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From Our Inbox: Letters to the Editor for Week Ending March 16, 2018

In the March 12 article, “Property Values Plummet Over $1.3 Billion in Wake of Montecito Debris Flows, Thomas Fire,” Santa Barbara County Assessor Joe Holland was quoted as saying “Reassessment of damaged or destroyed properties is not automatic; affected property owners all need to sign forms asking the county to lower their assessments.”

In my opinion, this is morally wrong. Since the county assessor knows about the damage, the assessor should automatically reduce the assessment.

Bureaucratic stuff like this just helps to add to the burden of those people who already have been victimized. What possible reason could Holland give for not doing this reassessment on his own?

Addison Thompson
Santa Barbara

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“California imports 50 percent of all Amazon crude oil exports,” said Adriana Munoz, a campaign leader for the Amazon Crude project at the quarterly kickoff meeting for the California Public Interest Research Group’s UC Santa Barbara chapter.

The Amazon — home to the most diversity of flora and fauna in the world — has, on average, an oil spill every day that puts the delicate ecosystem at high risk. Toxic chemicals are stored in open waste pits that pollute the fresh water and the soil.

Not only is the Amazon home to many living beings, it is also a massive carbon sink. Since the early 1960s, oil companies have been drilling in the Amazon. Before the companies drill, they have to cut down all the trees and plant life in the area of interest for them. Plants contain and use much of the carbon dioxide that we create when we burn fossil fuels. This prevents it from entering the atmosphere and adding to the greenhouse effect.

When the companies cut down the greenery, they take away its ability to retain the carbon. Likewise, that very same greenery also converts the carbon into the oxygen that humans need to breath. The Amazon alone creates 20 percent of the Earth’s oxygen in the atmosphere.

California, an apparently “green” state, directly contributes greatly to the destruction of the Amazon because California is the leading importer of exports that are driving the expansion of drilling practices in this ecological sanctuary. So when I heard the statistic at the kickoff meeting, I was embarrassed that California contributed so greatly to the problem.

This campaign, a partnership with Amazon Watch, convinced me to join CALPIRG and try to help win the fight. CALPIRG, a statewide organization that has chapters on most of the University of California campuses, works to protect the environment, encourage student civic involvement, and promote democratic change. Each chapter works on certain campaigns and reaches for goals to help the larger statewide organization.

The Amazon campaign goals include passing a statewide ban of Amazon crude oil, and the first step is working with local city councils to pass resolutions in support of a statewide ban and educating the public and campuses about the Amazon and California’s role in its destruction.

The UC campuses work together on the campaigns to start grassroots movements, and that very night of the kickoff, UC Santa Cruz’s CALPIRG branch had successfully persuaded the Santa Cruz City Council to approve a resolution to ban the use of Amazon crude in California. We at UCSB CALPIRG are hoping that we will be able to follow in their example and be able to bring this issue to the forefront for the people and lawmakers.

Camille Locke
UC Santa Barbara

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For far too long, politicians have used Highway 101 as a talking point in their bids for election and re-election. Year after year, we hear empty rhetoric and see a failure to compromise — while we sit, day after day, waiting in traffic, trying to get home to our families. It’s time to put an end to the stalemate and get the Central Coast moving again.

In 2008, our community approved Measure A in an effort to widen the highway and complete other badly needed infrastructure projects from the Rincon to Santa Maria. However, the commitment remains unresolved as politicians have played both sides of the fence on this.

Political gamesmanship has cost us all time and money. Federal funding that was promised to us years ago hangs in the balance, while the widening project sits on the shelf.

We shouldn’t accept a clogged artery in the Central Coast’s lifeline as the status quo. It’s time we got down to the heart of the matter and fix the problem at its core. We must hold federal, state and local partners accountable for their end of the bargain.

I will work to ensure your tax dollars are spent the way they were proposed. I will fight for transparency so that we can all follow the money, mile for mile. I will hold government accountable so that federal funding is not wasted on projects; leaving us with half-fulfilled highways.

Bottom line, taxpayers are demanding leadership, and our leaders have failed to deliver. It’s time we see concrete action, not political posturing. The time for political showboating is over.

Highway 101 is still a bottleneck and infrastructure projects remain unfulfilled because Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, failed to deliver years ago. We need a fresh voice and long-term solutions for the Central Coast. Send me to Washington and I’ll deliver on my promises to our community.

Justin Fareed
Fareed for Congress

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