The Conference and Visitors Bureau (CVB) urged the City Council this week to maintain City Hall’s annual commitment of $1.5 million, used to promote Santa Barbara throughout Southern California as a tourist destination. The CVB has been trying to organize its members to support a new assessment fee that would effectively double the organization’s annual budget. City hotel rooms were 5.2 percent less full in 2009 than they were the year before, and room rates charged by hotel and motel owners dropped by 10.6 percent. Tourism, according to the CVB, generates 8.2 million visitors, $1.59 billion in business, and supports 20,000 jobs.
The 52 restaurants participating in the City of Santa Barbara’s food scrap recycling program got an enthusiastic shout-out this week by city environmental planners as well as councilmembers for taking a chance and bucking inertia. Trash collection rates were adjusted to reward businesses that recycled food scraps, and many businesses reportedly save $500 a month in their garbage bills by so doing. The scraps are taken to a MarBorg facility, from which they’re transported to a composting facility in Santa Maria where they’re mixed with green waste and sold as compost. According to city trash czar Steve McIntosh, 350 tons of food scraps that would have otherwise gone to the landfill have been collected since the program started in November.