission’s hands in the coming summer and fall and again during the winter before the council considers its final stamp of approval.

Mayor Brad Stein encouraged Carpinterians to provide the city with feedback on the project at the various public meetings in the next year so that “We can get it all nailed down with what the people want.”

The next regular Carpinteria City Council meeting will be held on Monday, March 11, at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall, 5775 Carpinteria Ave.

Warrior boys soccer edges Santa Monica 1-0 in CIF round one

Warrior boys soccer edges Santa Monica 1-0  in CIF round one
Fending off two defenders, Warrior midfielder Ruben Miranda (#26) maneuvers out of trouble in a 1-0 CIF playoff victory over Santa Monica High School. BILL SWING PHOTO

By Alonzo Orozco

Aggressive from the start, Carpinteria High School relentlessly stayed on the attack, earning a 1-0 victory on Feb. 15 at Carpinteria Valley Memorial Stadium over visiting Santa Monica High School to advance to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Boys Soccer Division 4 Playoffs. “Credit goes to a couple of the JV guys that came up (to the varsity squad) and stepped up this game, Francisco Arroyo being one of them and Eric Contreras being the second one,” said Carpinteria head coach Leonardo Quintero of the two young Warriors who helped direct the offense and win possessions at midfield.

The match pitted the Vikings, who finished second in the Ocean League with a 9-10-2 record, against Co-Tri-Valley League champion Carpinteria who ended up 11-4-3. True to the disparity in the two schools’ records, the Warriors opened the game by controlling possession with crisp passing. “I believe we had most of the possession in the first half. I’d say maybe about 60-40 (percent),” analyzed Quintero.

The Warriors’ first good opportunity came early on when midfielder Ruben Miranda’s shot from 10 yards out was stopped stone cold by Viking goalkeeper Eric Stocker. Even when midfielder Luca Rigonati was forced to leave play as a result of a yellow card and Carpinteria was left short-handed, the Warriors continued to put on the pressure. Ricardo Arroyo’s blast near the 20-minute mark from 35 yards out was also turned aside by Stocker.

But it wouldn’t take much longer for the Warriors to get on the scoreboard. Arroyo’s cross into the box resulted in a bang-bang goal with midfielder Luis Cisneros knocking in the ricochet rebound to put the Warriors up 1-0 a little more than midway through the half. Although the Warriors had the upper hand, Santa Monica started to battle back. Warrior goalkeeper Lalo Garcia’s diving save helped to preserve a 1-0 halftime lead. “(Garcia) really didn’t see (the shot), until it came from the back of his teammate’s shoulder,” explained Quintero of the Viking’s best chance for the equalizer.

The Warriors continued to keep the heat on in the second half, tallying three shots on goal in the first five minutes. However, a misplayed ball at the CHS end nearly led to a Santa Monica goal when Garcia was caught off his line. Fortunately for the Warriors, the shot sailed wide left. Moments later, the Warriors countered as defender Genaro Hurtado’s header barely went off target, keeping it a 1-0 game.

Garcia would be tested one more time, as Viking defender Omar Sanchez’s low skidding shot near the 78th minute was once again pushed aside by the Warrior goalkeeper. Pleased by the outcome, Quintero still saw room for improvement; “We did miss a few opportunities in the first half. They have their mind set on a CIF championship, but I tell our guys it’s one step at a time.”

Fire board supports $10 million bond measure

Fire board supports $10 million bond measure

By Erin Lennon

The Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District unveiled plans for a new $5 million Carpinteria fire station at its Feb. 19 meeting and took the first steps toward a $10 million bond measure to fund construction of a Carpinteria firehouse as well as the $5 million Summerland station that has been in the works for the last two years. Residents could be asked to approve the bond six months from now.

“The (Carpinteria station) is not designed or built to withstand an earthquake,” said CSFPD Chief Mike Mingee. “Obviously neither is the Summerland station. In fact, that one’s crumbling without an earthquake. So, I think both buildings are critical issues that we need to look at.”

If funding and permitting can be secured, the 1960s-era Carpinteria station will be replaced with a single-story building with dormers above to illuminate a large central area for equipment. Thus far, Leach Mounce Architects have forgone the typical Spanish Revival aesthetic for one that mimics that of the nearby Palm Lofts, a style that representative Matt Huntington said was more exciting and modern.

The proposed training equipment at the station will also be modernized. An underground area would train rescue personnel in retrieving people from confined spaces, and a 48-foot training tower complete with access windows, balconies, attached repelling cleats and a shingled roof readied to be axed would prepare fire fighters for diverse sites and circumstances. Plans also include an exercise room and multipurpose meeting room for training and community use.

While the Carpinteria station is in its conceptual phase, a new Summerland station on the corner of Lillie Avenue and Temple Street has already been permitted through the county. A two-story, 5,390-square-foot, earthquake-ready building has been approved to replace the current 80-year-old station sandwiched between Lillie Avenue and Highway 101. The Summerland firehouse has been the focus for nearly two years, but the district says its aim is to address both aging stations.

While the designs are in order, the funding is not. The solution of primary interest is a district-wide general obligation bond in which the community pays the bill through a property tax. KNN Public Finance estimated in 2011 that to fund both projects, a property assessed at $500,000 would pay $60 per year to repay the bond.

“We’ve been on this track for about 30 months and are coming to a point where we have community involvement in Summerland and a design sitting here for Carpinteria,” said Mingee. “I think the board has spent almost $200,000 to get us to this point… where I hope the board will have some serious discussion about finance options.”

The board approved measures allowing Mingee to enter into contracts with the three main players on the election team. CSFPD will hire Keygent LLC for financial advising and SCI Consulting Group to poll the community and prepare arguments in favor of the measure as well as ballot language. Stradeling, Yocca, Carlson and Roth will provide bond counsel services, including drafts of all legal documents, clear, flexible ballot language and resolution drafts. Both the financial analyst and the bond counsel will only receive payment if the bond passes. SCI will receive between $20,000 and $25,000 upfront to poll the community and then provide its in-depth findings. For a $10 million bond, which has not yet been decided on, Keygent would likely earn between $30,000 and $40,000, and Roth would take home $50,000 over the 20-year life of the bond. However, those fees are estimates and may change as the bond process is completed.

If SCI determines that the community would support a bond measure, residents of within CSFPD should see a ballot in their mailboxes on Aug. 27.

“This is faster than we typically move,” said SCI representative Mary Schilts Taylor. “But it is doable. There is time enough, and it’s important enough to ask your community what they believe in.”

The board must adopt and submit its bond resolution to the clerk of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors by April 4. SCI will poll the community on what kind of bond, if any, it is willing to support and deliver its findings to the district board on March 27.

Home prices on the rise

Home prices on the rise
Tract homes that sold in the low $500,000 range last year have been knocking on the door of $600,000.

Low supply turns down market up

By Peter Dugré

Fewer homes on the market and historically low interest rates have flipped the buyers’ real estate market from 2012 onto its head. Overnight it has become a sellers’ market with buyers lining up to get into new homes.

Data for January and a quick look at both the Carpinteria and South Coast Santa Barbara markets shows that very few homes are available in the under-$700,000 bracket. When they become available, it’s a matter of days before they’re scooped up. Demand outpacing supply has pressured prices far above where they were last year at this time.

Local agent Bill Crowley, owner of Ocean View Realty, pointed out that the real estate slump finally bottomed out early in 2012. “Sometime near the beginning of the summer, prices hiked up a lot,” Crowley said.
A recent bidding war for a home in the mid-$500,000 range illustrated the state of the market. A two-bedroom, two-bath, plus small studio, property at 1397 Vallecito Place was listed in January for $545,000, and according to local agents, offers poured in. It was the only house in the price range on the market. Nancy Hussey of Coldwell Banker estimates that offers were floated above $600,000 and that at least 13 bids were made in one week. The property remains in escrow but is a prime example of the upswing in prices. It’s worth noting that the home was foreclosed on and sold to investors at auction for $411,600 in October of 2012. The new owner, MTI Capital, was able to ride the market to what appears to be a lucrative flip of the home just three months later.

Similar homes sat on the market for months before this recent shift in the real estate landscape. Both Hussey and Crowley surmise that the window has closed on single-family homes under $600,000. They said many of the clients trying to get into single-family homes now are first time buyers who had waited out the crash and are now trying to take advantage of interest rates.

The data from Multiple Listing Service shows a steep rise in the median sales price for the month of January 2013 over its 2012 position. Last year, the median was $515,000 and this year it shot up to $824,000. Single family homes on the mountain side of the freeway between Linden and Santa Ynez avenues had been selling in the upper $400,000 to low $500,000 range when there were more on the market in 2011 and early 2012, according to sales listing attained through Fidelity National Title Insurance Company. Lately, comparable properties have more often sold in the low $600,000 range.

The new Lagunitas neighborhood near Via Real and Bailard Avenue has added supply to the Carpinteria market and has benefited from the scarcity of homes for sale. “When (Lagunitas) first started building a year-and-a-half ago they looked dead in the water,” Crowley said. “Starting in June and July, they started selling like hot cakes.” The single family homes in Lagunitas are listed between the low $700,000s to over $900,000. And the price uptick brought the new two- and three-bedroom condos in Lagunitas over $500,000.

First time homebuyers who had their interest piqued by last year’s prices and the historically low interest rates have seen the buyers’ market disappear, Hussey said. She has advised clients to appeal to sellers’ emotions by inserting photos and a cover letter with their offers. An offer from a young couple might beat that of an investment group hoping to turn a buck, not turn a key.

Cancer claims young Carpinterian

Cancer claims young Carpinterian

Daisy Love Merrick, an 8-year-old Carpinteria girl who courageously battled four rounds of cancer, passed away on Feb. 16. Daughter of Reality Church Pastor Britt Merrick and granddaughter of world-famous surfboard shaper Al Merrick, Daisy struggled with the disease for the last nearly three and a half years, enduring 30 rounds of chemotherapy and six major surgeries.

A memorial for Daisy will be held on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 3 p.m. at the Santa Barbara City College Sports Pavilion. The event will also be streamed live at In a message on the Pray for Daisy blog, Daisy’s mother, Kate, wrote, “Please join us as we celebrate the strong, kind, brave, goofy, thoughtful, amazing girl we call Daisy Love.”

Malibu Drive residents look for drainage ditch solution

Malibu Drive residents look for drainage ditch solution
Rochelle Terry points to the tangle of vegetation in the drainage ditch behind her home on Malibu Drive.

By Erin Lennon

An emerald tangle of weeds carpets the drainage channel running behind Rochelle Terry’s house on Malibu Drive, creating a growing hurdle for the drainage water flowing within her property line and stirring fears of flooding as Terry, her neighbors and the City of Carpinteria try to figure out who is responsible for clearing the channel.

During a Jan. 26 special meeting, Terry approached the Carpinteria City Council to address which public agency, if any, should be maintaining the section of the Franklin Creek drainage channel flowing behind 12 properties along Malibu Drive. City officials didn’t have an answer.

