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Local News

Santa Barbara County Declares Local Emergency Due to Severe Winter Storms

At 2:45 p.m. today, Santa Barbara County proclaimed a local emergency due to the severe winter storms that impacted the county Jan. 19 through 24.

The proclamation was signed by County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato and will be ratified by the Board of Supervisors within seven days as required, which is expected to be at a special meeting of the board currently being scheduled. This proclamation is for the entire county including all of the affected cities and districts.

California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., issued two emergency proclamations on Jan. 23 to secure funding to help communities respond to and recover from severe winter storms that have caused flooding, mudslides, erosion, debris flow and damage to roads and highways.

By the county executing this proclamation of a local emergency, we will be asking the governor for an emergency proclamation for the January storms that caused, by preliminary assessments, approximately $7 million in damage to private and public property. The governor’s proclamation does not provide reimbursement for damages to private property.

“I have seen the destruction this storm caused and recognize the importance of not only continuing our efforts to deal with this emergency, but also to ask for vital state assistance,” said Joan Hartmann, chair of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

The storm system resulted in an atmospheric river that swept across Santa Barbara County, bringing high winds, substantial precipitation, dangerous flash flooding, and mud debris and flows and coastal erosion that caused severe damage to private and public property, roads and highways and critical infrastructure.

The damage in the county includes a historic adobe in Las Flores Canyon; 22 vehicles, seven tiny home cabins, and one outhouse trailer that were destroyed at El Capitan Canyon; and several apartments located in Isla Vista.

The tenants are 35 students from University of California, Santa Barbara who were displaced. Building inspectors from county Planning & Development red tagged one unit and yellow tagged four units making them uninhabitable.

As a result of the recent bluff erosion, at least four additional buildings will be required to cut back their structures from the bluff edge to some extent. Numerous other properties along the bluff also received damage to outside patio areas.

“We have a full monitoring program for the properties along Del Playa that has been in place for many years,” said Glenn Russell, director of county Planning & Development. “A number of properties are actively monitored and require engineers’ certification on an ongoing basis to ensure structural integrity.

"The program has resulted in the requirement for a number of structures on Del Playa to be cut back over the years. Unfortunately with these types of storms, along with the impacts of sea levels due to climate change, we will continue to see bluff erosion in this community.”

For information about Santa Barbara County government initiatives, policies, programs and services, go to


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