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Put a Capp on It

Sierra Club Worried About Capps’ Desalination Bill


Put a Capp on It: The Sierra Club is warning Rep. Lois Capps that the city of Oxnard intends to use her desalination bill to get federal funds to develop what is now open space at the cherished Ormond Beach.

On the Beat

This would destroy years of work [done by groups to preserve the open space and wetlands]”, said Sierra Club chapter conservation chair Alan Sanders in a letter to Rep. Capps this week.

While on one hand the feds are spending money to protect endangered species around the U.S., Oxnard wants Uncle Sam to help finance a desalination plant that would threaten their environment, Sanders told me.

Congresswoman Capps respectfully disagrees with Sanders’ assessment of her legislation, H.R. 1737, the City of Oxnard Water Recycling and Desalination Act,” responded Emily Kryder, press secretary for Capps. “This bill helps Oxnard residents and the environment by combining water recycling and groundwater desalination to ensure the city makes better use of the water it has. Her legislation also includes a wetlands restoration component that will benefit the valuable wetlands at Ormond Beach. Restoring and protecting these precious resources on the South Coast remains one of Congresswoman Capps’ top priorities.”

According to his story in the current Condor Call - the Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter’s newsletter - the city is seeking $14 million in federal funding. The first phase is estimated to cost $55 million, he said. The plan to build a plant to desalinate brackish water would take up the remaining open space at Ormond Beach, cause pollution, use an immense amount of electrical power (though not as much as ocean desalinization requires), and be growth-inducing, he warned.

He told Capps that “your Bill HR 1737, the City of Oxnard Water Recycling and Desalination Act of 2007, would contribute to a significant adverse impact on the environment. Your bill will also be used to support annexation and development of agricultural lands north of Oxnard Airport and other open spaces.”

The alternative that we should be pushing is conservation of water, not desal plants,” says Mike Stubblefield, chairman of the Los Padres chapter of the Sierra Club. Speaking of conservation, how come the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors and City of Santa Barbara aren’t urging residents to conserve water?

Interior of Joe’s Cafe

Joe’s Cafe: Gene Montesano is racing against the clock to get Joe’s Cafe - the oldest eatery in Santa Barbara - open for Fiesta. I bumped into Gene Sunday at what seems to be his favorite breakfast spot among his restaurant empire, Tre Lune. I quizzed him about what he’s doing to Joe’s, which first opened in 1928. Basically, he said, it’ll look like the same old Joe’s, but the wear and tear of the years is being worked on and the bar is being restored to its original state of beauty.

What’s Joe Cole Up To?: Joe’s kept a mighty low profile since resigning as News-Press president a year ago. Many feel that his departure removed a wise, calming influence from owner Wendy McCaw, and led in part to the newsroom meltdown of early July. And so far, he’s been spared becoming the object of one of Wendy’s lawsuits. But Joe’s been busy, spending months traveling with his kids’ high school and club sports teams, including going to Europe and spending “way too much time in Orange County” for sports championships. These days, Cole - a 30-year Santa Barbaran - is working on private equity and real estate deals for his own funds, as well as practicing corporate and real estate law from new offices in Montecito’s Upper Village. He recently appeared before a school board panel to urge the importance of improving students’ nutrition. He’s also the incoming president of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara. Somehow he’ll find time to travel to Hawaii this summer with his daughter’s Santa Barbara High School volleyball team and to Princeton in the fall to watch his oldest son play water polo. Who says there’s not life after the News-Press?

Alive and Well: Thanks to one and all for cards and e-mails of best wishes after I came down with that dreaded urinary infection and had to find a bed at Cottage Hospital. I wouldn’t wish that pain and suffering on my worst enemy (do I have any?), but my account in last week’s Independent may have been a wake-up call for other men. Thanks again to the good folks at Cottage, from the doctors, emergency room personnel, technicians who put me through a battery of tests, and the nursing angels up on fourth floor east. They put me on my feet so that I could actually walk along State Street with the Independent gang’s Summer Solstice parade float on Saturday. And who should come bursting out of the curbstone crowd but the nurse who took care of me at the ER. You can view video footage of the parade on the Indy’s website.

Bob’s at Bay: Bob Montgomery is the new owner of the longtime fave Bay Cafe and Fish Market, at 131 Anacapa St. The place has been refurbished and prior owners Bryn and Terry Martin are managing the day-to-day operations, along with bartender Alex Haimanis, formerly of Harry’s. There’s a tapas and wine-tasting bar and, of course, fresh fish for sale.

Barney Brantingham can be reached at barney@independent.com or 805-965-5205. He writes an online column on Tuesdays and Fridays and a print column on Thursdays.

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