Santa Barbara Flood Control dug this portion of the channel in the late 1950s to convey water to the ocean as tract housing was constructed in the area, attempting to keep the newly occupied properties dry. The dirt channel was temporary, dug before Carpinteria became a city in 1965, according to Carpinteria Public Works Director Charles Ebeling. The plan was to transition the open ditch, channelized with a cement mixture after Carpinteria’s 1969 flood, into an underground pipeline, but it’s still open. Ebeling has been unable to locate a record of an easement in his preliminary investigation, making the channel private property and creating a maintenance conundrum.

“Something major is going to happen,” said Terry. “The walls are going to cave in or something.” The weeds are high and thick, and waters cannot move freely within the channel, which has large cracked sections and is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

“The county built something with the intention to get the easement and there was no follow through; that’s my assumption,” said Ebeling. However, the westernmost three of the 12 properties are under a county flood control easement as part of the channel inlet, according to Tom Fayram, Deputy Director of Santa Barbara County Flood Control.

“These days we have to concentrate on what we do have a responsibility to maintain and step away from items we are not responsible for,” said Fayram. The Carpinteria Public Works Department will investigate the lack of easement, but the maintenance Terry is looking for is still out of reach.

“The bottom line is that a public agency like the city or county flood control cannot physically maintain the channel because workers would have to enter private property,” said Ebeling.

Terry purchased her property in 1961 knowing that the channel was within her property line but thinking it was under a county easement. She’s frustrated over the years of research she has undergone to figure out who is responsible for doing the maintenance her family has been performing.

“I used to be out there with my teenage kids breaking up weeds to keep the channel flowing,” said Terry. “It’s been an ongoing problem.”

Even after Carpinteria was incorporated, county flood control performed maintenance nearly twice a year, and would come out to the channel when called about a problem, according to Terry, with all maintenance stopping approximately three years ago.

Ebeling believes the city will take charge of maintaining the channel and discuss what the county’s role may be.

Regular channel maintenance, which includes weeding, will cost a nominal amount, but “repairs and reconstruction, that’s a much bigger issue and could be significantly more expensive,” said Ebeling. Public works will complete an investigation, which Ebeling has roughly outlined to include a look into whether the easement exists and an appraisal of the channel’s physical condition followed by obtaining temporary rights to access the channel for clearing. The plans may change, but the goal is the same.

Ebeling says it’s likely that the investigation will take a couple of months and culminate in a proper easement, an answer as to which public agency will be wading in the water and peace of mind for Malibu Drive residents.

Alleged child molester surrenders to authorities

Alleged child molester surrenders to authorities
Michael Norris

Former Carpinteria resident Michael Norris, 67, who was wanted on multiple counts of child molestation, turned himself in and was arrested by Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department detectives on a plane that had just arrived at LAX from Costa Rica on Feb. 14. Norris has been living in Costa Rica since 2006. Allegations that Norris sexually abused a minor over several years when he lived in Carpinteria prompted an investigation in February of 2012, which led to a warrant for his arrest issued in December.

Norris is charged with multiple counts of child molestation, including continual sexual abuse of a minor, contact with a minor with the intent to commit sexual abuse, distributing and producing pornography to a child and aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14 years of age. After his arrest, he was transported to the Santa Barbara County jail where he was booked. Bail has been denied.

While living in the farm town of Quepos, Costa Rica, Norris learned of the warrant for his arrest in Santa Barbara County. He agreed to return and negotiated his surrender with sheriff’s investigators. In a past conversation with Coastal View News, Lt. Kelly Moore said that if Norris had failed to voluntarily return, the Sheriff’s Department would have sent officers to retrieve the suspected child molester.

Norris’ arrest was a coordinated effort between investigators from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Felony Fugitives and Criminal Investigative Divisions and United States officials in Costa Rica who assisted in monitoring his whereabouts and ensuring he boarded the plane.

Warriors sink Rams

Warriors sink Rams
Bill Swing Photo: Warrior water polo player Leticia Cruz looks to swipe the ball from the Rams’ Maddie Schrager in a Warrior victory on Feb. 6.

The second meeting of Carpinteria High School and Cate School girls water polo of the season was a rerun of the first. The Warriors solidified their superiority this season by defeating the Rams 13-6 on Feb. 6 at Carpinteria Community Pool. In addition to completing the season sweep over the crosstown and Tri-Valley League rival, the Warriors earned their half of a second straight Tri-Valley League co-championship, sharing the honor with Malibu High School.

The teams were locked in a defensive battle for three quarters before the Warriors’ fast break finally wore the Rams down. Warrior senior Maddie Brooks outscored the Rams on her own with seven goals. Hope Grant added four goals, and Andrea Delgado and Maya Grant each chipped in one. Warrior goalie Vanessa Vega had 19 saves, including a 5-meter penalty block that prevented Cate from tying the score in the third quarter. At the time of the penalty shot, the Warriors led just 4-3 midway through the third quarter, but two minutes into the fourth quarter, the Warriors built a 10-3 advantage.

For the Rams, junior Sophie Maes scored three goals, Sophia Soriano had two and Maddie Schrager had one. Cate coach Nathan Alldredge attributed the Warriors’ late-game run to key mistakes by the Rams. He commented, “... A dropped pass, a steal, a turnover and a couple of fast breaks saw Carpinteria score six in a row.”

The Warriors’ co-championship is the second in program history after last-season’s first ever.

Casa del Sol remodel approved

Casa del Sol remodel approved
Plans by architect Murphy & Associates depict the new southwest-style building facades approved for the Casa del Sol remodel.

By Lea Boyd

Described as “long overdue” by Carpinteria Planning Commissioner Jane Benefield, a project to improve the Casa del Sol motel and apartments, at 5585 Carpinteria Ave., was approved at the commission’s Feb. 4 meeting. The renovation is mainly superficial, with building height and number of units and rooms remaining unchanged, but the upgrade should put an end to ongoing efforts by the city and neighbors to improve the living conditions and curb appeal of the notoriously under-maintained property.

The project will add 516 square feet to the existing 19-room motel, which occupies two buildings. The rooms will each gain some square-footage and have their interiors improved. The exteriors of the 12-unit apartment building and the motel will be renovated into a southwest style. Additionally, new landscaping will be installed and parking areas reconfigured.

Cited for multiple zoning violations, including the unresolved issue of an unfilled pool fronting the building, property owner Dario Pini, who also owns four other complexes in the vicinity, has been under the scrutiny of the city and property neighbors for months. Neighbor Susan Allen called the property’s maintenance “deplorable” and said that the city and community should be “ashamed that we’ve offered these kinds of units to the public.”

As a condition of approval, the Casa del Sol renovation must get underway within six months, a tighter timeframe than the city’s typical 12-month window to begin construction. Additionally, the city is requiring that construction be completed within 18 months of approval.

“There have been some problems on site that have been documented,” said Commissioner Glenn LaFevers, “but we’re moving in a positive direction and I think that’s great.”

Residents sound off on soundwall plans

Council awards block grants
By Sara Monge

The Linden Casitas Interchange Project continues to be a hot button issue in the Carpinteria City Council chambers, and at the council meeting on Feb. 11, local residents advocated for more soundwalls incorporated into the design. The council expressed empathy for neighbors’ concerns and cautiously voted 4-0 (Councilman Wade Nomura abstained due to his home’s proximity to the freeway) to authorize a Freeway Agreement with the State of California while pledging to continue scrutinizing plans as they move through the permitting process.

Director of Public Works Charlie Ebeling explained that the Freeway Agreement is required before Caltrans can begin purchasing privately owned properties to accommodate the new infrastructure, but final permitting of the massive, $75 million project is still months away and will involve review by the Planning Commission and Architectural Review Board before coming back to the council for final approval.

Residents’ request for additional soundwalls along the highway corridor gained traction among council members. Vice Mayor Gregg Carty said he was “not comfortable with the lack of soundwalls,” and Councilman Fred Shaw explained that he was voting to approve the Freeway Agreement only to move forward with reviews of project components such as soundwalls.

Caltrans plans currently include soundwalls along northbound 101 between Linden Avenue and Franklin Creek and on southbound 101 between Holly Avenue and Franklin Creek, as well as a 980-foot stretch along northbound 101 between Casitas Pass Road and Linden and a 600-foot stretch opposite that, on the southbound side.

Soundwalls requested for Pacific Village Drive were too expensive, Caltrans’ Project Manager David Beard told residents, considering a sound study’s findings that only two homes would benefit from the structure.

Carpinteria resident George Lehtinen contested Caltrans’ estimation of how the noise generated from a wider freeway would affect nearby neighborhoods, and he presented his own readings and estimations to the council. He said, “(Caltrans) is just following their rules,” and added, “It is up to the city council to make this the best project.”

Caltrans’ project manager David Beard assured residents and councilmembers that he would have sound technicians look at Lehtinen’s readings and would try to make sure soundwalls go up before construction begins. However, he stopped short of promising either.

Residents were also concerned about potential damage that might occur if pile driving is used to construct the walls, and Beard explained that most of the project would use pile-drilling, which is a gentler method and not likely to cause damage to nearby structures. He also assured questioning residents that Caltrans will be working around gas lines “very carefully.”

In other news, the council awarded its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) monies to local charities that help provide housing to low-income residents and/or help very low-income children in order to break the cycle of generational poverty. Following the advice of the CGDB Advisory Board, the council allocated $18,363—about $3,000 less than last year—to four groups: Friendship Adult Day Care Center Inc., Girls Inc. of Carpinteria and Peoples’ Self-Help Housing.

CDBG funds are received from the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and are aimed at improving low-income families’ quality of life through meeting basic critical needs and improving the overall economic health of their neighborhoods. The city has received these funds since 2007. A three-member committee comprised of City Planning Commissioner Jane Benefield and two members of the public, Peter Brown and Lisa Gurvitz, reviewed applications for the funds and provided the council with recommendations.

United Way of Santa Barbara’s Fun in the Sun program was passed by again on block grant funding this year. Benefield explained that the committee decided that the program duplicated other offerings in the community.

The city council also voted to allot $80,000 of CDGB capital projects monies to Peoples’ Self-Help Housing as a loan for purchasing property necessary for its upcoming Casa de las Flores development, which will replace the Camper Park. Once the last parcel is bought, Peoples’ can apply for funding for construction. No other organization applied for the capital projects grant.

The next regular Carpinteria City Council meeting will be held on Monday, Feb. 25 at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall, 5775 Carpinteria Ave.

Council appoints new volunteer committee members

Rachelle Gahan was appointed by the Carpinteria City Council to replace Councilman Wade Nomura on the Architectural Review Board. Gahan was chosen since she, like Nomura, is a landscape expert. Mayor Brad Stein thanked the four other applicants for the position and asked them to consider applying for some of the other boards that have vacancies. Councilman Al Clark expressed thanks for being part of a city full of volunteers, saying, “It’s emblematic of what makes Carpinteria great.”

Current makeup of city boards

Planning Commission: David Allen, Jane Benefield, John Callender, Glen LaFevers and John Moyer.

