Thank you to Noozhawk for the coverage of the murder of a tourist on Stearns Wharf. As a Santa Barbara native, we, and the rest of the world, shouldn’t be left in the dark.

I appreciate Noozhawk trying to uncover the truth as Noozhawk always does. Keep up the good work!

Richard Klakeg
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

Regarding Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen’s Feb. 17 column, “Santa Barbara Tourist Murder Story Grows into a Gang Gunfight,” I take issue with his annoyance with the Santa Barbara Police Department about what he says is the lack of reportable information on the murder of a visitor at Stearns Wharf.

I am fully in support of police releasing next to no information until arrests or warrants are issued and made. We very quickly were made aware that the “accidental” murder of a tourist was made almost certainly by gang members.

He and we know that the police were all over the case and, as reported, several more arrests were made. All we good citizens congratulate their efforts.

I am a monetary contributor to Noozhawk and enjoy your efforts in publishing it.

Nicholas Angel

•        •        •

I wanted to give my kudos to Bill Macfadyen for calling out of our clearly overwhelmed and cowardly public officials.

In my 22 years in Santa Barbara, gang violence appears to have steadily increased, with the outrageous shootout at Stearns Wharf highlighting just how bad the problem is.

For city officials to hush this up is beyond the pale. A responsible city government would immediately and transparently deal with this problem or, at worst, keep the public informed and be available to answer questions and concerns, as well as providing potential solutions.

Although State Street is a different issue with a different source of problems, the lack of public official response is analogous to the gang violence issue.

We seem to have a city government that thinks the Santa Barbara of bygone days will simply magically reappear and that will be the end of these issues.

I urge Macfadyen to laser in on this every week. We need accountability to preserve our wonderful city.

Jan Greben
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

My husband and I honeymooned in Santa Barbara 32 years ago and have celebrated our anniversary there almost every February since. We love Santa Barbara, and it was always our dream to move there.

After the news of the murder of Camarillo tourist Robert Gutierrez, however, we felt apprehensive about coming this year and did not feel safe going to our usual spots — hotels on Cabrillo Boulevard, The Harbor Restaurant on Stearns Wharf, State Street, etc.

We decided to go to Morro Bay instead. While the town is much smaller than Santa Barbara, it was clean, safe, friendly and as charming as Santa Barbara used to be. And has no homeless panhandlers! San Luis Obispo was just a quick drive away and we also visited Pismo Beach.

We can’t wait to go back to Morro Bay but, sadly, I doubt we’ll return to Santa Barbara except to pass through.

Toni Garcia
Westlake Village

•        •        •

Hats off to Bill Macfadyen for continuing to call out the ineptitude of Santa Barbara police to placate the wonton murder of an innocent pedestrian at Stearns wharf by local gang members.

By several turn of events, a perfect storm of silence was created around this tragic event.

Despite the fact that the City of Santa Barbara is wealthy and has a huge tax base coming from tourism, much of the administration is incompetent when it comes to real actual events, especially economically.

First, nobody keeps law enforcement and city administrators more honest and transparent than the news media.

Unfortunately, the media in Santa Barbara consists of the bottom rung of what was our daily newspaper, our TV station and a weekly newspaper.

That leaves Noozhawk, which has picked up on a huge issue, that Santa Barbara is denying its citizens and our tourists a safe environment by its lack of transparency.

Just look at the situation on State Street. It no longer looks or feels like the State Street of old because it’s been taken over by the homeless and vagrants.

The oldest trick in the book is providing little information on isolated crimes on the innocent so the media, being somewhat lazy, will just let it slide by.

Think about it for a moment. An innocent pedestrian is shot and killed on a favorite tourist destination by a roving bunch of juveniles intent on starting trouble, and the city along with the police instantly circle the wagons for no apparent reason.

It’s not for the safety of its citizens but for maintaining the needed image of a tourist destination. That cannot stand.

Dave Novis
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

My wife and I have visited Santa Barbara for 15 years now, every six months for four nights. We always stay at the Hotel Santa Barbara.

Every time we come, State Street gets more deteriorated. More stores for lease. More homeless sleeping in doorways, more horrid smells of urine. The closing of State Street to vehicles may have been needed at the time, but it is creating a worsening situation.

Besides making one of the most beautiful streets in America an eyesore. Anyone with any street sense could see it coming. The street is filthy.

Outside of the 500 block, no one seems to be benefiting from the closure. People no longer walk past novelty shops, they are in the street. Not having access to a trolley, older people will not walk all the way up State Street so the 800-1100 blocks are not getting the walking traffic.

The street is now a dangerous place with teens and young adults racing bikes and electric two-wheel vehicles speeding. We see drug deals going down all over.

There is NO police presence! None! In our last four visits, we didn’t see a single cop on State Street and just one police car pass by.

All the things we loved, like watching the Land Shark and other party vehicles cruise State Street, are all gone. The street was bustling with tourist when we first started coming. You would hear multiple languages; it was an international destination. Now, very little.

