Those of us who were fortunate to live in Santa Barbara during the 1980s and ’90s fondly remember times spent dining downtown, relaxing with friends, then taking an evening stroll, as a group, down State Street.

We would do the crawl: Joe’s, O’Malley’s, Joseppi’s, Zelo, John’s At The Beach, The Office and lots of other spots.

To be sure, there were sketchy areas here and there. We made sure to stick together, but without fear, only having fun, relaxing, enjoying the freedom of youth.

Oh, how we took those days for granted. This was our town. This was State Street. The Funk Zone was then nonexistent. We were too young to know that without vigilance, strong civic leadership and a respect for the storied history of Santa Barbara, our beautiful State Street might one day no longer exist.

And lo and behold: the State Street we knew is indeed gone. In its place are empty storefronts, shabby “parklets,” vagrancy, filth and, yes, even death, in darkened shop doorways.

To be sure, the crowds may be there, in daylight hours, especially during tourism season. But do big plastic barriers, ugly planters, lots of pedestrians in the middle of the street, boarded-up shops, freely zooming bikes and wooden pallets upon which tables and chairs are shakily mounted reflect the State Street we would once proudly share with out-of-town guests?

Alas, they do not.

Our City Council, in the meantime, has opted to do … nothing. Absolutely nothing. They’ve hit the pause button, stepped back, shrugged, and collectively said, “Meh, hit us up in three years. Maybe we’ll think of something by then.”

To our fellow citizens who describe the State Street “promenade” as “vibrant,” “vital,” “energetic,” “magical” and “delightful,” I challenge you to conduct an experiment.

Starting out no earlier than 9 p.m., take a walk down all of the closed blocks of the so-named “promenade.”

Parents: make sure to bring your small kids with you.

Record all of the details of your journey either mentally, in writing, or, even better, on video.

Most important, make a note of all of the adjectives that describe your evening walk.

Should the descriptors “vibrant,” “vital,” “energetic,” “magical” and “delightful” not spring to mind, make a note of that, too.

Because back in the day, on a beautiful evening, those words would exactly describe the way State Street made us feel, at 9 p.m. and on into the night.

Bring back State Street, City Council.

Let us all feel those emotions again, not just in the middle of the day, not only at the height of tourist season, but all day, and every day, before it’s too late.

Carol Eichler
Santa Barbara

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Regarding the proposed apartment complex described in the Sept. 6 article, “Four-Story Apartment Project Proposed for West Carrillo Street Near Downtown Santa Barbara,” it might be more honest to explain that it’s adjacent to Highway 101.

A few decades ago, I lived 1½ blocks from the freeway, and was troubled by the constant noise and, more troubling, the dust that accumulated in the house was black.

Knowing the heavy metals and toxic materials that are spewed by vehicles, and that 99% of pollution is invisible, there are significant health risks by being so close to the freeway, which is why the City Council should deny this permit.

There is a need for housing, but no one deserves to live and breathe in the air generated by traffic on Highway 101 freeway.

John Houchin
Santa Barbara

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Thank you for Mark Patton’s Sept. 10 column, “The Joy of ‘The Toy Department’ Was John Zant’s Daily Experience,” about Mark; his dad, Phil Patton; and John Zant. I always enjoyed reading Zant’s articles in the Santa Barbara News-Press.

The column brought back memories of T.M. Storke and the great local newspaper it was with national news and the best Sports section ever. I lived during and knew about many of the events Mark wrote about and his father’s time at the News-Press, and those who followed until fired, and many before his father, including Henry Ewald.

Mark may have known Ewald, and that Ewald wrote an Outdoors column and would come to our shooting events at the Federated Sportsman’s field during rifle, pistol, trap and skeet shooting events off what is now Cathedral Oaks Road.

Ewald would even get shooting results printed in the newspaper, especially during Semana Nautica. Even the water skiing competition results were published.