Architectural Review Board: Bill Araluce, Scott Ellinwood, Richard Johnson, Jim Reginato and the newly appointed Rachelle Gahan.

Parking and Business Improvement Area Advisory Board: Kiona Gross, Lynda Lang, Gloria Tejeda, newly appointed Arthur Willner and one vacancy.

Bluffs Management Advisory Board: Andrea Adams-Morden, David Allen, Neils Johnson-Lameijer, Caroline Kuizenga, Ted Rhodes, Arturo Tello, newly appointed Kelley Skumautz and one vacancy.

Tree Advisory Board: Kathy Henry, Christopher Newton, Carol Terry, Leland Walmsley and newly appointed Julie Broughton.

Mobile Home Park Rent Stabilization Board: Tom McBride, John Litsinger, newly appointed Catherine Overman and Daniel Trevor, and one vacancy.

Carpinteria First Committee: Kiona Gross, Maxine Kelley, Gloria Tejeda, Karen Clark, Pat Kistler, Lynda Lang and new members Lauren Wilson, Shannen A. Gibbs and Greg Fehr.

Integrated Pest Management Advisory Committee: Trish Stone-Damon, Michael Gonella, Jay Sullivan, Ben Pitterle, Corey Wells, Will Carleton and new member Mary Ann Rajala.

New plans for Carpinteria Fire Station to be considered

New plans for Carpinteria Fire Station to be considered

A $5 million upgrade to the Carpinteria Fire Station, a new Summerland Station and a potential bond measure to fund the two projects will all be up for discussion at the Tuesday, Feb. 19 meeting of the Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District’s Board of Directors. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the city council chamber at Carpinteria City Hall, 5775 Carpinteria Ave. The district has been permitted to move forward with its plans for a new Summerland Station, but finding funding for the $5 million station is the next hurdle. An upgrade to the Carpinteria station is a newer topic of conversation, and conceptual plans for the project will be presented at the next board meeting. According to a press release from Fire Chief Mike Mingee, the 60-year-old Carpinteria Fire Station does not meet the seismic standards required of essential services buildings. He stated, “Our fire stations are not designed to provide a safe refuge for our fire firefighters and our fire engines. We can’t help anyone if we can’t survive the quake.” The Feb. 19 meeting is open to members of the public.

Skate Foundation builds support for 5th Street facility

Skate Foundation builds support for 5th Street facility
Conceptual plans for a “Skate Garden” will be considered by a Carpinteria City Council subcommittee, which will make a recommendation to the council for the best use of the 5th Street property.

By Lea Boyd

The officers of the Carpinteria Skate Foundation have their 20-years-younger selves in mind when they envision what could be for the .66 acres of newly acquired city park land next to the Amtrak station on 5th Street. The 30-somethings grew up with “Skateboarding is not a Crime” stickers on their backpacks and beat up wooden ramps in their driveways. Now they’re skilled professionals—an architect, a business owner and an electrician among their ranks—and they are eager to devote their talents to giving Carpinteria kids the recreational outlet they never had.

“Kids who are traditionally susceptible to drugs, violence and gangs gravitate to skating for its individuality,” said Jason Lesh, vice president of the foundation. With a skate park in town, he said, there would be a positive place for youth who don’t fit the team sport mold and who might otherwise wander down the wrong path.

The skatepark is key to the group’s vision for the city property, but foundation members have become passionate about creating a space with opportunities for young and old. Their conceptual plan now includes a community garden made up of nearly 60 individual plots. According to Lesh, the group wants to see a project that brings together different generations and a diversity of community demographics. The fitness component of skateboarding marries well with the health component of growing fresh fruits and vegetables, he noted.

Though the Skate Foundation has been working diligently for the past few years with its sights set on the 5th Street property, ultimately Carpinteria City Council will make the decision on what type of park will be built on the land the city purchased from Union Pacific last year for $355,000. “Certainly, it’s not been decided,” said Matt Roberts, Director of Parks and Recreation.

A council subcommittee made up of Vice Mayor Gregg Carty and councilman Wade Nomura has been established to research options and advise the council on how to proceed with the new land, which Union Pacific sold under the condition that it be kept as open space or developed into a park. Roberts said that a skatepark will be considered, and examples of both successful and unsuccessful skate facilities will be used to determine if that use would be compatible with the area and best for the community.

Through a few public outreach events, the Skatepark Foundation has rallied with impressive support behind its concept. Recently a potential donor came forward with a six-figure pledge (conceptual plans would cost about $860,000 to build) if the city signs off on the skatepark concept. The support exists in numbers as well. Over 2,000 signatures have been collected in favor of a skatepark in Carpinteria.

It may, however, be the people whose names are absent from the petition that dramatically affect the outcome of the decision. “There are some concerned neighbors,” said Matt Roberts. Noise is the main trigger of opposition from nearby residents, but neighbors have also expressed concern over liability issues and increased neighborhood traffic.

The Skate Foundation is willing to bend over backwards to adapt its plans to appease the neighbors and develop a concept that is acceptable to all, said Lesh. However, the group will battle to preserve a skatepark element within the plan. The foundation’s conceptual plans aim to reduce noise by setting the skatepark features closest to the railroad tracks and positioning the community garden along 5th Street to act as a noise buffer. Additionally, the skateboarding area is designed below ground level as a means of directing the acoustics up rather than out.

Councilman Al Clark said at a recent meeting that he is in favor of a skatepark in Carpinteria but not certain that 5th Street is the right location. This is consistent with the neighbors’ message as well. Lesh argues that 5th Street is optimal. Proximity to downtown businesses could have a positive effect on Linden Avenue retail and restaurant sales, and the central location will allow easy walking, bicycling and skating access to a recreational facility geared toward youth.

Long-time Carpinterians remember the proposed skatepark’s predecessor, and Skate Foundation members are quick to point out the differences between their plans and the wooden skatepark erected at the Amtrak station parking lot in the mid-1990s. That park came to an unhappy end due to complications related to the state’s liability law in existence at that time. Skaters were required to sign a legal waiver at city hall to be on the downtown park premises; then they were given a sticker to wear on their helmet indicating they had assumed liability. The system was cumbersome, and no one was designated to enforce the rules, said Lesh. As an unintended consequence, the police and local residents were forced to step up and patrol the park. “It was a regulatory nightmare,” Lesh said. The park was dismantled not long after it was constructed.

Liability risks for skateparks in California have dropped dramatically since then. The state passed a law in 1998 to protect municipalities from lawsuits by simply requiring signs to be posted informing users that they skate at their own risk. This game changer led to dozens of new skateparks throughout the state. Lesh and the rest of the Skate Foundation officers hope that the newer law will help pave the way for a local park.

Chevron proposes platform abandonment tradeoff

By Peter Dugré

(FEB 13, 2013) Chevron has not pumped a drop of oil from the sites of former offshore platforms Hazel, Hilda, Heidi and Hope for decades, but the oil company is still trying to free itself from the leases formerly occupied by the so-called 4H platforms due to unsatisfied provisions in its platform abandonment plan. At a project-scoping meeting about the latest platform abandonment proposal held at Carpinteria City Hall on Feb. 7, California State Lands Commission representatives listened to concerns voiced by environmental groups over Chevron’s plan to leave 25-foot-tall shell mounds, platform Hazel caissons and drilling wastes on the ocean floor while compensating for the lost trawl fisheries by dredging out a part of Carpinteria Salt Marsh, a natural spawning area for fish.

Members of the Sportsfishing Conservancy and Southern California Trawlers Association supported Chevron’s proposal at the meeting. In contrast, the Environmental Defense Center and Get Oil Out advocated for careful scrutiny of plans to leave remnants of the platforms in place while releasing Chevron from responsibility of its drilling relics.

According to EDC Chief Counsel Linda Krop, the shell mounds are “huge waste piles.” She said, “If this was on shore, people would have a fit.” The top shell layer of the mounds, which are between 200 and 250 feet in diameter, encloses petroleum-derived hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls and metals layered beneath. Studies show the materials are toxic but stable inside the mounds.

The latest proposal comes 17 years after the company removed the platforms and 65 years after the first platform, Hazel, was installed as the first ever in California. Leaving the shell mounds “largely intact” was part of a 1994 abandonment plan for the four structures located between 1.5 and 2.5 miles offshore of Summerland and Carpinteria, but a condition of leaving the mounds in place was that the areas be trawlable by fishing boats. Tests following the platform removal demonstrated that fishing nets could not be dragged on the seafloor in the area without snagging, a finding that left Chevron on the hook to improve fisheries impacted by the mounds. Currently, buoys are in place to alert trawlers to avoid the area.

According to Chevron-commissioned marine biologist Paul R. Krause of Environmental Resources Management, who spoke with Coastal View News following the meeting, the shell mounds are flourishing hard-bottom seafloor habitats that effectively “entomb” any residual materials left behind from drilling. He said the mounds were “effectively reefs in themselves,” and that dredging the mounds could disturb the armory of consolidated shell material and release any potential toxins into the ocean.

Rich Hill of Chevron told the SLC, “We believe enhancing the marsh and leaving the mounds in place is the most environmentally beneficial option.”

The project proposal calls for removing about 17,300 cubic yards of sand from the salt marsh mouth, a deposit known as the sand plug, in order to improve tidal flow and provide an important breeding ground for fish, particularly halibut, a hot item for trawlers. In seven years, the sediment will accumulate again, according to a study conducted by Santa Barbara County Flood Control District, but Chevron’s plan calls for just a one-time dredging.

Chevron’s proposal also contains an offer to pay for equipment upgrades for trawlers so they can detect the location of the mounds and other underwater obstacles. The one-time funding along with improved fish breeding grounds in the salt marsh was a welcomed trade-off to the trawlers. “We’re in full support. You’re going to see a lot better salt marsh and a lot happier trawlers,” commented Mike McCorkle, President of SCTA. Other sport and commercial fishermen echoed the comments.

Both Krop and Carla Frisk of GOO in separate statements asserted that Chevron has been duplicitous in its past negotiations to properly abandon and completely clean up its platform sites. Anything short of removal of the mounds would not eliminate the inherent risk of leaving toxins on the sea floor, they commented. “Once the mounds are gone, they’re gone. You don’t have future impacts,” Frisk said.

The purpose of the project-scoping meeting was to gather public input ahead of the crafting of an Environmental Impact Report. Both Krop and Frisk implored SLC reps to consider both long- and short-term impacts from the project when outlining potential environmental impacts. The project itself, they said, was an alternative to full cleanup, and an EIR needed to consider both the proposal to dredge the marsh, and its potential impacts from equipment and sand removal, and mound removal.

A draft EIR should be complete by this summer for the project, which encompasses state and Santa Barbara County jurisdictions. Its permitting will require future public hearings.

The full proposal for the “Chevron 4H Platform Shell Mounds Disposition and Carpinteria Salt Marsh Enhancement Project” can be viewed at under the “Information” tab and “CEQA updates.” Written comments can be emailed to with Chevron Shell Mounds NOP Comments as the subject.

