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LAND and SEA


County Supervisor Brooks Firestone is pursuing an innovative method of preserving the scenic value of at least one key piece of the Gaviota Coast: creating a graveyard on a 10-acre parcel which is currently for sale and zoned for highway-oriented commerce. Firestone’s staff has been researching environmentally oriented cemeteries that have been established elsewhere, including some with no gravestones whatsoever; families and friends wishing to zero in on their loved ones’ remains use a global positioning system. On Tuesday, the Goleta Cemetery District opened discussions on expanding its jurisdiction to Gaviota and Santa Barbara, two regions that presently have no public cemeteries.

The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission conceptually approved plans last week for a large-scale luxury home on a 17-acre lot atop Farren Road in Goleta. The narrow 3-2 vote of approval — carried by North County commissioners — calls for the construction of an approximately 10,000-cubic-yard dirt berm blocking the proposed house from the public viewshed. The berm screening decision has caused serious concern among enviros and land conservationists because it appears to set a precedent allowing developers to modify the building site, rather than the building itself, in order to satisfy various county codes.

A rock-climbing adventure went awry on Saturday when a Santa Ana man got stuck 200 feet up the face of a Gaviota cliff. According to fire department spokesperson Keith Cullom, the 39-year-old visitor was taking a stroll along the beach when he decided to try to scale a portion of the Gaviota bluffs, which are composed primarily of dirt and shale. Firefighters were able to haul the climber up using ropes lowered from the clifftop.

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