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Monday, December 10 , 2018, 12:35 pm | Mostly Cloudy 63º


Supervisors Discuss Pipeline Regulations, North County Jail After Commenter Arrested

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors had a packed agenda at its Tuesday meeting, which included support for more-stringent regulations on oil pipelines, continued discussion on the county’s proposed North County jail, and the arrest of a public commenter who refused to the leave the podium.

The arrest came after Bob Hansen finished his allotted time to comment at the start of Tuesday’s meeting.

He had urged the supervisors to approve opening an emergency shelter for the homeless through the American Red Cross. He acknowledged that the PATH shelter in Santa Barbara was open for just such a purpose, but lamented that they would only accept sober residents.

“I’m not leaving,” he told the supervisors after his comments ended, and a deputy approached Hansen, asking him to leave and then escorting him from the building. 

Hansen was cited and released after being arrested for disturbing the peace and refusing to leave a public building when told to do so, according to Kelly Hoover, spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

After that occurred, the supervisors were able to get back to their agenda, which included discussion about the sheriff’s Treatment and Re-Entry Complex, a proposal that was voted down last month.

That’s when the board voted to moved forward with plans for the new jail planned for northern Santa Barbara County, but not the adjacent treatment and re-entry facility after the STAR complex was found to cost more than expected.

The vote was 3-2, with Supervisors Steve Lavagnino and Doreen Farr dissenting. Lavagnino supported both facilities going forward and Farr said she did not support either.

On Tuesday, Lavagnino brought the item back before the supervisors, stating that the county should explore other options for the state monies that would have gone towards the STAR complex, and that they might be able to be used to rehab the existing jail.

“Let’s figure out what else is out there,” Lavagnino said. 

Farr said she’s only interested in what are the options in using it to rehab the main jail or to help the mentally ill.

“All we want here is some information,” she said.

Wolf said she couldn’t support the measure, because the board had voted differently last month.

“It’s out of a sense of fairness and open public process,” she said. “It feels like a very slippery slope in public process.”

The board voted, 4-1, with Wolf dissenting to have a county representative talk with the state about options and return to the board on Feb. 2.

The supervisors also voted to support changes that would encourage federal regulators to make pipeline oversight more stringent, a move that comes in the wake of the Refugio Oil Spill earlier this year.

The supervisors voted 4-1, with Supervisor Peter Adam dissenting, to send a letter to federal oversight agency, PHMSA, or the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, supporting changes to law that would require more frequent inspections along with other measures.

The letter will be sent to PHMSA, which sent a notice in October that proposed changes were underway to policies around hazardous liquid pipeline safety regulations.

The Environmental Defense Center’s Linda Krop spoke during public comment, stating that the EDC, along with Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, had filed two lawsuits this week against PHMSA and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

The legal action came after the EDC and Channelkeeper had submitted requests for information from the federal agencies but to no avail.

Krop said that annual inspections for interstate pipelines should be required, and that inspection results should be made public.

“It’s been more than six months,” she said. “We shouldn’t have to go through this… It shouldn’t be that hard.”

The board voted to send the letter and include the EDC’s recommendations in the letter.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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