Signing Up: Petitions are being circulated to place a new building-height limit for Santa Barbara on the November ballot. The League of Women Voters and others are signing up people at local supermarkets and the Farmers Market, aiming to collect 8,000 signatures by May 1. The present height limit in the historic part of downtown is 60 feet, but an explosion of tall buildings on Chapala Street has spurred the League into action. “The initiative proposes to limit heights to 40 feet in the historic district, El Pueblo Viejo,” the League said. “All other commercial zones would be limited to 45 feet.” Residential heights would remain the same.

On the Beat

Why make a change now? In addition to two large new buildings on Chapala there are two more under construction and at least 10 more in the pipeline, the League warned.

Granada Sneaks: Opening of the rebuilt Granada Theatre brought out confessions from locals about youthful sneaks. One retired Santa Barbara cop told me of how when he was a kid, he and his buddies would send someone to buy a movie ticket, who would then open an exit door so the others could sneak in. A well-known woman confessed that during her college days she and her pals would sneak in at night for beer parties.

Citizen McCaw: Tickets are going fast for two more showings of Citizen McCaw at the Marjorie Luke Theatre on April 5 and 6. At this writing, the Santa Barbara News-Press has not mentioned the film, although its attorney, Barry Cappello, has labeled it a “factually flawed hit piece masquerading as a docu-drama,” and threatened legal action. The Santa Barbara producers want to interest HBO or PBS in airing the documentary and Metropolitan Theatres has reportedly offered to show it in its L.A.-area theaters so it can qualify for a possible Oscar nomination. Wendy McCaw‘s younger sister Susan attended the March 7 Citizen McCaw screening, telling people that Wendy has been estranged for a decade from family members, who are aghast at the News-Press mess and grieving over the situation. Wendy’s parents are very upset, her sister was quoted as saying. Susan, who lives in Redwood City, reportedly told those who attended a reception following the film’s Arlington debut that she’s been following events here and wanted to see the documentary for herself. There is some possibility that she could be added to the documentary. Susan expressed concern about former editor Jerry Roberts, who was diagnosed with cancer about the time Wendy filed a $25 million breach of contract arbitration claim against him. The cancer is in remission. Roberts filed a $10 million counter-claim and all parties are awaiting a ruling by the arbitrator who heard the case here recently.

News-Press Eight: An L.A. federal District Court hearing on whether to order the NP to rehire eight reporters it fired has been delayed until Monday, March 17. How many would really want to plunge back into the lioness’s den? According to the union, all have said in affidavits that they want to return. Some of the eight are determined to make a triumphant return to their jobs reporting on the community. One is attending grad school in England and at least one other has moved out of town and is working at another paper. A National Labor Relations Commission judge has ruled that the firing of the eight was illegal, done in retaliation for their union activities. The issue of the amount of back pay will not be resolved or discussed at Monday’s federal court proceeding. As of now, a previous NLRB judge-not the federal judge who will hear the matter next week-said they all should get full back pay, though there’s every reason to believe the News-Press will dispute that.

And the NLRB reportedly plans to toss out a recent News-Press complaint that two of the fired eight, Dawn Hobbs and Tom Schultz, interfered with employees preparing papers for home delivery. “This pending dismissal is another in a group of bogus charges filed by the [News-Press] against the union, all of which have been dismissed,” said Teamsters attorney Ira Gottlieb.

Convent for Sale: Ericka Garcia, secretary of Our Lady of Guadalupe parish, has clarified that at Sunday Mass on March 9, Pastor Rafael Marin Leon raised the question of whether the parish should buy a former convent to permit long-discussed expansion of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. However, there has been no offer by the L.A. archdiocese to sell the former Sisters of Bethany convent to the parish, she said. The small convent has been vacant since the archdiocese ordered the three nuns to leave late last year so that it can be sold, to help pay settlements to victims of abuse by priests in the archdiocese. The nuns found temporary housing at the Episcopal retreat house near the Mission.


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