Sunday, December 17 , 2017, 7:07 am | Smoke 40º


Captain’s Log: Can Plaza Del Mar Be Restored as a Community Resource?

Right across the street from the Santa Barbara Harbor is a pretty-as-you-please little park, with plenty of shade trees, grass, fabulous views and, best of all, a little stage — raised and covered where it just looks like someone should be performing for the crowd.

The crowd these days is almost exclusively homeless folks. Others seem to give the spot a wide berth when passing by. That little stage looks sad and wasted.

Plaza Del Mar, next to Pershing Park, was much different some years back. I recall a time when musical groups and other performers were regularly scheduled at the spot, and the community flocked to sit on the grass, lean against the trees and enjoy the entertainment. Stuff like that really makes for a great community!

I recall that when I returned to the harbor from running my charter boat, I would smile broadly when I heard music from there, clean the boat as quickly as possible and wander over to listen and enjoy. Sometimes my family would drive from home to join me. We really considered Plaza Del Mar to be a precious local resource for the whole community.

I do not know why community activities there were dropped like a hot potato. Maybe there are reasons that cannot be overcome. Perhaps it was insurance issues, complaints from people who don’t like music, or just budgetary constraints.

It certainly wasn’t lack of interest on the part of the community. The happy place was often quite well attended, especially when there were some good tunes. New musical groups seemed happy to get a gig at the covered stage because it could help build their following and build their name.

So I’ll pose the question: Can this wonderful community resource be cleaned up, protected and brought back to service to the community? I would love to spend some time listening to a band play after a day’s work at the harbor.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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