For those of us who have lived most of our lives in Santa Barbara, we’ve seen lots and lots of changes.
For example, I remember when the houses were built down by Hendry’s Beach in what’s called Breamar. We were one of the first owners when we moved to Santa Barbara way back when. I remember how my mother would always get stuck in the mud on Las Positas every winter taking us to school because the road was just dirt. And long before Five Points was a shopping center, there used to be a Thrifties. Remember those? It made the greatest grilled cheese and tuna sandwiches and had the best ice cream (in some ways, Rite Aid still carries on the tradition about the ice cream).
Five Points is also where the paved road portion of State Street ended and Hollister Avenue continued as gravel into and through the lemon orchards of Goleta. Powell Peralta, the skate board company, is housed in what was once a booming lemon packing house.
I also remember when you had to stop at lights on the freeway so traffic could cross over. It’s also where hippies and wannabe hippies held up their signs looking for rides to Los Angeles or San Francisco. Actually, the traffic lights were cool, and a lot us of didn’t want to see them go. But can you imagine the traffic backup that would cause today?
There was also something more special about those days. Fourth of July was the event of the year, next to Fiesta, which I’ll get to in a minute. The digging of pits in the sand was a big adventure. Families would stake their claims, and the digging would start early in the morning. By midday, massive pits, some with frigs and built-in barbecues, filled these holes. When night fell, it was one huge city party. There was nothing like it and will probably never be again.
A few bad apples gave the city an excuse to stop this festive occasion, but the real reason is always money. It cost too much to clean up. There’s always enough money for the unions, the pensions, the pay raises and for jobs that aren’t needed, but never enough left over for the hundreds of thousands who pay those fees but still lose in the end.
The same thing holds true for Fiesta. Fiesta used to be another enjoyable local event. State Street was closed off to cars and you could walk up and down the middle of street and — guess what? — even drink a beer in the open air. It was one huge block party, and it was a real Fiesta. Again, lawyers, money and a handful of bad people took away another of Santa Barbara’s funnest (I know it’s not a real word) parties.
Today, we have people shoved into two Mercados and are forced like animals to sit behind chain-link fencing to enjoy a beer. For those who don’t know better, they accept it; for those of us who do, Fiesta lost its shine many years ago.
And just out of curiosity, if Las Vegas, Memphis and New Orleans have no problem with people drinking while strolling the streets, every day, why should it be so hard here to allow it for five?
There was also a time in my younger surfing days when you could pitch a tent on Jalama Beach and camp. When the county decided they wanted more money, all camping was stopped and you were ticketed for parking your car on the bluff. Again, as always, reasons were given like liability and so forth, but it was an effective way to force poor (as in financial) surfers into the park to pay fees.
Here I go again on another rant, as if I haven’t already. In California in particular and countrywide, we are being regulated and taxed to death. There used to be plenty of money in the “good old days,” and then things went south. Unions, pensions, uneducated politicians making stupid decisions and ideology all came into play along with no accountability. All we do is watch as our tax dollars are squandered and birds and lizards get a higher priority than man. But these creatures don’t have to pay anything and can run freely without being told what to do and how to do it.
The madness continues. Oil is regulated beyond belief, and yet there are those who still fight its development just because. California could be rolling in dough and the politicians and unions could be “siphoning” tons more dollars into their greedy pockets, and we’d all be tickled. But common sense will never prevail. We’ve lost our way. We have to ban fracking when most people don’t even know what it is. We ban plastic bags! Treated like children when nearly everyone I know reuses them for a multitude of purposes. By the way, I’m going to buy them in bulk and continue to use them anyway so nanananana.
Three cheers for electric cars that need coal to produce the power to charge them. We kill birds with windmills, our roads are deplorable and in those good old days, schools (our money) used to provide art supplies and everything a teacher needed. Today, parents are called on to make up the shortfalls while the school tax climbs ever higher. And the teachers union grows ever fatter. Why? Why is education on the bottom of the food chain even though every politician touts how he or she is going to fix it if only they had more money to work with? Just look at who’s making these decisions and laws for you, and you’ll get your answer on how we got here. Think about that the next time you vote.
I say we start digging pits at the beach, camp, drink beer and shout Viva la Fiesta!
— Henry Schulte of Santa Barbara owns and operates Dos Pueblos Ranch. He has been politically active in the community for years. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.