While walking in Santa Barbara’s Shoreline Park on a recent morning, I heard — before I saw — a cruise ship moving into anchorage off the harbor. The ship was massive, music was audible in the park. The winds were not onshore, and I thought the music must be blaring on board! Two women passing by had the same reaction as me.

I recently read that Santa Barbara Channelkeeper tests the near ocean waters for pollution from the cruise ships that come to Santa Barbara — 30 in total this season.

Curious, I Googled “cruise ship pollution” and the results were shocking. Not only the obvious impact to the ocean water, but the air pollution created by the ships presents a significant negative impact. Carbon emissions in the Santa Barbara Channel — by all maritime traffic — is one of the largest causes of air pollution in Santa Barbara County!

I’m tired of being forced to comply with “green energy” mandates imposed by the local agencies that govern our city and county, while witnessing the same leadership allowing gross polluters to visit our coast in such great numbers, selling out for the tourist dollars.

Do the visitors really enjoy what they see on State Street? That topic is for another letter.

Mike Larbig
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

Regarding Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen’s Oct. 14 column and his story of the week, “How California’s Bullet Train Went Off the Rails,” unfortunately the New York Times article is behind a paywall so I missed it.

I doubt that it mentioned that the general contractor selected for the job has a record of immense cost overruns, shoddy construction, deep political connections, political influence, and the violation of court orders to produce documents.

The Democrat-run board in charge of the project overrode the recommendations of its technical experts that deemed the contractor unqualified to perform the work. The project is doomed by vast cost overruns on the easiest portion of the route and the lack of even a plan to get into the Los Angeles basin.

Also doomed are California taxpayers while California lines the pockets of politicians and the contractor.

Steve Dietrich
Lompoc

•        •        •

Regarding the Oct. 16 article, “In Goleta Council Race, James Kyriaco and Sam Ramirez on Opposite Sides of Sales Tax Hike,” Ramirez’s opposition to the Measure B sales tax increase is spot on. Voting that down says that we Goletans want better spending decisions rather than the City Council telling us, “Pay more tax, then we’ll fix streets and build Fire Station 10 in western Goleta.”

Goleta streets have been deteriorating for a decade. Part of why is the revenue-neutrality agreement Goleta has with Santa Barbara County. State law requires such agreements last 10 years, but Goleta’s commits 50% of property tax revenue and 30% of sales tax revenue to the county in perpetuity — meaning forever. Today the council merely asks the county Board of Supervisors to ease up, but the county will not give up that money just because we ask.

Ramirez wants to litigate if the county won’t renegotiate. The City of Citrus Hill did just that with Sacramento County and won a less costly agreement. Ramirez prefers forcing the county to accept less “alimony” rather than increasing a Goleta sales tax. Maybe if more Goletans knew that the county gets $100 million a year forever from us, they’d vote NO on B and YES on Ramirez.

Western Goleta has needed a new fire station for decades. The area has an excessive ratio of population to firefighters and unacceptably long response times. Five years ago, a sign was erected at the corner of Hollister Avenue and Winchester Canyon Road announcing it as the site of Fire Station 10, but still we wait.

Another reason street maintenance is lacking and western Goleta doesn’t have proper fire protection is the city’s recent spending on other new infrastructure, rather than less expensive — but not as politically flashy — maintenancee of existing infrastructure.

Sadly, evidence of that not changing are plans for Hollister Avenue in Old Town, where Hollister is to be restricted to two lanes from four between Highway 217 and South Fairview Avenue, and will have back-in, angled parking on the westbound side.

Councilman James Kyriaco, Ramirez’s opponent, has politicized this unneeded project. He states “Old Town residents and visitors deserve increased pedestrian and bike safety, and there are too many dangerous accidents and near misses. We need to protect our most vulnerable residents from accidents caused by speeding vehicles. It benefits pedestrians and local businesses by slowing vehicles down while reducing noise and exhaust fumes.”

The Old Town speed limit is already 25 mph. Slowing traffic more are traffic signals; two midblock, signaled crosswalks; and traffic enforcement.

Kyriaco cites “dangerous accidents” and “near misses” but traffic accident statistics may not support that and no statistics exist on “near misses.” A greater danger is impaired pedestrians failing to obey the crosswalk lights then being hit by vehicles or bicyclists. Reduced liquor sales and fewer pot dispensaries could better address that issue.

The traffic congestion that comes with narrowing to two lanes will force vehicles to move through Old Town with periods of time stopped with engines idling. Vehicles, bumper-to-bumper, crawling along with lots of idle time will increase, not decrease the “exhaust fumes” about which Kyriaco is concerned.

