Environmentalists throughout Santa Barbara were left scratching
their heads this week after Governor Schwarzenegger named 3rd
District Supervisor Brooks Firestone (pictured) as an alternate to
the 12-member California Coastal Commission (CCC). The 70-year-old
Republican – who has come under fierce criticism by local
environmentalists – will serve as the official stand-in for San
Luis Obispo-based Commissioner Khatchik Achadjian, possibly
granting Firestone even greater power in important decisions
affecting the local coast. Firestone joins fellow South Coast
Republican Dan Secord as a CCC alternate.

A barge that fills up with 55,000 gallons of crude oil twice a
month at a mooring off Ellwood Beach has been docked for repairs.
Venoco, which owns the barge, says it will be back in service by
the end of the month.

The South Coast currently claims the unwelcome distinction of
having the highest average gas prices in the state. According to
AAA of California, the average price of gas in Santa Barbara County
is $3.38, some 20 cents higher than the state average of $3.18. As
of press time, the 76 station at the corner of State and La Cumbre
took the dubious top honors in the 805, charging a whopping $3.45
per gallon.

Seven hundred cute, frisky, and fuel-efficient Mini Coopers
zoomed into town as part of a cross-country road trip for owners of
the small BMWs. Hosted locally by the computer support company Make
It Work – which itself boasts a fleet of 39 Minis – the convoy of
Mini enthusiasts departed early Tuesday morning, filling first
local streets and then the 101 en route to Las Vegas. The tour will
finish in Connecticut on Labor Day.

Martinis, pizzas, and pasta dishes beware: This year’s
California olive crop is forecasted to be the smallest in more than
25 years. Late spring rainstorms knocked fragile olive blossoms off
the trees, reducing the crop to about 50,000 tons, down 65 percent
from last year. According to Santa Barbara Olive Company president
Craig Makela, this will affect the prices of their olives, but he
promises their quality will not suffer in the face of a poor

A federal judge ruled last week that a Bush administration plan
to permit logging in Sequoia National Forest is illegal.
Environmental groups sued the U.S. Forest Service last year when
the administration moved to open the reserve to loggers.


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