Jewelry theft pinned on Carpinteria woman

Jewelry theft pinned on Carpinteria woman
Mary Methmann

Mary Methmann, who works in the administrative office for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, was arrested on Feb. 6 for stealing over $10,000 worth of jewelry from a Goleta residence. When an investigation into the theft turned up evidence implicating Methmann, she was served a search warrant and arrested at her Carpinteria apartment.

In addition to the most recent charge of residential burglary, Methmann will be prosecuted for an internal theft case triggered by a Jan. 4 complaint alleging that she stole $50 from the Sheriff’s Office. She was placed on administrative leave on Jan. 29 after a criminal investigation linking her to the crime committed when she worked in custody records at the sheriff’s main jail facility.

“We are extremely disturbed that someone from within the Sheriff’s Office would betray the public trust in this manner,” Sheriff Bill Brown said.

Methmann, who has worked for the department since 2005, was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail with bail set at $50,000.

Mixed-use building proposed for Carpinteria Ave.

Mixed-use building proposed for Carpinteria Ave.
Story poles at the corner of Carpinteria and Holly avenues outline the dimensions of structures proposed for the prominent property.

The long-vacant lot at the corner of Holly and Carpinteria avenues sprouted story poles this week and will be considered for a mixed-use project at the city’s Feb. 21 Architectural Review Board meeting.

Plans submitted for city review include a two-story, approximately 6,000-square-foot main building fronting Carpinteria Avenue that would house commercial businesses on the ground floor and the offices of the applicant, M3 Multifamily, upstairs. A second structure with ground floor parking and two upstairs apartments is proposed for the rear of the property. The living spaces would be 600-square-foot, one-bedroom rentals.

M3 Multifamily, which is currently located in Santa Barbara, invests in and manages apartment complexes throughout the western United States.

The lot that M3 has set its sights on developing was formerly the home of a gas station and underwent soil remediation in 2007 after being identified as contaminated. The site has been given a clean bill of health, but future development will be required to meet special construction specifications in the case of any lingering contamination from the former service station.

Avo growers escape freeze

Avo growers escape freeze
Brown leaves caused by freezing temperatures appear in clusters throughout the valley, but overall the damage was minimal.

By Peter Dugré

Local avocado growers escaped a mid-January freeze with only minor product damage, allowing many ranchers to breath a sigh of relief after bracing for potentially crop-killing temperatures that reached as low as 25 degrees. According to grower Rick Shade of Shade Farm Management, “The bullet creased my hair but didn’t break my skin.” Although ranches sustained spotty areas of frost burn, early assessments are that what is expected to be a big harvest in 2013 will sustain only minor losses.

Shade said he and others in the business pulled all-nighters to avert serious damage. Wind machines were audible throughout Carpinteria Valley on the coldest nights as the big blowers keep dense, cold air circulating. Other measures to prevent freeze damage were keeping the soil moist and irrigating. “Running the irrigation warms up the ground and warms up the whole area,” said Frank Algeria, District Field Manager for Calavo. The 45 to 50 degree water is balmy compared to frigid low-30s that prevailed between Jan. 13 and 16.

Grower Bradley Miles said that along Highway 150 brown leaves are noticeable from the road but aren’t widespread. “You can see that some trees got their cookies baked a little, but if you look at little farther, you see nothing,” he said.

In addition to browning leaves, which is an easy way to detect damage, sometimes the stems suffer from frost and will not be immediately perceivable. Growers see fruit dropping from the weakened stems 10 days to two weeks following the freeze. Miles said dropped fruit is best left alone and not sent in to packing houses because of its inferior quality. And while losing some fruit might bring down numbers for the overall harvest year, Miles pointed out that with such an abundance on the trees, shedding some avocados might make room for others to “size up.”

Shade called the latest cold spell “one of the strangest cold events I’ve ever encountered,” due to the unpredictability of where the coldest temperatures would occur. Typically the lowest troughs of the valley get deep freezes, but he said damages on properties he manages came in atypical locations. He said it was “hard to figure” why, and “Sometimes mother nature just has her way.” For the local industry, what was likely the worst of this winter has passed without delivering a knockout blow. However, some individual ranchers made out worse than others. Shade said it was nothing compared to some past events, like the devastating freeze of 1990, when no measures could contend with the cold.

Elise Unruh named high school Educator of the Year

Elise Unruh named high school Educator of the Year

By Peter Dugré

Carpinteria High School administrators dread the day when Jill-of-all-trades educator Elise Unruh no longer teaches the band, theater, choir and yearbook. For her devotion and value, Unruh earned 2012 Educator of the Year honors from the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce at the Jan. 26 Community Awards Banquet.

“She does it all,” CHS Principal Gerardo Cornejo said. “For us to find someone to replace her would be very difficult to say the least.”

The opportunity to do it all is the greatest perk of working in a smaller high school, according to Unruh. “I get to do a little bit of everything,” she said.

Where Unruh goes beyond the call of duty, according to Cornejo, is in all the hours she commits to the school and its students after the final bell. She conducts the marching band at football games, takes photos for yearbook, teaches jazz band and produces numerous concerts and shows each year. Evident in all this dedication, Cornejo said, is that “(Unruh) is one of those teachers who just loves what she does.”

Unruh, who has spent 27 years teaching in Carpinteria Unified School District and 37 years in education, dramatically changed course when in college in order to embark on a career path that she would enjoy. She switched majors from chemistry to music, a decision she forever applauds having made.

It was apparent last March that Unruh had left an impression on her many students during an alumni gathering and performance. Dozens of former CHS students joined in the reunion concert, which celebrated 30 years of CHS theatrical productions in the Muses drama program.

According to Unruh, the reward she gets is when the students perform and perform well. She proudly remembers leading the marching band to the Southern California Championships, but every time the crowd goes quiet and the band or Muses class performs, it’s a big moment. “I know it’s successful when I get goose bumps, and that happens every time out,” she said.

Janis Smith earns elementary Educator of Year

Janis Smith earns elementary Educator of Year

By Peter Dugré

Janis Smith can attest to the value of technology in education. The 37-year classroom veteran has embraced updates to the way information is taught to elementary school children, and her leadership in that department is one reason she earned the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year award at this year’s Community Awards Banquet on Jan. 26. She uses every tool available to teach her students.

“Smith is an innovative educator. She continuously reflects on her teaching practices and considers additional methods we can use to accelerate our students’ learning,” commented Aliso School Principal Holly Minear.  

Smith’s efforts are partially responsible for Aliso School being one of only a few schools in Santa Barbara County where 100-percent of its students have computers in their homes. She has coordinated with Computers for Families to help achieve that result.

Many of Aliso School’s successes are connected to Smith. According to those who recommended her for the annual award, she is a “proven leader,” who fosters teacher collaboration in school. When Principal Minear is off site, Smith is the teacher in charge. Aliso has taken great strides in standardized testing and surpassed state-mandated thresholds on the Academic Performance Index.

Of her efforts, Smith said she is only a piece of a positive learning environment. “It’s not an individual award; it’s a school award. We work as a team together,” she said, noting in particular fellow teacher Kimberly Young, with whom Smith team-teaches.

Smith is co-developer of the Aliso Summer Academy, which extends the school year and technology-using opportunities for many kids. She acquired private funding for the program, which helps keep student minds active during the long vacation, when kids are most likely to forget what they’ve learned.

She has also been praised for using Kid Biz, a software tool that provides daily real life situations prompting vocabulary acquisition and problem solving. Carpinteria Unified School District has been pushing for teachers to incorporate various software programs in classrooms, and Smith has been at the forefront of the beneficial movement toward tech teaching.

“Above all, she is a team player on our campus and seeks ways to improve our students’ learning in a collaborative—not competitive—manner,” Minear said.

Warriors take a bite out of Sharks

Warriors take a bite out of Sharks
Bill Swing photo: Warrior goalie Vanessa Vega played a key role in the team’s clutch victory over Malibu High School.

Key win places Warriors in first-place tie

By Alonzo Orozco

Cheered on by a poolside bleacher full of Warrior faithful, the Carpinteria High School girls water polo team charged from behind to win a crucial match against visiting Tri-Valley League rival Malibu High School. Warrior captain Hope Grant’s goal with 13 seconds remaining completed a furious comeback, earning CHS an 8-7 victory on Feb. 1 at Carpinteria Community Pool. The result avenged a loss to the Sharks earlier in the season, and locks the Warriors into a tie with the Sharks for first place in TVL for the second straight season.

“If we both finish our business (win their respective remaining games), it will be tied again, and it will be a co-championship again,” said CHS coach Bryan Swarm of his team and Malibu, which ended up sharing the league title last season.

It looked as though the Warriors would have a tough time staying on course, as their shots continuously fell off target in the first half. “I think we were getting some good looks at the cage, [the shots] just weren’t dropping,” explained Swarm of Carpinteria’s slow start.

The situation looked bleak when the Warriors trailed 7-4 with under three minutes to play in the third quarter. But, when Carpinteria’s Maddie Brooks scored near the two-minute mark, the lead was cut to 7-5. Then, as Hope Grant’s lob over the head of Sharks’ goalie Sara Toussieng reached the upper corner of the net, it suddenly became a 7-6 game with under a minute to play in the quarter and remained that way until the start of the final quarter.

Both teams tightened their defense as the fourth quarter turned into a physical confrontation. Aggressive challenges by Leticia Cruz and Grant at the CHS zone and one meter area helped to keep the Warriors within a goal. Warrior goalie Vanessa Vega made the key stop of the game when she turned back a penalty shot by Malibu’s Linda Brown with a little over five minutes left. The save, one of eight for the senior goalie, kept the Warriors within striking distance.

With about a minute to play in the game, a Brooks shot once again eluded Toussieng to even the score at 7-7. Grant’s eventual game winning goal, the final tally of the game, gained a split on the season with the Sharks as both teams sit at the top of the standings. Grant and Brooks each scored four times on the afternoon to account for all of the Warriors’ goals. Emma London and Jenny Hill-Corta each netted three to lead the Malibu attack.

Swarm was particularly pleased with the Warriors’ resolve as they ended up shutting out the Sharks in the final quarter. “They could have given up at any time … Even though (the Warriors) were down by three, they believed in each other enough to come back,” concluded Swarm.

The victory again demonstrated that the CHS water polo program is on par with Malibu, which had a lock on the TVL title until last season. The Warriors were 13-9 overall and 6-1 in TVL after the victory. The team’s final league game will have been played against Cate School on Feb. 6 after press time.

Crosstown Showdown: Rams overpower Warriors

Crosstown Showdown: Rams overpower Warriors
BILL SWING PHOTO: Cate School’s vaunted Joshua Yaro charges past Carpinteria High School senior captain Genaro Hurtado during Cate’s 5-1 victory in the Crosstown Showdown.

Geoffrey Acheampong awarded Player of the Game

By Peter Dugré

Under the lights at Carpinteria Valley Memorial Stadium on Jan. 28, all of the highlights belonged to the Cate School boys soccer team. The Rams invaded Carpinteria High School and grabbed a 5-1 win in the Crosstown Showdown against the CHS Warriors, taking this year’s rivalry match between the two talent-filled boys soccer programs. For his two goals, Cate sophomore Geoffrey Acheampong, an elusive ball handler, earned the Coastal View News Player of the Game. The Rams now hold a 2-0 edge in the annual match since its inception last season.