We have a great love for Santa Barbara and we are beyond disheartened. The people running Santa Barbara are either incompetent, corrupt or just plain do not care anything about the city. They should be thrown out for negligence!

How this could be allowed to happen is beyond me. Needed to be said. Thanks for listening.

David Chalfy
Las Vegas

•        •        •

Regarding the Feb. 14 article, “Santa Barbara Man Sentenced to State Prison for Highway 154 Crash That Killed Pharmacist,” I read with a sense of despair about the four-year jail sentence.

Why only four years to a man who apparently had a long record involving auto crashes? Why not the allowed six-year sentence advocated by the prosecutor — in itself a too-lenient sentence considering he killed a 31-year-old pharmacist?

What message does this send to the many racing drivers now appearing too often on our local roads and highways? And what can one expect from this murderer when he is released?

Marilyn Gilbert

•        •        •

Regarding the Feb. 2 article, “Southern California Gas, PG&E Customers Soon May Get Relief From Rising Natural Gas Rates,” SoCalGas just sent me a letter chastising me about how much gas I used.

I responded by email, but I doubt it will even be read. Here’s a copy:

I just got some letter from you chastising me about how much gas I used between Oct. 17 and Nov. 15, 2022. Shaming me, by showing how much houses in my neighborhood use on average versus how much I used … versus “efficient homes.”

“Your natural gas use was HIGHER than similar homes by 97%.” Your company has a lot of nerve. Many houses in my neighborhood are vacant most the time so I’m not all that surprised I use more than your average Mesa Rat.

And, guess what? I had a family member dying of pancreatic cancer that month you’re shaking your finger at me, and he needed to stay warm. They’re dead now, so … don’t worry, I won’t use so much of your precious gas next year when it gets cold. I’ll try to freeze my ass off, thinking about how much it upsets you when I want to be comfortable.

I understand there’s a morality war trending against natural gas now — and that it’s taboo to use gas for heating (heaven forbid, cooking, too), but I’m not rich. I can’t afford to electrify my house and pay astronomical electric bills to then get chastising letters from the electric company, shaming me on how much damned electric power I’ve been using compared to the empty houses in my neighborhood … and that I’m contributing to the energy crisis because California doesn’t have the competence required to keep the lights on.

Thank you for reminding me of all these things.

Eric Anderson
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

Thank you for the Feb. 1 article, “Foodbank Expanding Its Storage Capacity with Large ‘Sharehouse’ in Goleta.”

This expansion is urgently needed, not only to address food insecurity in Santa Barbara County, but also to meet needs of those stranded here during the next downpour, flood or wildfire, all extreme weather events occurring more frequently during the climate crisis.

While Santa Barbara has a history of challenging the drivers of that crisis — oil drilling and the burning of fossil fuels — one of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions, the war industry, too often goes unchallenged.

As we note the one-year mark of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we must mobilize to demand a ceasefire and peace negotiations before our environment is further threatened with nuclear war and its aftermath: nuclear winter.

The stakes are high, so let us not sleepwalk into World War III. Let us, instead, thank Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, for bringing home federal dollars for the Sharehouse while also urging him to lead on efforts to reach a diplomatic settlement to the war in Ukraine.

No more weapons for endless war.

Marcy Winograd
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

Regarding Robert Sulnick’s Feb. 14 commentary, “Self-Centeredness Is Humanity’s Fatal Flaw,” jumps in progress of civilization are marked by mastering jumps in energy production.

At present, civilization has far to go just to achieve equivalency with solar energy striking the planet, or according to the Kardashev scale, a 1.0 or Type 1 Civilization. We are presently at about 0.7 on the scale.

Solar and wind generation is unrecognizable, way down in the noise when it comes to anything that will raise us to a one (1.0) on the Kardashev scale.

Quite possibly we will achieve Type 1 Status by 2150 or so according to present trends.

What is needed is a doubling of total energy output above present levels; wind and solar will not get us there.

A thermonuclear solution may provide that bump in energy production but little if any development is underway in lieu of profits from petroleum production that will never elevate our civilization much higher on the Kardashev scale than it is already; never mind the Carl Sagan scenario in which we destroy ourselves through environmental degradation.

Freeland Salsburg

•        •        •

Climate change is a liberal lie. I am a longtime surfer and know weather better than anyone. Solar panels are a worthless joke.

Brad Blue

•        •        •

Regarding the Feb. 12 news release, “Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino to Lead Central Coast Climate Justice Network,” this organization is strictly agenda-driven and is not going to discover any reasons for nor alleviate any effects of climate change.

This should not be encouraged or continued. Climate changes, period. Mankind had nothing to do with the extinction of the dinosaurs; where is justice for them?

John Richards

•        •        •

A central point in the debate over whether to require Legacy Estates to conduct a subsequent environmental impact report is whether there is “new information” that could not be known at the time of the initial study that requires review.