Backing into angled parking will be, at best, difficult. Mix that with bumper-to-bumper westbound traffic and collisions will result. That will worsen, not reduce congestion.

If a collision is more than a fender bender, first responders will battle the bad traffic to get there. Occasional gridlock traffic will make it tougher for pedestrians, even with green lights, to cross streets by picking their way between cars.

Goletans should vote against the sales tax increase, vote for Sam Ramirez, and tell the rest of the council that narrowing Hollister Avenue through Old Town is a bad idea and to put that money into street maintenance.

Hib Halverson
Goleta

•        •        •

We need a more inclusive, diverse Santa Barbara County Board of Education, and I was excited to see that Rosanne Crawford was running for the Area 1 board seat. I have followed her for many years, and I am always impressed with her ideas and verve.

The county board has been working in an ivory tower of respectable, establishment members largely appointed by a previous superintendent during his long tenure. What is the record that these respectable people have to run on, when more than half of the students in the district are performing below grade level in English and only 30% can do math?

One-party rule is dangerous. Even if you’re part of that party, one-party rule over decades is a bad thing, and leads to stagnation and even corruption. All board members benefit when they have to justify their positions to those who would raise questions or an alternative point of view. Otherwise, boards just become an echo chamber. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Personally, I’m tired of the same people and the same politicians and the same establishment nonprofit organizations doing the same thing over and over again with no accountability for outcomes. I want a parent-grandparent-volunteer on that board, someone who is focused on the nuts and bolts issues, not making the right sound bites that ring like a tin bell.

Crawford has both vision and critical thinking skills. She will bring perspective from the outside of a grandparent, a parent, someone who has worked with school districts — but not for school districts — for three decades of volunteering in the classroom and as a voice of the public in the boardrooms.

Our boards need to be more inclusive, with diverse points of view and perspective to make wise decisions. Crawford is going to focus on literacy. She has my vote.

Peggy Wilson
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

With the upcoming Nov. 8 election, it is incumbent upon voters to exercise their right to elect officials to represent our best interests.

Our family roots go back to the 1750s in Santa Barbara, and my husband and I raised three children who were educated in the Santa Barbara public school system. These children have gone on to be responsible, law-abiding, taxpaying people who have used their educations to attain gainful employment and to be the kind of citizens we need.

In the past few years, I have been very concerned by the level of abuse that our educators have been facing in many parts of our country. I don’t believe this volatility and lack of civil discourse is in any way beneficial. The efforts to overthrow incumbents and declare schools and students failures is not good for anyone. It’s a miracle anyone wants to pursue that career.

In my experience, educators are hard-working, dedicated people who spent a number of years attaining an education that would qualify them for a career that supports the growth and development of the children in our community. We need people who will give their time, energy and focus to enhance what we have.

I was so happy to learn that Marybeth Carty is running for re-election to the Santa Barbara County Board of Education seat she has held for nine years. I have known her for the 24 years I have run a local nonprofit organization.

Carty is intelligent, compassionate and works amazingly well with people from all walks of life. She understands business and fiscal responsibility, and has always been dedicated to the welfare of our community. There is no replacement for experience that Carty has in abundance with our educational system. Her experience is critical to address the needs of the whole child, including their social and emotional well-being in these challenging times.

I hope all voters in the area encompassing Carpinteria, Summerland, Montecito and parts of Santa Barbara will support Marybeth Carty to continue representing Trustee Area 1 with their vote on Nov. 8.

Kate Carter
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

In this time when there has been so much going on with schools, I felt compelled to write a letter in support of someone who I know personally and someone who is currently serving on the Santa Barbara County Board of Trustees: Judy Frost.

Frost has spent the past four years representing Trustee Area 5. She understands the role of the County Education Office as it supports 21 school districts in this county.

Her goal is to work collaboratively with other board members in order to improve services and educational outcomes for all students in the county. It is imperative that we allow an experienced and dedicated person like Frost to continue to help build the future of our county.

Frost has a great deal of experience as a volunteer in arts and education. She has a background in finance and understands the need to evaluate every aspect of the support that the county provides to each district. She is willing to explore new innovations and methods to engage students so that they can be successful. She has the heart and passion to continue to be effective on the county school board.

Vote for Judy Frost to ensure positive outcomes for every student!

Linda Cordero
Santa Maria

•        •        •

I am writing in support of Judy Frost, a Santa Barbara County Board of Education leader who will make a difference for our children. I have known Frost for almost 20 years and I worked closely with her husband, Erik Frost, as an educator earlier in my career.

