You Missed Me, Lady

Kar Is King

Bonnie Whitney holding a peregrine falcon.
Sue De Lapa

THE DANGER ZONE: To the woman in the dented white car who blew the red light at State and Las Positas at 2:25 p.m. last Thursday: You missed me.

I had the “Walk” signal, but before stepping off the curb, I saw you coming and coming and then whiz past me. You never bothered to look at me, even when I yelled at you. A few minutes down the street, Sue and I had to dodge as a guy came zooming at us off De la Vina into the BevMo! liquor store lot. In Santa Barbara, Kar is King.

Barney Brantingham

STREET SCENE: Another day, as we stopped the car for a woman pushing a stroller on upper Santa Barbara Street, we noticed her veering off to avoid a guy pounding his fists into his parked van. Must have hurt like heck. We also noticed a parking officer scooting off on her cart. You get a ticket, so you take it out on the vehicle — and your body?

MIRAMAR NUMBERS: Writing in the Montecito Messenger, Sam Tyler said that Rick Caruso’s Miramar hotel project doesn’t pencil out. Adding up the estimated costs of buying and rebuilding the razed beach resort, and even taking into account the presumed $12-million annual gross income, red ink looms, Tyler said. “The developer may be contemplating an exit strategy,” said Tyler, or planning to hold onto it as a “trophy property.” Caruso’s people have long insisted that they’ll rebuild when the money market softens up.

ART SCENE: At last weekend’s annual ArtWalk at the Museum of Natural History, the Santa Barbara Audubon Society displayed a few birds of prey, including a peregrine falcon held by Bonnie Whitney. The falcon is disabled due to a run-in with a pellet gun.

CONGRATULATIONS: To Dr. Kathleen McClintock, dentist extraordinaire, for earning the title of mastership by the Academy of General Dentistry.

THIS JUST IN: There’s a Santa Barbara City Council election on November 8. This little-known fact can be confirmed at City Hall.

Many, perhaps most, Santa Barbarans, do not realize this. Actually, no one will be going to the polls, because there are no polling places. All ballots will be mailed out on October 11. You can slurp a cup of coffee and fulfill your civic obligation in minutes.

The election’s only actual issue isn’t on the ballot. It’s density. There are few surprises so far, but one came when ex-mayor Sheila Lodge, 18 years out of office, a lifelong Democrat, came out last week backing the three Republican or quasi-Republican incumbents. In ordinary times, that would sound the alarm for the men in white coats from the booby hatch to capture Sheila with nets. But Sheila has fought for low density all her life, and she’s not about to see it sacrificed to so-called “smart growth.”

For maintaining low density around town, she’ll say nice things about people she’d never speak to on the street otherwise. For this, she’s willing to risk her fellow Demos not speaking to her on the street. They’re already ridiculing her as passé since the last century.

But is she alone among renegade Demos? I talked to another longtime area Demo leader, and she shook her head and played the same tune. She’s going for the incumbent trio of Dale Francisco, Randy Rowse, and Michael Self. And she wasn’t strangling on her words.

How many other loyal Demos and liberals will hold their noses and vote for the incumbents remains to be seen. There’s something bedrock going on, and it has nothing to do with liberal politics. This, after all the “we’re taking back City Hall” talk: Outraged Demos howl that the incumbents, a four-vote majority that includes Frank Hotchkiss, have stopped Santa Barbara dead in its tracks as an environmental leader and turned it around 180 degrees.

They’ve declared war on pedestrians, critics rage. The car is king (Self has a garage full), and look out unless you’re in the driver’s seat. State Street is a death zone I walk every day.

They’ve also declared war on the homeless, easy targets who don’t vote or shop and whom no one gives a damn about.

CONFESSION: I’ve yet to be convinced by the developers and “affordable housing” advocates that high density is all that smart. There’s way too much money to be made by cramming more people into available space, and that makes me suspicious of the noble arguments I hear. However, I do know that some good, public-spirited people are in favor, so I’m listening. Prove it.


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