An aggressive opening attack for the Warriors ended with the Rams countering and collecting a 1-0 lead before two minutes ticked off the clock. The Warriors got a taste early of the speed and skill of Cate senior Joshua Yaro, who received the ball at the center of the field and split two defenders in a burst up the middle before he fed Tyler Douglas in stride. Douglas blasted a low hard shot across the face of Warrior keeper Joey Gamez and set the tone for a lopsided Rams win.

Following the game, Acheampong who was celebrating his birthday, said he had requested that goal from Douglas as a gift earlier that day. “We were studying in the library, and I said, ‘Tyler can you please do me a favor on my birthday and score a goal.’” Acheampong came to Cate from Ghana, Africa, where he studied and played soccer at the Right to Dream Academy.

Acheampong got his chance 15 minutes into the game when he was isolated with a single defender. Fancy footwork freed him for a 12-yard strike just under the crossbar. “We’ve lost a couple of games this year ... it was a wake up call for the whole team,” Acheampong explained of the team’s renewed focus.

The Warriors generated opportunities in the first half, but were thwarted by Rams goalie Keller Mochel, who intercepted many Warrior crosses before they could find their target. Yaro, an impact player on both ends of the field, had key stops in front of the Rams’ net. Defender Matthew Firestone also did some dirty work on the Rams’ back line to hold the Warriors at bay.

Warrior coach Leo Quintero commented, “We didn’t create enough opportunities in the first half.” The Warriors had seven shots in the first half but could not get one off for the game’s first 13 minutes. Overall, Quintero said, the Warriors, “took one to the chin,” and “will learn and go on to the next chapter.”

The Warriors continued to attack during the first 20 minutes of the second half but came up empty. Several entry passes into the box resulted in opportunities but not in clean shots. For the Warriors, Lalo Mejia, Omar Vasquez and Ruben Miranda controlled the ball for much of play, but their efforts were fruitless.

Yaro created a high-speed breakaway opportunity for himself and finished the run by drilling the shot to give the Rams a 3-0 lead 15 minutes into the second half. Acheampong scored on a penalty kick after Douglas was dragged down in the box with less than five minutes remaining.

Genaro Hurtado, determined in the waning minutes, nailed a header on a Carlos Orozco feed for the Warriors’ lone goal.

As time ticked down, Leighton Brillo-Sonnino placed a shot in the upper left corner of the Warrior net to end scoring at 5-1.

“Carp is an excellent team and this is a very, very good win,” Cate coach Peter Mack commented. “As the game wore on, our confidence grew, and we were able to establish our own rhythm and style of play, marked by consecutive, creative short passes, and opportunistic wide runs.”

The five goals allowed was the most this season by the Warriors, who typically count their defense as one of their greatest assets. In seven Tri-Valley League games, the Warriors have yielded a total of three goals, and most recently, the Warriors shut out ranked, Division 1 team Ventura High School.

The Rams, ranked fourth in CIF SS Division 6, improve to 8-2-1 overall and are 4-0 in Condor League. The Warriors, who have yet to crack the top 10 in Division 4 polls, fall to 9-3-3 overall and are 5-1-1 in Tri-Valley League with some important league games looming in the next week.

Lou Panizzon named 2012 Carpinterian of the Year

Lou Panizzon named 2012 Carpinterian of the Year

By Peter Dugré

On a Carpinteria Mount Rushmore, the mug of Lou Panizzon would get heavy consideration for a center spot. The Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce further cemented Panizzon’s name into local history by naming him Carpinterian of the Year for 2012 at the annual Community Awards Banquet on Jan. 26.

Panizzon’s award, a lifetime achievement honor that could have been bestowed in any given year, came the year in which the longtime educator and football coach retired from the Carpinteria Unified School District Board of Education, concluding his over four decades of service in local education.

According to 2011 Carpinterians of the Year Wade and Roxanne Nomura, who introduced Panizzon at the ceremony, Panizzon has been such a worthy candidate for so long that “a few of the members of the selection committee were wondering if he had been elected before.” Panizzon has been inducted into the UCSB athletic Hall of Fame, Santa Barbara Athletic Round-Table Hall of Fame, CIF Hall of Fame and Carpinteria High School Hall of Fame for his coaching.

In his heartfelt speech, Panizzon said that he has been dedicated to a community that helped to raise his brother and him after they lost their mother. Known for his candor, Panizzon commented, “I learned early on that the people in this community take care of each other—we’re all part of a team.” Upon shedding some tears while flanked by his family at the podium, Panizzon interjected, “I’m Italian, so I can cry.” His parents emigrated from Italy.

Panizzon was raised in Carpinteria and attended local public schools. After graduating from UCSB and serving as a U.S. Army officer in Vietnam, for which he received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, he returned to teach at Carpinteria High School. At CHS he served for 15 years as the head football coach and was part of making Warrior football into a feared and revered program. Panizzon coached the team to nine Tri-Valley League championships and five CIF titles, and has been personally recognized as coach of the year over 10 times by several organizations. He also coached the baseball team to a CIF title.

At the ceremony, Congresswoman Lois Capps said, “When I look at you and think of all the young people’s lives you’ve touched in a positive way, I think about how they’ve been blessed by your service.”

Over his long teaching career, Panizzon rose through the ranks to athletic director, assistant principal and principal. Santa Barbara County First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal said, “If there’s anybody who epitomizes public service and giving back, it’s you.”

Panizzon’s legacy lives on at Carpinteria Valley Memorial Stadium, which he helped to build through a $1.25 million fundraiser that culminated with the stadium’s dedication to veterans in 2009. Mayor Brad Stein said, “(Panizzon) is so unassuming. He sees a job that needs to be done and just does it.”

Delgado named 2012 Jr. Carpinterian

Delgado named 2012 Jr. Carpinterian

By Peter Dugré

By the time dignitaries finished showering praise on 2012 Jr. Carpinterian of the Year Andrea Delgado, it seemed they all wished they could achieve at the Carpinteria High School senior’s level. From the podium at the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce Community Awards Banquet on Jan. 26, Santa Barbara County First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal told Delgado, “I really think you could be president someday. Don’t cut yourself short.”

Delgado boasts the enormous resume and grade point average of a future president, and she carries the title of president pretty regularly in her many clubs and activities. She’s the Associated Student Body president, president of Rotary Interact Club and vice-president of Junior State of America.

Carpinteria Mayor Brad Stein asked, “How do you find the time?” He also said, “Congrats from the city council, and we’re going to look forward to great things.”

Juggling a rigorous course load, Delgado has maintained a 4.43 GPA to rank in the top five of her class. Her studies are geared toward science, and her career goal is to become a pediatrician. Delgado has also gained recognition for her leadership while competing on both the water polo and swim teams.

“You represent the best and the brightest of the future of this country,” Congresswoman Lois Capps said while congratulating Delgado.

The prize comes with a $4,000 scholarship from CVCC. Delgado also has already received a $15,000 scholarship as one of only 10 girls in the U.S. to be granted the Girls Inc. National Scholar award. She hopes to use the scholarships to attend Brown University in Rhode Island. In receiving the award, Delgado said she has been inspired to achieve by the community.

In a statement to the selection committee, she said, “Once I establish my career, I plan on giving back to the youth in my community, just like Girls Inc. has done for me,” Delgado said.

Jr. Carpinterian of the Year runners up, Audrey Lent and Gabriela Mendoza, will receive a $1,500 scholarship, and all of three award finalists will receive a one year premium membership from online educator

City of Carpinteria plots 2013 at annual workshop

By Lea Boyd

A grand to-do list for 2013 took shape in a marathon Jan. 26 meeting where Carpinteria City Council members and city department directors put their heads together to plot and plan the year ahead. The strategic planning meeting for the city’s annual work program included everything from simple goals to complex challenges facing the coastal hamlet.

Law enforcement’s long-term look:
One of the large scale and long-term ideas to emerge from the meeting was Chief of Police Lt. Kelly Moore’s proposal to construct a building that would house local law enforcement and an emergency operations center. Moore cited the need for a disaster resilient building for an EOC as the motivator for building a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department substation in place of the existing roller rink on city hall property. The current substation occupies the rear offices of the city hall building, but Moore explained that local law enforcement would benefit from having its own building and city hall would likewise benefit from the additional space now occupied by the substation.

A disaster training drill completed in 2012 underscored the need for a new EOC, Moore said. Upgrading the existing substation to meet the structural standards required to withstand a strong earthquake would likely require an expensive and unnecessary remodel of the entire building. A new, high-end EOC/substation would cost approximately $5 to $7 million, but a “perfectly adequate” structure could cost much less, Moore said. Funding still would be a challenge, he admitted, but grants could pay for a portion of the costs and the rest could be saved over time by setting city money aside annually.

Councilman Gregg Carty resurrected discussion about the relationship between the Sheriff’s Department and the community. “Is there anything we can do to make our law enforcement feel more local?” he asked.

Moore, having fielded similar questions in past meetings, said that the city should take ownership over creating the feel of a police department. The purchase of uniforms specific to Carpinteria would be expensive but would go great lengths in overcoming the perception that the deputies on duty locally are outsiders to the community, he said.

City Manager Dave Durflinger added that in order to improve the relationship between Carpinterians and their law enforcement, the deputies would need to interface more with community members. Coucilmembers discussed the possibility of launching a program similar to Santa Barbara’s “Coffee with a Cop,” that gives community members and deputies an opportunity to get to know one another.

Carpinterians––council members and city staff not excluded––tend to recall the old days of a local police force with nostalgia, often referring back to a time when everyone knew the names of the law enforcement personnel. Moore pointed to his own long years of local service in an attempt to dispel the myth that department personnel rotates quickly and deputies are often lost to better paying positions outside of town. Last year the city began publicly recognizing officers for their service within Carpinteria, which Moore described as “a good step toward knocking down that misperception that we’re just a training ground for these (deputies).”

Hotels, motels and “seedy” landlords:
During the planning meeting, the council and city staff circled back several times to the question of how to provide more and improved overnight opportunities for visitors. Discussion over plans to identify the top prospective hotel development sites in Carpinteria highlighted the potential of Tyco’s current location on Linden Avenue, which is soon to be vacant, a rear section of the Torrey pine property on Carpinteria Avenue and the former home of Prufrock’s, a popular Linden Avenue bed and breakfast that closed a few years ago.

Durflinger announced that John King, who owns the farthest east section of the Bluffs 3 property at the east end of Carpinteria Avenue, has approached the city about the possibility of developing his land. Also, he said of the proposal by Jack Theimer to develop the main portion of the Bluffs 3 property, “I wouldn’t say it’s on hold, but it’s slowed down.” He cited issues with a family trust for the lost momentum.

