City and county politicos alike graced Santa Barbara’s Westside on 3/7 to celebrate the final completion of an $11.5 million storm drain project that took 13 years to install and elicited occasional grumbling about the lengthy inconvenience. The final leg ran up West Valerio Street, a main thoroughfare for both Mesa and Westside residents. The new pipes, however, aim to prevent reoccurrences of waist-level water seen during floods in the early 1990s.

The Chamber of Commerce came out against two citywide proposals designed to limit the size of new Santa Barbara buildings before the measures even qualified for the November ballot. One measure would limit the building heights to 40 feet; the other at 38 feet. Supporters say the current 60-foot height limit is too much and could destroy the city’s historic character. Opponents counter that lower limits would hinder business and affordable housing.

Despite negative economic forecasts, the City of Santa Barbara seems to be generating revenue. Bed tax revenuesgenerated by hotel and motel guestsare up seven percent from last year, and 9 percent more people are using the Santa Barbara Airport. While sales taxes increased only by 0.3 percent, Santa Barbara City Councilmember Roger Horton noted that most California cities’ sales taxes were dropping. Whether these numbers will offset rising city salaries and other expenses, however, remains to be seen.

Santa Barbara’s only bicycle collective, Bici Centro, celebrated its move to permanent digs at Casa de la Raza with a 4/5 party that showcased Bici’s six-bike work station, where visitors can repair their own bikes for free. Thanks to low rent, Bici now has 1,200 square feet of workspace and room to store 100 bicycles. Bici Centro aims to be a hub for cycling enthusiasts and bicycle culture and offers repair classes and other services.

Responding to a roomful of sobriety-minded teen advocates, the Santa Barbara City Council took the first step toward enacting an ordinance that would hold adults legally responsible for the alcohol consumed by minors in their residence. The ordinance would give law enforcement another tool for controlling youthful beer bashes. The matter now goes to the council’s Ordinance Committee, and from there back to the city council as a whole.


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