Frost will always do what is right for kids and our schools, and she has the integrity and work ethic to make a real difference.

Thank you for supporting Judy Frost in support of our students and their future.

Rhett Carter
Santa Maria

•        •        •

Efi Banales is exactly what the Santa Barbara Unified School District needs right now in an elected leader. Here’s why:

Educational Commitment — “It’s a crime that our Spanish-speaking students are testing at the fourth-grade level,” Banales said in a recent online interview. She correctly understands how English as a Second Language (ESL) tracking is tragically creating a two-tiered system that isolates Spanish-at-home speakers and is holding children back. Her work at La Cumbre Junior High’s after-school homework program with parents and students is a model for what truly works.

Hiring Skills — One of the most important roles of an Santa Barbara school board is vetting and recommending future principals. Banales has served for years at the right hand of multiple principals, and she has an eagle eye for the difference between a good principal and a bad principal.

Student Connection — As a 28-year SBUSD employee from 1989 to 2021, at four schools — Franklin and Washington Schools, Santa Barbara Community Academy and La Cumbre Junior High — she has known literally thousands of students from the Eastside and Westside by name. She knows their stories.

Local Connection — She knows the community and has lived on Santa Barbara’s Eastside for more than three decades. She is a distinguished and respected member of the community.

Quiet Courage — The majority of students in Santa Barbara are Latino, and Banales is unafraid to be a voice for this unique and special parent community. She’s not afraid to “make waves” as many immigrant parents are, and she is passionate about getting Latino parents involved in their students’ education.

Harold Crawford
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

I am running for a Los Olivos Community Service District board seat because I know I can balance our town’s pressing need for a cost-effective groundwater solution and our similarly pressing need to preserve the historic and rural character of our community.

Back in 2018, I opposed forming the LOCSD because I thought we did not need more government. Instead, we only needed to build a sewer for our town and just connect into a neighboring community service district or city’s system, and all would be good.

I was wrong!

When I saw that 76% of Los Olivos voters decided to form the LOCSD, I knew my neighbors did not want a large-scale system, and I was curious to learn more.

When the LOCSD was formed, it was already established that a “phased” system was the preferred approach for our community: the commercial core was Phase 1, the adjacent small-lot residences were Phase 2, and the remaining residential lots were Phase 3.

The plan was to start with Phases 1 and 2, using a collection system and compact package plant in, or near, the downtown core.

The system now installed at The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern has since proven that this is perfectly doable. That, and several other factors, helped me see the importance of local governance for this local issue.

First, an old-fashioned sewer for the entire district is not compatible with our way of life or our uses of this land. Large-scale infrastructure invites developers to build, build, build.

Second, it would be outrageously disruptive and expensive to build, operate and maintain a traditional sewer system and a new sewage treatment plant to serve every lot. On top of the increased assessment fees, every lot owner would also be required to pay for their own “lateral connection” to large sewer mains.

Third, the whole point of forming our own community service district was to avoid having a “big government” solution imposed on our small town.

My original “big government” thinking was misguided. A simpler, less costly, less-growth-inducing “phased” plan had been, and still is, the right approach.

Like many, however, I became aware earlier this year that the plan had changed.

I began digging through the LOCSD’s online records, and learned that the district board abandoned the phased plan in 2021, and has been working on an “entire district” plan ever since.

The community will vote on the single plan presented in the Proposition 218 vote when that time comes. There will be only one choice: either approve or reject the plan the LOCSD Board of Directors puts up for a vote.

If we do nothing, we will all get — and have to pay for — the “big government” sewer and sewage plant, and we will also pay the price of all the development that will attract.

My desire to help preserve our historic town and contain the costs of this project led me to seek appointment to fill the LOCSD board seat that opened up just a couple of months ago, and I am asking for your vote so I can help get us back to work on the right plan for our community.

Thomas Nelson
Los Olivos

•        •        •

Regarding Robert Sulnick’s Oct. 18 commentary, “Established Fossil Fuel Interests Are Ignoring Climate Change,” some facts are in order.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s April monthly energy review, the United States’ energy consumption sources for all of 2021 break down this way: 36% petroleum, 32% natural gas and 11% coal — accounting for nearly 80% of energy sources between them.

“Renewables” make up the remaining 20%, with nuclear contributing 8% and other renewables 12%. This latter 12% is broken down to 40% biofuels (like wood), 27% wind, 19% hydroelectric and 12% solar.