In Legacy Estates’ recent correspondence, they claim that “the original EIR did not address climate change. That was not required in 2005, but the issue was addressed in the 2011 LACP EIR, beginning on page 4-10.25. As noted, the Legacy project was part of the LACP EIR plan area.”

While the 2011 Los Alamos Community Plan EIR did discuss climate change, it was only in connection with our understanding of “greenhouse gases” and NOT in reference to the increased risk of flooding and mudslides caused by climate change.

Additionally, and most important, the EIR made NO MENTION of the risk of “atmospheric rivers” causing increased danger.

As climate expert Katerina Gonzales points out in Scientific American, “Atmospheric rivers are becoming more intense with climate change because they’re holding more moisture. We have to make huge investments in green infrastructure, which uses nature to absorb runoff— such as floodplains, parks and rain gardens. Our infrastructure was built for a 20th-century climate that no longer exists. More intense days are coming, and these storms are just a preview.”

This could not have been known in either 2005 or 2011.

Therefore, this is a clear issue for the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors; they must require Legacy Estates to conduct a subsequent EIR to study this issue and come up with ways to mitigate its impact.

Legacy Estates should welcome the opportunity to ensure the homes they plan to build at the base of the Purisma Hills in Los Alamos are safe and secure.

If everything is fine, what are they afraid of?

Christine Gallagher
Los Alamos

•        •        •

The Save Los Alamos coalition is imploring the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors to vote no on the discretionary item, Village Square Subdivision (TR 14,608) Agreement for Construction and Dedication of Flood Control Improvements, and to call for a supplemental/subsequent environmental impact report.

At the Feb. 7 board meeting, it was suggested that the improvements are a regional benefit; it is nothing but mitigation for the development.

During a Legacy Estates informational meeting, the Legacy representative told residents that the flood control improvements don’t improve conditions for established residences; they just can’t make it worse.

Currently, all decisions on Village Square are being made based on a 2005 EIR that claimed no significant landslide risk. The Santa Barbara County Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment in November 2021 classified Los Alamos as having high landslide susceptibility.

The Board of Supervisors should not approve this project. Pursuant to California Environmental Quality Act Guidelines 15162 subdivision (a), the board must require a subsequent EIR for the project so that newly available information of substantial importance may be reviewed.

The Board of Supervisors will talk the talk, and on Feb. 28, we will see who walks the walk.

Christine Adams
Los Alamos

•        •        •

“We’re just trying to keep our children alive.”

If we’re simply trying, with everything we’ve got, to keep our children alive, I guarantee you “it’s not political.” I don’t care what political party the current governor belongs to, but I’m going after the current one with a vengeance. I hope you will join me.

Seriously mentally ill (SMI) folks, along with their parents and loved ones, deserve FAR better. I’ve been going to these meetings for more than six years now, and PEOPLE ARE DYING. They are not only suffering, THEY ARE DYING.

They are dying on our streets, dying in our jails, dying in our homes because Gov. Gavin Newsom doesn’t feel the need to provide them with the immediate state hospital care they require and that he can provide.

It has taken Newsom more than four years to realize he has an overwhelming homeless crisis that requires serious action from him. It is reported that approximately a third to half of California’s homeless population can be traced to mental illness and/or addictions.

Today I’m speaking of the SMI population. And one size most assuredly does not fit all. Of course, there are varying degrees and types of care and treatment required. Acute, sub-acute, involuntary, voluntary, locked, unlocked, short term, longer term.

And it’s important to remember that an involuntary, locked, longer term hospital stay (30 to 90-plus days) is not the same as a locked mental institution of 50 years ago. Some (many) SMI people require longer stays with professional medical care to be able to change and stabilize their medications.

The state of New York recently came to this realization regarding its homeless and SMI populations. It started a program to immediately add back psychiatric hospital beds in state-run hospitals while doing the same in community treatment and residential centers. They realized the need and took action.

We need to tell Newsom this is what we need, this is what we want. Here, now, in California. There are state hospitals and treatment facilities he can add beds to now.

Yes, he has put in place his CARE program. I hope it works. It is a daunting task he has laid at the feet of the counties. It will take time, money, coordination and know how. And it has not begun in Santa Barbara.

We need hospital care and treatment for our loved ones. The roadblocks to get us there are unimaginable, but Newsom can cut through these roadblocks and get us there quickly:

  • California IMD waivers needed to get Santa Barbara County past the 16-bed maximum
  • Unable to gain information regarding our loved ones due to the barbaric, outdated Lanterman-Petris-Short Act of 1967, and the HIPAA laws that should at the very least be rewritten regarding the SMI population
  • 5150 arrests and jail time
  • Lack of ability to speak or make decisions for themselves because of their illness

The list goes on.

If the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and our state representatives can help, great. Otherwise, help us, Gov. Newsom.

Andrea Henrikson
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

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