Councilman Gregg Carty advocated for an upgrade to the Carpinteria Avenue Motel 6, a business notorious for police calls and criminal activity. Describing the people he meets from the motel, Carty said, “Some of them are pretty scary. It’s like night and day, the type of people the Holiday Inn Express and the Motel 6 attract.” Durflinger responded that the chain’s corporate representatives had been open to dialogue with the city in the past and could be approached about reopening the Motel 6, one of two in Carpinteria, under the brand of a higher level hotel chain.

Talk of Motel 6 drew the council’s attention to an even more problematic area of the city. The strip of apartments and motels between Dump Road and Concha Loma, specifically those owned by landlord Dario Pini, came under fire for their dangerous state of disrepair, their tendency to house ne’er-do-wells and their unattractiveness. “Dario Pini is the latest slumlord that we have there,” Mayor Brad Stein said. “Anything he puts a dime in, he expects five bucks out of tomorrow.”

Pini has been cited for numerous zoning code violations, according to Community Development Director Jackie Campbell, and the city has made it a priority to monitor his properties for code violations. Zoning codes, Campbell lamented, are really just a “blunt tool” to get to the bigger social issues at play. She said that unfortunately many of the tenants in the rundown buildings fail to report the landlord’s mismanagement of the properties. Immigration status and fear of losing their housing were brought up as examples of why residents may be uncomfortable coming forward. Campbell hedged her description of the property owner by calling him a “seasoned landlord,” and Stein got a laugh from meeting attendees when he chimed in, “I’d say seedy landlord.”

Caltrans projects and their side benefits:
City permits are required for the construction of Caltrans freeway widening and interchange projects that affect Carpinteria, one of which is in progress now and two are slated to begin in the next few years. Campbell said that the city may be able to close some of the gaps in the state’s coastal trail as a component of the Caltrans work. Rincon Point to Carpinteria State Beach contains some missing trail links, and there is just enough space parallel to the railroad tracks to connect a path from the east end of Santa Claus Lane to the west end of Carpinteria Avenue.

The Linden/Casitas Interchange Project will convert a portion of the Whitney property along Highway 101 near Casitas Pass Road into roadway, but it will leave 4.5 acres unused. Campbell said that property could be deeded to the city for a community garden. The Coastal Plan requires that agricultural acreage lost must be mitigated with new ag related projects such as a community garden.

Trees, parking and oil drilling:
A draft Zone Code Update should be brought to the council soon, Campbell said. The document will give the city an opportunity to put new code in place to address issues that have arisen and are expected to arise again. Removal of trees on private property, Campbell pointed out, could be regulated should the council so desire. In the last year, Carpinteria State Beach and Union Pacific have removed old, well-loved trees within Carpinteria, but the city had no regulatory authority over the trees. Campbell said it is not uncommon for cities to require permitting for tree removals on private property, but Mayor Brad Stein voiced his preference to avoid getting involved in what property owners do with their trees.

Campbell added that parking requirements for new downtown businesses have been found to be prohibitively high. Parking workshops funded by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency should help the city identify potential changes to parking code that would be more reasonable for new businesses.

Lastly in regards to zone code updates, Campbell mentioned that current code allows onshore oil and gas drilling into onshore reserves but prohibits onshore drilling for offshore reserves. The code could be rewritten to increase or decrease local drilling regulations.

Lagunitas underway:
Campbell reported that the Lagunitas development on Via Real “is now going gangbusters.” Construction is underway on all 73 units, and each of the 36 condominiums in the project has been purchased. Once skeptical of the homes’ sales potential in the current economy, the city has watched as Lagunitas has accelerated its construction phasing plan given the fast rate of sales. The development, Campbell added, will improve our property tax base, provide development impact fee funds, support schools, add to Carpinteria’s population and provide affordable housing units.

Park plans and park dreams:
Park improvements that were put on the city’s back burner due to lack of funding could gain momentum in 2013 with the availability of new designated funds from Development Impact Fees. Parks and Recreation Department Director Matt Roberts briefly presented on plans to upgrade Memorial Park, on Santa Ynez Avenue, by adding native plants, a jogging trail, barbecue areas and a fenced off-leash area for dogs. Councilmembers remarked on the need for off-leash areas for dogs, and Durflinger noted that the city could also consider designating a stretch of lesser used beach, such as areas on the east end of the city, as off-leash zones for dogs.

Roberts reminded the council of plans originally brought up a few years ago for “Seaside Park,” a micro-park on the corner of Carpinteria and Maple avenues. While Councilman Al Clark said he would support upgrades to the Seaside site as a priority for available parks monies, Mayor Brad Stein said that park funds should be prioritized for improvements at the city’s highest use park, El Carro.

The last few links required to connect the Coastal Vista Trail from Viola Fields to Bluffs 3 on the east end of Carpinteria Avenue will require some work on the city’s part, Roberts and Durflinger explained. Most of the sections of trail have been strategically obtained over several years when property owners along that section of bluffs go through the development permitting process. Because the owners of the last segments, including the S&S Seeds property and its neighboring lot, have not approached the city with proposed changes, Durflinger said, “Now we’re going to have to bite the bullet and get it done independent of development.” The owner of the S&S Seeds building lives outside of California, but the city will work on obtaining an easement for a trail on that land and the undeveloped lot next door.

Roberts presented something of a wish list to the council, including a stairway down to Jelly Bowl Beach replacing a relic pipeline, improvements to the eroded main path to Jelly Bowl, railroad undercrossings at Calle Ocho and Holly or Elm avenues.

Vacant property running along the south side of the railroad tracks between Linden and Elm avenues is the newest object of desire for Roberts. Whether Union Pacific is willing to sell, and at what price, is still an unknown, but three homeowners whose properties back up to the tracks between Elm and Holly avenues are currently in discussions with the railroad company to purchase that section of land. The city, which now owns the former Union Pacific property on the other side of the tracks and is currently considering what type of park amenities to put there, recognizes the potential for additional recreational space or added parking on the strip of land between Linden and Holly avenues.

Public Works and its great grants:
Under the leadership of Director Charlie Ebeling, the city’s Public Works Department has been highly successful in securing grants for local projects. Ebeling reported that last year five grants amounting to $550,000 were obtained, and nine new grant applications are under consideration now.

The Carpinteria Avenue bridge over Carpinteria Creek must be replaced soon, Ebeling said, as Caltrans has deemed it structurally unfit. A federal program will pay nearly 90 percent of the $10 million estimated cost to replace it. The new bridge will be key to reducing flood risk in Carpinteria, particularly when the highway widening project replaces the upstream bridges and leaves the Carpinteria Avenue bridge as the last major impediment to water flow.

Emergencies, economic stimulus and a look ahead:
Julie Jeakle, the city’s volunteer and emergency services coordinator, said that a neighbor to neighbor program will be launched this year to improve disaster preparedness within Carpinteria neighborhoods. The city will work on identifying and developing leaders who are willing to initiate dialogue among their neighbors to improve disaster resilience. According to Jeakle, studies indicate that more connected neighborhoods respond and recover more quickly in an emergency.

This year, the city council will consider greenlighting a contracted report on the state of the economy that is expected to cost between $2,500 and $3,500. Work to promote economic vitality includes ongoing television advertisement, development of new print ads for First Friday events, the launch of a Welcome Wagon packet program that provides resource materials to new residents, and the identification of the top three available prospective hotel development sites in Carpinteria

City Manager Dave Durflinger looked ahead to projects that city officials should be aware of on the more distant horizon. The current community visioning plan maps out and guides decisions for the city’s future through 2020. In 2014, he said, the city will begin preparing for a visioning process to commence in 2015 and provide direction for 2020 through 2040. Also, the City of Carpinteria will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2015, and Durflinger proposed that a committee be formed in 2014 to plan activities surrounding the anniversary.

Items of concern to residents:
Jason Lesh of the Carpinteria Skate Foundation announced that the nonprofit had identified a potential large donor to help fund a skatepark should the city decide on approving such a use for the newly purchased Fifth Street property adjacent to the Amtrak station.

Rochelle Terry, a Malibu Drive resident, commented that the storm drain behind her home and 11 other residences is in a terrible state of disrepair and is a flood waiting to happen. Public Works Director Charlie Ebeling called the situation “a tough one” because of difficulties determining who owns the drain and what should become of it. Mayor Brad Stein called it a priority to determine a suitable fix for the deteriorating infrastructure.

George Lehtinen proposed a solution to the high commercial vacancy rate in downtown Carpinteria. He advised the city to launch a program to encourage new businesses by working with landlords to drop the rental rate to $1 per square foot for the first year of tenancy. Additionally, he said, the city could waive its fees to support new businesses.

Jason Rodriguez, a resident of Holly Avenue, pointed out that his section of the street between Sawyer and Carpinteria avenues is in need of a sidewalk and storm drains. Currently, the situation is dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.

Wakefield honored for criminal justice work

Wakefield honored for criminal justice work

Tona Wakefield, who works as the Jail Discharge Planner in the Santa Barbara County Jail, was honored with a Words to Deeds Paradigm Award for her leadership in criminal justice and mental illness. Wakefield, a long-time Carpinterian, works to prevent homeless inmates from being sent back to the streets after release from county jail. To this end, Wakefield identifies indigent inmates with serious mental illness, develops discharge plans, reinstates benefits and refers inmates to benefit acquisition teams throughout the county. In addition to her work at the jail, Wakefield was appointed by First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal to the Advisory Board on Drug and Alcohol Problems, a board that she served on from 2005 to 2011. She was also appointed as an alternate member of the Mental Health Commission and worked as the Family Advocate with the Mental Health Association in Santa Barbara County. She received her Words to Deeds Award from the Forensic Mental Health Association of Counties on Jan. 24 at a ceremony in Sacramento.

Council hears updates to interchange project

By Erin Lennon

The Carpinteria City Council lauded a new design for the Casitas Pass Road overpass that reduces the number of lanes for the immediate future and includes flexibility for the long run. The reconfigured bridge, which incorporates a landscaped median that can be converted to a fifth lane when traffic rates rise in the future, was among several design aspects of the Caltrans Casitas Pass and Linden Avenue Interchange Project that the council reviewed at its Jan. 28 meeting.

The interchange project is one of four parts of a larger plan to widen Highway 101 between Ventura and Goleta to accommodate the 90,000-plus vehicles traversing the corridor daily, according to Santa Barbara County Association of Governments. The city’s interchange project aims to improve safety and operations on the highway, reduce highway use for local trips and improve public transit and circulation for local vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians upon its completion in December 2016.

Local hourly travel volumes rise around 10 a.m. and stay elevated until 6 p.m., not the norm, according to traffic engineer Steve Oros. “The current volumes we’re experiencing on the overcrossing are much higher midday, which means that there’s a lot more people trying to use the freeway to cross from one side of town to the other than a normal roadway,” he said, an issue the project intends to alleviate.

Carpinteria’s $75 million project also extends Via Real to Casitas Pass Road and Linden Avenue and replaces the freeway bridges over Carpinteria Creek. The Caltrans project is fully funded by the State Transportation Improvement Plan but the City of Carpinteria must review it and provide permits before the project can move into construction. The Carpinteria Design Review Team, made up of city officials and members of the public, evaluated the design and pushed toward smaller and lower in its recommendations.

