Regarding Noozhawk’s Sept. 28 story, “Santa Barbara City Council Slams Door on Controversial Vacation Rental Proposal,” as a longtime Noozhawk subscriber and 35-year homeowner whose family goes back 250 years here, I wonder if you are interested in an interview about this council meeting that would address the misinformation in the meeting about short-term rentals?

The reporting failed to note that the overwhelming community comments were in favor of short term-rentals. There has been no opportunity to challenge City Council members’ statements made after the community comments.

Staff stated that they have been monitoring unlicensed operators by response to complaints. No one made the observation that those still operating have been able to do so because there have been no complaints. Logically, those people would have been shut down if there had been complaints.

The community should be given the opportunity to know exactly when and how many complaints have been received. One of the only people who spoke against short-term rentals made the assertion that none of the unlicensed would be licensed and pay transient-occupancy taxes if allowed to. That is patently untrue and he has absolutely no evidence of that.

Additionally, there has been no exploration into how short-term rentals have been successful in other communities. Our family has rented STRs in other parts of California, in Oregon and in South Carolina because they are affordable to our middle-class family versus hotel rates.

There is so much more that is not being considered by our City Council, which begs the question, what is behind their stance?

Kate Carter
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

Noozhawk’s Sept. 21 article, “California Parents Union Hosts Forum for School Board Candidates,” made a statement about me that is absolutely false. For the record, I was interviewed in depth by your reporter and never once stated I was against English as a Second Language instruction in our schools. As a Santa Barbara County Board of Education candidate, I would like the opportunity to clear up this confusion.

English is very important and is directly tied to economic productivity and quality of life, both globally and on a personal level.

Santa Barbara Unified School District school board candidate Efigenia Banales and I are on the same page with this. We are both bilingual and understand the needs of the Latino community, which accounts for about 80% of the students in our public schools.

We are not against ESL as a tool and, on that note, we need more ESL teachers aides in classrooms that are bilingual. What we are against and disagree with is the tracking of Spanish-speaking students, which is discriminatory and must stop. These students are not being offered the same classes all the way through the K-12 system and, as a result, don’t have the same opportunities.

We are raising second-class citizens. For years, we have continued to see declines in English and math in most Santa Barbara public schools, particularly among Latino students. Most schools are performing below the state average in both English and math. Curiously, due to an unprecedented delay, test score results won’t be available until after the Nov. 8 election.

Improving literacy outcomes will be a top priority if I am elected. We can do better.

Rosanne Crawford
Santa Barbara County Board of Education Trustee Area 1 candidate

•        •        •

The headline on Joshua Molina’s Sept. 26 Santa Barbara Talks Podcast, “Goleta’s Emily Zacarias on Diversity, Conservative Threats,” is misleading and manipulative. What “conservative threats” exist or are being made by anyone in that electoral contest?

Jonathan Eymann
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

Noozhawk’s bias is showing with the headline claiming “Conservative Threats” in the Goleta Union School District school board race. Emily Zacarias and Joshua Molina may not want to acknowledge it, but parents are angry about the decisions of public school leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’re also angry about the push to teach what seems like anything BUT reading, writing and arithmetic, while test scores — especially for minority students — are plummeting. In the olden days, school boards would find that unacceptable.

I have not heard of any “conservative threats” but parents do have a constitutional right to criticize school board policies. Furthermore, the First Amendment protects even angry speech.

If there ARE any threats, they’re coming from the public school establishment/Biden administration calling parents “domestic terrorists” if they dare challenge the status quo.

Noozhawk should show better balance.

Marie Ramos

•        •        •

Once again, the Lompoc Unified School District has placed a bond measure on the ballot, this time for $125 million with levies projected to be 6 cents per $100 of assessed valuation of your property ie, $240 per $400,000 property value.

Past elections have seen three bond proposals from $65 million to $79 million, all of which were defeated by voters, after the district spent thousands of our dollars to sell them. Measure A2022 would be another tax in addition to the present Measure N bonds being paid for by taxpayers until 2032.

Since 2002, generous voters passed:

» Measure N, a $38 million Lompoc school district bond

» Measure E, an $83 million hospital bond

» Measure I, a $138 million Allan Hancock College school bond

» A $20 million Lompoc pool bond

» An ongoing Lompoc Flood Zone Assessment

So Lompoc property taxpayers are presently paying on five bonds.

These new bond proposals are clearly a way around Proposition13. The yearly increase in our taxes could be way more than the 2% limited by Prop. 13.

We seniors are overtaxed and cannot pay more taxes on our homes. We supported the past taxes, but not anymore. We are on fixed incomes.

We recommended a smaller bond with a clear program but what we have gotten four times is an overwhelming bond price and an unbelievable slush list of projects for just about anything.

The Lompoc Unified School District is mismanaged. District leaders know they need maintenance but instead they put all of their funds into benefits while the students get no new facilities.

As a member of the Measure N bond oversight board we saw firsthand the deterioration that is the result of mismanagement. “Oversight boards” have no power to change or control anything.

Vote NO now.

Justin Ruhge

•        •        •

It was so great reading about Jeff Bloch in the Sept. 27 story, “Jeff Bloch Honored as Special Olympics Athlete of the Month.” I have not seen Special Olympians having this type of recognition, and I would like to thank you for the article!