And as you well know, the News-Press covered and wrote about the local high school and college games and teams, especially the Santa Barbara Dons with Clarence Schutte coaching them and always as the Golden Tornado during CIF playoffs with Maj. Max Fleischmann, one of his main supporters and usually always on the sidelines wearing an overcoat and smoking cigars. Many Dons football and baseball players got to work at Fleischmann’s Carpinteria/Summerland home and his Nevada ranch, such as Punky Bowman and Eddie Mathews.

I sure enjoyed what I thought of as the best years of the News-Press. At least from when I started delivering the paper in 1945 until the day I stopped my subscription due to Wendy McCaw firing reporters and editor Jerry Roberts.

As soon as my bundle of newspapers was dropped off at my parents’ Summerland home, I would open a paper to start reading the sports section first while folding the rest to deliver from my bike. Some Sundays, especially if raining, my father, mother or grandfather would drive my route to toss those bigger edition papers as close to the spot the afternoon paper was needed to be for every customer I had.

Best wishes for all the writers and everyone else who are owed money from Wendy McCaw or the News-Press, and best to all who publish and write for Noozhawk.

John Nunes
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

Great piece on John Zant.

The Toy Department and Zant also took the time to write about the less covered sporting activities, such as competitive cycling.

Santa Barbara’s Rory O’Reilly raced on the track for the 1984 Olympic team. Years later he coached the local junior cycling team to state and national championships, including important races held here in downtown Santa Barbara.


Richard Abrams
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

Thank you to Mark Patton for his wonderful article on John Zant. My father, George Obern, always spoke highly of John; Mark’s father, Phil Patton; and Mark.

John published many articles for me, as well for the Santa Barbara County Riding Club. Keep up the good work.

Dale Obern Hoeffliger
Santa Barbara

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John Zant covered girls’ golf in city schools in the 1990s. My daughter, Tessa Ogella, was on the San Marcos High School golf team and was a long-standing member of Junior Golf.

She had been quite a shy and retiring child, and Zant’s mentioning of her on numerous occasions gave her the confidence boost she needed to become the person she is today — a middle school special education teacher with two master’s degrees. She still plays golf when she can.

My thanks to Noozhawk and other sports reporters who recognize the importance of granting recognition to our youth.

Edith Ogella
Santa Barbara

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In his Sept. 8 letter to the editor, Bart Bader, wrote: “Let me keep it simple: Cathedral Oaks Road is a thoroughfare in Goleta, especially with Highway 101 repairs. The current condition is like four-wheeling terrain.”

For that line, he gets my early September “Beacon of Reality” award.

I live in western Goleta and Bader is spot on! Parts of Cathedral Oaks Road between Winchester Canyon Road and Alameda Avenue have deteriorated to the point that I almost never drive a car on that route. I’m usually in my pickup truck because of its off-road tires.

The road is full of potholes and the pavement on almost that entire stretch is disintegrating due to age, such that parts of it are more a gavel road than a paved surface.

I occasionally ride an e-bike but can’t ride it along that part of Cathedral Oaks anymore because, if a vehicle passes me, I get pelted with pebbles and stones.

Then, there’s Fairview Avenue north from Highway 101. Same problem there. It’s so pot-holed and the paving is so deteriorated that cars and bikes have to bounce over that section at a very reduced speed.

Or how about Calle Real between Brandon Drive and Salisbury Avenue? That’s another road I can’t bike on anymore because, every time a car passes, I get blasted with gravel from disintegrating pavement.

And … so on and so forth. In short, there are streets/roads everywhere in Goleta that need work and I’m not just talking slurry sealing. They need repaving.

But, while the City of Goleta has resurfaced some streets that were in severe disrepair, the problem is widespread. I suspect fixing the streets to the degree that is necessary is not going to happen quickly or maybe not at all until voters in Goleta quit electing City Council members who are “anti-car” and have agendas for major spending on more bike lanes and bike paths as well as traffic engineering disasters like destroying Old Town with angled parking, wide bike lanes and one vehicle lane each way.

And since I’m throwing shade at Goleta’s elected officials, what ever happened to Fire Station 10?

Don’t get me started.

Hib Halverson

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