“Our mandate to the DRT was not necessarily, ‘What are the colors? What are the textures?’ But ‘Do everything to get the thing smaller and more compatible with the community,’ and that’s been a major success,” said councilmember Al Clark.

The DRT took the standard urban bridge design and gave it a local touch. The Linden Avenue overpass has been reduced to three lanes, and the Casitas Pass Road overpass is four lanes with a raised and landscaped median that can become a fifth lane if necessary. The new structures will be no more than four feet higher than the existing bridges, a reduction of two feet from previous plans.

“The fact that we’re putting that fifth lane median in and making it landscaped for now, but with the possibility of traffic increasing, to move it out and create a fifth lane … is a really proactive idea,” said councilmember Fred Shaw.

Other aesthetic factors include 8-foot-wide sidewalks and 5-foot-wide bike lanes along both landscaped bridges, brightened with lights that are compatible with the city’s aesthetic theme. Square columns, chamfered edges, wood-like railings, decorative fencing and patterned concrete walls further the local aesthetics of the sandstone-colored structures.

The four sound walls that will run along the new section of Via Real, northbound and southbound from Linden Avenue to Franklin Creek and from Vallecito Place to Church Street were also met with crowd approval.

With construction slated to begin in early 2015, the council requested a look at traffic projections to assess how the 2008-2009 economic recession affected the 2008 Traffic Analysis and to update that data. The study projected annual growth of 1 to 2 percent and found no change in traffic or projections due to the economic recession. It pinpointed a need for traffic signals along the Casitas Pass Road Interchange at Via Real and the Highway 101 southbound ramps as well as Linden Avenue’s connection with Ogan Road and the Highway 101 southbound off-ramp.

Based on the study’s assumptions for population growth, the number of lanes along both interchanges and subsequent traffic signals will keep the overpasses operating at acceptable traffic levels through 2036, averting vehicle queues spilling back onto the highway at the southbound off-ramp on Casitas Pass Road and to Sawyer Avenue on northbound Linden Avenue. However, lines will extend past Nipomo Drive during morning peak travel time on southbound Linden Avenue under all scenarios.

Budget picture gets a bit rosier:
Carpinteria’s city budget got its own remodel when Administrative Services Director John Thornberry reported the second half of fiscal year 2012-2013 will be more lucrative than the first half. Aside from the rising revenues from property taxes, sales tax, franchise fees, and other items, the voter-approved Transient Occupancy Tax hike is projected to surpass expectations by $156,000, increasing TOT revenue to $1.6 million. Legal services have cost the city more than anticipated this year due to assistance with setting up a first-time homebuyer loan assistance program, an IRS audit, the Zone Code update, TOT ballot initiative, the waste hauling franchise agreement and litigation for the plastic bag ban. Despite the extra $100,000 appropriated for legal services, the city will still exceed midyear expectations by $56,000.

The next regular City Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 11, at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers, 5775 Carpinteria Ave. announces $103 million investment

Three companies recently finalized a $103 million investment into Carpinteria-based, which according to company founder Lynda Weinman, will help the the business get to “the next level” by expanding its services and its audience. The investment by global venture capital firm Accel Partners, growth equity firm Spectrum Equity and Meritech Capital Partners marks the first outside funding used in the company’s 17-year history.

“Our decision to accept outside funding will support as we expand internationally. It will also add value to our membership with broadened content areas and accelerated scaling of our Web and video platform,” said company CEO Eric Robison. provides software, technology, creative and business training to more than two million people worldwide through a library of 87,000 instructional videos. Clients include 44 out of 50 top national universities, more than half of the Fortune 100 companies, all branches of the U.S. military and all cabinet-level departments of the U.S. federal government.

Founded in Ojai in 1995, moved its headquarters to Carpinteria in 2009. The company’s local campus now occupies 160,000 square feet of office space in the Carpinteria Industrial Park with a staff of nearly 400 people. In 2012, the earned more than $100 million in revenue.

In a statement from the company, Lynda Weinman, co-founder and Executive Chair, said, “This investment increases our ability to expand our services to help more people in more places, and we believe that Accel and Spectrum have the domain expertise, resources and shared vision to help us reach our goals.”

School board reviews reading software

District eyes future bond measure
By Erin Lennon

The Carpinteria Unified School District Board of Education discussed how to get more out of its current facilities and programs at the Jan. 22 meeting, where it contemplated expanding reading interventions at Canalino and Aliso elementary schools after approving a contract to update the Facility Master Plan.

Canalino Principal Jeff Madrigal and Aliso Principal Holly Minear joined reading intervention staff from both sites to provide board members an overview of the Read 180 and System 44 software programs designed for struggling readers. The $35,000 price tag per site got both schools 60 permanent licenses, with 10 additional System 44 licenses that increase the investment at Canalino by nearly $10,000, according to Madrigal.

But not all licenses are currently being used despite continued need, and Board President Andy Sheaffer’s inquiry into why was met with the resounding answer: staff. These interventions require trained staff to bring students into reading labs for an hour a day, with Aliso holding two sections a day and Canalino hosting three, according to Minear and Madrigal. One solution is incorporating System 44 into afterschool programs. However, more licenses, staff and time slots must be procured before the Read 180 and System 44 program can be more widely implemented.

The intervention program, emphasizing phonics, fluency, vocabulary, grammar and spelling, targets elementary students reading at two to three years below their grade level. Currently about 150 students use the programs.

“If we don’t get them proficient by third grade,” said Superintendent Paul Cordeiro, “we’re really going to struggle with their ability to graduate from high school, at least with courses that position them for college.”

Canalino and Aliso staffs touted the program’s use of engaging books and videos that provide opportunities to “say, spell and write” about concepts and vocabulary. Progress monitoring and assessments hold students accountable for their education, informing them that even though they’re on computers, teachers are keeping tabs on their work.

“They know they’re low,” said Canalino Instructional Assistant Leslie Grieve. “They want to do better or they want to shutoff, and we’re getting them tuned back in.”

Literacy was only one area the district would like to see improve. Cordeiro highlighted other ongoing district initiatives, such as increasing math and science proficiency, to ease the transition for Carpinteria students into the world of work or college.

Cordeiro also suggested increasing students’ career exploration through programs like Carpinteria High School’s forthcoming Design and Engineering Program and the Culinary Arts Kitchen.

Along with addressing student success, the board approved a $15,000 contract with Pat Saley and
Associates to update CUSD’s Facility Master Plan, taking stock of facility improvement areas. Assistant Superintendent Cindy Abbott presented a timeline for a general obligation bond, a bond repaid with a tax levied on residents, to pay for pinpointed improvements. “When you (update the Facility Master Plan), you go from the absolute needs to the dreams a lot of times, and somewhere in there is where your bond is going to be,” said boardmember Terry Hickey Banks.

GO bonds require approval during a regular election, and Carpinterians will likely see this bond on the Nov. 4, 2014 ballot.

With well over a year to go, planning has started, and Cordeiro and Abbott are currently seeking recommendations for members of a steering committee. The group of eight to 10 people with diverse expertise will guide the process by receiving input and updates concerning the FMP and the bond campaign. The board will adopt the final FMP in September or October.

The next regular school board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 5:30 p.m. in Carpinteria City Council Chambers, 5775 Carpinteria Ave.

CHS girls make it five straight

CHS girls make it five straight
Bill Swing photo

Who needs the Lakers? Carpinteria High School girls basketball player Elena Schneider sank a lay up in a Jan. 8 victory over Fillmore High School. The Warriors have let the good times roll into the new year and into Frontier League, winning the league opener at Warrior Gym, 45-21, over Fillmore. The Warriors will put their five-game winning streak on the line against La Reina High School at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10, at home.

CHS boys soccer wins TVL opener

CHS boys soccer wins TVL opener
Bill Swing photo: CHS soccer player Lalo Mejia (#5) charges after a loose ball during a 2-0 Warrior victory at Fillmore High School.

At Fillmore High School, Carpinteria High School boys soccer won its first test of the new year in a 2-0 Tri-Valley League opening victory. Senior captain Genaro Hurtado opened up the scoring in the fifth minute by knocking a header into the net off an Angel Varela corner kick. The game remained tight at 1-0 until the Warriors built a 2-0 lead in the 65th minute on a Lalo Mejia goal that was produced from a Ricky Arroyo assist. Coach Leo Quintero credited goalie Lalo Garcia for recording his first shutout and called him the “player of the game” for keeping the FHS Flashes at bay. The Warriors host Oak Park High School in another TVL match on Friday, Jan. 11, at 5 p.m. at Carpinteria Valley Memorial Stadium.

CHS girls soccer falls 3-0 in TVL opener

By Alissa Jesle

On a brisk night, Carpinteria High School girls soccer hosted its first Tri-Valley League game on Jan. 4 against La Reina High School and got its first taste of a tough TVL schedule. Despite generating some quality shot attempts, the Warriors fell 3-0 against a stifling La Reina defense.

Warrior coach Charles Bryant saw progress in his team’s play over the beginning of the season but also saw some room for improvement. “We need to move off the ball more and need to be one step ahead of our competition,“ Bryant said. “I see improvement but we need to have more eyes on the ball.”

The Warrior defense started strong with senior captain Jasmine Montes De Oca blocking a potential goal from the Regents. And on the other end, Warrior midfielder Kelsie Bryant attempted a goal but was denied by the Regents.

Strong passing by La Reina had the Warriors chasing and created a 1-0 early lead. The Warrior back line was able to avert further first half goals by La Reina, but the ball found its way in front of the Warrior net on numerous occasions with the Regents controlling play.

Kelsie attempted two more shots in the first half but could not find the back of the net. Also for the Warriors, Kylie Augerot aggressively attacked the goal but came up short. La Reina carried the 1-0 lead into halftime.

Both teams came out firing in the second half, but both goalies were ready. Then midway through the second half, the Regents ran the field and hit one against the Warriors, making the score 2-0.

Following the goal, La Reina attempted three consecutive shots but Warrior captain Erin Durflinger showed some hustle to keep the Warriors within striking distance as the clock continued to run. “This is a tough league for us,” Durflinger said. “We definitely need to step up as individuals so that we can come together as a team.”

Close to the end of the game, the Warrior defense broke down and allowed La Reina to slip in behind the line for the final goal. Despite their loss, the Warriors found a silver lining. Durflinger said, “I think we did a lot of good passing this game. We’ve been working a lot on moving off the ball. “

“We still need to work on talking to each other more, “Cristina Valdez added.

The Warriors fell to 0-1 in TVL and host Grace Brethren High School in another league match on Monday, Jan. 14, at 5 p.m.

48 years of service

48 years of service
Alonzo Orozco photo

Bob Lieberknecht, a major player in Carpinteria water works for nearly 50 years, was honored for his tenure on the Carpinteria Valley Water District Board of Directors at a surprise luncheon on Jan. 7 at the Carpinteria Woman’s Club. The who’s who of Santa Barbara County water turned out for the event, as well as Lieberknecht’s friends and family members. Lieberknecht is pictured above with his wife, Pat.

