Tuesday, December 1 , 2015, 7:13 am | Fair 42º

Santa Barbara Officials, Residents Come Face to Face for Westside’s Future

Police Chief Cam Sanchez commits to creating a citizen's academy as ideas to improve community emerge at Westside Action Summit

Santa Barbara City Councilwoman Cathy Murillo and other Westside residents listen intently as THRIVE Westside committees make their presentations at Saturday’s action summit.
Santa Barbara City Councilwoman Cathy Murillo and other Westside residents listen intently as THRIVE Westside committees make their presentations at Saturday’s action summit.  (Daniel Langhorne / Noozhawk photo)

By Daniel Langhorne, Noozhawk Intern | @NoozhawkNews |

Residents of Santa Barbara’s Westside proposed solutions to provide a better quality of life for their neighborhood Saturday, and elected leaders and police officials seemed to listen.

About 200 people gathered in the gymnasium of the Westside Boys & Girls Club to hear the results of brainstorming sessions on youth programming, forming a Westside neighborhood association and issues affecting women.

“We wanted to create our own identity rather than having the community create an identity for us,” said Roane Ackhurin, co-chairwoman of the Westside neighborhood committee.

Santa Barbara police Officer Kasi Beutel introduces herself to a Westside resident during Saturday's community summit at the Westside Boys & Girls Club.
Santa Barbara police Officer Kasi Beutel introduces herself to a Westside resident during Saturday’s community summit at the Westside Boys & Girls Club. (Daniel Langhorne / Noozhawk photo)

The Westside Action Summit was sponsored by local nonprofits Just Communities and THRIVE Westside to help community members connect with public officials. The hope is that the relationships developed this weekend will translate into the city and Santa Barbara County devoting staff and funds to implement residents’ ideas.

Jarrod Schwartz, executive director of Just Communities, said one breakthrough was Police Chief Cam Sanchez’s pledge to fund a citizen’s academy to help educate the Westside’s large Spanish-speaking population about how the Police Department operates.

The attendance of the city’s top cop and the plan for the academy was reassuring for Manny Casas, a board member of Palabra, a nonprofit organization that helps former Latino gang members live productive lives after incarceration.

But Casas believes police officers need more training on how to create a more friendly relationship with Westside residents — using principles of good customer service.

“The police do not see our community as customers,” he said. “They see us as a population that needs to be controlled.”

By getting out of patrol cars and developing personal relationships, police may find a much warmer atmosphere among those they are sworn to protect, Casas said.

Newly inaugurated City Councilwoman Cathy Murillo, herself a Westside resident, said the most moving moment of Saturday’s event for her was seeing women conversing in Spanish with the bilingual Sanchez and through interpreters with Officer Kasi Beutel.

“These women understand that they have to learn English but they’re also asking the police officers to learn a little Spanish,” Murillo said.

Margherita Martin-Ocampo of the Westside Women’s Group said the cooperation to erase language barriers was a good start.

“We want to feel safe and we want to be safe,” she told the summit’s audience in English during remarks that were mostly in Spanish.

The presentations by Martin-Ocampo and the other committee leaders were inspired by roundtable discussions among 122 community members over the past nine weeks, Schwartz said.

In addition, through the Let’s Talk Westside online public-engagement project, Noozhawk brought in more than 1,500 readers in a digital discussion about how life on the Westside can be improved.

Among the proposals was increasing youth access to after-school programs. Leticia Carrillo, chairwoman of the youth group, said existing programs can partly meet this demand but they need to be better marketed because not all Westside parents have Internet access at home.

She said there is a demand for quality youth programming with staff, coaches and organizations, but some families can’t afford to spend $200 a week on art classes.

“A lot of people are very impressed with what Girls Inc. already has but what’s prohibitive is the cost,” Carrillo said.

There is still an overarching call for a zócalo, or public square, which is an important gathering place in many Latin American cities, said Ackhurin. The lack of a central meeting place on the Westside has fractured the ethnically, linguistically and socially diverse community, she said.

“We’ve kind of been in our own silos,” she said.

Holding summer movie nights on the lawn at La Cumbre Junior High School or painting a mural that embodies the Westside have been pitched to bring the community together.

Police Chief Cam Sanchez told Westside residents that he would create a citizen's academy to help educate the neighborhood's large Spanish-speaking population about the police force's mission and operations.
Police Chief Cam Sanchez told Westside residents that he would create a citizen’s academy to help educate the neighborhood’s large Spanish-speaking population about the police force’s mission and operations. (Daniel Langhorne / Noozhawk photo)

In addition to Murillo, among the officials who attended Saturday were Mayor Helene Schneider, City Councilman Randy Rowse, Santa Barbara Unified School District Superintendent David Cash, 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal and 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf.

Lead sponsors of Noozhawk’s Let’s Talk Westside project were MarBorg Industries, Wells Fargo, Southern California Gas Co. and Paul Cashman of State Farm Insurance.

Additional Let’s Talk Westside sponsors included the Academy of Koei-Kan Karate-Do, Business First Bank, El Zarape Mexican Food, Griffith & Thornburgh LLP, Meridian Group, Paper Moon Printing, ParentClick.com, Presidio Sports, Santa Barbara Community Housing Corp., Santa Barbara Home Improvement Center and the South Coast Community Youth Cultural Center.

THRIVE Westside is a partnership of Harding University Partnership School, McKinley School, La Cumbre Junior High School, San Marcos High School, the Santa Barbara Unified School District, the James S. Bower Foundation, Just Communities, One Nation Foundation, the Orfalea Foundations and the Santa Barbara Foundation.