It is pretty obvious that this country needs fossil fuels as it works its way to produce more renewables over the next few decades. The transition will take time, money, and lots of mining for copper, cobalt, lithium, manganese, rare earth elements, iron ore, etc.

Those minerals will take a lot of fossil fuel to extract, process, combine and bring to the manufacturers that will then need more energy to turn into batteries, transmission lines, electric vehicles, battery-operated hand tools, etc.

I know the above is hard for an environmental warrior like Sulnick to hear as he has probably been shaking his fist at oil and gas companies and utilities for years. Yet he, me, all of us depend on these companies to allow us to live comfortably in our homes. The moment our power goes out, what do we blame? Why Southern California Edison or PG&E.

“Why are they so careless? Why do they not provide us with reliable energy?” that we all demand for our cell phones, video games, computers, refrigerators, fans, air conditioning and furnaces?

Or, “Why are gasoline prices so high?” One answer is because it is not an easy problem to solve. Try producing energy without producing carbon units in a politically liberal state like California.

Sulnick seems to also like taking on the mantle of President Joe Biden, hiding behind the desire to prevent global warming while creating impossible goals. Talk about double standards.

Biden is sharply drawing down the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve while turning to a brutal dictator in Venezuela and bowing to a self-important monarch in Saudi Arabia to produce more oil. From the moment he was inaugurated, his administration has been throwing up costly and counter-productive regulation and environmental impossibilities for our own pipelines and domestic producers.

Our own environmental warriors in California and Santa Barbara County have been making it impossible for oil companies to do their work here, not simply by insisting on oversight, but with an attitude of outright hatred and loathing for the very companies that keep the lights on for us and that produce and transport fuels in a cleaner and more efficient manner than anywhere else in the world.

And don’t get me started on Gov. Gavin Newsom, who supports doing away with our cleanest form of fossil fuel, natural gas — an indispensable second source of energy used in furnaces, water heaters, generators and cooking that is an important source of energy in the event of electrical failure.

I appeal to those more moderate and level-headed environmental citizens who recognize that going green is certainly something we all strive for but also realize it cannot be done cheaply, carbon-free or all at once, and that there are many ideas that need to be considered.

Listening to our fossil fuel producers and understanding their industry and the challenges they must forgo in order to meet our energy needs is a good place to start.

J.W. Burk
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

It is a fact that fossil fuels powered the Industrial Revolution and improved the lives of millions of people worldwide.

But decades ago, coal, oil and gas companies began to realize the dark side of their products. The pollution alone from burning these fuels was literally killing people. Today, more than 8 million lives are cut short every year by respiratory illnesses caused by their emissions.

These companies have now known for decades that emissions from burning these fuels are overheating the planet with catastrophic and increasingly irreversible impacts.

Financially and politically, the fossil fuel industry has long been the most powerful force in society. Why have they not used their enormous wealth, expertise and influence to transition us toward a clean energy economy? Why have they not directed their teams of scientists and engineers to diversify away from their dirty fuels and into solar, wind or other renewable energy sources?

Sulnick is right that fossil fuel interests continue to do all they can to delay the transition and to hang on to their profitable business model, even at the expense of the health and well-being of humanity. Despite their intransigence, clean, affordable renewable energy sources have become available. Solar and wind energy are already cheaper than fossil fuels in most areas.

The U.N. International Panel on Climate Change has concluded that the only obstacles to transitioning to clean energy are political. We citizens are not without political power.

In the upcoming midterm elections, let’s give our votes to candidates who will end fossil fuel subsidies, enact legislation that will make the polluters pay for the devastation they are causing, and jump-start the transition to a clean energy future.

Robert Taylor
Montecito

•        •        •

Is it lawful for the Santa Barbara County Elections Office to count ballots before Election Day?

On Oct. 17, I received a text message from BallotTrax, a Denver company, that my ballot had been received and COUNTED already.

Santa Barbara County is single-party controlled at all levels of government, including the Elections Office. Early counting can enable the county election staff to receive vote count updates to in turn tell partisan party leaders how to target ballot harvesting, canvassing and voters. Ballot counts are updated, maybe daily, to know exactly how many votes are needed by a candidate or proposition by district to win.

My understanding as per the U.S. Constitution is that ONLY state legislatures and state courts have the constitutional authority to determine exactly how elections are conducted. Is there California legislation related to counting ballots early, hiring an out-of-state company to process California ballots, or to close some of our local in-person precinct voting locations?

Denice Spangler Adams
Montecito

•        •        •

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