As he pledged to do last Tuesday, County Supervisor Salud Carbajal drove to the Los Angeles offices of Conquest Student Housing to meet with owners of the rental property firm now evicting 55 families from Cedarwood Apartments in Isla Vista. But, he acknowledged, he had little to show for his long drive. Dennis Block of Conquest Student Housing made no commitment other than to consider giving some tenants more time, but only on a case-by-case basis. Block told Carbajal that tenants receiving such consideration would have to sign pledges not to sue Conquest Student Housing. Activists with PUEBLO have charged that Conquest’s plan to evict all the working, mostly Spanish-speaking families there now and replace them with students was inherently discriminatory. Late last week, Conquest issued four-day notices demanding that its tenants vacate the premises. About 40 days before that, Conquest issued its tenants 30-day notices.

After 13 years of dreaming and scheming, the City of Santa Barbara is finally providing relief – in the form of public restrooms – for downtown tourists, workers, and residents. This Wednesday morning marked the grand opening of new men’s and women’s facilities in the 900 block of State Street between the Fiesta movie theaters and Borders bookstore. The restrooms will be open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and will be cleaned six to seven times daily. At a cost of $440,000, the new public facilities will feature skylights, changing tables, low flow toilets, waterless urinals, and recycled tiles. Former Mayor Harriet Miller conceptually jump-started the project in 1993, after which it became bogged down by false starts and bureaucratic inertia.

The City of Goleta got its much-hyped General Plan two months ahead of schedule, as City Council members approved the document unanimously Monday night. Slow growth was the theme in the guidelines for the next 20 years of transportation, development, and conservation endeavors in the 4-year-old city. Dissension was noticeable in the standing-room-only crowd, with many pro-development advocates outraged at the plan’s stipulation that 55 percent of new development be affordable.

The public comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on proposed development at Naples (a k a the Santa Barbara Ranch) came to a close last week. Hundreds of people turned out for a public comment hearing last month, and the county received more than 100 submitted letters of opposition, including those from the California Coastal Commission, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and the California Department of Fish and Game. Chief among these letters was a 172-page exposé by Linda Krop on behalf of Surfrider Foundation that identified dozens of alleged problems with the DEIR.

A snafu over all-night lighting in an empty lot on Upper State Street has been resolved. John Turner and Julia Kauffmann, residents of 25 West Pedregosa Street, complained to the city in mid-August that the Hoppy Toad Land Company had installed blazing “San Quentin-style” lights in a vacant lot near their home. After a series of increasingly heated email exchanges between Danny Kato – the city’s Zoning and Enforcement Supervisor – and Turner and Kaufmann, the city finally got the lights turned off. “While the city was initially slow to respond to us, they got their jets on when I started cc’ing emails to The Independent and the News-Press,” Turner said.

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