Regarding Noozhawk’s Oct. 25 article, “Five-Story Senior Housing Project Rises Quickly in South Santa Maria,” I have a different opinion of this “fast-track” building process for affordable senior housing. One of my main concerns is the rental price: If half are less than $1,000 per month, what are the others going to cost?

I also take exception to the premise of sidestepping local controls. How will Santa Barbara or Montecito residents feel when this is applied in their neighborhoods?

John Richards
Santa Maria

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Regarding the Nov. 1 article, “County Supervisors Approve Modoc Road Multiuse Path Project in Santa Barbara,” as area newcomers we were surprised to read about the decision to remove so many beautiful trees along the Modoc Road corridor to complete the bike path.

As much as this multiuse route completion will be appreciated, surely it can be designed without the egregious removal of healthy mature trees and still accommodate all users. This seems like the kind of planning decision that makes citizens ask: “What were they thinking?”

Back to the drawing board for the planning staff.

Frank DiMarco

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I’m disappointed in Noozhawk’s Oct. 29 story, “Days Before Santa Barbara County Meeting, Protesters Rally to Save Modoc Trees.” The reporter ended with a quote that’s untrue: “We can have a bike path on Modoc Road without taking out all those trees,” when Santa Barbara County has duly considered the lowest impact options and saving all trees isn’t feasible.

Noozhawk also recognized petition signatures against the proposed path but not those in favor of the path, and didn’t mention that these trees are all invasive species nor that the county is planning to replace them with native oaks.

I’m disappointed in the one-sidedness of this story.

Doug Fischer
Santa Barbara

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Would you let your child bike to school on a road with posted speed limits of 35 and 45 mph? Most of us want our children and grandchildren to be able to enjoy the outdoors without being chauffeured around; to have a modicum of independence to exercise their limbs and to develop decision-making abilities in a safe environment.

Is Modoc Road safe? Santa Barbara County’s Active Transportation Program online data portal and the Transportation Injury Mapping System show 13 collisions involving bicycles in the past 10 years of available data. Note that these are only the reported severe injuries with emergency response.

Most of these collisions involved people, 14 to 36 years old, and took place during daylight; another two occurred just after sunset; the 13th was different. In 2019, Daniel Robinson, described as “a transient who lives in the area riding with no reflectors, light or helmet” was killed shortly after midnight.

It is tempting to think of this as a tragic consequence of irresponsible behavior, but I have to ask: Does responsible behavior guarantee a different outcome?

A few years earlier, 12-year-old Jake Boysel was hit from behind while riding his bicycle to La Colina Junior High School along Calle Real near Highway 154, just across Highway 101 from Modoc Road. His backpack remained embedded in the front grill of the SUV that hit him; a cracked windshield was covered with moisture reflecting the sun like a mirror.

The boy was wearing his helmet, his bicycle had reflectors, and it was a bright, beautiful morning. This boy has a name; his parents and friends will never forget it.

Alex Pujo
Santa Barbara

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Karen Telleen-Lawton’s Oct. 24 column, “A Note to 2122,” is an important and creative topic, and should really be an assignment given to middle-school and high-schoolers everywhere.

What would we like to tell a future pen-pal? Telleen-Lawton brilliantly opens our minds to something that should/will elicit great originality and awareness.

The quotes from Parker Palmer are a fine guide for us all who must seriously address the problem of saving the planet. Also Rabbi Hillel’s famous ancient words that have been pinned on every corkboard in every home I’ve occupied since I first learned it in my Hebrew School confirmation class (circa1952). It reminds me that we are all in this together — for this brief moment of our precious lives. The stand-out line for me is, “If I’m for myself alone, what am I ?”

It is a perfect reminder that “Democracy is a verb,” that regardless of political leanings, the Earth really doesn’t care who’s doing their part, only that we must act, we must participate in trying to reduce our wasteful ways so that a hundred years from now our magnificent planet can still provide for a hopefully healthy, productive and vibrantly aware population.

I’m pondering how to write my own such note to my future pen pal. As a former educator, it would probably start rather didactically:

Dear Twenty-One-Twenty Two,

I hope your air-conditioning works so that you will be comfortable enough to read books! Read history, read literature, read poetry! See and do as much Art and Music as possible … Get out there and participate! Democracy is fragile, keep it going …

Josie Levy Martin
Santa Barbara

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Karl Hutterer’s Oct. 28 letter to the editor responding to my Oct. 21 letter to the editor is, unfortunately, typical of environmental enthusiasts when it comes to climate change — as if they alone know what’s morally and economically right for of this country when it comes to solving climate change.

I do not deny or ignore climate change, nor do I promote reckless oil production, and I support going “green.” I understand that science urges us to act to reduced man’s deleterious effect on the environment and I, like many, have been working on that since the first Earth Day in the 1970s.

Where I oppose Hutterer’s argument is his blind condemnation of the attempts in this country by our energy industry to do basically two things at the same time: increase their transition to renewable energy sources and produce more oil so gasoline prices go down — things that the administrations of Presidents Joe Biden and Barack Obama have demanded.

Hutterer acts as if the Saudis and Russians have nothing to do with the price of oil and the Chinese have nothing to do with fossil fuel pollutants. It as if the United States alone is causing all the problems because of our greed, pure and simple.

Is it not obvious that the issue of global warming and rising seas should be laid at the feet of autocrats like General Secretary Xi Jinping? He alone commands the economy of more than 1.4 billion Chinese and powers it by building one new carbon-intensive coal power plant every month, adding to the CO2 emissions his country pumps out, which are nearly double that of the United States and it will keep rising until 2030 when Xi has “committed” to peak emissions,

Any progress the U.S. population makes is doubly thwarted by dirty energy producers in Asia.

