Clark Estate
Paul Wellman

CITY LAGS: Santa Barbara used to be considered to be on the cutting edge of progressive city management. Now it’s looking more like a dull spoon.

The latest cringing reaction to the drought is rather than saving 1,000 precious acre-feet of water a year by banning lawn sprinkling, the City Council majority prefers to roll the dice. It’s taking a high-risk chance that we may not need the water. Maybe.

Barney Brantingham

Cachuma is not much more than a mud puddle. Desal, the promise of which so many have knelt in religious-like devotion, is fading like a Mojave Desert mirage.

It’s coming. It’s coming this fall, we were told. Well, no. Delayed again. Maybe January, but as colleague Nick Welsh wrote, that’s looking “iffier and iffier.”

Judging by how Santa Barbarans reacted during the last drought, I know they’d respond like good citizens to a sprinkling ban. There were no “water police” then, and no need for them now.

Why do I get the feeling that some on the council don’t want to stir up the voters, the real estate market, and tourists with a ban?

CITY GETS A D: The American Lung Association has flunked Santa Barbara’s smoking laws with a big fat D, while awarding county government and Carpinteria with Bs.

In this health-conscious era, you’d think the City Council would react to our serious shortcomings with alarm, but no. Our fellow cities of Goleta, Buellton, Santa Maria, and Lompoc have banned smoking at beaches and parks, but not Santa Barbara. Our smoking ordinance is also way out of sync with state law, according to the Lung Association.

Showing little concern about the risks of lung cancer that bar patrons face, some on the council voiced sympathy for bar owners, who pleaded that outdoor smoking there not be restricted. Business might be hurt, they argued (although perhaps not at cancer wards).

The council kicked the issue of updating the smoking ordinance off to the dubious consideration of its ordinance committee.

BELLOSGUARDO: Death and taxes ​— ​long after Huguette Clark’s death in 2011, her tax problems remain alive and kicking.

Two years after a board of directors was named to operate the nonprofit arts foundation that Clark dreamed of locating at her mansion high above East Cabrillo Boulevard, her estate is still not settled.

Huguette Clark, worth an estimated $300 million, wrote checks with abandon, showering friends and others with millions of dollars, but she died owing the IRS $16 million-$18 million in gift-tax penalties. The Bellosguardo Foundation wants the IRS to forgive the penalties. After all, it is a charitable foundation.

Mayor Helene Schneider has been mum about what’s going on. Meanwhile, the months pass with no word. When I asked Schneider recently, she replied, “No secrecy, just no news unfortunately. I wish there was! The estate is still dealing with lingering tax issues.”

The 23-acre ocean-bluff Bellosguardo property, next to the Santa Barbara Cemetery, is not city owned. The Clark Estate court settlement set up a board of trustees and authorized Mayor Schneider to appoint most members. They long since have been approved by the New York attorney general.

BODIES AND BLOOD: There’s one word to describe William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, and that’s “thriller.” In the Ensemble Theatre Company’s current production at the New Vic, lust for power turns into bloodlust. Jamison Jones, as Macbeth, and Kathryn Meisle, as Lady Macbeth, are superb, a treat for the theatergoer. The play runs through Sunday, October 16.

MAN WITH A HORN: It had been a long day for trumpeter Wynton Marsalis: a morning concert at the Granada for 1,400 kids, then taking his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra to schools around town to mentor students, then a sold-out concert at the Granada, and finally a VIP reception upstairs.

You’d think he’d duck in, hastily press the flesh with a few local music lovers, and duck back out. But no ​— ​looking fresh and relaxed, he moved around the room, first greeting birthday girl Celesta Billeci, UCSB Arts & Lectures executive director, and Sara Miller McCune, concert cosponsor.

Then Marsalis circulated, shaking hands and posing with folks for photos, and he was last seen surrounded by fans, including a young boy ​— ​star of tomorrow? ​— ​holding a trumpet.

Asked why he liked to play in Santa Barbara so often, Marsalis replied: “What’s not to like?”


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