County 12-24

Friends of the Bridge, a civic group against the proposed Cold Spring Bridge suicide barrier, filed a report with Federal Recovery Board this week, alleging that Caltrans and the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments are attempting to illegally divert $1.5 million away from federal roadway projects to fund the project. According to the report, the two agencies under fire have supposedly been aware since May 2008 that the suicide barrier is not a legitimate project for use of either state or federal traffic safety-related funding.


The number of unemployed Santa Barbarans jumped by 200 this month, bringing the countywide average to 8.9 percent, up from November’s 8.8 percent. By contrast, the figure was 7.1 percent last December. Construction posted the biggest job losses in Santa Barbara over the past year with 1,100 positions gone; leisure and hospitality lost 500, as did professional and business services. The most recent unemployment figure for California is 12.3 percent (down from 12.5 percent the month before), which is a decrease in the number of unemployed by 10,200.


Hoping to inject some aesthetic intrigue into its new terminal, the Santa Barbara Airport released a “Call for Artists” on 12/18 seeking proposed design elements to be incorporated within the structure. Artists can submit work in three different categories: stencils for wooden ceiling beams; wrought iron embellishments for interior railings; and floor medallion design and installation. The opportunities are part of the Airport’s Public Art Program, and finished works will reportedly be viewed by 2,000 people daily.


The hopeful Ballentyne residence-a steel-and-glass mega-mansion planned for an eastern Gaviota ridge-was dealt yet another setback this week as the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that the proposed 15,000-square-foot home must undergo additional intensive environmental review if it is to be built. According lawyer Marc Chytilo, who represents the Gaviota Coast Conservancy, the only options that remain for the owners are an unlikely appeal to the California Supreme Court or full cooperation with the environmental review process.


The Goleta City Council voted unanimously on 12/15 to repeal the city’s Growth Management Ordinance-an interim piece of legislation that has gradually been replaced by the Goleta General Plan. City councilmembers and members of the city’s planning staff said at the meeting that because the city is already built out, the outdated ordinance would have made normal development extremely complicated.


On 12/16, the Carpinteria Valley Water District’s Board of Directors voted 4-1 to withdraw from the Cachuma Conservation and Release Board, a move that boardmembers said was costing the cash-strapped district more than $200,000 per year. The withdrawal will not go into effect until January 2011, though, and is not likely to have much bearing upon the district’s 2010 budget.

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