My particular interest comes from the fact that my brother has also been actively engaged in Special Olympics sports since the beginning, in Orange County. He became more consistently involved after moving to the Central Coast in the 1980s — as a volunteer and an athlete in softball, bowling, floor hockey, swimming and golf. I think that’s all!

He also was a member of the USA Northern Santa Barbara County Softball Team at the World Games in Los Angeles, a tremendous honor!

The COVID-19 pandemic certainly slowed Special Olympics down, and the fact that the City of Santa Maria removed support for Special Olympics from its budget at the end of the 2021 (or 2020?) fiscal year has had a huge detrimental effect — leaving athletes completely disconnected.

Since this spring, only three sports have been offered in our area: swimming, bowling and now softball. Typically, there have been three sports per season! We are being told there is a serious lack of coaches, creating this situation of “missing” sports.

I hope Noozhawk can highlight more of Special Olympics in the future, and ongoing! Thank you!

Robin Palmerston
Santa Maria

•        •        •

The Los Olivos Community Services District was formed to ensure its residents maintained local control for a wastewater treatment solution. The district has specific boundaries that generally include nearly 400 businesses and residential lots south of Highway 154.

We are working to solve our portion of a groundwater pollution problem that resulted in large swaths of the Santa Ynez Valley being designated a Special Problems Area in 1974. No other organization has been formed to solve the problem.

While it is taking longer than hoped, we continue to make steady progress. Most important, Santa Barbara County, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Board and the Santa Barbara Local Agency Formation Commission continue to be great partners.

Sewer systems can be thought of as three processes: collection, treatment and disposal.

We are studying two collection approaches: gravity fed and Septic Tank Effluent Pumping (STEP).

For treatment, we are primarily focused on Membrane Bioreactors plants such as those manufactured by Cloacina of Arroyo Grande.

Disposal options being studied include reuse, shallow aquifer injection, percolation chambers and more. We are also exploring whether advanced on-site solutions, which provide both collection and some level of treatment, can be used in portions of the district.

We will complete our studies by December. Those studies will be the basis for a series of workshops that will educate residents on the pros/cons/costs of potential solutions. Using input from the workshops, the district board will draft a project. The project will undergo environmental review and then be voted on by property owners.

Property owners in the district who will pay for the project will have the final say, not the county, not the state and not those who live outside the district.

Let’s work together to solve this 50 year-old problem.

Guy Savage
Los Olivos Community Services District manager and resident

•        •        •

Nobody really wants to talk about “effluent,” but people who live, own property, and operate businesses in and around Los Olivos need accurate information about the septic-to-sewer project in Los Olivos.

The Los Olivos Community Services District was formed in 2018, on assurances that the 392-lot district would retain local control over solving its groundwater quality problem.

Today, the district can either prioritize preserving the historic charm and rural landscapes that draw us and countless visitors to the Santa Ynez Valley, or it can pursue sewer infrastructure that will encourage development, density and sprawl north along Figueroa Mountain Road and south toward Ballard until it meets Solvang.

To protect against the pernicious “scope creep” so many infrastructure projects fall victim to, valley residents need to help keep an eye on this project.

What can we do?

Attend the Candidates Forum hosted by the Los Olivos Rotary Club, Preservation of Los Olivos (POLO) and Women’s Environmental Watch (WeWatch) at 6 p.m. Oct. 5 at Los Olivos Elementary School, 2540 Alamo Pintado Ave.

Ask questions.

» Which candidate(s) will support, and expend taxpayer money, only on the “local phased” approach: start by building a system in and for the township’s commercial core, while actively monitoring groundwater quality, as Santa Barbara County proposed in 2010, and the Los Olivos Community Services District pledged to do in 2019?

» Which candidate(s) support having Los Olivos homeowners foot the bill to tear up every road and alley, and build a 1.9-acre open-air sewage treatment plant that will enable developers to replace our farmland with high-rises and strip malls?

» Which candidate(s) support using eminent domain to take a family’s land away from them to build a sewage plant when we already have county land sufficient for a system for the downtown businesses?

» Which candidate(s) will pledge to respect — and to not disregard or override — the county’s Santa Ynez Valley Community Plan protections, e.g., maintaining the valley’s rural character and scenic quality, preserving and enhancing the viability of agriculture, maintaining greenbelts between our towns, and avoiding sprawl-style development?

Kathryn Lohmeyer Rohrer
Los Olivos

•        •        •

After reading Dan McCaslin’s Sept. 22 commentary, “‘Undersociality’ and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism,” and his Sept. 23 letter to the editor, remind me never to get stuck in an elevator with him. That’s a lot of spite to be carrying around.

Ben Gilmore

•        •        •

Mail Calls

Noozhawk welcomes and encourages expressions of all views on Santa Barbara County issues. Letters should be BRIEF — as in 200 words-BRIEF — and letters under 150 words are given priority. Each must include a valid mailing address and contact information. Pseudonyms will not be used, and repeat letters will be skipped. Letters may be edited for clarity, length and style.

With rare exceptions, this feature is published on Saturdays.

By submitting any content to Noozhawk, you warrant that the material is your original expression, free of plagiarism, and does not violate any copyright, proprietary, contract or personal right of anyone else. Noozhawk reserves, at our sole discretion, the right to choose not to publish a submission.

Click here for Noozhawk’s Terms of Use, and click here for more information about how to submit letters to the editor and other announcements, tips and stories.