Cagle Cartoons' stable of artists provides the <em>Indy</em>'s online op-ed page with color and complimentary commentary, editor Jean Yamamura said, letting the <em>Salt Lake Tribune</em>'s Pat Bagley have the last illustrated word of the year. Here's a few of the stories she was particularly proud of this year.

Every week, the Independent receives a handful of letters and op-eds from Santa Barbarans, whose concerns range widely from city doings to national freak-outs. The following just touches on the issues our readers wrote about, as curated by Opinions Editor Jean Yamamura.

1. ‘Inside Santa Barbara’

by Jaime Limón

Most anyone not born in Santa Barbara will recall the adjustment needed to get in tune with the city and its inhabitants. Jaime Limón retired this year after more than three decades in the city’s building and permits department. His farewell note sheds a lot of light on the pride with which the city shines.

2. ‘How Racism Has Shaped the Housing Market’

by Max Golding

One of the most deeply felt topics in town is housing and the lack thereof. Max Golding recalls what his grandfather told him about the origins of inequality.

3. ‘Climate Fuel’

by Hye-Jin Kim

This Voice was written after the Whittier Fire and connects the issues the new presidential administration has birthed with concerns both local and global. Climate change, science, taxes, immigration, and Trump aggravated many into putting words on paper and sending them our way this year.

4. ‘Welcome to Hanoi 2005’

by Richard Graham

With great reluctance, veteran Richard Graham allowed his wife to convince him to return to Vietnam, hoping that time had healed the trauma. He found he was not alone. It was a writing class with Shelly Lowenkopf that brought his story to print.

5. ‘Slavery in Santa Barbara’

by Sharon Byrne and Barbara Gaughen-Muller

The writers did not shy away from the dark side of the city in this firsthand account of an occurrence on Santa Barbara’s Eastside.

6. ‘Cold Nights with Mother Nature’

by Barney Brantingham

Columnist Barney Brantingham retired this year, and this tale of going hiking with Dick Smith is just one example of why he’s beloved in the city he’s covered as a newsman for over a half century. His past On the Beat columns can found at


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