Tuesday, August 14 , 2018, 11:26 pm | Fair 69º


Ron Fink: Good Things About Lompoc

I often talk of poor political decisions in Lompoc. Today, it’s about some good things that happen in Lompoc.

Lompoc is at the end of the road, so to speak. That is, we are several miles west of Highway 101. But, Hwy. 1 passes through town, and with it comes an ebb and flow of commuters and visitors.

The commuters spend about 10 hours a week traveling to jobs either north of south of Lompoc; thus, we are sometimes referred to as a bedroom community.

There is also a large population of retired people, like me, who call Lompoc home. Many of these people devote their time and effort with volunteer work to help their fellow men and women.

Yes, we have our problems with bottom-feeders who think their main mission is to make life miserable for their neighbors, but when you put the whole town into context, 95 percent of the people are pleasant to be around.

So be it — I like Lompoc.

At my favorite eatery, a diner on North I Street, all ethnic groups come together queuing up for a chance to stuff themselves full of hearty breakfasts and lunches skillfully prepared and served by a hard-working and friendly crew.

Here, folks greet each other with a “good morning” or “how are you today” as they wait for an empty table.

There is a large Hispanic population in Lompoc; the national story is about “illegal aliens.” I am sure there are several here in town, but mostly they stay under the radar by trying to follow societal rules.

Many are farm workers, some are service employees, and many others take jobs our citizens don’t want to do. These are hard-working men and women who show up for work ready to do whatever it is that needs to be done.

As I move about town, I always greet everyone with a smile and a “hello.” Although many of the Hispanics don’t speak very good English, they always smile back and repeat the greeting.

According to a recent census, there are 200-plus homeless people in Lompoc.

Some of the unwashed and weather-beaten examples can be seen daily in front of many commercial establishments, begging for gas to get them somewhere, food for their unseen kids, or just cash for unspecified needs.

I pass many of them on my daily walk along the carefully paved Riverbend Park bike and walking trail — a $1-million tribute to the propensity of politicians to spend money.

There is even a roundabout installed where portions of the trail intersect; I guess it’s so walkers won’t collide with one another.

I see a handful of homeless people coming out of their makeshift riverbed camps every day. They are making their way into town to do who knows what, but they always respond to my greeting.

If a couple of them are talking on the path, they always voluntarily move out of the way so other walkers and cyclists can pass.

Most of these folks are clean, although some are odd looking like one fellow I saw with a twisted twig on his head in the shape of an antenna; I didn’t ask what it was for.

Or, the guy who was sleeping in the middle of the path under a pile of blankets; he was breathing, but I called for the police to check on him to see if he was OK. They did and he was. Then he packed up and left.

Then there are the business people. I patronize many businesses in town as most people do. The same folks seem to stay at both corporate stores and independently owned enterprises. They are always friendly and honestly want to make sure you are well-served.

And there are lots of visitors coming to Lompoc. I see them regularly at my Saturday lunch stop. They are day-trip travelers from other areas — usually Ventura or Los Angeles county — who are here to visit the wine ghetto or La Purisima Mission

The server and management are always friendly and helpful to these folks and they readily blend in with the lunch crowd.

At first, they are wary of the quiet surroundings; down south it is crowded and noisy but even when the room is full, folks are simply talking about the week's events or planning social gatherings.

The visitors sometimes ask questions about the area and locals offer to help them find what they are looking for.

Like every other small community, we have our petty problems and there are those pesky scofflaws who clutter up some areas.

But, when you put everything into context, Lompoc is a fine place to visit and an even better place to live.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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