Nomura to lead Rotary Rose Bowl Parade team

Nomura to lead Rotary Rose Bowl Parade team
Wade, right, and Roxanne Nomura, left, are pictured with Jane Goodall, 2013 Tournament of Roses Grand Marshall, and Sakuji Tanaka, the 2012-2013 Rotary International President.

Wade Nomura of the Carpinteria Morning Rotary Club was recently selected to chair the 2013-2014 Rotary Rose Parade Float Committee. Nomura and his committee will be charged with creating the 35th annual entry for the club and one that raises awareness of Rotary’s efforts at bringing peace to the world through its many humanitarian service projects. Wade is only the second committee chair in 35 years to come from the Central Coast Rotary District. Last year, Wade’s wife, Roxanne Nomura, walked alongside the float, having participated with Wade in a Polio eradication mission to India and in water, sanitation and health projects in Mexico.
The Rotary Parade Committee also organizes a meeting of the international presidents of Rotary, Optimist, Kiwanis and Lions clubs, service organization leaders that meet together only once a year. This year, Wade served as one of the hosts for the event.

Albertsons wins EPA award

Albertsons wins EPA award
Holding the GreenChill plaque, Albertsons store manager Ahmed Jahadhmy is joined by, from left, Tracy Bower, Nancy Sanchez and George Flores.

The scale of recognition for Albertsons remodeled store continues to grow. Recently parent company SUPERVALU received two of the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2012 GreenChill Environmental Achievement Awards, one of which, the Best Certified Store Award, specifically honored the Carpinteria Albertsons for being the first in the nation to use only all-natural refrigerants. The cutting edge technology utilized in the local store also helped SUPERVALU to earn the highest score among national grocery retailers in the Carbon Disclosure Project’s 2012 Leadership Index. Nationwide SUPERVALU reduced its emissions by 3 percent in the past year and reduced total waste by more than 11 percent across its network of 2,400 retail stores.

High-speed pursuit ends in two arrests

High-speed pursuit ends in two arrests

A Summerland burglary on Jan. 3 led to a high-speed police chase on southbound Highway 101 that ended in the arrest of two Santa Paula men in Oxnard. Justin Tyler Steele, 25, and Ryan Anthony Ramos, 22, were arrested with a large amount of stolen property believed to be from throughout the Santa Barbara area, including a possible stolen vehicle.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department responded to Summerland at 6:30 a.m. on a report of a burglary in progress in the area of Calle Culebra. Based on a witness description of the vehicle fleeing the crime area, deputies located the car and began a pursuit. The vehicle reached speeds over 100 miles per hour, and the CHP eventually took over the pursuit. With the assistance of the Ventura County Sheriff’s helicopter and an Oxnard Police K-9 unit, the two suspects were arrested for evading arrest, grand theft, possession of stolen property and possession of a stolen vehicle and booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail where they have since posted bail.

Anyone with information on the suspects, and anyone who was a victim of a burglary in the early morning hours of Jan. 3, is asked to contact Detective Mike Scherbarth at 684- 5405 x423.

Former Carpinterian sought in child molestation case

Former Carpinterian sought in child molestation case

Following a multi-month investigation, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department recently posted a warrant for the arrest of former Carpinterian Michael Johnson Norris, 67, who is wanted for several felonies including child molestation and attempted oral copulation of a child. According to Lt. Kelly Moore, the suspected child molester is currently living outside of the United States, and the sheriff’s department is in the process of negotiating with Norris’ lawyers for a surrender. Moore said that essentially the department has communicated the message “either you come back or we’re coming to get you.” Norris is rumored to be living in Costa Rica, and when apprehended, his bail will be set at $250,000. The Sheriff’s Department is not releasing further details of the case.

School board revisits security post-Newtown massacre

By Erin Lennon

Following the December shooting deaths of 26 people at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, the Carpinteria Unified School District Board of Education began 2013 with a look at district security on Jan. 8, highlighting plans to improve existing security procedures.

“These types of discussions are happening at school districts and other public agencies all over the country right now following the horrendous turn of events in Newtown, Connecticut,” said CUSD Superintendent Paul Cordeiro.

The district’s ongoing collaboration with Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant Kelly Moore and Deputy Matt Banks illuminated the district’s security needs prior to Cordeiro’s board presentation.
Student and staff preparedness is part of the larger security portrait, with the district aiming to ensure all school personnel and students are familiar with safety procedures. Cordeiro tied that level of comfort to consistency in procedures, practice and collective responsibility.

“There is no single person responsible here for enhancing security,” said Cordeiro. “We’re all here to do our jobs, and we’re all here to be vigilant.”

And one way to be vigilant is to know exactly who is on CUSD campuses. All staff, including substitutes, and volunteers must have photo identification, and all visitors will be required to stop in the office to obtain a visitor nametag. The key is enforcing this mandate.

Communication will also keep CUSD staff informed about suspicious behavior and concerning situations. A future anonymous tip line will connect the district and the community while ongoing staff communication will highlight possible security needs.

Emergency procedures can prepare students and staff if such security needs arise. The sheriff’s department will observe schools’ lock-down drills, which will come earlier in the second semester than originally planned, reiterating emergency procedures like securing doors, windows and curtains. School site managers and administration will also participate in active shooter simulations, which are hypothetical emergency scenarios used to file through available resources, responsibilities, expectations and roles.

“We can work through a problem in a non-emergency setting so that, during the emergency, it’s not the first time that (administration) has seen something like that,” said Moore.

While the board welcomes Carpinterians onto campuses, concern over security at special events and after school will be addressed, but Cordeiro urged the school board to explore “reasonable steps” to increase security.

To begin this process, Assistant Superintendent Cindy Abbott is consulting with district principals about facility needs, beginning with Canalino School on Jan. 9. Boardmember Alison Livett requested that simpler facility needs be quickly met.

Non-security-related needs could also be addressed in an updated Facilities Master Plan, which the board has yet to officially authorize.

“Should (the board) authorize an updating of the Facilities Master Plan, I think everyone would be remiss in not including considerations around security that would give you options when you direct future expenditures,” said Cordeiro.

If approved, Pat Saley & Associates will address district facility needs and desires while updating the district’s master plan over the next six to nine months. Saley presented a range of possible district-wide needs on Jan. 8 such as restrooms and facilities that meet Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, updated plumbing, flooring and painting as well as larger projects like a performing arts space at Carpinteria High School.

“We all know about deferred maintenance, and if you wait too long, the costs to repair something go up,” said Saley.

The master plan reboot will cost the district $15,000 and will be ready for final board approval in October following months of board, community and school input. The board has also yet to determine whether Carpinterians will see a bond measure on an upcoming ballot to fund facility updates.

The need for funds may change after Governor Jerry Brown releases his budget proposal on Jan. 10. Abbott said Brown is serious about making changes to the state’s K-12 funding model, but specifics won’t be known until the budget is released. Plans for a Weighted Student Funding model were proposed and dropped in 2012, which would have allocated greater funds to districts with higher numbers of disadvantaged students and English Language Learners. Some news reports point to a resurgence of a model similar to that. Abbott previously reported that WSF would cost CUSD $2.5 million. She and Cordeiro will join staffs from other school districts to discuss proposed models with California State Assembly member Das Williams on Jan. 24.

The next regular school board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 5:30 p.m. in Carpinteria City Council Chambers, 5775 Carpinteria Ave.

Panizzon reflects on school board tenure

By Lea Boyd

When Lou Panizzon’s last Carpinteria Unified School District Board of Education meeting adjourned in 2012, he closed a four-year chapter that was both bitter and sweet. He walked away proud of preserving and improving the quality of public education in Carpinteria Valley despite brutal budget cuts. But he also walked away frustrated by legal conflicts between the teachers union and the district that have rerouted precious funds away from the classroom. “I didn’t see any way that I could help with that situation,” he said when asked why he didn’t seek re-election to the school board last fall.

Panizzon entered the race for a school board seat on the heels of the board’s 2008 decision to remove all Carpinteria High School imagery related to the Warrior mascot. Having spent more than three decades as a teacher and administrator at CHS, Panizzon was familiar with the controversy sparked by the Warrior name and associated imagery deemed by some as disparaging to Native Americans. The ban on Warrior imagery was not what he took offense to; it was the hasty nature of the decision, Panizzon said, that lit a fire under him. Good leadership on a board takes public sentiment into account, he said; “It’s what the people want, not what you personally want.”

Public sentiment certainly got behind Panizzon at the ballot box that fall. The long-time Carpinterian came away the frontrunner by double-digit percentage points in a race that landed next highest vote getter Terry Hickey Banks back in her seat and bested CUSD critic Royce Stauffer.

During his first year on the board, Panizzon cast a decisive vote in retaining nearly all of the Warrior imagery within CUSD. Though that issue made more headlines and whipped up more public passion than any other issue to face the board in recent years, the five-person body would meet with other quieter but more daunting challenges in Panizzon’s four years.

Tough financial decisions were nothing new to the district, but the recession brought on waves of cuts that walloped CUSD over consecutive years. Despite the board’s best efforts to distance students from impacts, Panizzon said, the cuts have found their way into the classroom. One of the more discouraging decisions made during his time of the board, he said, was the increase of class sizes at the K-3 level. Kept at a maximum of 20 students per classroom for years, kindergarten, first and second grade classes now have 24 students, while third-grade classes include up to 27 kids. “I think that’s the real tragedy of the financial crisis of the state and the district,” Panizzon lamented.

As the state siphons more and more money away from the district and every dollar in the coffers becomes more precious, the costs required to resolve disagreements between the teachers union and the district becomes more keenly felt. Since the 2009/2010 school year, CUSD has spent $162,000 on hearings with the union. During Panizzon’s days as an educator, disputes seldom required costly mediation and arbitration. “They just can’t seem to sit down and talk things out (anymore),” he said.

Panizzon’s frustration with the union altercations has not lessened his praise of CUSD teachers. High student achievement, which he attributes to strong, committed teachers and administrators, continues to make Panizzon proud of the district he helped to shape. Carpinteria High School graduates continue to earn acceptance into prestigious universities, a fact that seems to be overlooked when parents decide to send their teens outside of the district, Panizzon said.

\But topping the list of CUSD accomplishments to make Panizzon proud in the last four years is the Carpinteria Children’s Project at Main. The collaborative is focused on bringing all CUSD students up to grade level by grade three, a massive challenge in a district with such a high percentage of English language learners and low income families. CCPM’s $1.2 million budget is primarily made up of foundation funding. Panizzon calls the facility, “a hidden jewel in Carp.” He explains, “The goals and objectives are realistic and meaningful and will hopefully change lives.”

Panizzon watched the 2012 election closely and is pleased with the makeup of the current board. Alison Livett, who was voted in to Panizzon’s seat, brings a strong background in education to her board position. “I think we have a good school board of dedicated people … who want to do right by our kids,” Panizzon said. He has closed a chapter in his life, but he is confident that the next chapter of CUSD leaders will make good decisions for the district.