Extreme climate proponents also need to come to terms with this truth: the world’s public generally are not willing to sacrifice their standards of living to satisfy most “green” demands. Germany is back to burning coal and postpones lowering autobahn speed limits that save gas; U.S. drivers on Highway 101 and Interstate 5 routinely race and swerve at more than 80 mph. The 196 countries that signed the Paris Climate agreements seven years ago have failed to meet their pledges to reduce carbon emissions. Harley-Davidson’s electric motorcycle is a dud as buyers prefer the distinctive rumble of a gas engine.

If today, the United States and Europe simply banished fossil fuels and switched completely to electric vehicles, if all the factories captured all their CO2, the world would not meet the United Nations’ goals of slowing global warming.

It is projected that by 2050, China, India and Russia will produce 45% of global emissions and the United States 8%. We in the United States are doing our part and seek to do more while trying to uphold our national security energy requirements, so our free-enterprise and innovative economy keeps perking along while it seeks to lower emissions and implement sensible renewable energy systems.

I, and many others, have solar panels on their roofs, and we have EVs, plug-ins and mixed hybrids in our driveways, but we also have a life that requires fossil fuel. We need our energy industry and need to work with, not against, it to help solve our carbon emission problems.

We are all striving to make the transition to clean energy, and I am tired of the hypocrisy of blaming the oil and gas industry for doing what we as consumers require and demand even as they find more ways to use technology to increase renewable energy.

Public companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron lost much income during COVID-19 but are now returning profits to their shareholders, including retirees and public pension funds, but they also are putting funds into the development of renewable sources. Blaming leads nowhere and encouraging and educating is a more principled path.

J.W. Burk
Santa Barbara

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We owe it to our youth and community to find a way to improve our schools and offer programs to meet the needs of all children. Please help me to re-elect Judy Frost as Santa Barbara County Board of Education Trustee Area 5.

I have known Frost personally and professionally for more than 30 years. She has the education, knowledge, experience and expertise to be our school board trustee. Her analytical skills, which are imperative in this position, are superior.

What you may not know about her is that her passion is helping the youth in our community. She understands that our children are the key to our community’s future.

Frost will continue to support the implementation and improvement of programs that address school safety, trades, early education and at-risk youth. She will support children who have fallen behind due to COVID-19, language barriers and learning challenges.

Any innovative new idea she will embrace as she has done in the past. She believes each and every child should be given the opportunity to benefit from an inclusive school system.

Join me in voting to re-elect Judy Frost as county Board of Education Trustee Area 5.

Denise Valente
Santa Maria

•        •        •

Regarding the Oct. 30 article, “Lompoc School District Says $125 Million Bond Vital for Classroom Improvements,” vote No on Measure A2022.

Lompoc bond lobbyists mailed fliers promoting two lies: “LUSD hasn’t passed a school bond in over 20 years.” Not true. First, the N2002 bond passed in 2002. Then, L2016 passed in 2016.

The $65 million L2016 bond ballot statement said: “Repair leaky roofs, upgrade electrical systems, build modern classrooms and restrooms, repair/replace HVAC systems.” Did we get all that? Was L2016 money spent wisely? I guess not.

A2022 wants $125 million more to do the SAME thing again and more: “Construct and modernize classrooms and more.” Where was the L2016 financial oversight?

The other twisted truth: “A2022 won’t raise our taxes — for next year.” No. It just extends the taxpayers’ Lompoc Unified School District bond debt WAY into future years.

And what smart person would spend big on construction during this inflated pricing climate, the worst inflation economy in our lifetime? When L2016 passed, times were good. Times are not good now.

We also face higher reassessed-value Santa Barbara County property taxes, thanks to recent wild increases in housing sale values. Our immediate woes are buying food and fuel, affording our homes, and runaway crime with a Lompoc Police Department that needs 60-70 police officers but staffs fewer than 30.

Now is not the time for A2022.

Scott Somers

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Los Olivos is a small, dusty, Western town, while Washington, D.C., is a former swamp in northern Virginia. Unlike Washington, Los Olivos neither needs nor wants a big government “solution” in search of a problem.

The Los Olivos Community Services District board is ignoring its original plan, endorsed by voters and Santa Barbara County regulators, for a small-scale, phased sewage treatment solution serving and located in downtown Los Olivos.

Instead, the board has been pursuing a sewage plant that can process 2½ times more effluent on a site three times as large as the original plan. In violation of state law and county planning requirements, the large, centralized plant would be located outside the district’s boundaries on scenic, protected agricultural land at the gateway to Los Olivos, and that land would be seized from its long-time owner through eminent domain.

This is a big government “solution” to a problem that might not exist or might be the responsibility of someone other than district residents. Despite having spent more than four years and well over $1 million, the board has no idea as to the existence, extent or source of our groundwater problem.

Relentlessly pursuing the largest possible system, the district has done no groundwater testing and has relied on a single problematic result from one test well drilled nearly 50 years ago. That report stated that activities north of the district could be impairing the groundwater quality, which would make it the responsibility of someone other than district taxpayers!

Even with this knowledge, the board ignored the advice of its engineering firm and decided not to drill the advised test wells.

Spending tens of millions of dollars, seizing property, tearing up the downtown business district, building a large-scale system that will require an expensive, permanent bureaucracy to operate and maintain makes absolutely no sense.

As President Ronald Reagan, a man who knew and loved the Santa Ynez Valley, warned: “Government is not the solution; government is the problem.”

The LOCSD board must stop wasting limited resources on grandiose solutions to undefined problems. Los Olivos needs to be the priority, not big-government, South Coast elites.

Paul Rohrer
Ballard Adobes, Los Olivos

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