Noozhawk intern Daniel Langhorne can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

More than 200 people gathered at the Westside Boys & Girls Club for Saturday's wrap-up session of the THRIVE Westside and Let's Talk Westside projects.
More than 200 people gathered at the Westside Boys & Girls Club for Saturday’s wrap-up session of the THRIVE Westside and Let’s Talk Westside projects. (Daniel Langhorne / Noozhawk photo)

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» on 01.22.12 @ 01:08 PM

I don’t know. There just seems to be something really disconcerting about immigrants coming to our country and telling our English-speaking police officers that they have to learn speak a foreign language in order to get along with the immigrant population.

» on 01.22.12 @ 01:18 PM

zócalo = Bohnett Park expansion area, or Westside Boys & Girls Club.  No need to reinvent urban planning here.

» on 01.22.12 @ 01:25 PM

This is a very good program, but, really, noting that “most of the remarks were in Spanish”, there is no excuse for not having a semi-official event like this in English. There are quite a few free English language learning classes at SBCC. Limited city funds should not be spent on Spanish language programming or interpreters, which, latter should be (and perhaps are) provided by the community.

Also: it would be good if there were a branch of the library in the Westside so that there could be computer/internet access for more.

» on 01.22.12 @ 01:25 PM

Do you really want to make the eastside a better safer place?

Arrest and deport the illegal alien law breakers, who are crowding our schools and bankrupting social services..

Gangs injuntion now—No gang attire, and the law states you cant hang out with other scum, I mean other gang members..Gang members would not be able to attend football games concerts parades, etc.

Now its not so cool to be a low life roach, I mean gang member on the streets,Democrats Capps, Das, White Schneider, House, Murillo will object?—Thats their Welfare food stamp voting base today!!

» on 01.22.12 @ 06:43 PM

Wouldn’t it be easier if we just made the national language Spanish?  Maybe Marborg can sponsor that program as well…. Wait!  They already are!

» on 01.22.12 @ 08:03 PM

I’m with InTheMiddle about the language situation. Want to have a better sense of community? It’s called assimilation. Our forebears did and look at us now.

I did have to laugh about the front page picture, though. Someone at Noozhawk has a sense of humor to put SBPD Officer Kasi Beutel there. Blowhole Peter Lance’s head probably exploded when he saw it.

» on 01.27.12 @ 09:02 PM

Apartheid, ESL, Casa De La Raza, Affirmative Action, Multiculturalism and events like this build nothing. Assimilation is the key and full immersion is the method. But if you truly believe in “separate but equal”, slavery and racism, by all means continue down the current path.

» on 01.28.12 @ 11:45 AM

Assimilation is a big English word. The English forgot about its importance for a cohesive society, focused on multiculturalism, and now they (and Germany and France) are vocal about realizing they made a big mistake.It simply caused two problematic groups of disenfranchised immigrants: the ones who kept all their old ways, didn’t learn English and can’t relate to their children—and the children, now grown, who can’t relate to their parents ways, and don’t feel they truly belong in the British society.

The England we knew as kids is no more. The error of multiculturalism became apparent sooner in England because it is a small island. The US is on the same path. And going by the birth rates of hispanic and muslim populations, in a few generations the battle will be between those two populations, both of which do not want to assimilate into the other.
Excellent youtube video about the worldwide changing demographics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-3X5hIFXYU

» on 02.06.12 @ 10:34 AM

Assigning Beutel to the Westside and having Sanchez involved with any type of community relations is an insult to Westside residents. They’re both cops who shouldn’t be cops, and SB is close to unanimous in wanting Sanchez removed. Both have had SB residents arrested and charged with crimes based on perjury, Sanchez has ripped off a local business to the tune of around a quarter mill, and Beutel has a workman’s comp fraud and also a civil fraud case in process relating to falsifying her wedding date to keep her house during her second bankruptcy. These are all issues that show no respect for the rights of others or of society, and an entitlement to screw community members. Manny Casas commented that “police officers need more training on how to create a more friendly relationship with Westside residents — using principles of good customer service”. Antisocial personalities don’t provide good customer service,they provide good PR for themselves and lie and destroy records.

» on 02.06.12 @ 12:39 PM

Police and firefighters have been faking workers compensation claims for years. Government workers are in it to to take as much from us taxpayers as possible, many W/C claims are right before they retire, Now Millions of workers file phony W/C claims and people wonder why companies hate doing business in America—Buetel is one of many low lifes in our country-

The country is full of people working the system W/C Welfare food stamps, section 8-99ers on EDD that dont want to work.

Workers Comp is now a scam..Tort reform is also needed now.

» on 02.06.12 @ 01:46 PM

14NoScams - you should check your facts before you run your mouth. You are wrong. There is no workers comp fraud case and there is no civil fraud case. Why? Because there was no fraud, except in Peter Lance’s mind. The records showed that Beutel didn’t receive one dime for the injury that she sustained while trying to arrest Michael Kenny - the 220 lb. criminal who kicked her, pushed her down and ran away. In fact, she didn’t receive one cent in WC benefits.  There is no civil case regarding bankruptcy fraud nor will there ever be one because again, no fraud actually occurred. All of this info is available if you know where to look but most people, like you, just take Peter Lance’s word as the gospel. He was a self-serving criminal defendant masquerading as a investigative journalist…. Consider your sources before you blindly believe what you read. Everything I just told you is true. Look it up.

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