County 10-22

Harrington West Financial Group, the parent company of Solvang-based Los Padres Bank, announced on 10/16 that it consented to a cease-and-desist order issued by the federal Office of Thrift Supervision. The order, which replaces a milder supervisory agreement previously made with regulators, requires that Los Padres Bank raise its level of core capital to 4 percent and risk-based capital to 8 percent of assets by 11/6, with a further boost to 8 percent and 12 percent, respectively, by 12/31.


Solvang missed its chance to host the 2010 Amgen Tour of California (ATOC), it was announced on 10/20. The city had hosted the Individual Time Trial stage of the event for the past three years, and a local organizing committee says it plans to bid again in 2011. The largest cycling event in America, the ATOC is a Tour de France-style cycling road race that will be held throughout California on 5/16-5/23.


The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on 10/20 in favor of enlisting 11 brave souls charged with crafting the planning future of the globally significant Gaviota region. The hope is that the environmentalist-heavy hodgepodge of land owners, business operators, ranchers, and land-use experts can -working in concert with county staffers- draft a Gaviota-specific general plan for the supervisors to vote into reality by 2012.


Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke delivered a speech on 10/19 at the Bacara Resort and Spa, stating that Asia’s new export policies could lead to renewed trade imbalances if the U.S. doesn’t work with Asian trade partners. As reported by the Pacific Coast Business Times, Bernanke said that low interest rates and big stimulus packages have helped Asian countries deal with the recession by boosting domestic demand, which could potentially stall Asian demand for U.S. products. Bernanke believes that if the United States wants durable growth, it must avoid increasing imbalances in trade and capital flows.


A celebration on 10/20 marked the grand opening of the new roundabout at Coast Village and Hot Spring roads in Montecito. The project, which was finished three weeks ahead of schedule, is part of a $53-million grant allocated for improving Highway 101 between Milpas and Hot Springs roads. Motorists have been cautioned to drive no faster than 20 mph when navigating the roundabout.


Ground was broken on 8/19 for the Santa Maria River Levee improvement project, which received $40 million in federal stimulus money. The levee is meant to keep nearby urban and farm areas safe from flooding in the event of heavy rainfall. The project represents the largest to date funded by the federal stimulus package and will reportedly add more than 450 jobs to the region.


The wireless antenna controversy, which centers on 39 proposed installation sites, buzzed into the County Board of Supervisors on 10/20 as dozens of residents expressed worries about possible health effects and dropping property values associated with the new devices. After listening to more than 40 speakers, the supervisors directed the county’s counsel to develop recommendations for how to improve the county’s telecommunications ordinance in order to better address such fears.

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