By any reckoning, 2016 was an especially tumultuous year, even here in paradise. While the rest of the world grappled with refugee crises, jihadist terrorism, and civil wars, our nation came to terms — at least politically — with the dark night of its own soul.
In California, some experienced relief from one of the worst droughts ever. Santa Barbara decidedly did not, however, and Lake Cachuma plunged to historic new lows. Throughout the state, climate change wiped out millions of trees, and fire season — once consigned to a few months — has become an all-year event.
Santa Barbara was not immune to such challenges, and we experienced our own acute tragedy in the murders of respected doctor Henry Han; his wife, Jenny Yu; and their 5-year-old daughter, Emily. Their heartfelt memorial is pictured on this page.
But we held our heads high. While some called for the creation of a new border wall, Santa Barbarans, for the first time ever, elected a Latino to represent the district in Washington, D.C. Housing, as always, remains an acute problem, but there’s also new economic vitality.
Our athletes made it to this year’s Olympics, the ever redoubtable Foresters won their World Series, great new restaurants opened while others shut down, and Santa Barbarans, as ever, let no opportunity to celebrate go to waste.
As usual, The Santa Barbara Independent’s photo editor, Paul Wellman, defied all the laws of physics and managed to be everywhere at the same time, chronicling everything as it unfolded.